Promoting Sexual Purity: Is the Television a Friend or Foe?
Do you want to do more to fight abortion? Then one thing you must do is stay in touch with where things are at in our culture. You must be discerning. Ignorance is not bliss, but could lead to fostering an environment where abortion happens in the Church. If sexual immorality becomes more acceptable in our midst, then sleeping around and use of the morning after pill will also become more common.
The television is an almost standard fixture in the homes of Free Reformed people. That means that the secular media has a big influence upon us. But consider the television's view of sexual morality. A quote in the Review section of the June 2-3rd Weekend Australian about a television show called "Offspring" caught my eye. "The first rule of television is never to resolve the sexual tension between the characters. Domestic bliss apparently puts everyone to sleep." It is not my intention to discuss the show, but rather what this comment shows us about the television's view of sexual morality. This comment comes from someone who knows television. He writes television reviews for a job.
Take good heed to what is said. "The first rule of television..." Television has rules. These would not be rules put out by broadcasting standards associations, but rules of thumb, rules followed by those who want good ratings for their shows. Rule number one, producers, if you want people to watch your stuff and stay interested, "never resolve sexual tension between characters." This means: don't let the sexual tension be resolved in a happy and fulfilling marriage where two characters who love each other are allowed to enjoy the God given gift of sexuality in an honourable way in privacy. The sexual tension has to remain – who is going to jump into bed with whom next? Who is going to flirt with whom, which character will next be seduced... In other words you need adultery and unchastity and all the things that entice to unchastity! It is as if this reviewer has read LD 41, and said: "Exactly! All the things listed there are must haves in a good television show. Domestic bliss puts everybody to sleep." In other words, a chaste life within marriage (LD 41) – how boring! The television is committed to not showing you what a happy Christian marriage looks like. It is committed to not showing you what chastity looks like.
Sometimes, Christians are encouraged to boycott a particular show on television and tell the producer that they are against its immoral message. But why not boycott the whole institution of television whose "first rule ... is never to resolve the sexual tension between characters"? That would be a powerful tactic in the fight against sexual immorality becoming more acceptable in the Church. Before readers cry out that there are all kinds of informative and educational material on television that redeems it, have a (re)read of Neil Postman's Amusing ourselves to Death. His argument is that television is dangerous precisely when it tries to be serious – for it must package everything in an entertaining format because of the medium itself.
When you put the opinion of the above reviewer next to Proverbs, it is striking that there is a certain amount of agreement between the two. Not on the point that "domestic bliss" is boring. Proverbs clearly portrays a husband and wife's love for and enjoyment of each other as a beautiful thing. But on the point that unresolved sexual tension can be enticing, Proverbs agrees. That is why it warns to clearly against being taken in by it. The young and naive must learn to see beyond the seeming attraction of immorality. For look where it ends up. "Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter ... till an arrow struck his liver." Try to imagine how painful that would be. "Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death." (Proverbs 7:22, 23, 27). Proverbs makes so clear: immorality is a path to destruction. Don't even start on that path, not even in your heart (Prov. 7:24). Learn to connect the apparently enticing beginning with the destructive end. Then the seemingly enticing beginning becomes increasingly abhorrent.
That is what our children need to be hearing. Do you make a point of reading through Proverbs as your children enter their teen years? Sexual morality, drinking, materialism, pleasure seeking and naivety, are all dealt with in very concrete ways.
Let us consider the place of the television in our homes in light of what Proverbs teaches. Let us do the same for the music that our children are listening to. The rock industry is also an enemy of sexual purity. Sometimes obviously, sometimes more subtly. Don't let our opposition to abortion be hollowed out by increasing tolerance of sexual immorality within the Church.