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Television The Plug-in Drug Stephen M Crotts “The eye is the


									                 Television: The Plug-in Drug
                           Stephen M. Crotts

            “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your
       eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light;
       but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be
       full of darkness.”
                                            Matthew 6:22-23

     Use of mind altering drugs is epidemic in our nation today.
Cocaine, heroin, speed, angel dust, alcohol, marijuana and the like
are swallowed, mainlined, snorted or smoked from the halls of high
school to the executive suite. And you may add to that list of drugs
the television set. It’s the plug-in drug. And, I fear, the most of us
are addicted.
     Statistically, only 9% of American homes had a T.V. set in
1950. But, now, over 96% of American homes have a set. It is
estimated that there are at least 190 million televisions in this
country alone. I can believe it! Within the past few years I visited
in a family’s home that had five television sets– one in each
bedroom, one in the family room, and one on the kitchen table!
And have you ever noticed that wherever the television set is, it
becomes the focal point of the room? Chairs all face that way!
     What shall we make of this plug-in drug? Are we abusing it?
Or, worse still, is it abusing us?
     Let’s look at some facts and get into the Word and see.

                       A Powerful Influence

     First of all, consider the powerful influence of the media.
     If you’ll study Genesis 3 you’ll discover how Satan tempted
Eve through her eyes. “She saw the fruit.” “It was a delight to the
eyes.” And one thing led to another and she turned away from God.
So, Do you see how the eyes are the gate of one’s life? This is what
Jesus means in the text when He points out, “The eye is the lamp of
the body.” Anything that catches the eye may well catch you! And
inasmuch as television gets your eye it is a powerful force.
     I have heard it argued that what one watches on televison has
no influence on them whatsoever. Hey! I’d like to be able to
believe that! Yet, I point out that advertisers of everything from
cereals to cosmetics to chewing gum to luxury cars pay out millions
in the belief that what one sees on T.V. is a direct influence on
one’s lifestyle.
     With that in mind, turn your television on and watch what
happens. In the sitcom “Friends” a tight group of New Yorkers
makes up morality as they go along. “Survivor” encourages rank
voyeurism. The show “Frazier” is about a psychiatrist who
divorces, moves to Seattle, and hosts a radio show. It’s message is
that marriages may come and go, but analysis is forever. Then
there’s “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” All about getting rich
quick. And be sure not to miss “Charmed,” the story of four
beautiful people who cast spells to get their way in life.
      A common thread running through all such shows is a
humanistic view of life. When people are vexed they don’t pray,
they have another drink. God is more often than not ignored,
institutions like the church or marriage are belittled, while
everybody does their own thing and it all comes out right in the end.
      Yes, it would be nice to believe that what we see on the screen
has no influence upon us. But Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of
the body.” And advertisers, aware of this, are willing to spend more
than a million dollars for a prime time 30 second spot just to tell
you about their hamburgers, razor blades or cars.
      In a survey of 208 inmates at Michigan’s maximum security
prison in Marquette, 90% said they improved their criminal talents
by watching television. 40% said they had actually attempted
crimes they first saw on T.V.. The recent “Junk Food Murder” gang
in Florida admitted they got the idea for their killing after watching
the horror movie, “The Shining” on cable television that very week.
A police movie showed a victim soaked in gasoline and then set
aflame by a match. After its screening the same crime was repeated
within the month by youngsters in real life– all of whom had seen it
on T.V.. A mid-western high school lad, victim of a hold-up, was
made to drink liquid Drano. His assailant got the idea watching a
Clint Eastwood movie.
      Make no mistake about it. “The eye is the lamp of the body.”
What gets your eyes gets you! Television is a powerful influence.
It motivates, educates, guides, woos and wins for good or ill.

