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One More Reason
by J. R. Ensey

The moral sensitivities of Americans were severely tested recently during the NFL Super Bowl in Houston. Besides the tens of thousands in the stadium, over 140 million in the U.S. alone were tuned in via television. No one doubts that some of those tuned in were members of conservative Christian churches. And they might have even watched it on big screens set up by their own church in its “family life” center.

Mistakenly thinking that it is just a football game, no more than a sporting contest, they were exposed to some of the most outrageous, far-out, lewd performances ever seen on the silver screen. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who reportedly took turns groping each other, were joined by gyrating transvestites, women acting out lesbianism, striptease cheerleaders, and other scantily-clad performers who were busy with crotch-grabbing and other suggestive moves as they sang the vulgar lyrics of “Rock Your Body.” One performer was said to be wearing a ripped American flag.

Toward the end of the outrageous halftime performance, Timberlake reached over and tugged at Jackson’s clothing, pulling it away and exposing her bosom to the watching world. The song they were singing stated that “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song.” Apparently, it was more than just a song—certainly it was more than they wanted to acknowledge later: “a malfunction of her wardrobe.” It was planned. She was obviously prepared for it and expecting it.

It is said that CBS, the network sponsor of the Super Bowl, was apologetic. But with MTV in charge of the show, what did the they expect? A Sunday school lesson? Everyone involved feigned disappointment and innocence, but the act was done and could not be undone. Millions of children were watching, becoming even more jaded to the constant lewd performances piped into their homes via television.
Not only the halftime show, but according to the news reports, the advertisements were also salacious. One viewer complained about the “tasteless ads,” one of which featured a talking chimpanzee, blatantly asking his owner, “babe,” if she would like to go upstairs and have sex with him. If we needed one more reason to oppose television, we got it.
And people wonder why Pentecostals don’t approve of television! Do you think those churches that set up big screens in their Family Life Centers were proud of themselves for being “progressive”? Did they not mind that their people were exposed to such licentiousness?
Article VII, Section 7, Paragraph 31 of the 2004 UPCI Manual was right when we passed it, it is still right today, and it will be right tomorrow. Television is not getting better, but worse. It is not cleaning up its act, it is racing toward total debauchery. We have no business loosening the restrictions on its ownership. What would Jesus think if he visited the homes of Christians who were huddled around the boob tube? If Paul came by for dinner, would he join the family viewing “Babes in Boyland” after the meal? Would he have to wait until “Wild Discovery” was over to initiate Bible reading and prayer? Would he have to be informed that HBO did not mean Home Bible Outline?

“But TV is here to stay.” Sure it is. So is adultery, homosexuality, theft, abortion, prevarication, and a thousand other vices. Since they are “here to stay,” should we also approve them for Christian involvement? The United Pentecostal Church Int’l was “thinking outside the box” in 1957 when it passed the no-TV rule. They were ahead of their times. I was proud to have been in the voting constituency at that conference. That action saved a lot of churches and homes and families. It made a statement providing leadership and direction. To consider its removal after all these years it has served as an ensign for our people would be a mockery of our courageous leaders of that day. To thumb our noses at our past would open a thousand doors for opposing spirits to enter our fellowship.

This is not doomsaying or negative chatter. Nor is it a “throw down the gauntlet” challenge to those who disagree with this position. Their opinion and their right to have it is respected. Most are probably sincere altruists who think television is the way to reach the world. This effort is merely an attempt to preserve the essence of Paul’s command to the Thessalonians: “Avoid every kind of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22 NIV). The apostle described the pagans, who “having lost all sensitivity…have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Ephesians 4:19). Such a definition befits the Hollywood producers of television fare. Do we want to be associated with them as recipients of their amoral sewage?

Some are asking, “Can’t there be a wedding between television and the apostolic movement without compromise?” Who has ever seen a marriage without compromise? Only in dreams. Why not rather ask, “Can’t there be revival without retreat?” The answer to that last question is obvious—we have seen ingathering without compromise. It is a fact, not a dream. We do not have to surrender any part of the legacy and heritage handed to us from our predecessors in order to see a move of God.

It is time for clear-headed thinking. We need to pray for our leaders who will doubtless receive pressure in the future to entertain suggestions to adjust our position on this issue. Let us hold up their hands as they hold up the apostolic message and lifestyle. Let us applaud them when they stand up and say, “It won’t happen on our watch!” Let us wholeheartedly support them when they declare that we can reach the world without compromising either our message or our holiness standards—both of which have evoked the favor of God and brought us to where we are today.

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