Beliefnet
Inside Faith with Brother Joseph

America is fascinated with crime and punishment. Criminal Justice programs are overflowing at colleges~ keeping pace with our burgeoning prison population (the largest per capita in the world), because crime and punishment are en vogue “and an exciting career field.”

Meanwhile, from our sofas and recliners we relive the zeitgeist through the abundance of crime and orison series on television. Almost every channel offers a crime or prison show, many times as “reality TV”.

The Apostle Paul tells us to fill our minds with things that are pure, beautiful, worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8). Do Cops, CSI, Hard Time, The First 48~ etc., meet these criteria~? Considering demand is driving a steady flow of these programs, what are they providing for our society? Why are they so enticing? Does watching another person suffer make people feel better about their hurting selves? Does seeing a “bad guy” get punished give people a jolt of self-righteous pleasure? Are inmates the newest animals at the zoo of popular media?

We are behind bars after all! Whatever the appeal–people love it and crave more. America hungers for something, we yearn for satiety of our deeper desires. We are being fed by these shows, and in some way they titillate enough to create a desire for more.

But as Christians, called to look for the beautiful and pure, we must stop consuming this poison. We must remember that though inmates are often cast-offs and lawbreakers, they are still human beings, imbued with the image and likeness of God.

To patronize programming that showcases human suffering and crime, we are celebrating the work of the Enemy, glorifying his destruction of our society. Next time a crime or prison show comes on your TV, turn it off. Put down your remote, and instead of enjoying the pain of prisoners from afar, go visit one at your local jail or prison as a volunteer.

Come experience the “real thing” that so intrigues you, and by doing so, visit Christ in the process.

KEYWORDS: Crime; Punishment; Criminal Justice; Prison; Television; Paul; Inmates: Christian; God; Christ 

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