December 8, 1992
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission now concludes there is “a link” between violence portrayed on television and violence in society but it is “not necessarily one of cause and effect.”
Interesting. What do advertisers think about the relationship between their commercials and the effect it has on consumers? Are sales merely a link? Or do commercials have a definite cause/effect relationship to consumer buying habits?
Profit studies and statistics say commercials definitely effect buyers. If they didn’t, why would any company pay media advertising fees? A half-minute spot on a show such as Murphy Brown costs over $300,000 — that is over $10,000 a second! Those kinds of rates are an indication of profits; people do respond to commercials.
But the CRTC is right in not being too hasty to attribute cause and effect. There is always more than one factor involved in issues like human behavior. Psychologists debate whether nature and genetics are the greater influence or is it environment and the way people are nurtured that cause them to live as they do? Many would agree that both factors play a part.
The Bible supports the both nature and nurture theory, but not quite the same way as would psychologists. Jesus, while not commenting on the effects of television violence, did say where violence begins: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”
While we were made in the image of God and do have potential to do tremendous good, Jesus is pointing out that sin has marred that image and gives us the capacity for tremendous evil. It is this propensity for sin that causes sinful thoughts, and we all have them.
As for the nurture side of things, God holds us accountable for how we raise our children, how we govern our lives, and how we deal with our sin. We need to recognize that when evil thoughts are given any priority at all, they easily lead to sinful actions. Nurture means we need to avoid whatever feeds that human tendency to sin.
Certainly such factors as our conscience and social pressures constrain evil too. Otherwise we could never live in a sinful world without personally participating in all its sin. Yet if our conscious is dulled by viewing a dozen murders a night on television (tests prove that it is dulled) and television programming begins to exalt violent people, the effects of conscience and social pressure are reduced. That kind of nurture makes it much more difficult to keep sinful thoughts from turning into sinful actions.
The psalmist did not have a television set but he knew this principle long before psychologists tested it. He said, “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me.” Instead, he determined, “My eyes are ever toward the LORD, For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.”
Scripture says “Where there is no vision the people perish” not “no television.” The violence depicted is not profitable for enjoying life as God intended, a life of goodness and peace. We can lobby for better programming yet in lieu of that possibility, the best initiative to take may be in finding our entertainment elsewhere and simply shutting it off.