The question as to whether or not Christians should watch, let alone own, a television doesn't have a direct Biblical answer. Obviously there were no TVs back when the Bible was written. While many Christian households don't have a problem owning and using a television, there are just as many who prefer to abstain from any sort of television viewing. Neither stance is wrong. Both are "fully convinced in [their] own mind" (Romans 14:5), and therefore both are entirely in the right with their convictions. But what if you're not really convicted one way or the other? What if you and your parents disagree on whether or not TV is right for your family?
Just to get this out of the way, if your parents have decided to hold to the "no television" conviction, then you are required to follow their rules. Even if you don't have the same conviction, your job right now is to listen to your parents and obey them (Ephesians 6:1-3). ☺
However, if your parents have given you the go ahead to make this decision for yourself, then you can start asking some questions: What are the benefits of television? What are the negatives? Is there really anything good that comes from TV, or is it just some mind-sucking, brain-melting glowing thing sitting in the middle of the room, corrupting good fellowship?
First off, we want to clarify that television is not automatically evil. Television is a tool, just like the Internet, just like the radio, just like the library. And, like any tool, it can be used properly or improperly.
Television can actually be very useful. Many people get their news reports through their favorite TV channels, and TV is an efficient way of getting emergency broadcasts to the people that need to brace themselves for inclement weather. Over the past many decades, television has also become a very useful means of spreading the gospel throughout most of the world.
Even using television for entertainment can be beneficial, depending on the shows we watch. Some shows can highlight positive themes that are encouraging and uplifting. Other shows are educational, seeking to teach their viewers a new skill or topic.
Although television does have many positive aspects, it can also present a minefield of moral obstacles and unhealthy distractions. Many popular TV shows present themes that are contradictory to what the Bible praises as pure, and for some Christians, this muddies the picture of what is actually good and right and what is not.
Unfortunately, just about anything we read, watch, or listen to (even within Christian publishing companies, music labels, and TV stations!) will likely contain something counter-Biblical. It's important that we are able to separate what is commendable and what is not, according to the Bible, and to be able to separate heresy from Truth.
Television can also become an addictive distraction. It's easy to get wrapped up into a TV show we just discovered had twelve seasons on Netflix, but if that TV show becomes more important to us than God or family or responsibilities, there's a serious problem (Matthew 22:37).
First off, if anything goes against your conscience, drop it. 1 Thessalonians 5:19 tells us not to "quench the Spirit." The Holy Spirit is there to guide us; don't ignore His directions!
Does this television show trip you up in your spiritual walk? Is sexual content in your favorite vampire show stirring up any type of lust in your heart? Step away (Matthew 5:28). Are you finding yourself obsessing over new crafting projects from your newfound DIY show? Back up for awhile (1 John 2:15-17). Is an angry character planting seeds of resentment in your heart? Walk the other way (Romans 12:2).
Remember Philippians 4:8: "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things," and 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."
When trying to decide what to watch, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and know what will affect it positively or negatively. Different things will affect different people. Respect others' convictions, yet hold fast to your own. And if there is any ever question about what to do, remember Philippians 4:6, which says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
Simply put: ask God about it. He's got your back, and no question is too insignificant to ask. (Even questions about whether or not Marvel movies are becoming an unhealthy obsession for you. ☺)
Television is not automatically good or evil. Television is a tool, just like the Internet, radio, or the library, and it can be used properly or improperly. TV for education, news, and even entertainment has both postive and negative aspects. It can be used to spread the gospel across the world, but it can also present a minefield of moral obstacles and unhealthy distractions. If a show causes you to sin or takes away focus from what's really important (1 John 2:15-17), drop it. When deciding what to watch, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23) and know how it will affect you. Respect others' convictions, yet hold fast to your own. And if there is any ever question about what to do, remember Philippians 4:6.
September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.