At the doors of thousands of American homes, a few years ago. Also at the homes of reformed people.
It was the RADIO. Might he come in? Might he entertain the family? Might he connect your house with the wide, wide world? The worldly homes hailed him in at once. Into some homes he came secretly, he forced himself into other homes. But many of our reformed homes took a careful look at the stranger. Was it the right thing to do to let him in? It opened the doors to the wide world, it reminded of “garlic and onions.”
But as the years went by the radio finally found its way into almost every home. So that the theme of our article is not whether it is allowable to have a radio in our home, but, How To Use The Radio:
1. Necessity Of Observing Principles
The Radio is but a box, full of intricate and complicated wire-systems and coils. But let no one minimize the tremendous things of which this little box is capable. We want to sum up some of these things, at the same time enumerate a few of the dangers incumbent upon the use of the radio and thus see how necessary it is for us as Christians to be guided by certain principles when we and if we use the radio.
First, the radio sets the doors open to let the powers and principalities and influences of the world rush into our homes. Time was when the family lived a more or less private and isolated life, but the telephone and the daily newspapers interrupted this privacy (if I may so say). More than either or both of these however, the radio penetrates into the very heart of the home and family life. Any power or influence which advances to such a position must be carefully guarded by an unyielding defense of biblical principle.
Secondly, the radio, by very virtue of its mechanism, easily becomes the chief entertainment, re-creation and education medium in the home. “Four and one half million man hours are spent daily listening to the radio” said an eminent educator the other day. Far more attractive than the newspaper and more appealing than any book-reading, the radio captures the minds of youngsters and oldsters alike and wields a tremendous influence over them. Second only to the screen, the radio is the great medium of entertainment and education in the home. Such a tremendous thing! And that right in our very homes! It certainly is necessary that we control it by Christian principles, lest it prove dangerous and destructive.
But, thirdly, the radio by and large wields a dangerous influence. It brings Broadway and Hollywood together, right to you on the sofa. It opens your doors to plays and scenarios that sink lower often than the detective stories and romances your drug store sells. It transmits things which poison the hearts of youngsters and oldsters alike. It flings upon you cheap jazz entertainment, lowers your standard of true entertainment, discourages reading profitable literature, destroys the family’s calling to entertain itself, stifles the desire to meditate etc., etc. Since it is capable of all these things, it is reasonable to submit the use of the radio to definite reformed principles and apply them when we use the machine.
All of life must be lived out of the principle of the Word of God, let us not exempt the dial-turning of the radio.
2. The Leading Principle
Although it is true that the having of a radio or not is up to the person himself, not to an outsider to dictate; by the same token however, it is equally true that in the matter of the use of the radio Scripture dictates. And we shall follow that dictation or we walk contrary to the rule of faith.
The leading principle of the whole life of the Christian I find in I Cor. 10:31 where we read: “Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” A hard and fast rule for the believer. Let that thought sink into our souls a moment, at least also into the souls of us who stand so fast on the doctrines of the sovereignty of God. Fellow Christian, to do all to the glory of God is very difficult. It means to deny ourselves, to put down all other interests and aim only and above all at hallowing the blessed Name of God. It implies that the Christian wants to hear only such things as will make him sanctify God in his heart. Paul, elsewhere, speaks of “using as not abusing” (I Cor. 7:31), which means that if we use creation or its inventions for any other end than the glory of God we abuse it. Hence, if the radio shall be of “use” in our homes (not abuse) the dial turning must be prompted by your quest to advance the glory of your God in one way or the other. As believers we know it to be our calling to serve God with creation. The Belgic Confession in Art. 12 so strikingly says concerning creation and providence that God upholds creation “for the service of mankind” and then “to the end that man may serve His God.” The radio must be put to that use, while each believer is free to make it serve that end as he pleases.
3. Concluding Principles
In connection with this leading principle follows the second principle which the dial-turning Christian must watch. I find that enunciated first in Ephesians 5:7-11. Here the Spirit exhorts that we are to walk as children of the light, proving what is acceptable to God, having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness and rather reproving them. The unfruitful works of darkness which so easily pour into our homes via the radio must be reproved, we conclude. Even a reputed moralist recently said “90 percent of what comes over the radio is an insult to a seven-year-old child.” How greatly insulting then to the matured Christian? But notice also that Paul exhorts that we must have no fellowship with these works but rather reprove them. Which certainly implies that we cannot seek the glory of God by listening to radio-trash. If we reprove these works we must certainly turn off the radio, for light and darkness have no fellowship and the unfruitful works of darkness cannot be associated with the glory of God. And the positive side of this we find in Phil. 4:8: “brethren, whatsoever things are true. . . .honest. . . .just, pure, of good report. . . .think on these things.” That limits the field of our radio listening and bids us use the radio with discretion and discrimination.
And now the last companion principle. I find this one uttered by the saintly Joshua in 24:15: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” If the use of the radio in any way interrupts or intercepts or paralyzes the sacred duty of the family life toward God, it becomes dangerous and must be brought captive. Insofar as the radio promotes the family worship it serves a good purpose, but if it tends to make us and our family worldly-minded and world-conformed, alas. Hence, the radio, if it is used, must be pressed into service to help me and my family to serve God and seek His glory. And we must be on the alert that it do not destroy the family altar, supplant the storytelling by the parents, infringe upon the time to pray, to read, to study etc. etc. The head of the home must stand firm on the principle that he will allow into his home only such things as assist him in saying: “I and my house we will serve the Lord.”
See there some general principles.
If you say, we cannot observe them, then you would admit that you cannot use the radio. It requires diligence and eternal vigilance.
Each of us is free how we wish to observe these principles. Each may practice it in his own way.
We have freedom to turn the dial.
But principles are eternal and cannot be ignored.