Why I Don’t Have a Television


When Keri and I were married, over 10 years ago, we made the decision not to own a television. Since then, we’ve considered it a couple of times, but each time we’ve decided to continue on without a TV.   (We do however watch a movie on DVD every few months, and we’ve now watched through all the seasons of LOST online together.)

Sometimes, people ask me why we don’t own a TV. Occasionally, I have a moderately good answer to that question, but today Keri sent me John Piper’s written response to that question.  Here’s an excerpt that I thought was especially good.  First, he discusses the sexuality of television media, and then he says this:

“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.”

Wow, that’s good stuff!  What do I allow my mind to be exposed to that helps me focus on Christ?  What do I allow to deaden my capacity?

I’d highly recommend you read the whole thing.  It’s a very humble and insightful response.

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7 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Have a Television

  1. How do you watch Lost on DVD if you don’t have a television? Do you watch it on your computer?

  2. When I was growing up, we didn’t have cable for about 3-4 years, and those are the years that I have the most vivid memories with my family. A year or so ago, Adam and I decided to get rid of cable, but it didn’t last long. I thought Adam was going to go crazy without, and Abby didn’t understand why she couldn’t watch Sesame Street. I think it’s a great decision that you’ve made. Stick to it! Besides the fact that it can draw your attention away from God, it will make any dvd’s or trips to the theatre special for your family. There’s a shortage of special in our culture.

  3. That was a great article! Piper is totally right. I especially liked the part at the end.. “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.”

    I start to twitch and then I want to go on a run. I can’t stand the time it takes!
    Thanks, as always, for another insightful post. I enjoy reading the blog.

  4. Mike, we watched LOST online on our computer from the ABC site.

    Debbie, that’s cool. Yeah, you’re right about a shortage of special things in our culture.

    Ben, I really liked that part too, and thanks for the encouragement on the blog.

  5. Kyle, I have a TV and I’m glad for the few things I watch, however, I’m not so sure most people have the will power to turn it off when they should. The biggest threat that I’ve observed lately (especially since last year’s Wall Street bust, the election and the subsequent new administration’s handling of the nation’s problems and needs) is people’s attitudes changing when innundated by constant cable news networks constantly feeding negativity into their brains. I’ve witnessed a deep funk of depression grow among the crowds and they’re either walking in a fog or snapping each other’s heads off in a release of pent-up fear and anxiety. Man, the destructive nature of TV’s influence is getting scarry.

  6. And a great reason to scale way back or eliminate TV for kids:

    “You know that the beginning is the most important part of any work, especially in the case of a young and tender thing; for that is the time at which the character is being formed and the desired impression is more readily taken…Shall we just carelessly allow children to hear any casual tales which may be devised by casual persons, and to receive into their minds ideas for the most part the very opposite of those which we should wish them to have when they are grown up?
    We cannot…Anything received into the mind at that age is likely to become indelible and unalterable; and therefore it is most important that the tales which the young first hear should be models of virtuous thoughts…”

  7. Marple, thanks for the comment. It is uncanny how media can set the mood for our lives, if we allow it to.

    Keri, you always find the best quotes. Very interesting!

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