By David Outten
On February 2, 1984 President Ronald Reagan told the following story to an audience attending a National Day of Prayer event.*
“This power of prayer can be illustrated by a story that goes back to the fourth century. Telemachus, an Asian monk living in a little remote village, spent most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance. One day, he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome. Believing that he had heard, he set out. Weeks later, he arrived there, having traveled most of the way on foot.
“It was at a time of a festival in Rome. They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths. He followed a crowd into the Colosseum, and then, there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, ‘We who are about to die salute you.”’ He realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds. He cried out, ‘In the name of Christ, stop!”’ His voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Colosseum.
“As the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’ They thought it was part of the entertainment. At first they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn’t, they grew belligerent and angry. As he was pleading with the gladiators, ‘In the name of Christ, stop,”’ one of them plunged his sword into his body. He fell to the sand of the arena. In death, his last words were, ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’
“Suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over the Colosseum. Then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. In the dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum. That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.
“One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult. ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’ It is something we could be saying to each other throughout the world today.”
Telemarcus did not say, “In the name of decency, stop.” Neither did he say, “In my opinion you should stop,” or “If you don’t stop you’ll burn in hell.” He didn’t even say, “I’m the founder of Monks for Morality, you need to stop.” He simply said, “In the name of Christ, stop.” A very ordinary man, he spoke with authority. That he was willing to surrender his life to deliver the message showed that he was delivering a message of love, not judgment. God, not Telemarcus, deserves the credit for ending gladiator contests. God’s Holy Spirit touched the heart of each person who silently left the Colosseum. It was God who touched the heart of Emperor Honorius who then banned gladiator fights. Telemarchus just played his role in a scene God wrote.
Only God can stop the moral decline in American entertainment. Only God can touch the hearts of Christians who continue to watch programs with higher and higher levels of vulgarity and promiscuity. Only God can get teenagers in church youth groups to quit buying tickets to horror shows and vulgar comedies. Only God can reach the hearts of Hollywood executives who approve funding of waves of immoral entertainment.
We’re no martyrs. We’re just a saved sinner who God has called to work toward the redemption of the media. We’re parents and grandfathers who want to leave their children and grandchildren a more civil society rather than a more vile one.
Our message for Christians is, “In the name of Christ, stop!”
If the 70 percent of Americans who claim to be Christian would stop watching entertainment that Jesus wouldn’t choose to watch Hollywood’s executives would be forced to provide wholesome entertainment or loose their jobs. Every time you turn on your television you vote with your remote. YOU KNOW WHAT’S BAD. Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit. Don’t rationalize or excuse garbage viewing. In the name of Christ, stop eating the immoral slop that’s currently being offered on television.
Our message for Hollywood executives is, “In the name of Christ, stop!”
The word “B****” (mother dog) does not belong on television and certainly not in the title of a prime time television program. Vulgarity, promiscuity and violence degrade culture and harm future generations — AND YOU KNOW IT. You are responsible and accountable, not just to the public, but to God. In the name of Christ, Stop!
We don’t expect to be martyred. We don’t claim to be more “spiritual” than anyone or more holy. We just believe we’ve been led by God to be passionate about the redemption of the media.
The message, “In the name of Christ, stop!” stands on its own.
Do you believe it’s from God? Do you believe God would have us stop because He loves us? Do you believe he’d have us stop because He wants something better for us?
You can be among the first Christians to vote with your remote as if Jesus Christ were punching the buttons. You may be one of those to who wait to see if others will do so first. You may be someone who rejects the message.
The direction of the current competition on television leads toward orgies and real death matches. Is that where you want to go? Do you want to live in a society where vulgarity is used as punctuation in virtually every sentence?
You’re not accountable to us for your response. You’re accountable to God. You’re accountable to your children and grandchildren for the culture you leave them.
We praise God for using Telemarchus to help end death match entertainment. We praise God for using William Wilberforce to help end slavery. We praise God for using Martin Luther King Jr. to help end segregation. We praise God that we live in a culture where we believe “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” God is the one to be praised for what’s left of America’s decency and prosperity.
If Americans vote with their remotes for righteousness and Hollywood executives approve nothing but wholesome, inspiring entertainment it will not be because I or anyone else said the right thing. It will be because God touched hearts, changed behavior and brought redemption.
The future is in his hands, not mine. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we pray for redemption.
Please, “In the name of Christ, stop.”
* This transcription was modified slightly to make it read more clearly than it was spoken.