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Why I Pulled the Plug on TV

By: Kristen Clark

“Oh hey, come on in!” I said to my friend while giving her a big hug. This was her first time over to my new house.

“We still have a lot of remodeling to do, but we’re getting there.” I said gesturing to a pile of drop cloths and paint cans.

“Are you kidding?” she said enthusiastically. “Your house is seriously adorable already!”

We slowly walked through the front entryway and into the family room. We chatted back and forth about house projects and remodeling woes. Then, after carefully examining the entire room, she looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked, “I don’t see a TV anywhere…do y’all keep it in the bedroom or something?”

Somehow I knew this question was coming.

“Actually…” I said while glancing around the room, “we…don’t own a TV.” Her eyes instantly widened. “Really? Seriously?” she asked with a shocked face.

“I know, I know. We’re living in dark ages!” I said laughing. “But to be honest…we actually like it. There’s just not a lot of stuff we want to watch on TV these days…Plus, if we do want to watch something we can usually find it on the internet.”

She nodded in what appeared to be half agreement and half astonishment.

Whenever someone finds out that Zack and I don’t own a TV, we usually get the same shocked response. And I don’t blame them! If I were in their shoes I would probably be shocked too.

Owning a TV and watching it regularly is an everyday, normal pastime for Americans.

Even though owning a TV is the normal thing to do today, Zack and I decided to opt out of this particular pastime. Before we got married (during engagement), we made the “crazy” decision to start our new life off together without purchasing a TV. Weird, I know.

So what prompted us to be so radical in our decision? Why would we pull the plug on something as popular as TV?

I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t because I thought TV was boring.

There were quite a few channels I found really intriguing (i.e. remodeling shows, makeover shows, cooking shows, animal/nature shows etc). Zack, being a competitive guy, also loved watching a good sports game here and there.

So, no.

We didn’t ditch TV because there wasn’t anything “interesting” to watch. No way. We enjoy being entertained with the best of ‘em. And for us, that’s exactly where the problem was. We both knew how addicting a good TV show could be. We knew how captivating a series could become. And we also knew how quickly our moral convictions and standards could be swayed.

We knew because we had lived it.

Both of our pasts are filled with stories of slippery-slope-compromises. Without even realizing it, we both fell prey to the mindset that consistently justified everything by saying, “it’s not thaaaat bad.”

Can you relate to us here?

A pastor named Kent Hughes says, “Today, the all-pervasive glow of the television set is the single most potent influence and control in the Western culture. Television has the greatest power over the lives of most Americans than any educational system, government, or church.”

I don’t think most of us realize how influential the TV is on our thinking.

Everything we watch portrays someone’s worldview. Every show we watch was created by a specific group of people who have a very specific worldview. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of Christian worldviews floating around in Hollywood…so what we watch is usually saturated with ideologies contrary to God’s word.

One of the most influential books I have ever read in my life is called, Worldliness: Resisting the Seduction of a Fallen World, by CJ Mahaney. In it, there’s a chapter on media in which Craig Cabaniss says,

“The media has great power to influence, but most people – both Christians and unbelievers – presuppose that their worldviews, desires, and opinions are safe from media sway. We’re convinced we’re beyond reach. How revealing, then, that advertisers spend $215 billion annually just on television commercials. These marketing dollars are not charity; our thinking is influenced by what we watch, and advertisers know it.”

Powerful and true. None of us are beyond the reach of influence.

What we watch will shape our thinking in one direction or another.

Nothing is neutral. That’s why advertisers are willing to pay so much money for their message.

In my past experience, the more I allowed myself to absorb the TV, the more I wanted it. The reverse was rarely true. And that’s when I found myself constantly justifying what I wanted to watch by saying, “it’s not thaaat bad.” The moral bar kept getting lowered. The convictions kept slipping further. Have you ever experienced that?

For Zack and me, we didn’t want to make those same mistakes again.

When we weighed the pros and cons against each other, the cons bore the heaviest weight for us.

Yes, there are a handful of innocent shows on TV. However, there are also dozens, if not hundreds of not-so-innocent shows right next door. Not to mention the constant bombardment of unsolicited commercials and easily wasted time.

We had to ask ourselves a very pointed and honest question: “Is it worth it to us? Like, is it really, really, worth it?”

For us, it wasn’t.

Choosing to begin our marriage without a TV was a radical choice.

We realize that. But it’s one we are so grateful we made. That’s a choice we will never regret. That doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy a good, clean movie every now and then. We’ll even watch a sports game here and there via live streaming from the internet.

We still enjoy entertainment, we’re just more selective in what we watch and how we watch it.

