Shepherding your children through media choices
Christian parents must take special care in making wise decisions for their families. Whether we like it or not, our children are targeted as prime consumers in the media market. Without parental guidance, they are especially vulnerable, not only because they generally lack discernment but also because they are being exposed to media more than…
Christian parents must take special care in making wise decisions for their families. Whether we like it or not, our children are targeted as prime consumers in the media market. Without parental guidance, they are especially vulnerable, not only because they generally lack discernment but also because they are being exposed to media more than any previous generation. Parents need to be aware of the threats media can pose, and alertly stand guard. Dads and moms should set the tone in the home and uphold a godly standard for their kids. The effort parents make in this regard will not go unrewarded (cf. Prov. 22:6).
Be a good example. Parents must set an example that is worthy to be followed. Wise choices must be made, and self-control must be employed. The sobering fact is that our children will emulate what they see in us. They learn as much by what we tell them, as they do by how we live. If we are always watching television, even if it is relatively good television, what message does that send to our kids? If we skip church to watch the game; if we justify dirty movies by “fast forwarding the bad parts;” if we laugh at the sensual or irreverent sitcom jokes— what lesson does it teach our children? No matter what we say, we will not convince them that Jesus Christ is our highest love if the way we spend our free time suggests otherwise.
Stand guard. Parents must watch over their family with vigilance. They need to know (and be in control of) the influences to which their children are being exposed. Ignorance is no excuse. If there are headphones on a child’s head, the parents should know what’s on the MP3 player. If there is an internet connection in a child’s room, the parents should know what websites are being visited. If there is a television in the bedroom closet, the parents should know what shows are being watched. (For that matter, parents should seriously think through the potential temptations and risks involved before allowing their children to have private access to any media device, especially televisions, cell phones, or internet-capable computers.)
Media must be muted in our homes so that the noise doesn’t drown out the voice of God. If we are not careful to shield ourselves, we will be overtaken by the deluge, and more significantly, so will our children. As their spiritual (and legal) guardians, we must be proactive in the struggle against the assault of entertainment. Parents are called by God to be the prime influencers of their children. They must not surrender that role to a corded box that sits in the living room.
Stimulate spirituality. Your evenings at home are prime time, not for watching television but for investing in your family. If you spend that time watching TV, instead of spending time with your kids, you are neglecting your God-given responsibilities as a parent. Consider two things—among many others—that you trade for a few fleeting moments of relaxation and entertainment: a deep relationship with your children, and gospel opportunities to lead them to Christ.
If you spend time with your kids, investing in them, learning about them, showering love upon them, and playing with them, they will want to turn off the television. When your children are all grown and gone from the house and you think back on the years you spent with them as a parent, what things will you regret? I’ve never met anyone who wishes they had watched more TV and spent less time investing in relationships.
Parents (especially fathers) need to take an active role in the spiritual development of their children. Youth pastors and other spiritual influences can be helpful supplements. But the primary spiritual responsibility for raising up godly children rests in the home. As God commanded Israelite parents 3,500 years ago, “You shall teach [God’s statutes] to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:7). If we are to fully counter the effects of media, we must diligently teach our children the truth about God, sin, and salvation.
As an aside, here are five practical questions that parents should consider in creating a strategy for their own families.
- Honestly assess your media consumption. List the TV shows you watch regularly. From the biblical standards you’ve learned in this chapter, do you need to make some changes? Are you exposing yourself to corrupting influences?
- Understand your responsibility to redeem the time and use it wisely for God’s glory. Are you spending too much time watching TV, surfing the web, or participating in other media-driven activities (like video games)?
- Consider what you want to make of your life in light of Christ’s call for faithfulness to Him (Matt. 25:23). Are you abusing your “freedom in Christ” for your own leisure and pleasure (Gal. 5:13)? Or are you exerting yourself in service to the Lord?
- Compare your media intake with your intake of God’s Word. Are you more devoted to your own entertainment and amusement than you are to God’s precious Word? What plan of action will you take to address this?
- Honestly assess the example you demonstrate to your kids. Do you need to make any changes or improvements? Will you sit down with your family, admit your failure in this area, and set up a new plan of action? Remember that your responsibility as a parent is to provide spiritual leadership and guidance for your children in the home.
Setting A Higher Standard
Our culture yearns for recreation and rest. The entertainment industry feeds us the notion that we all deserve a little R&R, and then happily presents us with many options. You work hard all day, so you deserve a little time in front of the television to unwind. Right? Yet God’s Word sets a more exacting standard for those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. We are called to live our lives exerting all of our energy for Christ, to spend and be spent, to fight the good fight of faith, to clamor after something far more worthy and infinitely more fulfilling than anything this world has to offer. We are to live for the glory of Christ!
If we do, not only will our homes be bastions of godliness in a wicked world, the sacrifices we make for His sake will be abundantly rewarded in heaven. We would do well to join with Jonathan Edwards in being “resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.” Why would we spend our lives being amused by the dim hue of the television, when we could be breathlessly enraptured in the blazing brilliance of Christ’s glory? Let us keep our eyes on Christ, the Author and Perfecter of the faith. In so doing, we will have little appetite for the fading illusions of this passing world.
Kurt Gebhards is the pastor of preaching and leadership at Harvest Bible Chapel in Hickory, North Carolina.
Taken from Right Thinking in a World Gone Wrong. Copyright © 2009 by Grace Community Church. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97402. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used by Permission.
– Join us for D3 Youth Conference 2015 as we learn what it means to trust God and walk by faith. At D3 you will hear from God’s Word as you participate in one of three tracks: leadership, worldview, or missions.
– Find more info on the May 2 Counsel the Word event at Southern with a Confident Parenting theme.