District Fellowship News
July, August 2005
Reality shows are all the rage today. Apprentices, survivors, bachelors, geeks, dancers, and singers; they all have had their shot at stardom. Think about this scenario: We pack people up and send them hundreds of miles from their homes, take away all their belongings, maroon them on an island or in the middle of the wilderness, and devise youth group style games for them to compete at so they have immunity or food or whatever. What is real about that? Certainly in real life, you wouldn’t have immunity from danger; you would have to find the food, not win it; and you would eat only what was available on the island. There wouldn’t be cameramen everywhere filming your every move and a small city of support people within a few yards of your supposed isolation.
Reality implies that there is something real involved in the settings of these programs, but it is as far from reality as it can be. Aside from the fact that the story is edited so you only see what the producer wants you to see, no one in real life selects a husband by getting ten or twelve men together living in the same house and dating them all at the same time to see who is best. In real life, most of those men would have walked away as soon as they found out that they were part of a competition and the ones who stayed wouldn’t have been worth keeping. The most insidious thing about “reality” TV is that because it is supposed to be real we start believing that this is actually the way we should live our lives. I’m not saying that every girl runs out and rents a mansion and stocks it with a dozen men, but the thought is planted that I’d better try out different partners to see if they are compatible, and men should be competing for my affection. From another show you learn to outwit, outplay, outlast all the other people in your life to get what you want. This might be great if you are training to be an undercover CIA operative in a hostile country, but it is certainly not the way to go about living in real life.
“But Pastor Ed, most of these are just games.” The problem is that as human beings we follow examples, and we build our character by watching others and seeing how they handle situations. The more realistic the game, the more likely it is that we will cue our behavior from it. You certainly would not have your children watching a game where the idea was to see how many different brands of cigarettes you could smoke, or how many different narcotics you could identify and use. You would understand that by showing this behavior and rewarding it, you would be setting an example for your children to learn from. Games are now used to train soldiers to kill, diabetics to correctly test and administer their insulin, children to learn to read and understand. Games are a learning tool. When we reward bad behavior and punish good behavior, there will be those who are watching that become just a little more accepting of bad behavior.
The Bible speaks of appropriate behavior for a Christian that does not involve backbiting, lying, stealing, immorality, or being so self absorbed you only worry about you. This is the true reality. If you are looking for an example to follow, follow the real one, Jesus Christ.