There are a lot of things that DIVIDE us today. It's sad, but it's true.
Allow me to spend a little time sharing some of my thoughts. You see, I grew up in an environment that some would think quite strange in our modern world. Some would feel I was deprived and that I really "missed out" on so much as a result of my upbringing. I readily admit that I lived a fairly sheltered life. No, I was not shut up behind steel doors and deadbolts or made to stay in my room or tied up in the basement where I could not see the sunlight. I was allowed to have friends, and for the most part, I was free to choose who my friends would be. But, there were boundaries established and curfews to be observed. To say, "everybody is doing it" was a phrase quickly refuted because as long as I and my brothers were not allowed to do it "everybody" was not doing it! That's right, there actually were rules in our house, and we were raised to believe that rules were made to be kept. I knew deep in my soul that I was greatly loved, and although we were not rich, I was sufficiently provided for.
I don't remember it, but my parents shared the story why they felt it best to get rid of their television while I was still a very small boy. There we were, long before the days of emails, texting, and social media (decades before, in fact) having a family night in the living room. Our activity seemed harmless enough. We were watching a standup comedy routine of a famous comedian of that time. During his act, the camera zoomed in close to his face while he said things meant to make people laugh. Again, I don't remember it, but my dad said that it startled me, and I ran behind the couch to hide. Many parents would have laughed it off, thinking nothing of it. But to the perceptive heart it spoke volumes. That event opened the eyes of my dad's understanding. He recognized that I had been negatively affected by what I had seen on the television. He soon determined that if the television would do such a thing to his children, then the television would have to go! How young was I? Well, young enough that I never remember having a television in my house as I grew up. Boy, come to think of it, I sure did miss an awful lot growing up! I missed out on all of the scenes of fighting and murder, scenes of immorality and negative programming that flashed into the homes of people with televisions. I missed hours and hours of unnecessary temptatians from subliminal advertising which would have made me think I needed everything the advertisers tried to make their viewers think they needed. I missed all of that, but I never missed a night without the entire family being together... me, my brothers, and both biological parents who loved each other and loved their children.
That life has changed in America, and I am convinced it will never be the same. Most children are raised much differently these days. Many get themselves dressed in the morning and head out to school without breakfast. After school, they come home to find themselves alone again. They sit in front of televisions and computers for hours on end. Many get wrapped up in video gaming and social media where they are often exposed to the vilest of things evil hearts can possibly imagine. They can hardly feel safe to ride down the street on their bicycles today. Parents may be accused of neglect if their children are seen out playing by themselves. Many don't have the privilege of having both biological parents in the home, or they are raised by a "significant other" – a biological mom and her boyfriend, or a biological dad and his girlfriend. It is now even becoming normal for boys and girls to be raised by homosexual "dads" or "moms" neither of whom may have a biological tie. Oh, how far we have gone! It is irreversible. We can argue about the rights and wrongs of it all. We can make our suggestions how to "fix" it, but to many these days, there is nothing to be fixed. It saddens me, but to many, that life has become normal, and my life is the strange one.
Jesus taught that our common enemy comes "to steal, to kill, and to destroy." He destroys individuals. He destroys marriages. He destroys families. He destroys churches. He destroys nations!
In marriage counseling we teach that when there is a problem, marriage is NOT the problem. Problems come to destroy the marriage. Marriage is the thing the couple needs to defend. The relationship needs to be mended and healed, and with effort it can be.
It is the same in families, churches, and nations. Our nation is really going through a LOT of trouble right now, and as I said earlier, there are many things that divide us. Racial problems keep us divided. The debate between the abortion industry and the pro-life movement divides us. The discussion regarding the definition of marriage and whether same-sex couples can call their unions a marriage divides us. Terrorism is no longer something overseas. It has happened right here at home. Our police officers are being attacked.
We need some help! As a preacher of the gospel I say we need to cry out to God. We may not be able to solve all the problems we are facing in society these days, but as Christians we can certainly take some important steps to fix the problems in our own families. Joshua said it many centuries ago: "And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorite's, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:15 KJV
No, I don't really feel like I was abused or underprivileged because my parents raised me without television and took me to Sunday School and church all of my life. My parents are still together after all these years. I have been married to the same wonderful lady for 28 years, and by the way, I raised my children without a television. Both of my brothers have been married to their original spouses for nearly 25 years each. Strange? Well, when I see the alternatives that this old world has to offer, I think I will just keep up the family tradition... It's the Bible way. It works when everything else has failed.
Let me challenge you to do it the Bible way!
- Pastor Michael A. Johnson