“It’s been a while since you’ve stirred the pot,” my wife explained, on a recent car trip. She’s right, but writing a one-off column encouraging reformed people to watch more (or any) television is like chum-in-the-water for Reformed Twitter. It’s an invitation to be ripped to pieces (in the name of Christ, of course) for roughly 48 hours. No thanks.
We were chatting in the car while driving to the wedding of one of my former students, where I would be playing the role of the one old, slightly-fat groomsman in a lineup of young, sleek, handsome recent college grads. We’re in our early 40s, and are both a little thicker than we were when we got married 23 years (!) ago. We’re not trying to look 23 because to try to do so would be dumb and sad. We still get up early in the morning to work out together several mornings a week but, truth be told, sometimes our hearts aren’t in it. This is called being an adult.
Anyway, we’re a little thicker because we enjoy watching movies and eating chips together in the evening, after a long day of working out, working, bill-paying, problem-solving, and parenting. We think this is okay…and maybe even good. I like my wife. I like watching certain shows and movies. Watching them with her seems like a good idea.
“I think the couples we know that watch TV together in the evenings seem to like each other the most,” Kristin explained. It’s the kind of insight you have time for, in a marriage, because you’ve got several hours in the car. “You should write something defending watching more television with your spouse,” she concluded. She, apparently, wants to watch me die on the Internet.
What KK doesn’t understand is that being super smug about not watching television is, along with the doctrines of grace, one of the cornerstones of our movement. Being too good for pop culture because you’re too busy reading theology or Hillbilly Elegy or a book about Winston Churchill is what we do. And if you do happen to engage a movie, it’s because the movie is esoteric and boring, an intellectual exercise, and will be a vehicle for a 5,000-word essay (see: Martin Scorcese’s Silence).
But her sentiment was born of two decades around lots of Reformed couples who seem more like business partners or roommates than people who actually enjoy and know each other. The thing is, reading is good. Being super fastidious parents is good. Hoarding little envelopes of cash per Dave Ramsey is (I guess) good. Being super involved in your church is good. But not knowing your spouse, never doing anything together, reading Bavinck by candlelight while she cleans up the kitchen, and feeling like her roommate is bad.
The answer, of course, is Netflix and chips, because as great as reading is (we both love it), it’s solitary. Part of strengthening your marriage is finding things you enjoy doing together. Pauses to cue up the comment from the super smug guy about how he and his wife read to each other. We get it.
There’s plenty of thoughtfulness, intellectual rigor, and responsibility in the Reformed world…we’re here to provide an argument for fun. You should work on this (fun, having it with your spouse) at least as much as you work on your Financial Peace.