Summary: In 21st century homes, values are determined and developed in the living room.
We have a crisis of values in American society today. On many fronts, we are seeing the breakdown of Judeo-Christian values. The sanctity of human life is being traded for sensual gratification without consequence through abortion and for convenience through euthanasia. We are seeing the sanctity of marriage traded for a redefinition of marriage. We are seeing Christian parents quietly allowing their children’s sports teams to pull the entire family away from the vital worship, discipleship, fellowship, and ministry at church and toward the silly pursuit of a little league field of dreams. We are seeing the Christian value of selflessness replaced by the consumer value of selfishness. We have a crisis of values in American society today. And did you know most of America agrees? In a March 2005 MSNBC pole, persons were asked, “Would you say that things in the country are going in the right direction or have they pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?” 79% of people on the web and 56% of people by telephone said things were going in the wrong direction.
But it is not enough to stomp and scream about the problem. If there is a problem, we need to fix it. But how? How do we fix such a huge cultural value problem? How do we stop a tsunami of godless values from destroying our world, our nation, our state, our community, and our homes? How do we fix it?
There are numerous suggestions. Some people point to the politicians. It’s the philosophy that says, “Start with the top and work your way down.” These people believe if we elect the right people, the values will change. Maybe, but it’s more basic than that.
Some people point to local churches. It’s the philosophy that says, “Start with the religious community and work your way out.” They believe that if the church will fight the culture war, values will change. These people are getting warmer, but it’s more basic than even that.
There are all kinds of other options. But there is only one strategy for fixing the problem that will really do the job. Here this today: values will change if and only if we follow the biblical strategy. What is that strategy? Where does God point? God points to the family. His strategy is one home, one family at a time. God says, “Start at the bottom and work your way up.” This strategy is basic, but it is powerful. It sounds simplistic, but it works.
For several weeks now, we’ve been making over our homes in an effort to makeover our families into righteous families. So far, we’ve told our story and admitted that we all have room for improvement because we all have imperfect families. Next, we took after our homes with our sledgehammers and started sledging away things from our personal lives and our homes. Then we took some time to look at the plans and committed to follow the plans. Last week, we started moving through the home room by room, making over each space. We started with the kitchen. We talked about the need for the nourishment of unconditional love in the home. In this message, we’re moving into the living room. Why in a discussion of cultural values do we move into the living room? Because in 21st century homes, values are determined and developed in the living room.
In our homes today, values are taught in the living room. How? Values are taught every day by the great value teacher of the 21st century – the television. All but 2% of American homes have at least one television, and most homes have at least 2 televisions. Most of these homes display their television in a prominent place in their living room. In fact, the furniture in many living rooms or family rooms is arranged around the television. We gather around this box and effectively say, “Oh great one, entertain me, teach me, guide me.”
Americans watch 1 billion hours of television each day. The average American watches nearly 4 hours of television daily. Children and teens today likely spend more time in front of the television than they do any other activity. Even though our children spend seven or eight hours a day at school during nine months of the year, they actually spend more time in front of the television. One report indicates that 18 year olds spend some 1500 hours a year before the television, compared with 900 hours in school.
Television’s influence on us is subtle and reinforced by the repetition of images and stereotypes. It is a known fact that the more you hear something, the more you believe it to be fact or the norm. The values television teaches are repeated at such a rate that a local church could never counter them no matter how numerous or effective our programs and ministries.