THE FAMILY AND THE MASS MEDIA
(H.G. Bishop Moussa)
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? ... For you are the temple of the living God" (2Cor 6:14-18).
There's no doubt that the world has witnessed rapid progress
in the field of the Mass Media. Over a small number of
years, we have witnessed the progress of T.V. from black and
white to color, then the development of video which we use
to record movies to watch whenever we like.
There have also been developments in broadcasting. The
French are angry because of the tyranny of American T.V.
programs that come to France clearly spreading ideas,
culture and negative aspects of American society. They are
afraid of losing the French identity, despite its culturally
Because of all this, we need to study with an open mind the
effects of the mass media on the Christian family and how to
First: The Effect Of T.V. On The Family
1. The Spiritual Aspect
T.V. affects the family in - at least - two ways:
a. There is no doubt that T.V. keeps the family from
important matters that are basic to the salvation of its
members. To be forced sometimes to reschedule the hours of
Sunday School and youth meetings to avoid the viewing time
of a movie or a football match is proof enough that T.V.
takes up a lot of our time and attention. This definitely
affects our spiritual life whether individually, as a family
or as a society.
b. Some T.V. programs cause stumbling blocks because they
include unsuitable subjects for a Christian. Their moral
values are opposed to the sublime standards of Christianity,
and their principles contradict those of the Christian
faith. They titillate the senses in a way which flies in
the face of Christian integrity and faithfulness.
2. The Social Aspect
The T.V. presents social issues and offers the opinions of
famous writers and thinkers about family and public affairs.
It also shows various types of delinquency, disloyalty,
theft, and violence, and divorce for reasons like falling in
love with someone else etc. All these have their effect on
us. We get used to all these and they become accepted moral
values although they are as far as can be from Christian
purity. Maybe the adults can resist such effects because of
their firm upbringing, but the young may imitate what they
see and take things for granted. Current trends in haircuts,
smoking, styles of dress, even catch-phrases prove the
effect of T.V. on people.
3. The Cultural Aspect
Thinkers and writers complain bitterly about the triviality
of the ideas presented by T.B. TV has weakened the faculty
of reading. People sit waiting to watch TV programs. When
we study the TV programs, it is surprising to find that
there is a lack of humanitarian subjects and social advice.
Nothing but trivialities are presented most of the time.
Children memorize many of the advertisements, songs and
words broadcasted on TV. Why doesn't the TV handle
religious, cultural, scientific, and patriotic topics?
4. The Behavioral Aspect
There is no doubt that the violence that dominates our TV
and cinema screens is reflected in people's behavior. The
chief of Los Angeles police has realized that the rate of
certain types of crime increases after a film shows them on
TV. The cinema, now that TV has attracted much of its
audience, survives on two types of movies: violence and
sex. It degrades us by exploiting these two instincts to
take our money.
A novelist once wrote about a man who committed all kinds of
sins, then felt it did not satisfy him, and so repented.
However, the producer who made a film based on the book took
only the first part. He made a lot of effort to demonstrate
the man's sins and canceled the part about repentance. The
film was shown all over the world bearing the name of the
Second: How To Face These Effects
We can face them in three ways:
1. The Spiritual Fullness
There is no doubt that "A satisfied soul loathes the
honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet"
(Prov 27:7). When our children find their satisfaction in
Jesus Christ, the Bible, the lives of saints; in church,
hymns and spiritual readings; in serving in the city and the
village, it will be easy to take them away from watching TV.
It also makes it easy to overcome the negativism in TV
programs. Jesus is a great power Who saves us from the
power of the flesh, the world and the devil and gives him
the victory over evil in all its forms. He can enable us to
reject sexual immorality no matter how tempting it may be.
We have to restore the family altar, gather with our
children to read the Bible, sing hymns, pray and go with
them to take Holy Communion and to attend meetings at
church. We should watch their spiritual progress closely.
Then it will be easy for them to make the right choices.
Inner emptiness is the reason behind being attracted to TV,
but the person filled with God's grace will watch the little
that is useful, leaving the much that is useless.
2. Cultural Fullness
We used to have a big library at home that was full of books
on different subjects. The parent used to read a book and
then give it to his or her son or daughter to read; later,
they would discuss it together. Now, we rely on the
cultural triviality of newspapers, magazines, and TV.
We need a push to read, to activate the mind and fill life
with sacred enthusiasm, leaving us with no spare time for
any delinquency. A cultured person is capable of choosing
useful books, programs etc., choosing what is upbuilding.
3. The Constructive Selection
When the heart is filled with Jesus Christ and the mind with
culture, it is easy for us to choose the best programs, the
right friends, good books and magazines which will be
fruitful in the home - and leave out those that are
As Christian believers we have some inner enlightenment
bestowed by the God Who made us. "Test all things; hold
fast what is good" (1Thes 5:21). We should weigh matters in
the light of three verses:
+ "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not
helpful" (1Cor 6:12).
+ "All things are lawful for me, but all things do not
edify" (1Cor 10:23).
+ "All things are lawful for me ... but I will not be
brought under the power of any" (1Cor 6:12).
We live in inner freedom: whether reading, studying,
discussing, watching, or travelling. "In all these things
we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us" (Rom
Let's live with our children a spiritually satisfying life,
a life that builds them up culturally. Let's enter with
them into a dialogue that will build their consciences
through Jesus Christ. We will not leave them to go adrift.
Instead, they will be filled with God, live a life of faith
and holiness, and be witnesses for the Lord Who saved us.
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