              Addictive With Bad Side Effects

      Yes, T.V. is a powerful influence. And, now, second, note
 with me television’s addictiveness, and its bad side effects. In the
 text Jesus said, “If you eye is sound, your whole body will be full of
 light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of
 darkness.” Let’s focus now on the “darkness” of T.V. addiction.
      Ninety-three million households in this country have television
 sets. That’s 97% of all families. 45% of our households have more
 than one set. 77% of all T.V. sets are color sets. Adult women
 average 30 hours and 14 minutes a week in viewing time. Children
 ages 2 to 11 average 25 hours and 38 minutes. Adult men average
 24 hours and 25 minutes. Teenagers 12 to 17 average 22 hours and
 36 minutes. That’s addiction.
      By the age 18 a child has watched over 15,000 hours of
 television. His school has only influenced him 11,000 hours. And
 if that child has been in Sunday School with the ragged attendance
 record most families present, he will only have put in about 600
 hours Bible study. The 18 year old will have been bombarded with
 over 350,000 commercials, witnessed some 24,000 sexual
 encounters, and participated vicariously in 18,000 murders.
      Question: What is all of this television doing to us? What are
 the side effects of this addictiveness?
          More and more T.V. is leading us into a world of fantasy.
People believe what they see on television. Twenty years ago,
“Marcus Welby,” T.V.’s fictitious medical doctor received 250,000
letters requesting medical advice in the four years of its screening.
 presents to such culpable people a world of glamours people who
 get into hopeless situations, but always work things out with fast
 cars, guns and alcohol within the hour, and go on living happily
 ever after. A cartoon in New Yorker magazine shows a father
 changing a flat tire on the freeway in a downpour. The children are
 looking out the car window in wonder as the dad yells, “Don’t you
 understand? This isn’t television! This is reality! No, we can’t
 change the channel!” Such is T.V.’s influence. It blurs our sense of
 reality. It maims our ability to bear down in the real world.
       Another bad side effect of T.V. addiction is the lowering of our
 self-esteem. T.V. models are slender. Most of us are not. They
 have straight teeth, live in fancy homes and visit exotic places. Not
 us. And our self-esteem can fall in comparison. Witness the
 beautiful teenaged angst of “Dawson’s Creek’s” cast. All lovely.
 All witty. All fashionably dressed. All the things many of us
       Television is also a time thief! The average American doesn’t
 have six hours a week for church training, but he does have 25 or
 more hours a week for T.V. Jack Benny, the late comedian said,
 “T.V. is called the medium because nothing it ever serves up is well
 done.” Lee Loevinger said, “Television is the literature of the
 illiterate, the culture of the lowborn, the wealth of the poor, the
 privilege of the underprivileged, the exclusive club of the excluded
 masses; television is the golden goose that lays scrambled eggs.”
 And, I might add, it scrambles our values, our lifestyles, our brains!
 Television is a time thief because it robs us of the time we could
 have spent pursuing the best by over-indulging us in the purely
       Another bad side effect of T.V. addiction: It kills one’s
 imagination. Americans are turning from a literary society into a
 verbal video society. No longer do the most of us read the book.
 Instead, we wait for the movie. Reading bores us. T.V. entertains
 us. So we take the easy way out and lose our imagination in the
       Further, television can infect us with passivity. We no longer
 initiate things. We’re content to sit back and watch things happen.
 In short, television is turning us from a nation of participants to a
 nation of spectators. Instead of going out to the game, we watch it
 on televison. Instead of going out to worship, we simply watch it on
 T.V.. Instead of going out to the theater, we turn on the tube. Poet
 T. S. Eliot defined television as “A modern form of entertainment
 which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the
 same time and yet remain lonely.” In a very real sense, T.V. is not
 bringing us together. It is separating us into little cubicles of lonely
 sit-coms, documentaries and soap operas.
          T.V. addiction can also cause aggressive behavior and
paranoia. Vernard Eller said it so well, “Surely it makes some sort of
perversion when people are entertained by the sight of other people
being cut down, chomped up, knocked around, plowed under, and
tromped over. Rome, before it fell had infamous gladiatorial shows.
The U.S.A. has developed a film and electronic technology that
enables people to be closer and more intensely involved as
spectators of blood and gore than any Roman in the Colosseum ever
could have been.” According to the U.S. News and World Report,
“Violence on television does lead to aggressive behavior by children
and teenagers who watch the programs. There is an average of five
violent acts per hour on prime time and 18 per hour on children’s
weekend shows. At all ages, heavy viewers of
television are more apt to think the world is violent. . . trust other
people less and believe the world is a mean and scary place.”
     Television also makes it harder for us to learn. Reading and
I.Q. tests show a pattern: The more T.V. viewing, the lower the
scores. In one town that only recently began to get T.V. reception,
pupils’ scores fell off sharply within two years. Look at it this way:
Hundreds of hours of preparation and dozens of workers sink their
talents into one thirty minute T.V. show. A pastor working alone is
fortunate if he can get 20 hours of preparation into his thirty minute
sermon. Educationally, there is no way a school teacher can
compete with T.V.’s “Sesame Street.” Television simply spoils us.
It inhibits our ability to learn from lectures, books, sermons and
     Another bad side effect of T.V. addiction is loss of physical
exercise. A child of seven said, “I’d rather stay inside than play
outside. In front of the T.V. its exciting. Outside there’s nothing to
do except the same old stuff like skipping rope and swing sets.”

                            Safe Doses!