Our personal choice to unplug was born out of a conviction and desire to remove unwanted distraction, temptation, and potential pitfalls from our lives. We don’t have a “holier than thou” attitude about it…we just feel like we can honor God better this way.

However, we don’t look down on anybody who owns a TV and we don’t judge their decision.

We know and love many wise Christians who own television sets. Each person isn’t going to be convicted in the same way and we completely respect that.

With that being said…would I recommend unplugging from the TV? Even for a season? Well, for me, the benefits are undoubtedly worth it.

Whether you’re currently watching a little or lot of TV, I sincerely encourage you to examine and evaluate your television intake.

Ask yourself honest questions. What are you watching and why? Do the shows you watch chisel away at your Christian worldview? Are you justifying your habits by saying, “It’s not thaaat bad?” How many hours a week are you wasting on pointless entertainment?

I’d love to chat with you more about this topic below! Questions, comments, and critiques are welcome. 

Also, share with me ONE thing God has personally challenged you on in the area of entertainment!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com | 46587507

Girl soaking up the weather

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  • Hannah Grant

    GET OFF OF SOCIAL MEDIA. No, I’m not saying you have to delete your FB, Instagram, and Pinterest account, what I’m saying is just to take a break from it. You could take a break from it for a week, but honestly I don’t think that’s longer enough. It’s probably going to take about two weeks (minimum) for you to realize you really don’t need it. You don’t even have to do that with all the social medias at one time! Take a break from one for a couple weeks, and then maybe take a break from another for another couple weeks. I gave up Google+ for lent, which is 40 days, and it was so incredibly helpful. I less often feel the urge to check social media anymore. I would highly recommend you do the same. Or, give up blogs for a week. When you’re following lots, and lots and lots of blogs, it can get really distracting (even if they’re all helpful, spending all your time on the computer isn’t a great idea – you know that if you’re honest with yourself).
    Lastly, I’m not at all perfect. I still do things that aren’t Godly, and now, instead of social media, I find myself drawn to blogs, watching videos, and searching the Internet. I’d love to know your thoughts on how you try to spend less time on the computer and more time doing meaningful things.

    • Sarah Elizabeth

      I gave up all types of social media once for three months and it was great! After the three months were over, and I got back on Facebook, Instagram, etc. they just seemed boring and pointless.

    • Hey Hannah! You make some great points. Taking a break or “fast” from social media is a great thing to do here and there! I totally agree. It helps to reset your thinking and allows you to break bad habits…not to mention it reveals just how much time you were truly spending online. Thanks so much for sharing!!

  • Grace

    Wow! You go girl! I admire your strive for putting God first. 🙂

    One thing that God has personally challenged me about in the area of entertainment would probably be to ‘switch it or ditch it’. Anything that is so not God honouring e.i. Cursing, drugs, fighting etc, it’s either change the channel or turn it off. This has worked out for the best and I am constantly trying to remind myself that there are better things I could be doing, however tempting the TV, lounge and a bowl of chips may be.

    🙂

    • Hey Grace! Thanks for sharing openly and honestly. Sounds like you have a great system with “switch it or ditch it.” I like that. Negative entertainment seems to constantly pulls us back in…so we have to continually be on our guard. Way to go and keep fighting the good fight! -Kristen

  • Elisabeth

    Kristen,Thanks so much for the post, and yes, recently God has convinced me that I watch and enjoy romance a little too much, even though everything I watch is descent,I have decided to gradually narrow every bit of that I watch, and eventually take a brake from it for a while.

    • Thanks for sharing Elisabeth! I’ve been there too… getting sucked into romance movies/shows is so easy, it’s scary!! Way to go on being sensitive to God’s conviction in your life. I encourage you to consistently stay on top of it and never let your guard down. 🙂 Keep fighting for purity and holiness in everything you watch!

  • CT

    My family’s habits happens to be now so that we don’t own a TV either… well, we do have one, but that’s because it came with the house. But it’s in the basement, which is the worst place to receive signal. And we got rid of the old-fashioned TV antenna years ago. Personally my convictions are that I don’t watch TV, and besides, there are much better things to spend your $$ on than TV channel subscription. A church group leader once told me that she unsubscribed from her cable service and used that money to sponsor a child in Africa. Wow, what an example! And yes, there is plenty of stuff on the internet for free. Even if some shows are innocent, inside I know that I could be making more productive use of my time reading my Bible or doing homework. The Lord convicted me of the same thing with social media a few years back. While I wasn’t doing anything “bad”, it was bad in the sense that it was wasting too much of my time. So I deleted them and decided to get on with real life.

    • Hey CT, thanks for sharing so openly and honestly. What a neat thing your church group leader did! What a great idea! Sounds like God has been doing some good work in your heart in the area of entertainment and social media. Way to go on being faithful to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in your life. May you continue to use your “extra” time to serve others and point people to Jesus.

  • Diana

    I completely agree! As a kid growing up, my family did have a TV but we didn’t watch that many shows (just the weather channel), we would of course have to ask our parents permission to watch something which was usually a Christian story on a cassette. A while later, we just threw it out, at first I think we felt a difference but now I think: how do people live with it? When driving around in the evening, all you can see through the windows is the light from the TVs, a lot of Americans are addicted!
    I feel like God challenged me to delete my Facebook account. All those social media accounts are the same thing as TVs. You get addicted! I remember I would check and look through Facebook almost every fiver mutes! If a person can’t be wothout a phone for at least an hour, there’s a problem. It was hard for me to delete it, but now here I am away from the social media world, and I don’t even miss it! You need to get out the house and start talking in person with your friends!!!
    I woul encourage every girl to get off the social media sites, they won’t do you any good!

    • Hey Diana, sounds like God has been doing some great work in your heart. You’re right…it is very easy to get addicted to social media and TV. My sister was struggling with using the Instagram app too often, so she set a limit of twice a day. It was really hard for her at first, but as time went on it became SO easy…in fact, she didn’t even get on some days. She lost her “buzz” of interest because she limited her access. For some people, setting boundaries and limits is a great way to use social media. For others, the best thing for them might be to delete it all together. Thanks so much for sharing!! May you continue to shine the light of Jesus to those around you.

      • Elizabeth Williams

        I have the same problem with Instagram! I just recently got it and was wanting to get on it all the time, so I have set the limit of only getting on there twice a day, Right now it’s not that easy but I’m staying consistent with it!

  • Karissa

    Well said! You have challenged me and I agree with you. There are not a lot of Christian movies coming from Hollywood. I do have a question. What do you recommend like young girls, like me, to watch? I really enjoy movie and popcorn and candy, but I still want to obey God and honor Him by not putting bad thoughts in my mind. Like is there a website of a list of good movies?

    • Carliss

      Hi Karissa! I personally don’t watch a lot of movies (like maybe one or two a month max!) but somthing I’ve found helpful is to always check a review before watching anything. That way it is less tempting to continue the show when inappropriate content comes up. 🙂 I always use Focus on the Family’s Plugged in movie reviews. They give a christian perspective and outline any bad language or sexual content in their review.

      • Karissa

        Hi Carliss! Yes, that is a great idea! I have definately heard of the website and I am excited to use it! Thank you!

    • CT

      You could curl up on the couch with popcorn and a good Christian biography video or documentary 🙂

    • Taytay

      Here are some great Christian movies that I like (in no particular order):
      Amazing Grace (I don’t think this was made by Christians, but it’s a historical film all about William Wilberforce, who fought for the end of the slave trade in England. It’s a beautiful, wonderful film)
      The Redemption of Henry Myers (an exciting film set in the West)
      All the Sherwood Films
      The Grace Card
      Pendragon (I’ve never personally seen this)
      Beyond the Mask (coming to theaters this Spring…google it)
      October Baby (one of my favorites)
      Mom’s Night Out
      Gimmie Shelter
      All the Torchlighter Films, my fave is Perpetua (they’re animated, historical, and surprisingly, powerful. I LOVE them)
      The Runner from Ravenshead (all the actors are kids, but it’s still entertaining with a great message)
      Walking across Egypt (this is not a documentary, and it’s not about Egypt.)
      What If
      World Wide Pictures Films: (specifically Last Flight Out, Joni, The Climb, Something to Sing About, Road to Redemption (comedy), A Vow To Cherish)
      Bamboo in Winter
      The Eastern Bride (I think Open Doors, a Christian ministry for persecuted Christians, made these)
      Underground Reality: Vietnam
      Underground Reality: Columbia (these are two of my favorites. They’re kind-of like documentaries, they’re real, gritty, eye-opening, and entertaining. Look up Voice of the Martyrs)
      China Cry
      Beyond the Next Mountain
      and I like the TV Shows Bringing up Bates and 19 Kids and Counting

      Plus I would also do some Google searches for good Christian movies and see what you come up with.

      • Those are some good movie suggestions Taytay! Thanks for sharing!

      • Jesusfreak17

        Great suggestions! I wouldn’t consider this a complete list without God’s Not Dead on it though! Super great movie! There’s another movie called Do You Believe? by the same people but it’s really good. It is PG-13 though, and for a good reason, so it’s not necessarily for everyone. Son of God is really good too.

