As I discuss the ins and outs of Christianity verses reality TV, I will begin with Wife Swap. I love Wife Swap, the 60 minute program now in syndication on the Lifetime television network. When I first saw it advertised in 2003, it certainly caused my eyebrow to raise. You can only imagine what I thought it meant.
60’s vs TV Today
I know television has become quite risqué since television in the 60’s when Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore as Rob and Laura Petrie, though married, didn’t even sleep in the same bed! Now we are swapping wives on regular network television!? What has this world come to!!? I admit, out of curiosity I had to check it out. After all, it is my responsibility as a good parent and informed Christian to see what the world was pushing onto our unsuspecting and naive public. I had to be informed if I was to rightfully bash the program. Well, I was relieved to see that it was not at all what I thought. Whew, thank gosh! And I learned that there was much to glean from this program.
Back to Wife Swap
If you are not familiar with the program, it is about 2 families, usually from different parts of the country, who live extremely different lifestyles. The emphasis is on “extreme.” I love how at the end of the program, both families seem to learn balance based on a few of the principles they learned from the other family.
One thing that is usually missing from these episodes, like most programs on TV, is God. Let’s look at the particular episode I watched today, as I was effectively avoiding doing anything productive. The Beauvais’ are a successful entrepreneurial family from Arizona who promote the power of “positive thinking.” The Clayton family from Indiana who are a close knit family living in a trailer park and are struggling financially while remaining cheerful.
First, the Beauvais’. Dina and Mark both work at home as “inventors.” They have devised a program where for $39.00 you too can discover the secrets to living your dream life, as they do in their expensive home. Dina claims to have “manifested” her dream job, dream husband, dream home, and even her 2 children based on the power of positive thinking. The problem, is that she gives no glory to God. She believes that all these blessings came about because SHE willed them. No doubt she works hard and focuses on getting what she wants. However, when she went to a soup kitchen to “encourage” those who were less fortunate, she seemed more concerned about selling her program than truly helping those in need.
There is certainly nothing wrong with positive thinking. In fact we are told in Philippians 4:8,
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
God knows that we are truly at our best when we think positively. He cannot use us to further His kingdom if we are walking around feeling sorry for ourselves, making excuses for our circumstances, or focusing on all that is wrong with the world. We make ourselves available to serve the Lord when we are positive. Opportunities present themselves and His success becomes our success. Our goal should not be to focus on what WE want, but what Christ wants for us. Only then will we truly be satisfied and fulfilled.
The families focused on personal appearance to an extreme as well. Dina and Mark, from Arizona were very clothes conscious. Dina worked out with the mantra, “I am a size 3” and even had permanently tattooed makeup. Sheri, on the other hand, at 300+ pounds was happy to wear stained and torn clothing. Her family eats a high fat diet professing that they cannot afford healthy food, and even if they could they wouldn’t eat it because they don’t like it. Sheri and her husband had many missing teeth and did not seem concerned at all about physical appearance. Again we see extremes.
Christianity and Appearance
So is it wrong to take pride in our appearance? Shouldn’t we care what we look like? Of course we should, but again let’s look to the bible for guidance on appearance. Proverbs 31:3 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” As one ages, beauty is indeed fleeting. I don’t look like I did at 19, do you? And I don’t look now like I will in 10 years. My husband jokes that as men age, they look like Sean Connery. As women age, they look like Sean Connery. I’m afraid there is too much truth in that “joke.”
If we put too much emphasis on our appearance however, we will definitely be disappointed. Too often, we adorn ourselves to extremes to impress others, hoping we will gain favor with others and we tend to judge others appearance as a way of justifying our own. But who are we pleasing, man or God? So does that mean that we should walk around in rags? NO WAY! We need to honor our bodies for they are a temple as we read in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20,
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,”
Christianity and Culture
Now, let’s consider Christianity and culture. Would Jesus walk around in rags? No, but neither would he be wearing a Versace suit and Cole Haan shoes. As far as our health, I believe we should do what we can to eat healthy meals and maintain a healthy appearance. By all means to maintaining an attractive hairstyle is one thing, but to spend hundreds of dollars for the “right” stylist and to spend hours having your hair highlighted to look “natural” is wasteful, extreme – and vain. It’s not your outward appearance that makes a difference in other people’s lives. Spend the time reading your bible, praying for others and looking for opportunities to bless those around you weather at the grocery store or in line at the DMV. Eat a balanced diet, but enjoy a Big Mac once in awhile. If you have poor dental health, get your teeth fixed. But is it necessary to spend thousands to have the “perfect” smile? I have never seen an unattractive person who does not look like a million dollars with a simple smile. A smile can be given to anyone and can make a huge difference in another person’s life.
I was pleased to see that at the end of this particular episode, Dina and Mark sold their expensive home and invited those who were less fortunate to partake in their success seminar for free. They realized that they were living for themselves and turned themselves around to help others.
The Clayton’s also realized that they could make positive changes in their own lives. Instead of making excuses for their circumstances, they embraced opportunities to make positive financial changes for their family and found that good, nutritious food was not more expensive, nor less fulfilling than the junk they had been gorging their bodies with. Robert, the older of the two boys even realized that aspiring to attend college was not just a wish, but a possibility.
Christianity and Balance
As I watched this program, I was reminded of how important it is to keep life in balance. We can take anything of this world to extreme, and when we do, we often find ourselves unfulfilled. The only thing we can always take in extreme is Jesus. Only then do we find that all of our needs are fulfilled.
Now it’s off to find something else to do to goof of instead of work. I wonder what’s on the OWN network?
Christianity vs Reality TV… To be continued… 🙂