     Well, that the power of the media and its addictiveness and
harmful side effects. Now let’s consider how we in Jesus Christ’s
Spirit may take television in safe doses.
     The text mentions, “If your eye is sound, your whole body will
be full of light.” How may we keep our eyes sound on television?
     A principle here is: Limit the time you spend watching
     The real danger of television is not so much in behavior it
produces as in the behavior it prevents– the visits, the walks, talks,
games, family festivities and arguments through which we learn and
through which our character is formed. The harm of television is
that it has turned our family circles in semi-circles! A cartoon in a
family magazine shows a father saying, “I’ll tell you what we did
with our evenings before television. We gave dinner parties. We
went to dinner parties. We read. We worked jigsaw puzzles. We
went to plays. We went to concerts. We went to movies. We
popped corn. We played cards. We went dancing. We took walks,
bowled. We attended meetings. We took classes. We went. . .”
     Don’t allow T.V. to rob your family life. Limit your viewing
time. Buy a T.V. guide and plan to watch only those shows that
will be worth trading family time to see.
     Another principle to keep your eye sound and your body full of
light: If what you have begun to watch is vulgar, change the
channel, turn it off, or walk out.
     Isn’t it wonderful how movies have progressed over the years?
First there were silent pictures, then talkies, then color, and now
most of them smell. Don’t sit there and be smeared with vulgarities.
Turn it off! And to see that such programming is cut out, protest by
letter to its sponsors.
     Another way to keep your eye sound is to learn and practice
discrimination. We learn to eat the meat and throw the bone away.
We teach our children to walk on the dry patch and stay out of the
puddles. So, why not teach discretion in film viewing?
       A few years ago we took our youth group to see the
film, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” And we all loved it, agreeing that it
was one of the most adventuresome films we’d ever seen! But then
we began to discern what we saw. Biblical history was distorted, at
least nine of the Ten Commandments were broken– so why did we
enjoy it? A frank and revealing conversation followed about carnal
appetites and personal righteousness and how to eat the meat of a
film and throw the bone away. In today’s world, such teaching of
discretion is a must in every family!
     Another principle for a sound eye: Give the Bible equal time.
Why not plan one hour of Bible study for every one hour you watch
television? That can work some good stewardship of time into your
habits. Not to mention working in some biblical truth.
     And, now, a final principle: If you’re a T.V. addict and can’t
get control of your habit, then take your television outside and
smash it! Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it
out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members
than that your whole body be thrown into hell” (Mt. 5:29).


      In Acts 28:26 Paul spoke to the Roman world steeped as we are
in their own media. He said, “You shall indeed hear but never
understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. For this
people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing,
and their eyes have closed. . .” And aren’t his words still true of our
televison audiences?
      Habakkuk, the prophet, chides us so relevantly about our
television addiction saying, “What profit is an idol when its maker
has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For the workman
trusts in his own creation when he makes dumb idols! Woe to him
who says to a wooden thing, awake: To a dumb stone, arise! Can
this give revelation? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and
there is no breath at all in it. But the Lord is in His holy temple; let
all the earth keep silence before Him.” (Hab. 2:18-20).
      Vladimir K. Zuorykin, a Russian immigrant working as an
engineer for Westinghouse patented his first T.V. tube in 1923. In a
1981 interview the inventor expressed amazement that T.V. has
become such a worldwide force. “The technique is wonderful. The
color and everything are beyond my expectation,” he admitted. But
as to programming, Zuorykin said, “It’s awful what they’re doing
with the subject matter. I would never let my children ever come
close to this thing.” Words to the wise from the inventor of
      But in our text is even wiser words from the Inventor of all of
life. And He asks, “Is your eye on the television set sound and full
of light?”
                           Suggested Prayer
      O Lord, forgive! I have too much loved the world. Set my
affections upon you and help me to recognize, reject, and resist

Stephen M. Crotts
October 22, 2000
Myrtle Grove Presbyterian Church
Wilmington, NC 28409

Dear Friend,
   Since 1973 we’ve been mailing sermons to all who’ve asked. We do not charge.
Prisoners, pastors, missionaries, leaders, homemakers– they’re literally posted
across the nation. If you have surpluses you’d like to put behind this ministry,
your offering would be appreciated at this time. And on a further note– in 2001
we’re going to take advantage of technological progress. You may download the
sermons via our web site: http// Also, please give us your e-
mail address if you have one. It would save us postage.
   Yours for the gospel!
Television: The Plug-in Drug
              October 22, 2000

        Stephen M. Crotts

    “Man shall not live by bread alone, but
        by every word that proceeds
          from the mouth of God.”
                                 Jesus Christ

                                 Matthew 4:4

                 Myrtle Grove Presbyterian Church
                          800 Piner Road
                 Wilmington, North Carolina 28409

Dear Friend,

         Since 1973 we’ve been mailing sermons to all who’ve asked.
         We do not charge.
         Prisoners, pastors, missionaries, leaders, homemakers– they’re literally
posted across the nation.
         If you have surpluses you’d like to put behind this ministry, your
offering would be appreciated at this time.
         And on a further note– in 2001 we’re going to take advantage of
technological progress.
         You may download the sermons via our web site:
         Also, please give us your e-mail address if you have one. It would
save us postage.
         Yours for the gospel!

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