by Elmer L. Rumminger
How Should a Christian Family Deal With Pornography On Television?
This article first appeared in the first issue of the magazine, Faith for the Family, published March/April, 1973.It is reproduced here by permission.
Editor’s note: The article speaks of the problem of immorality on display on television from a 1973 perspective. The situation has hardly gotten better, but we offer it for its historical viewpoint and for the spiritually edifying exhortation it offers. Current readers will want to transfer its applications to present day media of all kinds.
In Part One, Elmer Rumminger explained the shock that fundamentalist Christians were experiencing in the 1970s as broadcast television began to pump out increasingly immoral content. He predicted “it will get worse, much worse!” We who observe the scene in the 21st century should realize that he was right about that. Part two of this article follows:
Who’s To Blame?
Is television itself to blame? Or is the medium merely a reflection of the true character of our society?
Think for a moment. Obviously, man’s depraved nature and Satan’s rebellion against the God of the Universe are the root cause. But why this sudden, headlong rush into audio-visual debauchery right now?
No doubt some of the blame can be laid at the feet of the TV industry itself. Television, always in search of something new and more exciting to show, has contributed immensely to the sensual orientation of the “now” generation.
Then there are practical considerations. Most of the old “good” movies have been run and re-run until devotees of the Late Show have memorized the dialogue. The one-eyed electronic beast gobbles up dramatic material at a horrendous rate, and now there is very little left to feed it except the sex extravaganzas of the sixties.
It’s not just the films, though. The variety shows (Dean Martin), the comedy happenings (Laugh·In), the interview marathons (Frost, Cavett, Carson), and even the children’s fare (Have you seen what goes on during some of the Saturday morning cartoons?) — all of them are sliding down the same slippery slope.
And it’s not just sex that’s the problem either. TV has done its share to popularize the occult. The sheer volume of witchcraft on national television would boggle the mind of a Colonial Salemite. Teen-Age Witch is no joke — as the grief-stricken parents of many a would-be Warlock can tell you. Serious practice of the “dark arts” and Satan worship are flourishing all over the United States.
There is more. Drugs, rebellion, hippie-ism, the “generation gap” — television has brought them all in to every American home to some degree.
Yes, television must assume at least part of the blame for its own ills and for the sickness of society as a whole. But in this case the chicken came before the egg.
I am no great student of philosophy, but it appears to me that the media with which a society communicates are not so much responsible for what is communicated as is the underlying philosophy of that society. “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” (Matthew 12:34)
Existentialism is what it’s called. Existentialism — the spirit of our age, the ungodly philosophy which dominates the “now” generation. In the frame of reference of the present-day existentialist nothing matters except what is “happening” right now. There are no absolutes. Life is a joke. Nothing is really for real.
Insanity thus becomes desirable. Drug trips that “blow your mind” are viewed as a good thing, because they create an artificial insanity — a euphoric state of total freedom from the inhibitions superimposed upon us by society. Any perversion or excess becomes perfectly legitimate as long as it gratifies the senses NOW!
Indeed, why not “do your own thing” if there is no God, no eternal punishment for sin, no everlasting reward for the righteous?
The existentialist philosophy permeates every facet of our culture: most modern art (Paint with your feet!) — “music” (especially “rock-‘n’-roll,” but much modem “serious” music, too) — drama (Waiting for Godot) — education (Teach ’em sex in the kindergarten!) — social action (Kill the pigs!) — economics (Who needs a balanced budget?) — religion (Give us our heaven right here and now; we don’t want a “pie in the sky, bye and bye” religion!) — medicine (If you don’t want the baby, kill the fetus.) — psychology (The extremes to which “sensitivity training” has been carried would embarrass a citizen of Sodom.).
I could go on and on.
Television is to blame. Society is to blame. Satan is to blame. Existentialism — the philosophy of the age — is to blame. No doubt you could add a few more. But fixing the blame does not solve the problem.
Nor does it answer the other question: “Why so fast, and why right now?” Why haven’t we been successful in holding back this corruption? Simple: “if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” (Matthew 5:13)
Are you a Christian? “Ye are the salt of the earth …” Salt is a preservative. It was used in Bible times to hold back decay. Look at the “Church” today. I mean the so-called “evangelical” church. Dress like the world. Talk like the world. Think like the world. Enjoy the world’s brand of entertainment. Answer the challenge of a “new morality” with a “new evangelicalism.” Compromise. Trim. Capitulate. A form of Godliness but without power.
There’s the real problem. The world system has always been corrupt. But when there is power in the pulpit and “salt” in the Church, corruption is held back. Where God’s people obey and pray, He intervenes (II Chronicles 7:14). But when “spiritual leaders” make common cause with the enemies of God, and when shallow Christians blindly follow them into error, it is no wonder that disaster ensues.
We have placed the blame. But, this in itself will not protect your family, right now, from the flood of filth which your TV set stands ready to belch forth in the months to come.
To be continued…
At the time of original publication, Elmer L. Rumminger was head of the Radio and Television faculty of Bob Jones University, a post he held since January, 1972. For nine years previous to this, he was manager of Radio Station WAVO-FM/AM in Atlanta, Georgia. He had also served as news director of the Bob Jones University Hour on WAIM-TV, Anderson, S.C. While residing in Georgia, he was a member of the Advisory Board of the Greater Atlanta Movement to Restore Decency; and he was active in efforts to keep SIECUS-related sex instruction programs out of Georgia public schools. During the Maddox Administration, he was one of five lay members from throughout the state appointed to the Private Education Study Committee of the Georgia Senate, on which he continued to serve under Governor Jimmy Carter. A founding director of Christian Communication Consultants, he has lectured widely on the dangerous anti-Christian influence of modern-day radio, television, movies, and recordings. On the eve of his return to South Carolina, a committee of Atlanta area pastors and laymen honored him with a plaque naming him “Mr. Christian Broadcasting of Atlanta.”