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 attempted to assess blame for the declining morality of television in the 1970s. “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,” says Rumminger, “fixing the blame does not solve the problem.”
Which brings us to the next part. Part Three of this article follows:
THE “GOOD” PROGRAMS
I said it would get worse. But maybe that is just as well. Today, not many Christian families are fully aware of the damage being done by the “good” programs. Perhaps when the sewer begins to run open, we will be so shocked that we will at last begin to take some effective counter-measures.
Many Christian parents think nothing of letting little Suzie watch the current “teeny-bopper” idol make physical love to his guitar with pelvic gyrations too obscene for description here. They encourage Johnny to watch his favorite private-eye show “as soon as you finish your homework.” That rock singer’s libido would shame a Centaur; and the typical TV detective spends more time ogling his buxom secretary than he does examining the evidence. Unfortunately, we have become so de-sensitized that we are no longer alarmed by thoughts that Suzie could become a groupie and that Johnny might try to emulate the Mannix life style.
Could it be that even such “wholesome” fare as Sesame Street is doing some damage? Watch it some time. How does it present the concepts of God, worship, love, patriotism, family, responsibility, trustworthiness, duty, honor …?
Have you seen any “science” programs lately? I would like just once to see the Biblical Creationist view get a fair shake. But how can one expect a “scientist” who is committed to the existentialist bias to give any consideration at all to the possibility that maybe a real and living God actually did create all of this exactly in the manner in which He says He did? No, such a savant prefers to envision the Universe as one gigantic “happening.” The “scientific method” thus paraded before your son’s inquiring eyes conditions him to believe that it is intelligent to open one’s mind to any humanistic, atheistic theory, but to close it to the Truth.
Sad to say, many youngsters from Christian homes have been so softened up by the anti-God propaganda with which their senses have been bombarded almost from the day of birth that they are easy prey for ungodly college professors who skilfully build upon this foundation an edifice of Satanic miseducation. The results? Confused, weak, and useless Christians at best; and at worst atheists, hippies, and revolutionaries.
IT WILL GET WORSE
Now, add to our current television diet a liberal sprinkling of raw sex in every perverted form and what will be the result?
Those of us who have opposed the introduction of the SIECUS-type sex instruction into the public school curricula can cite plenty of examples of teens and pre-teens who· have been inspired to do some extra-curricular experimentation with tragic consequences.
Premature exposure to sex instruction in the public school (in an amoral, aspiritual context) is bad enough; but when it becomes commonplace to witness titillating, dramatic demonstrations of the “ecstasies” of illicit relationships — in full color and in explicit detail. …
Don’t say it can’t happen. It is happening.
Don’t say it won’t affect you or your family. It already has affected you. Examine your lifestyle. How do your desires, your mode of dress, your language compare with those of Christians a generation or two ago?
Be honest with yourself. Did you enjoy Peyton Place? Time was when a book that even hinted at such extra-marital behavior was banned from the library in any Christian home.
How about All in the Family? Do you tolerate the profanities because the show is “funny” and — “after all, that’s the way people talk in real life, isn’t it?”
Does Laugh-In fascinate you with its rapid pace, its kaleidoscopic juxtaposition of non-ideas, and its off-color humor?
Another question: Dad, can you muster sufficient spiritual strength of character to resist the temptation to observe “just one” TV skinflick — “to see what it’s like”? Have you any vestiges of that old carnal nature still around?
How about your teen-aged son on this score?
No doubt the networks will devise some sort of rating system — for a while at least. You will be tastefully advised of the nature of the film about to be shown: “suitable — for adult viewing,” or “parental guidance recommended,” or maybe “for confirmed voyeurs only.” Some help that will be! Why do you suppose movie ads give such prominent display to the X symbol? It is axiomatic that an X rating builds the crowd.
Some years back I heard talented TV writer Rod Serling wryly predict that any series entitled The Dirty Show would be an all-time smash hit. I agree. If the TV moguls ever label one of their Saturday Night Movies as “unbelievably filthy” it will probably break every previous record for size of viewing audience.
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.”