John Piper on Television

John Piper is one of my heroes because he does hard things.  He often preaches hard things and I believe he works to live out his convictions regardless of personal cost.  I often lack the self-control to live out things I know to be true.  This shows up frequently in my use of television.  

I know television isn’t as good for me as other things.  Even the most educational programming can’t compare with the value from reading a good book or engaging in meaningful conversation.  But how easy it is to arrive home from a long day at work and crash in front of the television, letting it carry me through the evening.  

I’m challenged my these admonitions by John Piper.

Many of my heroes have commented on how they’ve systematically limited how much time they spend watching television.  Randy Alcorn wrote he’s thankful there wasn’t television and video games when he was a kid, because he never would have learned to love reading.  Psychologists are beginning to see a predictable correlation between time spent watching TV and poor academic performance. Believers are called to continuously build up their faith: capacity to see, hear and know things beyond the experience of physical senses.  Simply put, reading aides in this endeavor; television does not.  

Lack of pleasure from reading should not be an acceptable excuse.  I don’t like broccoli the way I like donuts, but if I replace broccoli (and other healthy foods) with donuts day by day, I will eventually kill myself.  Many times, life requires people to do things which are good for them regardless of the pleasure rendered.  Donuts make the body fat.  They, like cookies, are a “sometimes food” as Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster recently relented (somebody has to take the fall for the fat kids). Television must also remain a sometimes food.  Because the soul is infinitely more valuable than our physical bodies, one of our high values should be to guard it from excessively disengaging entertainments (Prov. 4:23).  Through moderation and commitment to guarding the heart, Christians can enjoy television from time to time, remaining engaged in the work the Lord has for us in transforming our culture from darkness to light.

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