Thinkin’ Out Loud: Captain Kangaroo and J.R. Ewing

By Lewis Willis

I doubt that any single thing has had the impact on society that equals the influence of television. Most Christians would like to think that they are immune to these things. However, if we think the church has not felt the effect of television, we’ve got our heads in the sand. No longer is it valid to ask, “Has television influenced the church?” A more correct question is, “How large a percentage of us are affected by it?”

We usually discuss the influence of television on our children. Is anyone so naive that they do not acknowledge the influence of television on the parents? It is an unquestionable fact that almost as many television programs are heard by Christians (?) at the Sunday evening worship hour as there are sermons that are heard. When parents absent themselves from the worship to watch TV, guess who is sitting there watching it with them? And, I do not refer to the Lord! Susie, Betty, Billy and John – you- get the picture. Those precious treasures which are our children are imbibing the way of the world instead of the right ways of the Lord.

I heard a startling statement recently. A fellow said, “I grew tip in the 50’s and television was my babysitter.” I would like to think that he was being dramatic. But he probably meant just exactly what he said. “Go watch television” is the instruction too many parents have given to their children so that the parents can take a nap, cook a meal, go shopping or hold down a secular job. Instead of loving their children and talking or listening to them, the television is turned on and we listen to it. Naturally, everyone must be quiet that not one single line of dialogue is missed. Toys, grades and boyfriends will simply have to be discussed later – provided the kids don’t fall asleep before the TV is retired for the evening. These beautiful, impressionable minds are feeding on the godless philosophy and defunct morality of Hollywood. Surely no one believes that this doesn’t affect our children.

I think most of us would like to conclude that they’re watching Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers or Bugs Bunny. It might be revealing, however, if we would ask what’s happening with J.R. on Dallas or what the Dukes of Hazzard are up to these days. More of them will ask you, “Who is Mr. Rogers?,” than “Who is J.R.?”

What parent doesn’t like to hear his kid singing? He learns “Snap-Crackle-and-Pop” jingles, “Tootsie Roll” jingles and “Hubba-Bubba-Bubble Gum” jingles. But, do you remember your delight and amusement when that three or four-year old sang you a “Budweiser” commercial? Of course, they learn this at Bible Class and not television, right?

No plan of attack has been as successful as Satan’s attack on the family. Too many examples of his success can be cited, even among God’s people. No, especially among God’s people! We have been lulled to sleep by something we would like to think is innocent, when honesty demands that we designate it insidious, dangerous and Satanic. Is everything on it bad? Certainly not! Is everything on it good? Certainly not! Obviously, we’re not likely to eliminate television sets from our homes, so let us at least try to be selective about what we and our children watch.

We would all be well-advised to consider the influence of sin in our lives. “A little leaven leaventh the whole lump” (Gal. 5:9). He was discussing a different “leaven” than TV, but Jesus warned, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6). Paul said, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33). He also said whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Fathers are to bring up their children “. . . in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Finally, Paul enjoins upon all Christians, “. . . keep thyseif pure” (1 Tim. 5:22). 1 was just thinkin’ – would one be more likely to protect himself from evil and maintain his spiritual purity while watching TV or while studying God’s word? I’ll not insult your intelligence by answering that. Following is a poem by Jerry Johnson that every Christian should consider.

TV Spiritual Suicide

Think how wonderful our nation

And how peaceful it could be

If each prayed and searched the Scriptures

Much as they tuned in TV.

It’s amazing and appalling

How the Lord is so denied –

Many have exchanged their Bibles

For that so-called TV Guide.

Murder pictures – children watching,

Programs often base, obscene.

Many juvenile delinquents

Can be traced back to the screen.

Pastors many are bemoaning

Small attendance Sunday nights,

Careless members, home and watching

Special programs, or the fights.

Surely this must grieve the Master,

All this tendency to crime,

As He notes ‘the wasted hours’,

How and what we do with time.

With this grip upon our nation,

Midnight hour, so very nigh,

Yet we lull to sleep our conscience

‘Mid a ‘Rock-Roll’ lullaby.

Spiritual suicide is certain

If continued in this way.

How we need to search the Scriptures;

More and more we ought to pray.

There would be tremendous difference

(To this you may not agree),

But our greatest Spiritual Robber

Is none other than TV.

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 18, pp. 557-558
September 15, 1983