A child watching television.This guest sermon was written by Ryan King, an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church. All ULC Ministers are invited to contribute their own sermons for consideration/publication. To do this, please email sermons@themonastery.org.

You may often wonder, "How do I convince my children that there are downsides to watching too much TV?" If you don't have children, perhaps this is a question for your spouse, your friends, or even yourself. Television can rot our brains if we overindulge, but how can this issue be addressed? Well, what if a single idea can become a powerful message for self-transformation? What if a single question could guide you toward self-reliance and being a lamp in your own darkness? I know, it sounds like a subtitle on a religious self-help book, but hear me out.

The Dangers of Media

A message encouraging kids to read instead of watching TV.

As a father of four, I'm concerned about how to lead my children to be good young men and women in such a turbulent time. The ubiquity of media makes modern parenting a difficult task. I have studied philosophy, mysticism, and religion my entire life. They provide great lessons in responsibility and growth. However, I also recognize that, at least at this point in their lives, my children are not terribly interested in such subjects. While I was pondering this, I was reminded of a line in a song I had heard recently. It goes: "If you had only one chance to say something, what would it be?"

That night, I found my two oldest kids lounging on the couch watching a TV show that featured violence, cursing and even some "adult scenes" content once reserved for after-midnight television. I quietly sat on a chair next to them. I saw my boy straighten up, and my girl pretended to ignore me. I didn't make my usual comments about the pointlessness of such programming. I didn't even roll my eyes, although this took some effort. I simply asked:

Can you tell me how this will make you a better person?

Without a word, I got up and left the room. About ten minutes later, to my surprise, the children were in their rooms doing their homework and the television was silent. Remarkable.

Self-improvement sign A Recipe for Success

This philosophy can change the way we live our lives. For example, whenever I feel angry and get the urge to lash out, I ask myself: "How does acting or feeling the way I do right now make me a better person?" I began to realize that rarely did my thoughts or actions result in self-improvement, so I made conscious effort to change my mindset and behavior.

We all want to be better fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Better workers, better leaders, better lovers this list goes on. Sometimes succeeding in these roles can be tough. But one question aligns us with all those duties we possess to society and ourselves: "Is this making me a better person?"

Whatever I said, it worked. My daughter has begun watching nature programs instead of violent TV shows, and decided she wants to go to school to become a counselor. My son told me he wants to be a police officer. I've since thrown away all those parenting magazines and books I've collected over the years because I made more progress with a single question than I did with hundreds of pages of "expert" advice.


  1. rabbi jim's Avatar rabbi jim

    GREAT GOING!!!!!!! Down with TV!!!

  1. William w. George's Avatar William w. George

    Your children respect you and your opinions, a large number don't respect anything or anyone, to include themselves, whice is taught to them by there parents, who never really learned it from there's, I'm glad to hear that you have.

  1. Hey Bob's Avatar Hey Bob

    My wife and I raised three sons, now 40, 38 and 35, without television. They were allowed to listen to the radio and encouraged to read everything in the public library. We did have a VCR and monitor from which we filled them with classic movies. Today they are hardworking, honest citizens; a credit to their communities. Our son, the father of our two grandsons does not have television in his home either just movies and books. Want to truly make America Great Again turn off the TV; learn to play musical instruments and write.

  1. Kelly Welton's Avatar Kelly Welton

    TV numbs creativity. When reading, you have to use your mind to imagine the full scenario. When its always fed to us our brains dumb down. In my opinion this includes games and even the seemingly innocuous TV that's on at the gas station and in line at the grocery store. Tell management to turn it off !

  1. Guy Bradley Hartsook.'s Avatar Guy Bradley Hartsook.

    Without tv there would have been no coverage of the Moon Landing. There were would be no coverage of the Space Shuttle. There would be no news reports, sports reports, weather reports. There would be no coverage of Baseball, Football & other sports. There would have been no 'Star Trek' series from which the movies were developed. There would be no CNN or 'Weather Channel' or 'Discovery Channel'. There would be no PBS with its Concerts & Science programs. There would not be any local news, weather & sports reports. You cannot do any of the previous in a book or newspaper. You also most certainly cannot do "Jeopardy!" in a book or newspaper. No Tv? Really?

    1. Mark's Avatar Mark

      Down with television! Yes, yes, yes! In love with this serman and topic! I grew up with an antenna with only one clear channel and 2 snowy ones. I went out and had an amazing childhood filled with nature, active sports, music, art. Today I credit myself for not being subject to that awfully annoying box. News it broadcast just fine over the Internet, or in a newspaper, watching sports on TV is not throwing a ball with your friends or children. Turn the box off and become community again. Play, read, draw, but don't veg out, wasting God's beautiful plan for you. I believe the TV is the devil's creation. Peace and love

      1. Ashley's Avatar Ashley

        Thumbs all the way up. Completely agree! Getting rid of mine this week! Can't wait to see the good that will come out of it for our young family of 3. God bless ?

    2. Parson Golden's Avatar Parson Golden

      Absolutely correct. There is no need to spend 12 hours a day watching the TV, any more than there is any need to spend all day on the Internet, or on a video game, or reading a book, or outside playing ball. If you are only doing one thing then you miss out on the other things. All things in moderation. TV fills a vital void in the disbursement of information and knowledge. That is not to say that 100 percent of it is knowledge or information, some is just for pleasure, but it is an important part of our society.

  1. Kathy's Avatar Kathy

    I'm not old enough to have experienced it, but they used to provide news and weather and sports, and radio shows that told stories before there were really TVs in homes, I believe. It isn't impossible to imagine a world surviving and thriving without TV. I think it would take something nice away from the world if we didn't have TV, nor everything is bad; but even as dinnertime who does watch a lot of TV, I have to admit for every one good show that I find, there's at least 2-3 terrible shows that really don't provide anything good or useful to society.

    I may watch as lot of TV, but I also spend a great amount of time reading, writing, and pursuing other hobbies, as well as working full time.

  1. Brian Morris's Avatar Brian Morris

    This is beautiful, simple and effective. I love it! Thank you!

  1. William w. George's Avatar William w. George

    To everything there is a time , T.V.has it's good points, before radio people used there imaginations and told stories, now T.V. does that,. But everything in moderation and reading dosn't hurt either,.

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