Asked for It 2005 - Part 4
Managing the Media
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
August 28, 2005
Main Passage: Philippians
Help me out here… finish
How do you spell relief?
The best part of waking up is…
"Folgers in your cup!"
I’m a pepper he’s a pepper she’s a pepper we’re a pepper…
"Wouldn’t you like to be a pepper too?”
Double your pleasure with…
Good to the last drop…
It’s time to make the…
"Donuts! … I made the donuts!"
I am stuck on…
"Band-aids, cause Band-Aids stuck on me."
A is for Apple,
"J is for Jack, cinnamon toasty Apple Jacks."
Can’t get enough of those…
What would you do for a…
"Fizz, fizz… O, what a relief it is."
It’s not nice to fool…
Ho, ho, ho…
"The San Francisco Treat."
"A little dab’ll do ‘ya."
"Trix are for kids."
You are my sunshine…
"My only sunshine, You make me happy, When skies are grey, You’ll never
know dear How much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away."
…oh my, it’s a wonderful toy…
"It’s Slinky, it’s Slinky, fun for a girl and a boy."
Two all-beef patties…
"Special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun."
Here, let’s try a few audio ones… sing along…
Coke – play coke-christmas83.wav or 84 (longer)
Ah, the memories. Some
of those haven’t been on T.V. in over 20 years. Brings a tear to the
eye, doesn’t it? How many of you remembered most of those commercials?
Do they make you a little nostalgic? Do they kind of make you long for
the days of yesteryear?
Do you still believe the media has no effect on you?
There’s really no arguing that television influences us. It has the
ability to sway us and impress us. It can affect our thinking and
behaviour. It can even mold public opinion. We need to recognize that
all media is “educational”. The only question is: What are we learning?
Are we learning that violence solves problems? Are we learning that
adultery is good for a few laughs? Are we learning that homosexuality
is just another lifestyle choice? Are we learning that sleeping around
has no consequences? What are we learning?
You see, the things that we use for entertainment and information can
use us. Influence is the power to lead. So you’ve got to ask the
questions, “Where is the media leading me. What is it teaching me? How
is it affecting me? Is its influence good or bad?”
We’re continuing this morning with our “You Asked for It” sermon
series, and if you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve been asked to speak on the
media today. We’re going to talk about how the media affects us and
what we can do to combat its negative influence in our lives. We’ll
talk mostly about television, because it is such a powerful influence
in pretty much all of our lives. But what we’ll talk about will also be
transferable to movies and music and video games and even the Internet.
Now, let me start by saying I enjoy television. There’s nothing wrong
with television itself… it’s what we choose to watch and how often we
choose to watch it that matters. And I enjoy movies. In fact, I have a
good size DVD collection at home. Music… same thing. Video games? Hey,
I get together with some of you to play them! In fact, this past Friday
many of you were at Chris and Rosita’s for our outdoor theatre when we
showed the latest VeggieTale video on the side of their house using the
projector. What you may not know is that after you left, we set up the
Nintendo and played a few games on the wall, too.
So I’m not on some kind of witch hunt to bash all types of media. But
what I do want to do is warn you about some of the dangers. There are
lots of positives, there are also lots of negatives.
By age 17 the
average person racks up between 15,000 and 20,000 hours of watching TV.
That’s the equivalent of two solid years, night and day.
A Florida State
University study (1993) reported that during a typical prime-time hour
of television, the characters talk about sex or display sexual behavior
an average of once every four minutes.
The average child
sees 8000 murders on TV by the time they finish elementary school.
By the age of 18,
they have seen 200,000 violent acts on TV.
In 1993, a study
reported that the 100 top TV advertisers spent over $15 billon, because
they know that the media influences our choices.
On TV, premarital or
extramarital sex outnumbers sex within marriage 8 to 1.
During primetime, TV
viewers see a sexual act or reference every 4 minutes.
During 117 hours of
programming, 72 curse words were used.
Movies are a lot
worse. One of the worst was 1990’s GoodFellas, which ran 146 minutes
& contained 246 uses of the F-word alone. Unfortunately, movies
like this give bad language a good name.
Those are just a few
statistics, but I don’t think I really have to convince you that there
is way too much sex and violence and profanity and hatred and
materialism on T.V. You already know that. But do you understand just
how powerful the media is? It can formulate opinions, inspire actions,
and write the course of human history. Hey, even Ozzy Osbourne knows
“I was the ‘prince of darkness’ for nearly 35 years. Suddenly, I became
Mr. Super Dad. TV is the most powerful thing that’s been invented.”
