I grew up an only child in a rural area with few neighbor kids close by, so television became a fill-in companion.
Programming in those days was pretty mild and parents, for the most part, didn’t have to contend with the tube to uphold values. The weekly shows at the time included such themes as “Father Knows Best”, “The Red Skelton Show”, “Sing Along with Mitch”, “Leave it to Beaver” and “Walt’s Disney’s Wonderful World of Color”. Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about, but that’s OK. The point is, at one time, shows were created to be wholesome forms of entertainment and many provided messages that encouraged moral integrity.
Almost imperceptibly, social changes were introduced, testing what could be aired and presenting it in the form of humor to disarm awareness. They seemed harmless enough at first, but as is true with human nature, compromise has trouble finding boundaries. Unlike my dad, who found boundaries to be no trouble at all.
His boundary-setting point came late one summer night. Passing through the living room, he caught the face of a guy wearing a blue wig and sunglasses with one lens missing. The host of a Friday night fright show, he entertained his young audience with devilish humor and taunts to “turn blue”. Apparently blue was short of the vision dad had for his daughter and the next morning he abruptly ended television’s influence in our home with a pair of wire cutters. Yes, wire cutters. His decision was firm, but kind and I will never forget his words. “There’s too much life in you to fill your mind with trash. Invest your time in something worthwhile honey.” And that was that.
I entered Junior High void of television, but filled with enthusiasm. You see, my folks didn’t pass down an edict they weren’t willing to live by. TV remained the black hole in our house for nearly seven years and we never really missed it. In fact, a world of activity and friendships began to emerge that was richer than the imagery on the screen. I wasn’t watching characters portray life, I was living the life I had been given and discovering talents and abilities that may have otherwise remained dormant.
It was a courageous sacrifice by my dad and mom to remove something of such small worth in order to encourage greater thought, reason and participation in this gift called life.
Psalm 101:3 says: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” Unfortunately, today there are many vile things that are commonplace in the world of entertainment and few are willing to seriously counter it. Lots of folks cannot even identify that which is vile because we’ve had a steady diet of it for so long. We tolerate it for varied reason, but one of them is to shield ourselves from the discomfort of being alone with our thoughts. In reality, being alone with God in our thoughts is the best place we can be and spending time in His Word blesses us with insight into truth and wisdom.
The battle is raging for the hearts and minds of not only the young, but the culture as a whole. Our ability to recognize what is vile will largely depend on where we fix our thoughts. Philippians 4:8 provides a pretty good filter. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable ~ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy ~ think about such things.” Not a bad standard to determine what entertainment is worthy of our time.
The choice to cut off destructive influences and engage in life may not be nearly as difficult as we think it is … and it won’t even require wire cutters!