Sunday, August 26, 2012

Choosing Strange

Our family is strange. Trust me, I know that. 

My kids think that the Disney Channel is only on TV's in hotels. They also think that Mickey Mouse Clubhouse exists only on YouTube clips on the computer.

My husband misses most televised professional sporting events. He has been known, in fact, to visit local restaurants during game time so he can catch the action. (Sshhh - don't tell.)

I've never seen the cooking or decorating or how-to-take-junk-and-make-something-amazing shows. I'm totally out of the loop on reality TV and couldn't name five prime time comedies. 


We don't have cable.

Stop laughing. We really don't.
No, we're not anti-TV or anti-cable. And no, we're not penny pinchers that refuse relaxing fun. (Yes I cut coupons, and yes my husband has fancy Excel spreadsheets detailing money in and money out, but no, we really aren't penny pinchers.)

So why no cable for our family? That's a good question with a loaded answer. The following is some of our rationale.
Time. I can't tell you the last time I sat down to relax in front of the TV. Oh wait - yes I can: the Olympics. As wonderful and fantastic as they were to watch every evening, I'm still picking up the pieces of things that fell to the wayside because of the time spent watching them. Good thing that's a once-every-four-years kind of event.

Honestly, though, we don't have time to watch TV. I suppose we would, but that would mean saying no to other things that we value and put our time into. It's true that how you invest your time is a good indicator of your priorities. 

Nope, nothing wrong with a bowl of popcorn and a TV show. Occasionally. But if I used every evening after kids were in bed to watch TV I wouldn't have Bible study plans prepared, school lessons thought through, housework complete, quality conversation with my husband, and the list continues. I much prefer to use my evenings for personal productivity that can't always happen during the day. 

Besides, if we were paying for a monthly subscription to cable and all the other digital options, I would feel compelled to watch TV much more often. It would almost be an obligation: "Hey Babe, let's not talk tonight and please stop reading the newspaper. We've paid a hundred dollars for access to these one thousand channels, so we really need to get our money's worth and watch."

Which brings me to my next point...
Money. It's not a question of can we afford cable, but more like a question of should we afford cable? In other words, just because we can doesn't mean we should. This translates to all areas of life, really. Consider some of the implications.

If we pay for monthly cable, what are we not able to pay for? What people can we not as easily help in their time of need? What ministry can we not as generously support? And, goodness gracious, would we ever choose to afford cable but not afford a monthly tithe? (*Gasp*)
Content. I'm confident that most of what's offered on cable doesn't align with our family values.

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think on these things."

It's impossible to avoid all ugly and unworthy and impure things, but we sure can take intentional steps to help. After all, what's entertaining and relaxing about paying a lot of money to support entertainment that pains the heart of God? 

And did you ever stop to think about entertainment? TV is entertainment because the content is entering my mind - I need to process and think about what I've seen. It's not amusement. Amusement is the absence of having to think - I just exist and enjoy. I watch TV for entertainment and I visit a theme park for amusement. What I see on TV doesn't filter through my eyes and mind without leaving a mark.

Psalm 101:3 "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten it's grip on me."

I have friends that live vicariously through reality TV. And I'm sure I would be, too, if I let myself. But I can't. I know that I am prone to let a lot of what I see impact my choice for contentment and joy. It's the way I'm wired and I have to make choices to avoid it.

Ephesians 5:19 "...speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit..."

Watching TV doesn't encourage my heart. It doesn't bless my soul. It doesn't help me parent better. It doesn't help me communicate more effectively. It doesn't show me how to grow as a person. How can I expect to share these things with others if I'm not spending time in a way that fills my mind and heart with useful content to pour into others?
Preference. Really, though, at the bottom of the cable or no-cable decision, is a mutual agreement based on shared preferences for our family. It's not a black and white issue. It's not a right and wrong decision. It's not a mature Christian versus immature Christian topic.

It's our preference, pure and simple.
Like I said, our family is strange. But for this area, at least, we're strange because we choose to be.


  1. Strange? Really? I never noticed...could be that I don't really know what "normal" looks like anymore! :-) Better to fashion your family around God's standards and convictions than the ever changing standards of society. So thankful for a friend that is unafraid of the consequences in doing so!

  2. I just randomly skimmed through your recent blog posts and clicked on this one to read first. I have to say, I don't think you're strange... Or maybe we are just strange too because we don't have cable either for pretty much all the same reasons. Since Phil has had his website we have to have cable when the show is airing so we get it for a few months then cancel it. My kids watched way too many Nick jr shows this past season and I could totally tell a difference in their attitude. They are just so easily influence at this age! I also get so much more done when I'm not watching tv. I'll never go back to having cable.