How wholesome must our entertainment be?

Hi. I’m a fan of a certain sitcom. Whenever it pushes a moral viewpoint (whenever there’s a “moral to the story” in a certain episode) 95% of it is good. However, I recently saw an episode that contradicted Catholic Moral doctrine by saying that one should wait “until you find someone you love” to have sex. Because it seems to say that premarital sex is ok, i’m wondering if I should stop watching the show. I know that I won’t be led astray by this show, but I feel guilty watching a show that can lead others astray who let the media form their consciences. What do you think? Is it ok for me to keep watching, or should I stop?


I believe that you should stop watching it…if enough people stop watching the show and write to the producers about this issue, they may rethink their “moral messages.”

God Bless

In theory that’s true, but in reality there aren’t enough people who are going to do that. Not to mention most of hollywood isn’t interested in moral messages or making catholic moralists happy.

If you enjoy the show and you know it’s not going to affect your morality or choices, why not keep watching it? A stray show or two that you may not agree with isn’t bad. If the series takes a major turn towards morality plays you don’t agree with or can’t watch in good conscience, then give it up.

A few thoughts from someone who used to watch “low morality” TV and movies, looked at the Playboy mags, and the bad internet sites.

It wasn’t until middle age that I finally realized the impact of Jesus’ words, “but I say if you even look upon a woman with lust in your heart, you’ve already committed adultery.” I prayed fervently one night, and immediately I was able to avoid it all!!!

Until that time I guess I had been a sex addict. Looking back, it was a slow process. First, as a child, with my own bedroom TV. I watched the stuff my parents didn’t want me to. It gradually increased from there, to the point where I felt I had to have it.

Now, as a parent, I tell my kids a few things:

  1. Just like a plant, our soul needs to be given the proper nourishment. If we give it pure, divine thoughts and images, we can become more like Christ every day. If we add a little impurity, consciously or subconsciously, the soul weakens a little, just as the plant would do if you mixed a little weed-killer in with the pure water.

  2. I look at TV shows and movies as if they were entertainers coming to the front door of my house. If someone knocked on the door and said, “Hello there. We’d like to come into your home and entertain you with some dirty jokes, some sexually explicit skits.” Obviously, I would politely say “No thank you” and send them on their way.

  3. Finally, I heard Paul Harvey say something very astute one day. He asked why a show which is not good for children to watch suddenly becomes okay when they turn 18.

Another way of wording the thread title’s question would be “How raunchy can my entertainment be?”

That sounds more self-answering to me, but others will disagree…

It reminds me of all those kids in Confirmation class when I was young trying to ask the priest “how far is too far when making out?”

I love watching the Simpsons. I’ve seen them enough where I know when inappropriate parts are coming up and we flip stations. Well I had taped an episode that I hadn’t seen yet. My oldest boy (who has a real good sense and will turn his head if an inappropriate commercial comes on the t.v.) was watching it with me and I could tell where something was going so I hit stop, fast-forwarded it, and we resumed watching it. When we were done I told him to go in the other room and get set up with what we were going to do and I’d meet him in there after I watched the parts I missed. He said “if they’re inappropriate, why do you want to watch them?”. :blush:

Talk about wisdom.

I told him he was right and we got up and went into the other room together.

{although I must admit I watched it when he went to bed}

I think art needs to be true to life. As such, it has to honestly represent our sinful tendencies, even where it portrays them as a perceived good (since that is how people think about them in real life). Now, hopefully, at some level it can become clear that these are not ultimately good things. But it has to accomplish this in a way which isn’t preachy, lest people not connect and just turn easily away. However, if over time (or even initially), it becomes clear that there is an agenda to merely tear down good morality, then this is not something to be supported.

That is generally speaking. As others have alluded to, there is also the personal level as to what one can reasonably handle and helps or detracts from each one’s personal pursual of holiness. On this level, it is something which an individual must decide for himself what is best.

