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Christiana Vermer wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Is it sinful to watch certain T.V. shows and read books, for example, "Lost"?
  • I love that show and it is not an occasion of sin to me, but is it sinful to watch it?
  • What about books that have some violence, like "Lord of the flies"?

When I see something that is impure, I just turn away and it doesn't affect me. When I see something that's violent, I know it's wrong but don't take it seriously.

  • Is this still sinful?

This show "Lost" does have some Catholic values:

  • a guy there was a monk
  • there are some believers, and
  • they do show some values.

Christiana

  { Is it sinful to watch certain T.V. shows, for example, "Lost" or "Lord of the flies"? }

Mike replied:

Dear Christiana,

Thanks for the question.

You said:

  • Is it sinful to watch certain T.V. shows and read books, for example, "Lost"?
  • I love that show and it is not an occasion of sin to me, but is it sinful to watch it?
  • What about books that have some violence, like "Lord of the flies"?

I honestly have to admit, I have never seen those shows, so I can't give you any personal discernment. The answer to your question, will probably vary from colleague to colleague, but here's my two cents.

Because our culture has become so sex-saturated and an array of immoral standards seems to be the norm, parents of children should be guided by a few paragraphs I found in the Catechism:

Under paragraph 2221

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.
They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues.

This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones." Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:

    He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him. (Sirach 30:1-2)

    Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

2224 The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.

That said, and I'm directing my answer to parents of children, if these T.V. shows have,
over time, an effect where behavior is changed or rationalized by "But it was on T.V." or
if by seeing something repeatedly on T.V. weakens any of the four cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance ) or three theological virtues (faith, hope and charity),
one should probably consider not watching that show very often.

You said:
When I see something that is impure, I just turn away and it doesn't affect me.
When I see something that's violent, I know it's wrong but don't take it seriously.

  • Is this still sinful?

Given what you have said, no, it is not sinful. If you are ever unsure of whether something
is sinful or not, always make mention of it in your Saturday Confession or, if he has time,
ask a priest or your pastor after Sunday Mass.

Hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi, Christiana —

Just to add to Mike's answer. Remember, just because you see a T.V. show that doesn't tempt you to sin, doesn't mean that it doesn't harden you to it. You can slowly get used to seeing certain things and hearing certain perspectives, then you start relating to the characters and soon enough you start to think differently.

A good counter measure is to read the Scriptures every single day. Read a Gospel passage and one of the letters from the Gospel and perhaps a psalm or something from proverbs. Meditate on what you've read.

You want to feed on healthy food not just junk food. It works the same way with you mind. Garbage in and garbage out. For that reason, if you meditate on God's word, you are renewing your mind as St. Paul tells us in Romans 12.

2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

(Romans 12:2)

Who knows, your tastes may even change as a result of this but if nothing else, you will be hearing from the mind of God, not just what the corrupt culture feeds you.

John

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