Should a Christian watch TV, R rated movies, PG-13 rated movies, “Game of Thrones,” the “Big Bang Theory,” or soap operas? Should Christians watch anything on TV other than low budget, cheesy Christian movies that play too much slow, epic music throughout every scene of inner turmoil the main character goes through? To most of us, it seems “Christian entertainment” forgot the “entertainment” part.
So what’s a Christian to do who enjoys watching TV? Chuck the TV out the window? Suck it up and just watch “Fireproof” and other Kirk Cameron specials until reading through the genealogies and ceremonial lists found in the Old Testament begin to look like a better source of fun? Perhaps there’s a better way.
What Christians Watch on TV is What Matters
Rather than making sweeping statements that watching any television show or movie is sinful unless they are “Christian,” it’s important to note that the Scriptures do not condemn means of communications but rather types of content.
All joking aside, there is great danger to the Christian who is watching hours of sinful images on TV every day, day in and day out. Throughout the pages of Scriptures there are warnings to guard our eyes and to be careful about what we watch (Matthew 6:22-23, Psalm 119:37, Exodus 20:4-5)
According to verses like Matthew 6:22-23, the reason we must be careful of the content we watch is because what we look at is what we let into ourselves. All humans know from experience, sinning can simply starts with what we see. When a man sees too much of a woman’s body, when a person sees that dessert, or when a shopaholic sees the signs for a huge sale, the desire to indulge in sin grows the longer we stare at the tempting image before us.
Watching TV Can Alter What Christians Believe
In J.I. Packers book Knowing God, he explains the importance of the second commandment regarding carved images (Exodus 20:4-5):
“Psychologically, it is certain that if you habitually focus your thoughts on an image or picture of the One to whom you are going to pray, you will come to think of him, and pray to him, as the image represents him. Thus you will in this sense “bow down” and “worship” your image; and to the extent to which the image fails to tell the truth about God, to that extent you will fail to worship God in truth. That is why God forbids you and me to make use of images and pictures in our worship.”
While Packer’s focus is to warn Christians of the dangers of making pictures or art of God (including Jesus) himself, his words carry over into all things that we see with our eyes. The reason Christians must be careful of what we watch on TV is because the more we see something the more we will subconsciously come to accept it as truth.
If Christians watch TV shows which regularly depict premarital sex as something to be celebrated rather than mourned over, this lie will begin to take over their own worldview. The more Christians watch TV shows which make murder mundane, the more we laugh at sin on viral videos, the more we watch movies with excessively crude language, the more Christians take in lies without challenging them – the more our core beliefs about what is true and good will change.
To accept something as truth which the Bible deems as sin is to begin walking away from truly knowing God as he has revealed himself to be. We must guard what images we watch so we are guarding what truth we believe.
Therefore, it’s silly to claim watching TV is sinful or that if Christians go to the movies they are supporting evil. Means of communication are not sinful in themselves. But it is downright harmful to ourselves if we pretend we can watch sinful content and not be seriously hurt.
TV is not the problem. What Christians watch on TV is the real issue.