Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

On Television, Preaching, Nudity, etc.

There is an excellent article by John Piper in the Taste and See series of Desiring God ministries about television.

You can Read it on their website.

I strongly recommend that you read this, because he does an excellent job in answering the following question:

“Piper says get rid of my TV, and Driscoll says buy extra DVRs.  How do you reconcile this difference?”

This quote alone is worth your time:

“I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. Sources of spiritual power—which are what we desperately need—are not in the cinema. You will not want your biographer to write: Prick him and he bleeds movies.”

You can also read full article below:

Why I Don’t Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies

June 25, 2009
By John Piper

Read this article on our website.

Now that the video of the Q&A at Advance 09 is available, I can look at it and feel bad all over again. Here’s what I regret, indeed what I have apologized for to the person who asked the question.

The first question to me and Mark Driscoll was, “Piper says get rid of my TV, and Driscoll says buy extra DVRs. How do you reconcile this difference?”

I responded, “Get your sources right. . . . I never said that in my life.”

Almost as soon as it was out of my mouth, I felt: “What a jerk, Piper!” A jerk is a person who nitpicks about the way a question is worded rather than taking the opportunity to address the issue in a serious way. I blew it at multiple levels.

So I was very glad when the person who asked the question wrote to me. I wrote back,

Be totally relieved that YOU did not ask a bad question. I gave a useless and unhelpful, and I think snide, answer and missed a GOLDEN opportunity to make plain the dangers of the triviality you referred to. . . . I don’t know why I snapped about the wording of the question instead of using it for what it was intended for. It was foolish and I think sinful.

So let me see if I can do better now. I can’t give an answer for what Mark means by “buy extra DVRs,” but I can tell you why my advice sounds different. I suspect that Mark and I would not agree on the degree to which the average pastor needs to be movie-savvy in order to be relevant, and the degree to which we should expose ourselves to the world’s entertainment.

I think relevance in preaching hangs very little on watching movies, and I think that much exposure to sensuality, banality, and God-absent entertainment does more to deaden our capacities for joy in Jesus than it does to make us spiritually powerful in the lives of the living dead. Sources of spiritual power—which are what we desperately need—are not in the cinema. You will not want your biographer to write: Prick him and he bleeds movies.

If you want to be relevant, say, for prostitutes, don’t watch a movie with a lot of tumbles in a brothel. Immerse yourself in the gospel, which is tailor-made for prostitutes; then watch Jesus deal with them in the Bible; then go find a prostitute and talk to her. Listen to her, not the movie. Being entertained by sin does not increase compassion for sinners.

There are, perhaps, a few extraordinary men who can watch action-packed, suspenseful, sexually explicit films and come away more godly. But there are not many. And I am certainly not one of them.

I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

I’ll put it bluntly. The only nude female body a guy should ever lay his eyes on is his wife’s. The few exceptions include doctors, morticians, and fathers changing diapers. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” (Job 31:1). What the eyes see really matters. “Everyone who looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Better to gouge your eye than go to hell (verse 29).

Brothers, that is serious. Really serious. Jesus is violent about this. What we do with our eyes can damn us. One reason is that it is virtually impossible to transition from being entertained by nudity to an act of “beholding the glory of the Lord.” But this means the entire Christian life is threatened by the deadening effects of sexual titillation.

All Christ-exalting transformation comes from “beholding the glory of Christ.” “Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Whatever dulls the eyes of our mind from seeing Christ powerfully and purely is destroying us. There is not one man in a thousand whose spiritual eyes are more readily moved by the beauty of Christ because he has just seen a bare breast with his buddies.

But leave sex aside (as if that were possible for fifteen minutes on TV). It’s the unremitting triviality that makes television so deadly. What we desperately need is help to enlarge our capacities to be moved by the immeasurable glories of Christ. Television takes us almost constantly in the opposite direction, lowering, shrinking, and deadening our capacities for worshiping Christ.

One more smaller concern with TV (besides its addictive tendencies, trivialization of life, and deadening effects): It takes time. I have so many things I want to accomplish in this one short life. Don’t waste your life is not a catchphrase for me; it’s a cliff I walk beside every day with trembling.