        • Taytay

          I totally forgot about God’s Not Dead! There really are a LOT of good Christian movies out there…so much so that they can’t be put on one list! I’d love it if you guys could tell me some good movies I didn’t mention.

      • Karissa

        Thank you so much, Taytay! This is really helpful! 🙂

        • Taytay

          You’re welcome. 🙂

    • Erica

      Another great movie is Grace Unplugged! Its about a girl who gets angry at her worship pastor father because he won’t accept her new style of music. ( she did go overboard) She leaves and realizes the world isn’t as great as she thought it would be.
      Facing the Giants, Courageous (if your parents let you because its a PG 13 movie about cops. Its still Christian) and fireproof. All from a church and great movies if you haven’t seen them.

  • Elizabeth Williams

    God has definitely been speaking to my heart about this lately. We have always had a tv, and I wish we didn’t, but that’s not my choice right now. I still live at home, and one day, if I get married, I’ve already made the decision that the tv isn’t worth it. For me, it was SO easy to justify what I watch. I mean, plenty of other Christians watch the same stuff, and it doesn’t seem “thaaat bad.” lol But I still couldn’t get away from God speaking to my heart about it. Then I read Leslie Ludy’s “Set-Apart Femininity” and it definitely confirmed it in my heart. I have already given up some shows, and I only watch tv when my parents are watching. And I try to be honest with them about why I don’t want to watch certain things. I feel like there’s so many benefits of unplugging.

    • Hey Elizabeth! Sounds like God has done some great things in your heart! Way to go on listening to the Holy Spirit and being willing to act according to His promptings. Leslie Ludy’s book is a great one! It sounds like you’re having some open and honest convos with your parents which is really good. I encourage you to continue keeping the communications lines open with them. Just always make sure you’re respectful and honoring to them in what you say. 🙂 May you be a beautiful reflection of Christ to those around you.

      • Elizabeth Williams

        Thanks! I’m definitely making sure to never be condescending in this area. My goal is definitely not to make someone else feel bad, it’s just a personal decision 🙂

  • Fernanda Santos

    I belive that in the world we live this days, a entertainment based world where the media makes us think as a uniform mass we should realy avoyd every entertainment that along the hours we spent with it makes us addicted, forget about pray and pass time in the presence of God, even making this entertainment an idol for us. The bible says that we should watch and pray Matthew 26:41.

    • Fernanda Santos

      Sorry for my bad english.

    • Thanks for sharing Fernanda! Your english was great. 🙂

  • jessica

    My husband of six months and myself made that decision to when we were engaged and tbh its brilliant. A big problem in couples seems to be a breakdown of communication and the tv is one of the main problems also you have less distractions without it. Ie you do the housework. U read the bible together u bake more. I personally feel lifes so much better without one ! Ps we do have a dvd player and we occasionally will watch something together as a treat .

    • Hey Jessica! Thanks for sharing! I’m right there with you. My husband and I have so many amazing convos in the evenings because we’re not sitting in front of a screen. We even read books together on our date nights and LOVE it. We still enjoy a good movie (as in uplifting) here and there…but we just watch those directly on the computer. Zack and I have a really close intimate relationship, and I’m sure that unplugging from TV has contributed to that. 🙂

  • mandy

    My husband and I have been married going on 13 years next month and we have never owned a T.V.! Even tthough I was only 17 when I married. Very good decision! I actually attend a church that asks all ministers not to own a T.V. Which is the main reason we never owned a T.V. My husband was an usher at the church before we married. But I can honestly say this one decision has done so so much food for us. In our marriage. And for our kids!!

  • mandy

    Sorry not food.(silly spell check) Good**

  • Jesusfreak17

    As I am still in my parent’s house, I’m not in charge of whether we have a TV or not. We don’t watch cable really, just Netflix and movies and I really enjoy a lot of what we watch. However, I did get really uncomfortable when my parents showed us the first Indiana Jones movie… there’s pros and cons. You certainly have to use discernment when choosing what to watch. It sounds like a good idea to not have a TV when you’re first married, I guess I’ll see when I get there! 🙂
    Thanks for writing this!

  • Quite Distinguished

    It’s incredibly encouraging to see so many comments from others who don’t have TV. (I thought I was the only one!!!) Growing up, we didn’t have TV either (we had a TV screen and VHS player for the occasional family movie night–but no reception). I remember a very very brief period of time when I was very young that we’d catch just enough reception on Sunday evenings to watch the Lawrence Welk Show occasionally….but that was it. I never missed having TV because there were soooo many other things to do with my time. We used to play outside, and build and create all sorts of games, read, pick up a hobby….etc. I honestly thought TV was watching movies–I had no clue about “channels”…and TV shows…..

    Growing up without a TV made the decision easy for me when I moved out. I’d lived 26 years without a TV….why would I need one now? I actually went a bit further than that and have decided to not have Internet at my place either (I will admit, that one is a bit more difficult for me, but I like the built-in safety it provides). People at work are still shocked by that, and just can’t figure out what I DO with myself when I get home from work. 🙂

    How have I been most challenged in the area of entertainment? I’m going to define “entertainment” very loosely here…. I’ve been most challenged to not use entertainment as an escape for loneliness. Since I live alone, I spend most of the time I’m not at work–alone….and loneliness is often an uncomfortable reality. The temptation to avoid the sting of loneliness can manifest itself in the desire for “entertainment” through various means: going out with friends….or hitting Starbucks for some “free” WiFi and internet time….or taking that dance class just to talk to other humans….or scouting YouTube for random funny videos. None of those things are “bad” per-se, but if they detract from what I need to be doing (laundry, meal prep…etc) then they are filling the same gap that a TV and other media would–a gap that I should be filling wisely by meditating more on God and spending time in His Word & prayer, and drawing closer to Him. I’m thankful I’m not really tempted by TV, video games, or the latest movie….for me I struggle being content with less human interraction than I would like, and learning to use the solitude well.

    • Elizabeth Williams

      It IS encouraging to read the many comments for others. For you situation, I think so many Americans spend so much of their free time in front of the tv that they wouldn’t know what to do with themselves. And with you not having tv or internet, I’m sure that makes you an awesome friend! You probably are able to devote more time to others and invest in relationship better than the average American. And I’m sure time spent with Christ is much less distracting!

      • Quite Distinguished

        LOL. Thanks Elizabeth. I’d like to think I make an awesome friend, but I’m not always so sure. 🙂 I’ve discovered that even without TV/Internet I can still manage to be selfish with my time (why am I so surprised?) …which is actually something I’ve been greatly convicted about this year, so I’m trying to be more intentional about investing in the people around me (God’s been growing me a LOT in that area).

  • Recently God has challenged me to never click on a non-christian movie, which zeros my options down, and now I hardly watch movies at all. Though not only because of that.
    I would love to not own a tv! I will definitely pray that my husband will have the same desire.

  • Olivia Taunu

    I’m happy that you have a nadr choice that is positively affecting your relationship with the father and I hope you will continue on in progress 🙂 I would just definitely be careful of viewing shows on the internet because I dtrongly believe that Internet streaming is a sin (stealing a network possible profits and content) that is normalizrd.

  • AWESOME!!! I’ve grown up my whole life as well without a TV!!! I thank God that my parent’s decided on that and I plan to do the same through out my life!

  • Elle

    Hey there ! I loved the post but i slightly dissagree with the statement ‘pointless entertainment’
    I myself never understood how people could be addicted to tv because there are only a few things that are relaxing and fun to watch . I myself am very picky to what i like to watch and i dont watch a lot of tv .
    I watch 2 programs on tv when its evening because at the end of my day i like to dit down and watch something that relaxes me , i usually do that together with the fam because watching tv alone is .. Not so cozy i guess ?
    To me its a great way to relax and. Honestly ive never been afdicted to tv and i can’t see myself become addicted any time soon .

    I do want to mention something , i dont live in amerika and things on tv in europe are a little diffrent ( to say the least ) .
    So the shows we watch are usually different .
    And if i see some thpical american soaps or programs .. I honestly cant wait to turn the tv of ! Its always so extreme and dramatic …

    Why i watch tv with my family in the evening ?? It relaxes me !

    I enjoy cooking shows
    The news
    A little belgium soap that i like
    And my australian hospital series !

    I dont watch all of these everyday and i only turn the tv on after dinner .
    I also like some movies , but again .. Very picky person .
    Its a nice thing to do with the fam .. Watching z movie together . Oh soooo cozy .

  • Elle

    Owh and i didnt mean the ‘ i can’t wait to turn american programs off ‘ as an offense to americans !
    I just mean that ive noticed that everything in america from fashion to tv is always taken to the extreme .
    Im somethimes shocked of the american culture .
    And i do understand that tv is a bigger problem in america then it is in other country’s .

    Sorry if my comment in my last post sounded offensive !!

  • Adjeley

    I guess TV is my idol. I am not interested in social media or what other people do in their leisure, I only read and play the piano so with all this spare time I just watch TV and it has affected my relationship with God. I am trying to fix it but I can’t, not because I don’t want to but because I can’t seem to stop. So I have taken it step by step minimizing the hours I spend watching TV and it’s working, Hopefully, I will get there soon


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