~ Ozzy Osbourne
So for good or bad, the media is powerful. We know and enjoy many of
the advantages, and if we had time we could talk about them. But this
morning we’re going to focus in on the dangers…
What are the Dangers of the Media?
A. The Media
Presents a False View of Reality.
Advertisers try to show
us what life would be like if only we used their product. Sitcoms and
soap operas create stories that are supposed to seem real, but are they
really? And don’t even get me started about how unreal the reality
shows are. Plus, shows and movies often display values, ideologies,
points of view, and stereotypes that are sometimes outright illusions.
Last week’s biggest movie was The 40-year Old Virgin. What’s the
message of that movie? From what I can gather, the message is that
there’s something wrong with someone who’s forty years old and still a
virgin. They just don’t exist! So the whole movie is geared toward
helping this guy lose his virginity. But the truth of the matter is,
there are plenty of 40 year old virgins out there and that’s fine. When
did that become a dirty word? They should be commended for maintaining
some moral integrity if they are waiting for marriage.
What’s more, very few of the acts of violence on television, or acts of
sex for that matter, show any consequences. There’s no sense of loss,
no pain, no heartache, no mourning. There have been people in real life
who have murdered because the perpetrators were acting out what they
saw on the screen. That’s an extreme case, but it’s an example of how
the media presents a false view of reality and removes any consequences
from our actions. On television…
unpunished in 73% of all violent scenes.
47% of all violent
interactions show no harm to victims.
58% of all violent
interactions show no pain.
Only 16% of all
violent interactions portray the long-term negative effects of
violence, including psychological, financial, or emotional harm.
57% of all
programming is violent.
But you know what?
Violent crimes occurs far more frequently on TV than in the real world…
more than 8 times as much! And crime does have long-term ramifications
and consequences for both the victim and the aggressor. But many don’t
realize that there are consequences. I read that one teenager was
shocked to discover after getting shot that it actually bled and hurt!
Problem is, many people and especially children and teenagers take this
false view of reality and try to make it reality. And this isn’t new.
Way back in 1960, Dr. Leonard Eron studied 875 third-grade boys and
girls and discovered there was a direct relationship between the
violent TV programs they watched and their aggressiveness in school.
But that wasn’t the end of the study. He later examined the subjects
when they were thirty years old. Those who had watched significant
amounts of violent television were more likely to have been convicted
of more serious crimes, to be more aggressive when drinking, and to
inflict harsher punishment on their children. He concluded…
“What one learns about life from the television screen seems to be
transmitted even to the next generation.”
~ Dr. Leonard Eron
B. The Media
Provides Heroes & Role Models not Worth Imitating.
A recent survey of
junior high students found that 36% chose actors as their heroes; 19%
chose musicians; and 11% tied with athletes and comedians. So it seems
the biggest qualification for being a hero or role model is not what
one stands for or what good they’ve accomplished; it’s their celebrity
Everyone knows now that professional wrestling is fake. They are
basically actors who have created these bigger than life characters…
some good, some bad. And one of the things that concerns me is that
sometimes the big bad guy gets more cheers than the good guy! The media
provides heroes and role models not worth imitating.
A lot of comic book heroes have become movie heroes in recent years.
Last year, The Punisher became one of those heroes. It was a movie
based on the Marvel comic book by the same name, and if you’re familiar
with the story you’re aware that it involves a man named Frank Castle
whose wife and family are murdered. And so he becomes a merciless
killer hunting down the people who killed his family. Yes, he suffered
a great tragedy, but since when do we cheer revenge?
Leviticus 19:18 (NLT)
“Never seek revenge or bear a grudge against
anyone, but love your neighbour as yourself.”
I don’t think the media does a very good job living up to that verse.
C. The Media
Decreases our Quality of Life.
Or at least our sense of
it. Compared to everything the media presents us with, our lives seems
dull and boring. We’re not out saving the world everyday, we’re not
learning how to survive on a deserted island, we’re not being romanced
by the sexy plumber who lives next door. Compared to what’s on TV, our
lives seem rather bland.
We have been immersed in a culture of high tech; fast paced; action
films… and as a result we have forgotten how to actively listen and
carry on conversations and make our own fun. And think about what it
can do to children. Kids who watch a lot of TV get bored when the set
is turned off; they don’t know what to do with their time.
D. The Media
“There are 2 things TV
characters never do, go to the bathroom & go to church!”
