Those of us who believe that God creates and controls the universe must also realize that God gives us an opportunity in the medium of television that we can take or leave. The challenge for Christians is not to write off a creation of man (and therefore God), but instead to decide if it’s possible to use it for the growth and expansion of God’s kingdom.
While there are numerous dangers that come with the medium (which we’ll discuss at a later time), there are also some significant benefits that can be associated uniquely with television.
Through television, we get know thoroughly characters that we normally would not
I’ll probably never have the chance to get to know a cranky hospital resident who’s familiarity with the health care system has left him cynical and hopeless, yet Scrubs gives me an opportunity to know a fictional version of this man. Watching Band of Brothers gave me a renewed appreciation for the “greatest generation” which I previously viewed (to my own detriment and shame) as old people. These opportunities should not be underestimated. Sure, I could have had similar experiences watching a film, but the long-term nature of a television series enables me to truly get to know a character, while a film simply lets me spy on them. As Christians, we have an obligation to see the image of God in human being, but sin often causes us to migrate away from those who are different than us, leaving them as caricatures in our minds. Television often confronts us with the humanity of those who are disabled, a different skin color, poor, or older than us. It’s an opportunity some of us could benefit greatly from.
Television requires less of a time commitment
I discussed in a previous post that one of the dangers of film is that once you’ve committed, you’re trapped in the theater for at least an hour and a half. The contrasting benefits of television are obvious at this point. The problem is that we oftentimes find ourselves forgetting about this benefit. Don’t like a television show? Turn the channel or turn it off. Not only is a television show usually significantly shorter, but you can “walk out” on them without annoying or distracting anyone.
The best thing we can do here is to actively look for opportunities to identify whether or not you’re wasting time. If it’s boring, a stumbling block, and/or just plain bad make sure you turn the channel or turn it off. God has given us the gift of the off button, and we ought to be good stewards in using it.
Television requires less of a monetary commitment
Stewardship doesn’t stop at the power button. There is enough quality art and entertainment on television these days that it is possible to partake in a good amount of quality art for free. Commercial interruptions, though they come with their own annoyances and problems, are a small price to pay for free content that requires only a commonly owned household appliance and a wire hanger.
Television often provides immediate common ground with others the next day
We live in a world of isolation and privacy. There are very few things we have in common with our neighbors, especially if they are nonbelievers. But televised events like the Super Bowl, The Oscars, Survivor (back in the day), American Idol, etc. (though flawed) give us something to talk about with our neighbors, coworkers and friends. Obviously this isn’t an end in and of itself when it comes to conversations with our acquaintances, but it is an undeniable opportunity to build real relationships with those around us. Some of the more profound cultural events will even give us clear opportunities to address issues such as death, love, life, religion, and redemption.
This is part 3 of an ongoing series on the benefits and dangers of various mediums. Check out the previous installments: