Is TV an idol?

Straight Talk

The Question:

As a Christian, should I abstain from watching TV completely? My family is born again and in various stages of spiritual development. I am disturbed with what is being shown of late and it seems Christianity is under attack. I go to a church that is very strict. They indicate that we could be left behind when the Rapture takes place if we are busy with this “idol” in our lives. On the other hand, I can’t read my Bible all day and pray all day. I will get rid of it if I am in danger of losing my salvation or not being ready when Jesus comes. Can you give me some advice?

RB from South Africa

The Answer
Part 1: Giving TV the right place

Giving TV the right place (Part 1)

The first thing I want to clear up is that you are not in danger of losing your salvation or not going in the Rapture if you have or watch TV. Teaching of this kind smacks of “legalism” where individual rules supersede the true spirit of freedom we have in Christ.

In speaking of the new covenant that we are now under, Paul says to the Corinthian church; “our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

We must acknowledge however, that television is very powerful and can work for good OR for evil. Through TV the gospel is being transmitted into closed countries and many are accepting Christ right in their own living room. On the other hand, TV also transmits pornography and violence and shows programs which often mock Christian values.

The reality is that TV is not the problem – it is the heart of man that is the real problem. Remember this: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil.” (Luke 6:45) Therefore each person must examine their own heart in relation to the amount of TV they watch and which shows they choose to allow access into their home.

You indicate you are “disturbed with what is being shown of late”. I have a suggestion for you. Examine the programming that you have access to and decide in advance those shows which are acceptable for you and for your family. Keep the TV OFF except for those shows. That will be hard at first if you are used to the TV simply running in the background all the time. But it will be worth it.

By doing this you will be ensuring that TV will never become an idol for you. You will be exercising discipline. You will be freeing up time for other activities. Invest in a new hobby, learn how to play a musical instrument, read books, take up a sport, volunteer at a hospital, cook for a family in need, write encouraging notes to friends.

There are a million things in the world to do and we don’t want to waste time in this precious life that God has given us. When we stand before the Lord and he asks us to give an account of our lives, we certainly want to have something more to say than “well I watched a lot of TV.” Wouldn’t that be a shame?

Whether you have a TV or not; whether you watch much or little – that’s not the point. Instead make sure you examine your life in light of this priority: “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Luke 12:31)


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