~ Travis Johnson
And it’s true. You rarely see references to faith and religion in the
media. And when you do, it often portrays an unfair and distorted
picture of Christianity and God. Most times Christians, and especially
preachers and priests, are portrayed as out-of-touch or as idiots or as
wishy-washy in their theology & lifestyle.
Actually, that’s not completely true. There’s not a lot of authentic
faith portrayed in the media, but there is a lot of spirituality and
religious references. And there’s one place in particular you can look
to find plenty of references to God. Award shows. How many times do the
recipients thank God during their speeches? And how many times can you
look at their lives and realize that they may claim to have a faith but
it really has little or no effect on their lives? That a worthless
faith. It’s marginalized to when it’s convenient and sounds good.
Several years ago there was a show in which one of the characters was
deciding whether or not to protect her virginity. So she consulted her
priest. Sounds like a good plan. But what did the priest tell her? He
told her to do what she feels is right since God will never stop loving
her. He was right that God would never stop loving her. But he was dead
wrong in telling her that how she feels is the ultimate guide for how
she should act.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is found in the book of Judges.
The book is filled with people doing terrible things, and then the very
last verse explains what was going on…
Judges 21:25 (NLT)
… the people did whatever seemed right in
their own eyes.
We can’t be guided by what we feel. We need some kind of external
source to define right and wrong. And the Bible can do that for us.
E. The Media
Tears Down the Family.
Have you ever noticed
how fathers are portrayed in sitcoms these days? They are usually lazy,
bumbling idiots who create more problems than they solve. TV dads have
become punch-lines. Meanwhile, many of the kids on TV have become
spoiled brats who frequently disobey their parents and have no respect
for them or any other adults. TV depicts marriage as being filled with
fights, arguments, and a lack of respect and love. 23 TV families were
studied and they found that there were 9 conflicts per hour. Marriage
can have its ups and downs, but come on!
So there are definitely
some dangers when it comes to the media and what we choose to watch,
play or listen to. What can we do about it?
I suppose we could do what the city of Ridgewood, NJ, did. That city
decided that every Monday would be “Family Night”. No homework is
issued, no sports practices held, no evening meetings scheduled.
Families in Ridgewood are encouraged to turn the TV off Monday nights
and play games, take walks, do craft projects, have a picnic, get out
the photo album, have a sing-along, tell stories, go roller skating,
bowling, visit a museum… whatever, as long as it’s relational and
Or we could do what the president of Turkmenistan did. Did you read
that in the paper this week? He has already outlawed opera and ballet,
and now he’s going after long hair, gold teeth, and lip-synching. So I
suppose we could follow his example and ban all forms of media all
together. But that may be a little extreme. And difficult. As Orson
“I hate television. I hate it as much as I hate peanuts. But I can’t
stop eating peanuts.”
~ Orson Welles
You can ban television if you want. That may in fact be the safest
route. But if you choose not to, let me make a few practical
How Can I Minimize the Dangers of the Media?
1. Check the
ratings and reviews beforehand.
Find out what the
content is before you watch, particularly with movies. I know how hard
it is to get up and walk out of a movie you find offensive. It’s
embarrassing, it’s a waste of money… so why put yourself in that
situation? Before you even go to the theatre, find out what you’re
1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”--but
not everything is helpful. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”--but
not everything is beneficial.
So you want to find out if what you’re going to see is good for you.
The best place I can recommend for you to check is a website by Focus
on the Family: www.PluggedInOnline.com. There you can find reviews for
movies, television shows, and music, all from a Christian perspective.
Another site where you can also find reviews including video games is
ChristianAnswers.net. Almost every time I’m planning on seeing a movie,
I check out these sites first. And many of the times I didn’t, I
1 Timothy 1:19 (NLT)
Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and
always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately
violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been
You can keep your conscience clear by doing a little research
2. Decide ahead
of time what you intend to watch.
Regulate how much you
let TV into your life. At the beginning of every week, I plan out what
shows I want to watch.
Actually, for the past several months Shera and I have been talking
about cutting back on our cable bill. We had full-tier cable and never
watched half the channels. So I figured while I was preparing this
message this week it was a good time to do it. So we cut out a couple
of the packages, which results in a lower cable bill, less options to
occupy my time, and less temptation because the we got rid of the
channels that featured the most profane and explicit shows.
Proverbs 15:14 (NLT)
A wise person is hungry for truth, while the
fool feeds on trash.
3. Tape the
programs you want to watch and view them later.