This question has come up in other threads and someone linked this blog:

basically it is this:
The key to understanding what is not okay for you to watch is figuring out when you will be tempted to sin due to the content that you are exposed to. That’s the reason it becomes immoral to watch something.

What’s the Catechism say?

Not to be simplistic, but I’ve found when I’ve got problems like this, it helps to check out the Catechism.

But in the interest of full disclosure, I too was enamored of a certain HBO show- that is, until the “we’re gays and the church better accept us or else we’ll behave like little brats and paint all those with opposing viewpoints as evil bigots” episode. That got me thinking.

Then, ultimately, the show spiraled down into a pit of utter moral decay and depraved sexual activity, and I stopped watching. But it’s funny, because before I stopped watching, I felt a palpable filth on me after each episode. I referred to it as the “spiritual stink”.

It’s a good question though. I waited three seasons (all through the mail via a DVD service, so I had instant gratification too!) before I had enough. I’m not sure if one episode would be enough to stop watching…

…but that’s why I recommend checking the Catechism.


When I watch TV, I picture Jesus sitting on the couch and ask myself, “Would I be watching this with Jesus?” I get my answer every time.

That’s another thing I’ve told my kids.

I don’t like that gauge, because, well, the appropriate thing to do if Jesus came over wouldn’t be to sit on the couch watching TV, it’d be to frickin’ kneel down and start praying. Because it’s Jesus. He’s not my buddy, even if he does come through all the time.

A very good point!!! We would hardly continue to channel-surf were our Lord and Savior to show up in our living room!

Having said that, I think we need to be careful about believing we can only watch TV shows, movies, plays, etc. where the characters espouse moral or Christian messages. Trash is trash and like pornography, we can all recognize it when we see it. We should certainly avoid the profane. But one character expressing a viewpoint we disagree with doesn’t make an objectionable show. In fact, it can make the point, in certain cases, and with certain characters, of morality being the better portion. (Ever read Screwtape Letters …?)

Just a thought …

To give credit where credit is due, I took my post above’s premise from Jimmy Akin’s post on this very topic. Thought it made a lot of sense, and think it’s a good parallel to the response to “What would Jesus do?” “Who knows? He was God, not just some nice guy.”

Well, if wwe put it this way I don’t think we would watch any TV. I dont think Jesus would – there are so many more important things to do with one’s time.

Makes one think doesn’t it?

That’s why I was arguing against “What would Jesus do?” We don’t have the divinity in us that Jesus did, which made his own case so very special.

Do you have a link to the Jimmy Akin post you mentioned?

No, but I wish I did. Jimmy is great.

at one time I reprimanded my dad for loving THE SIMPSONS and now I am a convert (I have seasons 1-9 on DVD). However, when I am at my brother’s house or my sister’s house, I don’t turn the show on unless the kids are in bed or out of the house, because there are some things that aren’t appropriate.

I’ve started bringing my FULL HOUSE DVDs with me when I visit my sister (my 7 year old niece LOVES to watch FULL HOUSE with me). And I bring Garfield and Friends or Rocky and Bullwinkle to watch with both my 7 year old niece & my soon to be 6 year old nephew.

I would say pay attention to the content in the show. Would you let your 5 year old watch the show FRIENDS which often had people: living together, having premarital sex, etc? (No, I never watched the show, but I do know about the content).

I miss the old family shows - ABC used to have TGIF with several good family shows. Now they have Grey’s Anatomy reruns on Fridays :rolleyes:.

I think shows like Extreme Makeover would be okay for kids to watch - especially the episodes where they help families that have been devastated by disasters, the sudden death of a family member caused setbacks , or that don’t have a nice house to live in (like its full of mold, cracks in the foundation, etc).

7th Heaven is a show I’d recommend as they have dealt with a LOT of issues over the past 11 seasons: Suicide, Teen Pregnancy, STD scares, etc. And when they dealt with teen pregnancies, abortion wasNEVER an option they scream out. Probably because the father was a non denominational Protestant minister and they wanted to keep the show wholesome.

i think if it makes you feel guilty then dont watch it thats what i do.:shrug:

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