The 23rd channel
I can barely remember when my dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. The stranger was our storyteller.
He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. If I wanted to know about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so lifelike that I would often laugh or cry as I watched. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took us just about anywhere we wanted to go.
He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places, go to her room, read her Bible, and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.
Our longtime visitor used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and to my knowledge the stranger was never confronted. The stranger also felt 1ike we needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He often offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (probably too much, too freely) about sex.
His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man-woman relationship were influenced by the stranger. As I look back, I believe it was by the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave. More than 50 years have passed since the stranger moved in, and to be totally honest, I confess that I found a stranger like him, and took him into my own home. I worry about his influence on me, but what can I do? He lives with me! What’s his name? We just called him TV.
The 23rd Channel: The TV is my shepherd. I shall not want. It makes me lie down on the sofa; It leads me away from the faith; It destroys my soul. It leads me in the paths of sex and violence for the sponsor’s sake. Yea, though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities, there will be no interruption, for the TV is with me. Its cable and remote control, they comfort me. It prepares a commercial for me in the presence of my worldliness; It anoints my head with humanism and consumerism, my coveting runneth over. Surely, laziness and ignorance shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house watching TV forever.
[2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1] Please don’t get me wrong here. I do have giant objections to most of the programming on television today, yet I own computers and have Internet service. I own several televisions, VCR/DVD players, and have satellite service with over 200 channels to choose from, and I often cannot find a decent thing to watch. All I find worthwhile watching is some sports and learning/informative programming only available on pay TV. But, this idol of degradation is destroying the intellect of God’s wisdom and truth. I pray your choices of viewing are not in conflict with God’s Word.
Thomas W. Bonham is an associate minister with the Floresville Church of Christ. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find his column on his blog at http://wilsoncountynews.com.
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