Hey, there’s about 20
minutes of commercials in every hour now. So taping shows allows you to
fast-forward through the commercials. Plus you can fast-forward through
anything objectionable. And if you never actually get around to
watching the shows you taped, what have you lost really? You don’t
actually have to watch television on the television’s terms.
actively. Discuss the shows.
Ask questions like:
“What is this show trying to make me believe?” “What is this program’s
viewpoint on morality?” If a show is promoting negative messages, talk
about what you find objectionable. It may mean you stop watching that
show, but at a minimum it will make you more aware and discerning about
what you’re taking in.
your home a safe haven and your TV a guest.
Your home is a refuge…
it’s a sanctuary set apart from the onslaught of the negative
influences in society. If a guest to your home were to tell dirty jokes
to your children, use God’s Name in vain, encourage them to drink beer
or describe acts of graphic violence, you’d ask that visitor to stop or
leave, wouldn’t you? Why should TV be any different?
Psalm 101:3 (NLT)
I will refuse to look at anything vile and
6. Evaluate how
Media affects you personally.
Be honest. How do the
shows you watch and the movies you go to and the music you listen to
and the games you play affect you? How do they affect you in the areas
of violence, and sexuality, and profanity? How do they affect your
relationships? How do they affect your thoughts and what you dwell on?
Do some changes need to be made? Jesus said…
Matthew 18:9 (NLT)
“And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it
out and throw it away. It is better to enter Heaven half blind than to
have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”
Is Jesus advocating self-mutilation? No, I don’t think so. The Bible’s
quite clear that He’s more concerned about what’s on the inside than
the outside, and gouging out you eye will have no effect on what’s in
your mind and heart. So what is Jesus saying? He’s saying, “Cut off the
sources that tempt you to sin.” If that’s a particular show or a
particular game or a particular song, then cut off the source.
Romans 14:23b (NLT)
If you do anything you believe is not right,
you are sinning.
Not times when you're
free to watch TV, but times you're free from watching TV. Maybe one
night a week. Or one week a month. Or one month a year. Establish a
time when you’re going to turn the TV off and you’re not going to turn
it on again until the time has passed. Just turn it off and see how
much it controls you. You may find out that you are more dependent on
the TV than you are on your family or on the Lord. Hey, you can even
say you’re fasting from your television, if you’re doing it in order to
get your life in balance with God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)
You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.”
But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though “I am
allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
8. Do not
participate in anything that brings dishonor to God.
I remember when Pretty
Woman came out on video. And as you may know, the movie focuses on a
prostitute. So there’s a fair amount of content in it that deals with
prostitution and sex. Well, it was new on video and we didn’t really
know a whole lot about it, so somebody ended up renting it and stuck it
in the VCR to watch… me… my brother… my mother… my grandmother! I don’t
think I was ever as uncomfortable watching a movie as I was that day.
You do know that God is omniscient and omni-present, don’t you? That
means He’s all-knowing and He’s present everywhere. There’s nothing you
can do that will ever be hidden from Him. He knows what you do in
Remember that old Sunday School song? “O be careful little eyes what
you see. O be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above
is looking down in love. So be careful little eyes what you see.”
So when you turn on the TV or when you put that movie in, you may as
well be aware that He knows about it and He’s right there watching it
with you. Ask yourself, is He pleased with what you’re watching?
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NLT)
Whatever you eat or drink or whatever you
do, you must do all for the glory of God.
Well, there’s a variety
of ideas that may help you establish some good television habits and
guide you in your choices of movies and music and games. But in case
none of those help, or if you want to boil it all down to one verse,
here’s that verse… Ready?
Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
Fix your thoughts on what is true and
honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and
admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Do you think it’d be okay for us to adapt that for TV viewing?
Philippians 4:8 (adapted from NLT)
Fix your eyes on what is true and honorable
and right. Watch things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Watch
things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
How many hours a
week do I watch T.V.? Is that too much? Has it become more important to
me than God/family? If so, what steps can I take to cut back?
Is there anything
I’m watching that dishonours God?
What do I allow my
family to watch? How is that affecting our home life? How is that
affecting the spiritual and social development of my child(ren)?
What themes are
present in the music I listen to?
Would I be
embarrassed if my spouse/pastor saw my “history” files on the Internet?
4:8. How will this verse influence my choices when it comes to the
media (T.V., movies, music, video games, Internet)?
Rewind Your Mind:
Does God Care What I Watch? by Travis Johnson
Taming the Tube by
Demonic? by Joel Smith
Movies: Look Out For That Pothole! by Kevin Higgins