A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, dad was fascinated with the enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with us. The stranger quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up, I never questioned his place in our family. In my young mind each member had a special niche. My brother Bill, five years my senior, was an example for me to follow. Fran, my younger sister, gave me the opportunity to play "big brother" and develop the art of teasing. My parents were complimentary instructors: Mom taught me to love the word of God, and dad taught me to obey it.
But the stranger was a storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries, and comedies were daily conversations. He would hold our entire family spellbound for hours each evening. If I wanted to know all about politics, history, or science, he knew it all. He knew about the past, understood the present, and seemingly could predict the future. The pictures he could draw were so full of life that I would often laugh or cry as I watched. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took dad, Bill, and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see movies and he made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars. My brother and I were deeply impressed with John Wayne in particular.
The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn't seem to mind, but sometimes, while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places, Mom would quietly get up and go to her room, to read her Bible and pray. I wonder if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave? You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral conditions and convictions, yet somehow this stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house--not from us, from our friends, or from adults. However, our long term visitor didn't hesitate to use four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm. And yet, so far as I know, the stranger was never confronted. My dad was a teetotaler who didn't allow alcohol in his home, but the stranger felt we needed exposure to another viewpoint. He never actually gave us any alcohol, but he constantly tried to open our eyes to his way of life. He wanted us to appreciate the pleasure of beer and other alcoholic drinks. He talked freely (much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes outrageous, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I now know that my early understanding of the man-woman relationship was influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God, and what we were taught in church and Sunday school, that kept the stranger from ruining us all. Time after time he ridiculed the moral values of the Bible. Strangely, no one ever said much about it. No one ever asked him to leave.
More than thirty years have passed since the stranger first moved in with our family. To be honest, I confess that I found a stranger like him, and took him into my own home. So now the stranger is firmly rooted in the den of my parents' home and in my home too. He's ever patient, always waiting for the chance to convince others of his point of view. He never seems to tire of trying to make new converts. I worry about his influence on my children, but then what can I do? After all, he lives with us.
His name? We always call him by his initials: T.V.
Friends, there is so much that could be said about television--both good and bad (but primarily bad). Television, like most technology, can be used for much good. A TV and a VCR enabled me, for several years, to study wonderful video lessons produced by sound gospel preachers and World Video Bible School (www.wvbs.org). Likewise, the technology that enables us to share audio lessons and written transcripts with the world is a wonderful thing. However, more often than not, technology is abused. How many TVs spew immorality and filth for dozens of hours each week into the minds of children and adults alike? How many computers enslave their users with pornography and other forms of wickedness?
Don't misunderstand me. I don't believe there is anything wrong with owning a television or a computer. However, just because we allow these "strangers" to live with us does not mean that we should let them dominate us and pollute our minds! May we all have the discipline and the drive to not tolerate filth in our homes! Technology is being used as a tool of Satan in so many ways today. The question is: how is it being used in your home?
Psalm 101:2-4 - "I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me. A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness."