Setting Television Viewing Standards

The Reality Test

Even in comedy, unrealistic plots and stereotyped characters often indicate a warped moral perspective. Programs that do not depict the painful consequences of wrong actions distort reality. Just as we should not spend our lives aimlessly associating with evil people and fools as it says in I Corinthians 15:33, we also should not invest valuable time watching immoral and frivolous Television programming. Every family member should learn to be a critical viewer, ready to switch off "junk" productions that are done in poor taste. We all should be willing to explain our viewing choices to other family members.

The Value Test

Relaxation is a legitimate need, but some kinds of relaxation are better than others. It is for good reason that TV has been called the "plug-in drug." Even recreational time should not be squandered. Can we justify the time we spend watching particular television programs (or movies) as compared to other more active forms of recreation - like reading, visiting with friends, playing a game, taking a walk, or working in the yard? Does the time we spend watching TV make us more productive and balanced people, or is it draining our vitality and undermining our creativity?

The Morality Test

We live in a fallen world. Consequently, all good art acknowledges the reality of evil. Art that ignores evil has no depth. The greatest writers and playwrights of the ages have always grappled with evil. But they portrayed evil without glamorizing or sensationalizing it. Sometimes actors need to play roles portraying immorality. But a good program distinguishes between acting and exhibitionism. As the commercial networks to boost ratings promote more and more "soft" pornography, we should keep in mind the simple insight that fornication "acted out" by professional actors and recorded on film for public entertainment is still fornication. Human sexual intimacy is too precious to be prostituted by the media under the guise of "realism" or "artistic freedom." Similarly, both the testimony of common sense and academic circles affirm that media violence, even when simulated, has the effect of desensitizing viewers, lowering their inhibitions, and creating an appetite to see more. Today's media, like the Roman circus, often exploits evil rather than exposing it, gaining viewers by inflaming their passions. If we regularly test our TV viewing by these three standards, Reality, Value, and Morality, we will probably find that it will be greatly reduced or even eliminated altogether. Your family's use of the media says a lot to your family and friends about its values, priorities, goals, and dreams.

From "Setting TV Viewing Standards" by Radio Bible Class