My wife will not stop watching soap operas on television. She even imagines that she is one of the main characters! It seems like really weird behavior to me. We want peace, love, and for God to bless and even prosper us. But I think her attitude is counterproductive.

Dear Friend,

A number of years ago, the morals of the characters in soap operas were the worst that you could find on television. But now the moral standards of the majority of television and movie characters are just as bad as the morals of the soap opera characters. And those who follow the actors themselves know that in real life their moral standards are often just as questionable. So even though your question is specifically about soap operas, this word of advice is about most of the media that we choose to watch or listen to.

The moral values currently portrayed in media lead us to ask ourselves: How important is it to tell the truth? Is it acceptable to steal from someone who has more than you do? Are wedding vows to be kept, or should faithfulness to a spouse be negotiable? Is there a reason for a girl to save her virginity for her future husband, or are sexual relations just a normal part of dating? When someone’s existence is inconvenient, is there anything wrong with killing that person? If a man has overwhelming sexual desires, is it his right to force a girlfriend or even a stranger to have sex with him? Answering each of these questions is the way to discover what our moral standards are.

Some people might ask why we have the right to judge which moral standards are “good” and which are “bad.” Good point! We don’t have the right. But those of us who believe in the Bible also believe that moral standards should come from the Ten Commandments and the remainder of the Scriptures. We believe that God gave us commandments, guidelines, and standards so that we could have fewer problems in this life. If everyone were to follow God’s standard of morality, there would be no murder, no rape, no theft, and no marital infidelity. We believe that God knows what’s best in our lives and what will make us happy and content.

Even though we believe that having a sexual relationship before marriage is morally wrong, we cannot watch television for very long without seeing a multitude of men and women who seem to be convinced that sex is a recreational activity that has no real significance and no personal or social consequences. Married, never married, divorced, separated, it doesn’t seem to matter to the characters. When we watch these characters, and begin to care what happens to them, we may gradually begin to justify their choices, even if we originally didn’t agree with them.

Day after day, hour after hour, character after character, right and wrong can get out of focus. In that imaginary world, our favorite character has to lie to keep out of trouble. We are shown that it’s not really his fault and that it turns out all right in the end. He still looks like a hero to everyone, so is it that important that he was dishonest? All’s well that ends well, right?

The more we watch, the more the lines get blurred. What was always wrong before now seems justified in certain cases. What we would never have even considered in the past now seems quite possible. We are brainwashed by the constant repetition of questionable moral values as if they were the ideal standard for us. And ever so slowly, our values are affected in ways that we never wanted or asked for.

All of us who care about moral values should evaluate the influences of the television programs we watch, the music we listen to, and the movies we see. Do those media choices help maintain our moral values, or do they gradually erode those standards?

Entertainment may have become the highest value for your wife. Watch a few shows with her, and then have a discussion about values. Pray together and ask God to help each of you to choose media wisely.

We wish you well,