TV consumes more and more time for those who get used to watching it. You start to feel like it belongs. You wonder how you could get along without it. I am jealous for my evenings. There are so many things in life I want to accomplish. I simply could not do what I do if I watched television. So we have never had a TV in 40 years of marriage (except in Germany, to help learn the language). I don’t regret it.

Sorry again, for the bad answer. I hope this helps.

Pastor John

5 responses

  1. jacob

    I thought you might be interested in learning about OUR Jewish traditions, one which has embraced the real Christ of the gospel, the Law and the prophets.

    If this doesn’t interest you, I apologize in advance.

    If you are interested let me tell you that we are the Frankist Association of America. One of our members has a new book out:

    http://www.amazon.com/Real-Messiah-Throne-Origins-Christianity/dp/1906787123/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1245892844&sr=8-1

    I am not that I am trying to sell you something. If you can’t afford the book you can see the website of one of our teachers – http://www.stephanhuller.blogspot.com.

    I just wanted to let you and the scholarly world that there have always been more than one type of Judaism in the world at any one time. Some forms of the faith had to learn to hide their beliefs in order to survive and perpetuate themselves.

    Shalom, God Bless
    Everything is perfect with God

    Beth El Jacob Frank

    June 27, 2009 at 6:24 am

  2. Thanks Jacob. I will try to take a look at those soon!

    July 2, 2009 at 12:35 am

  3. catalina

    I would just like to add a short comment to the issue of TV – which I also do not possess under my roof. That is- it influences us beyond comprehension. A ‘MOVING IMAGE’ is a very powerful stimulus to our brain-it brings an explosure to information which changes with a rapidity that overpasses the brains capacity to store it adequately. All we are left with at he end of a movie is basicly just the plot of it (the affair, the kill , the robbery etc). Even more, instead of feeling relaxed (‘you watch a movie to relax’) the brain is more tired then before because it worked ultra fast with no gain.On the contrary, when we read a book, we stimulate our brain TO IMAGINE what is being said (eg. ‘ it was a sunny day and we went for a walk in the mountains etc). By doing so, the brain has time to process the information and store it accordingly.
    So far so good and one might say ‘ok then we dont watch terror movies from now on we will read them in books’. It is unfortunately more to this too.When the brain stores information it does so indiscriminately (movies and books and childhood memories alike). That is- it stores reality and fantasy in the same areas of the brain. When we are being ask details about different facts (a film for example) we can more or less accurately reproduce them and we know wether what we reproduce is reality or fantasy. When we are taking decissions, however, the brain uses all the information stored available.That is a mind full of stories of affairs and killings will take these as reality when processing decissions…And they do so in a way the surprizes them (many testimonies of killers etc) and shocks those around them. This a neuroscientific fact in lay words and I know not publicized too much and it is also stated in the Bible ‘what you put in comes out'(sorry that is paraphrasing). Therefore, blessed are those that love Gods commands and abide by the the words of God.

    July 5, 2009 at 8:52 pm

  4. Very interesting and useful Catalina. Thanks a lot for the comments and sorry for the late reply, but I have been very busy lately.

    P.S. I do have a TV, but is used mainly for DVDs…maybe I should throw it completely (most of the DVDs are watched by Isaiah anyway)!🙂

    July 22, 2009 at 4:11 am

  5. catalina

    Hello there and not a problem. It is a pleasure to add my comments, your blogg is very interesting.I am sorry for my late reply as well. I have only just started my new job(the first one in a decade) and am overwhelmed and excited in the same time etc.
    I have never been a big fun of TV and knew, like most of us, that it is not very good for the children etc. I was however, overwhelmed by the scientific evidence behind it and have forbidden all cartoons under my roof! I know it seems drastic, but television has a more significant effect on children because they are even less likely to distinguish between reality and phantasy and however funny parents think this is-it is not.
    I would recommnend the articles of Giovanni Sartori, (Homo Videns)a political scientist,who- as far as I am aware-does not believe in God and thus his reasoning is unbiased(making it even more scientific (O:).
    Nice to talk with you on these subjects.

    July 22, 2009 at 9:14 pm

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