The Influence of Television and Culture: What Goes in the Mind Comes Out in Actions
When Matt was very young, his parents introduced him to a family friend. Matt was excited because he had someone to play with; his parents were pleased because he could entertain Matt when they were busy.
As the years went by, Matt and his friend spent countless hours together playing video games, watching sports, music videos, and reality shows. In time, things changed—his friend began to use profanity and was disrespectful toward his family. Although his mother and father disapproved, what could they do? His friend was like a family member now. He taught Matt how to dress, how to act, and even how to treat others. Although his parents wouldn’t admit it, he taught them a thing or two as well.
Once Matt reached his teen years, his friend’s influence was obvious. Matt spent more time with him than with his family. Matt’s dad and mom were always gone, so his friend taught him about life. He introduced Matt to alcohol, drugs, and pornography. He explained how sex before marriage wasn’t a bad thing; everybody was doing it, even with same-sex partners. Surprisingly, Matt’s parents allowed his friend to continue to live in their home. After all, they enjoyed his company; he was a great entertainer.
When Matt grew older, he realized that the friendship should never have continued. He believed that his friend’s influence encouraged his dad’s affair, his mom’s problem with alcohol, and eventually, their divorce; the impact of Matt’s friend on him was just as devastating.
Today, with full knowledge of the damage done, Matt still allows his friend to live with him, and, amazingly, he still listens to his advice. Matt’s friend has a name; it’s television.
Although fictitious, Matt’s story is more fact than fiction; it’s characteristic of so many homes today—what goes in ultimately comes out. This, no one can deny.
Just a few decades ago, most of today’s television programs and movies would have shocked the public. Programs that never would have aired then, receive the highest ratings now.
You may say, “Times change.” And you are correct, but God’s standards do not. The sin that once amazed us now amuses us. When sin begins to amuse us, we are dangerously close to the edge: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).
For those who doubt that there is a significant contrast between God’s Word and what most entertainment and media outlets promote, the following may surprise you:
Media: Cheat on your spouse; everyone is doing it.
Truth: “Whoever commits adultery…destroys his own soul” (Proverbs 6:32).
Media: Have sex before marriage; experiment with same-sex partners.
Truth: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators (sex outside of marriage) God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
Media: Abort your mistake; after all, it’s only a fetus, not a baby.
Truth: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). Psalm 139:13 says, God formed my inward parts; He knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Media: Party—eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.
Truth: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day [Jesus’ return] come on you unexpectedly” (Luke 21:34).
Media: Cage fighting and other brutal sports exemplify manhood; follow their example.
Truth: Men are to love their wives and raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. (See Ephesians 5:25 and 6:4.)
Media: Disrespect your parents and their outdated advice.
Truth: “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
What most in the media promote and what the truth actually is are hardly compatible. No wonder families are disintegrating; it’s evident to me that we’ve embraced an attitude of compromise in our nation, and, more sadly, in our homes.
We, like the mighty Roman Empire that collapsed centuries ago, are crumbling from within. Historian Edward Gibbon recalls the condition of Rome before her fall:
- The rapid increase in divorce and “the undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home.”
- More taxation and the spending of public funds on food and entertainment.
- “The mad craze for pleasure and sport; sport becoming every year more and more exciting and brutal.”
- The building up of the military when the real enemy is within—“in the decadence of the people themselves.”
- “The decay of religious faith; faith fading into mere form…”
For anyone to suggest that the media isn’t propelling us in this direction, is either sheer ignorance or denial.
Culture is religion externalized. In other words, the culture around us simply reflects who and what we value. How we dress, what we view, who we hang out with, what we listen to, and how we spend our time, all speak volumes as to what we cherish. Are we cherishing the things of God, or the things of the world? Remember, what goes in the mind ultimately comes out in our actions.
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