The Back Story


It has become very hard to watch television these days . . . for me and my family, at least.  It seems that no matter where I turn, even to the “family” shows and channels, I’m bombarded with images and topics that challenge my faith commitment, and not necessarily for the better.   Most often my enjoyment of the story line is bisected by the need to literally think through what is being presented to me over that electronic portal.  

How do you watch television, read the newspaper, listen to radio?  Is it with a passive mind, just accepting everything you hear as truth, or as “just entertainment.”    Walt Disney once said, “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.”  If this is true, then we need to realize that all media, no matter how entertaining, is also an influence on the mind.  Can I really mindlessly read, view, listen without it affecting my world view?  I think not.

While not mentioning media, per se, the apostle Paul talked about this very thing:  “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over . . .” (Ephesians 4:19).  Desensitization is actually a psychological process.  Counselors use it to help people get over fears of many things such as spiders, heights, etc.  The item that promotes the fear is presented to the client repeatedly, in increasing proximity, until the client can actually be next to the offending item, i.e., a spider. 

Those of you who grew up in the 1970s and before know that television has changed dramatically from its early years.  While the necessity for Rob and Laura Petrie (the Dick Van Dyke show) and Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (I Love Lucy) to have separate beds was a bit unrealistic, in my opinion, we have gone from that to scenes of sexual activity!  How did we get here?  Little by little.  We were presented with every increasing bits, baby steps, until we found ourselves where we are today.

It is like the story of the frog in the water.  If you place a frog in hot water, it will jump out immediately.  However, if you place a frog in cool water, and heat it up gradually, the frog will stay in the pot and get cooked without realizing what is happening.

Desensitization.  Changing what we are comfortable with one step at a time, bit by bit, until we find ourselves being people we don’t recognized and doing things we never expected we would do.  Like the frog, it is killing us. 

Consider this conversation that I recently overheard between two “church” girls:

Friend 1:  How could you dance like that, grinding?  It’s not right!  (for those of you who aren’t sure what grinding is, it is just what it sounds like, involving the hips of both partners.  ‘nuff said.  Need more info?  Give me a call!)

Friend 2: It’s just dancing.  There isn’t anything wrong with it.

Friend 1:  Don’t you know what it does to the guy you are dancing with the guys who are watching you?

Friend 2:   It’s no different than when kids started doing the Twist.  Grownups thought that was bad and sinful back then, and they think the same thing about grinding now.  We passed that barrier years ago, and we just have to get past this one now. 

I understand how parents in every era have rejected and /or resisted the “new” dances of their kids,  but I just cannot get on board with equating the new type of “dancing” with the twist!  However, throughout TV shows and in dances throughout the country, you will see kids, even little kids, basically having clothed relations right on the dance floor.  How did we get here?  I believe we need to put this one squarely on the shoulders of popular media.

We lose much of our own sensitivity to popular culture, political views, etc., because we fail to talk back.  In my home, you will probably hear us talking to the television.  If you ride in the car with me for any period of time, you will definitely hear me talking back to the radio.  It isn’t because I and my family are crazy—even though that may well be true.  It is because we refuse to be “fed” other peoples thoughts. We choose what we will believe; we talk back, ask questions, deliberate, and throw out the bad.

Verses 18, 19:  “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.”

We need to know whom we are serving and why.  We need to consider what we are watching without letting it be “poured down our throats” willy-nilly. 

Ephesians 4:17-32 tells us how we are supposed to live as Christians.  Read this passage this week and consider how you are living.  Are you allowing the culture to shape you, or are you shaping yourself in the Lord?  The first is futile, but second, living for Christ, brings peace and joy.


Mary Kay Glunt, Pastor Ebenezer Presbyterian Church


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