The Clandestine Educator: TV in the Modern World

Since its inception, television has captured the cultural imagination. Outside of work and sleep, it is now the primary preoccupation of most Americans. Individuals consume upward of five hours of TV daily, even more when taking into account viewing done online and on mobile devices. TV is so ingrained in the fabric of everyday life that it can’t help but function as one of the primary means through which we make sense of our lives and the world.[1]

I quit watching my favorite television shows, Big Brother and Survivor. I really did enjoy these “reality TV” shows and that was my problem. I enjoyed watching a program for entertainment that promoted lying, deceiving, and manipulating others in order to win a monetary reward. Now, please do not think that I am judging others who do watch these programs. The Holy Spirit was working on me, and I can only speak to the Spirit’s action in my own life. God does deal with us individually.

But in all honesty, to watch TV is to risk being entertained by a make-believe world in which sin is not often considered and which promotes a worldview that is contrary to the morality that comes from growing in the Christian faith. Cohabitation is taken for granted. Adultery is considered commonplace. Violence is glorified. Lying is an accepted practice. The act of killing another human being is just part of being entertained. Often, the Christian faith is portrayed in a bad light. So why should someone who is serious about their Christian faith not be concerned about how this type of entertainment influences them? This is just a question but a question I believe we should do some serious reflecting on.

We cannot escape TV. Even if we throw our TVs away, we will still encounter the screen that influences so much of our time. We can recognize its influence and we can decide how we will screen the screen.

I have come up with some questions for myself. Perhaps these questions can be helpful to you in deciding what you consider entertainment.

1) Would I watch this show if I was aware that Jesus was sitting beside me?

2) What do I find entertaining about what I watch?

3) How do I feel about the accepting portrayals given to what is taught in Scripture as being immoral?

4) Is my faith being insulted or mocked in the programs I watch?

5) Do I care about who is made the victim or do I ignore victimization on TV?

6) Do I reflect theologically on the programs I watch?

7) What would someone be led to believe about me by the TV I watch?

I am sure you could come up with other questions that would make you a more discerning consumer of television programming. I do believe it is important to our spiritual development to be aware and discerning about this clandestine educator that takes up so much time in our culture.


[1] Watching TV Religiously (Engaging Culture): Television and Theology in Dialogue, Introduction