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Idiot Box
Like most middle-age Americans, I grew up with a television in the home. First, there was the portable black and white that sat on a stand in the living room. That sufficed for quite a while. Finally, however, came the day when my family got that big, used console that brought to our home the world of living color! What a difference! From there, various televisions came and went with less and less applause.

When Mark and I got married, we continued the American way and got ourselves a tiny portable black and white, which only people of our youth could possibly see in focus. In time, we also got a color set which seemed almost as exciting as the ones we had in our childhood.

You know, with most items there is a point where the new wears off. The novelty is over and the item gets put in the garage or sold or pushed over a hill somewhere. But with televisions, it’s different. It’s like they’re members of the family or something. Have you noticed that? For most people, the television is located in the living room. And if you look around the room, the furniture is probably facing it. When it’s on, it has the undivided attention of some or maybe even all family members, leaving only short commercial breaks for human interaction.

Television, a Family Member

So, if you think about it, the television is often like a family member. It may even have a name. In my family growing up, my mom named ours the idiot box. At first thought, it kind of seems like a fitting name. I mean, it is just a machine without a brain or capacity to think. And it does make a lot of noise. But an idiot? Hardly! The box itself may be brainless, but the one inventing the majority of general programming is a genius. A subtle genius who doesn’t mind using even seemingly good programs to pull us into his trap of mind control.

For example, there is a program called DATELINE, which does a weekly feature called “To Catch a Predator.” I have watched that program a few times. At first, it gave me satisfaction that these journalists were catching sexual predators and getting them into jail where they belong. And it IS good that they’re doing that. But what I didn’t realize was that while the end result is justice and good winning over evil, my mind was still being exposed to the filthy dialogue the predators had been using, and I was also becoming aware of other details of their sordid plans. Did I really need to know all of those details?  I found myself thinking about the details more than the fact that good had won over evil. That’s the same thing Satan does with movies and other entertainment. The end may be victorious, but is the journey worth it? 

A lot of us believe that just because we watch someone commit murder on TV, that doesn’t mean we’re going to kill anyone. And that’s probably true. Otherwise, nearly everyone would be a killer. So, if I watch someone commit adultery in a movie, will I go out and commit adultery too? No. Will I become less sensitive to the fact that other people commit adultery? Yes! The more I watch that situation, the more I will accept it.

So, I decided to more carefully guard the avenues to my soul. Those avenues are my five senses. Whatever I take into my mind and body through my senses will affect me either for good or for bad. Sometimes we see things or hear things that are beyond our control. But most of what we take in is by choice. 

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
That seems like an excellent guideline for viewing. I’d hate to have my mind compromised by an idiot box! Wouldn’t you?

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By Gwen Scott Simmons. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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