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Summary: A strategy for controling TV in your home

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"Taming the Tube" Colossians 3:1-10 -Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus

I found out, too late to inform you, that this past week was National Turn Off TV Week. You probably didn’t hear about it on the 6 O’Clock Evening News! I heard about it from Fr Joe Hennessey of Blessed Sacrament Church, then learned more from Crosswalk.com, a Christian website. Families are being encouraged to leave the TV off and do more creative things. When TV was invented, people thought it would bring families together; it hasn’t quite worked that way. I heard of a guy who was so hooked on television that when the town had a power failure he had to be introduced to his kids!

So what does the Bible have to say about TV? There actually are some verses about television: Proverbs 15:14, "The wise are hungry for truth, but a fool feeds on trash." Philippians 4:8, "Whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy-think on such things." And here’s my favorite, Psalm 101:3, "I will set no unclean thing before my eyes." Job made a covenant with his eyes (31:1)-perhaps we ought to as well.

We’ve all heard people criticize the negative messages sent out by TV. One critique you may not have thought much about is a very subtle message TV communicates: Except for a few shows, for the most part religion is portrayed as not being a factor in life-faith is not shown to be an integral part of the lives of the characters in any substantial way. I appreciated the positive values of The Cosby Show, but I was disappointed in never seeing the Huxtables attend church or even talk about God. If someone were to form an opinion about Americans simply from TV, that person might conclude that we are not a religious people. We’re materialistic, violent, and sex-crazed, but not religious. From just watching TV, it seems like God doesn’t exist, He’s doesn’t occupy even a small part of people’s lives. Characters on TV shows aren’t even angry at God; they simply ignore Him.

We need to recognize that all TV is "educational". The only question is: What are we learning? Kids are experts at watching TV. They can remember scenes and repeat dialogue from all types of shows and commercials. Consider Sarah, a 2-year-old girl who was told by her mother: "It’s way past your bedtime." Dancing in front of the TV, the little girl called back, "Mom, it’s not bedtime. It’s Miller Time!"

People are talking about the latest sleezy "reality show", The Bachelor. TV promotes casual sex without commitment or consequences, and desensitizes people to immorality. The Bible regards physical love as a gift from God, blessed and holy, but TV cheapens that gift. Consider some of the things that were unthinkable ten years ago, and now are regarded as commonplace; we see them whenever we turn on the set. Think of the standards that have dropped, and we hardly notice, because the drop came gradually as we watched over the years, as TV every season "pushes the envelope". Think again what may be commonplace ten years from now-not a pleasant thought to ponder.

I don’t think I need to say much about violence on TV. I simply want to say that time and again young people engage in violent acts and admit they got the idea from a TV show. 57% of TV shows contain some violence. Here’s a scary fact-last Summer a show on Fox (The Lone Gunmen) depicted bad guys trying to fly a plane into the World Trade Center, and not long thereafter came Sep 11. Is there a connection?

What should be our response? I recall a recent happening in Ridgewood NJ. The city decided that every Monday would be "Family Night"-no homework is issued, no sports practices held, no evening meetings scheduled. The town’s slogan for Family Night is: "Ready, Set, Relax". It’s designed to relieve the stress of hectic, overscheduled families. One more thing that’s not a part of Family Night is TV-because watching television is a passive, not an interactive activity, even though you may be together. Families in Ridgewood are encouraged to turn the TV off Monday nights and play games, take walks, do craft projects, have a picnic, get out the photo album, have a sing-along, tell stories, go roller skating, bowling, visit a museum-you get the picture.

I’m not suggesting we throw out our TV sets. I am suggesting we exercise leadership and self-control, and like the people of Ridgewood, seek out some creative, alternative activities; otherwise we could all end up as couch potatoes! Here’s what you can do…

>First of all, I’d like to suggest that you make a log of what you watch for a week. Write down everything you watch. This may help you decide if any changes in your viewing habits need to be made.

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