Television is a medium of communication. I remember when I first saw a television. I was about 8 or 9 years old. As I recall there was only one channel then available, KING TV out of Seattle. There were few if any color TV broadcasts then. The year was about 1949. My parents got a TV set for our home as soon as they felt they could afford one. I remember it was black and white and I think it had a 17" screen. When my parents wanted to watch the Lawrence Welk show, if we kids wanted to watch something else, such as a horror film, etc., we ruled the day! I doubt it has changed much in that regard.
As I understand, in 1954, the brethren of the United Pentecostal Church came together at a general conference and voted to ban any minister holding credentials with the UPC from having a television in his or her home. In 1954, television had not been a medium of communication for very long. Was their decision one of foresight or of fear. I suspect a little of both. In Proverbs 22:3 the Bible says, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." It would seem to me that their decision was prescient. Television has certainly not gotten better over the years.
Some have tried to say that television and the computer (via an internet connection) are about equal. Not so! One can certainly get much more via the internet than television, even if one had access to all the TV channels available. But I do not believe they are equal in what is available! Certainly there is much more information available on the internet than on TV. When I or my wife go on the internet, we check our email or Facebook or look up medical information or current news and/or weather, etc. Neither of us visit websites that are pornographic or otherwise detrimental in nature. (There are, no doubt, more websites featuring pornography than all available TV channels.) We try to keep in mind that we serve the Lord Jesus at all times. If one has a television in their home, and they turn it on, they can only watch what others have decided is good for them. They have no choice in what is broadcast over the medium of television. With the internet, at least one has a choice!
I was chatting on the phone the other day with a fellow minister who said that they went out to eat at a restaurant of their 8 year old daughter's choice. There was a large television screen in the restaurant with an innocuous football game playing. Then came the commercial! My minister friend and his wife had to tell their kids to close their eyes so they wouldn't be exposed to the, not so innocuous, TV commercial. They had no choice in the matter of what came over the TV.
Moving pictures grab one's attention. You and I are not immune. I remember when, as a young Christian, my wife and I with our young son would visit my mother and stepfather. They would have the TV on. We would visit, watch the TV, then visit some more, etc. They would finally retire for the evening. We would sit and watch the current show until it was over, then we would go home. I remember often feeling so empty and devoid in my spirit after our visit. I finally told my wife that we had to let my mother know that if they left the TV on during our visits, we would no longer visit them. My mother took our warning to heart. Although she thought I was being brainwashed, she wanted to see her grand-baby.
While pastoring, I admit that I didn't mention TV much in my preaching. I do, though, remember once in Tigard Oregon saying that I wasn't against someone having a TV set in their home if they cut the cord off. They made nice flower or lamp stands. (I had my tongue in my cheek when I said it) I think the people understood where I was coming from. The Bible says in Psalm 101:3, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me." I did preach separation from the world and worldliness. The Apostle John in 1st John 2:15-17 said, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. I want to do the will of God and abide forever, don't you?
Then several years ago, a resolution was presented to the UPCI conference (I think it was in Columbus Ohio) to remove that restriction. I was not at that conference but as I recall it did not pass. then the next year it was brought to the floor again, and it did (barely) pass. Some ministers left the UPCI and started another organization because of the repeal of the resolution. I chose to stay with the UPC because the removal of the restriction of advertising (or preaching) on TV seemed to take the UPC back to the position it had when I first received my licence to preach as a UPC minister.
This past conference was different. In this conference held in St. Louis the restriction on having a TV set in the home of a minister licensed with the United Pentecostal Church was completely removed from the manual. Granted, the holiness position of the UPCI still discourages its members from having a TV in their home and, by extension, its ministers should not have a TV in their home either. But it doesn't say they can't. I am afraid that some of the UPCI ministers will go out and buy a TV set. (Some will probably take them out of their garages or cupboards) Just so I can set the record straight, I have never had a TV set in my home and I never intend to!
It seems that the United Pentecostal Church, International has been ever so gradually moving away from its long held position regarding television. I am now 72 years old and I may not live to see the final outcome. But if the UPCI moves much more toward the world in its prohibitions, etc., I don't know how long I can stay with the UPCI. The United Pentecostal Church is the only church organization I have ever belonged to. I have said to many that I have found most of my ministering brethren to be true Christians. That being said, I am reminded of the story of the frog being dropped into a pot of hot water. So I am told it will immediately try to get out of the pot. The same frog being put into a pot of cold water will stay in the pot as it is heated up and eventually be cooked. I have never experimented with a frog but the illustration seems to make sense to me. My prayer for you who have read this rather longish blog to the end is that you will not allow anything to deceive you and to take away your hope of Jesus Christ.