How Desensitization Keeps You from Thriving

We need to be aware of the dangers of the devil's subtle strategy of desensitization, a devious enemy that dulls our spiritual senses. #thrive #ThrivingInChrist #SpiritualGrowth #Desensitization #BiblicalTruths #Movies

Today we’re talking about desensitization, a devious enemy that dulls our spiritual senses.

What is desensitization?

To desensitize is to:

  1. make someone less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images;
  2. or, free someone from a phobia or neurosis by gradually exposing the person to the thing that is feared.” [source: dictionary app]

Desensitization in Culture

My dad visited someone who was stationed in Germany years ago and was shocked to find six foot tall posters of nude women adorning the windows of a porn store in the middle of a mall where families were often walking with their children.

Additionally, during his stay, the front page of the newspaper revealed a picture of a fully naked women to the eyes of every unsuspecting subscriber.

With a distressed heart, he asked the Christian man he was staying with about this common nudity. He responded with a shrug:

“After a while you get used to it.”

A friend’s parents were at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1939 for the first showing of Gone With the Wind, and after the expletive came out of the actor’s mouth the entire company of spectators gasped at the shock of it.

(This same expletive was used the year before in Pygmalion (1938), and previously a few sprinkled here and there in other films.1)

You probably already know how much profanity is used today. Does anyone gasp anymore?

Do you question whether profanity is acceptable?

If the world is aware that language is wrong by including it in the rating system in movies, then are we, as Christians, aware too?

After hearing these stories I can’t help but wonder. How can something so wrong be a shock one day and no big deal a short time later? Is it simply the passing of time?

Not completely.

My Desensitization Story

Growing up, we were never allowed to watch movies with a PG-13 rating, but I allowed myself to indulge in the temptation as a young adult.

Back then, my friend wanted to watch a PG-13 movie together. A few times during that movie my spirit-man cringed, and I thought, I really should not be doing this.

The devil possesses cunning timing; the opportunity to watch a PG-13 movie came again. I remember being really angry about something and I had that “I don’t care” attitude unchecked—so I watched it.

We need to be aware of the dangers of the devil's subtle strategy of desensitization, a devious enemy that dulls our spiritual senses.

During the movie, the same kind of appalling content that I had watched before was not so shocking.

At that point I subconsciously invited PG-13 movies into my entertainment repertoire for a few months. While I was still uncomfortable in my status quo, I watched rated R movies a couple of times.

The Lord really dealt with me. Somehow I woke up to the fact that I quenched His spirit. He kept bringing a verse to my attention:

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. Psalm 101:3

At first, I didn’t listen to Him because I didn’t want to. Surrendering is a process, and eventually I wanted to walk away from all that because I desired and loved God more.

I went back to my friend and shared the news of my repentance, the gradual inclination, and declared I would no longer be watching those types of movies. My friend didn’t understand what the big deal was.

I analyzed the process of my desensitization. It was gradual. It was subtle.

I remembered this when bothered by the actions of other Christian friends and came to this conclusion:

Everyone is in a different place in their walk with God; it’s not my place to judge, but to influence them to keep walking.

After that I was introduced to the ClearPlay DVD players, which have great content filters. Even with filtering, some movies shouldn’t be watched anyway!

I rarely go to the theater. I wait for the movie to come out on DVD and watch it on ClearPlay, only after checking out the content on http://pluggedinonline.com or http://screenit.com.

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 (ESV)

Some people probably don’t agree with me or don’t understand my choices, but I’m not sorry that I live this way. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’m getting a whole lot more of the joy of walking with my Savior!

What about you? Have you gone through a process of surrendering with something you felt the Lord wanted you to give up?   

The Fight Against Desensitization

The culture of what is acceptable is changing, but God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

Dear Christians that shine as lights in this ever-changing society, the dust of the earth is going to land on our “light bulb,” too. We need constant vigilance.

We need to be aware of the dangers of the devil’s subtle strategy of desensitization.

How does that happen?

He will not always just dangle blatant temptation in front of our eyes. He plants his seeds of influence slowly.

His plan is to make your mind comfortable enough, and move you from lukewarmness and carnality to complete deception.

If you listen to the devil’s lies long enough you begin to believe them. If you let the dust of his earthly domain land on your “light bulb” and neglect cleaning it, your light will not shine as bright.

Can you see how the Enemy can use desensitization to negatively affect our walk with God?

We probably all have weaknesses or sins that we fall into frequently. Imagine knowing the simple steps to overcome them. In this post I’m going to show you how, and I have included a free worksheet to help. #thrive #weaknesses #overcoming #spiritualgrowth #biblicaltruths #help #victory

Is there a weakness in your life that needs breaking? Get access to these charts in Insider Resources for overcoming weakness.

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Other Great Posts in the Thriving in Christ Series:

  1. What Does It Mean to Thrive in Christ?
  2. What a Thriving Disciple of Christ Does and Doesn’t Do
  3. Use Psalm 1:3 to Keep a Spiritually Healthy Heart
  4. How Desensitization Keeps You from Spiritually Thriving
  5. How to Get Free of Secret Sins and Thrive in Christ (Even if You Want to Stay in It)
  6. 27 Ways Your Good Shepherd Helps You Thrive

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30 Comments

  1. HI Kelly, I cringe when I see some of the video games out there,too. Murder, violence, terror, all realistically displayed on full screen TV’s – gradually addicting and desensitizing, too..
    Thanks for inspiring!

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      I cringe too, Colleen. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. This is a great post! I find that there was a period of time when I was desensitized to many things around me. I claimed to be a Christian but you would might not know it. I went through a time of cleansing, healing and renewed faith and I know now how that time was pivotal in my faith journey. I look at things through God’s filter and realize that everything I am exposed to is not okay with God. Thank you for these words.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      I understand that exactly, Mary!

  3. This is such a brave post, Kelly, and so important. If our lives do not reflect purity and righteousness, there’s almost no way for an unbeliever to be exposed to the change God can make in a life.

  4. Thanks for this post, Kelly! It is far too easy to become desensitized to bad language and other things that are so common in the culture around us. This is making me think about areas where I might need to look at this.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      It’s always a brave prayer to ask the Holy Spirit, but His way is best. Praying He draws you closer!

  5. We really should take the call to “Guard our minds” seriously. Thanks for this reminder, Kelly. Do have a blessed Easter, this Easter.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Thank you, Boma! You as well.

  6. Excellent post, Kelly. It takes courage and wisdom to go against the cultural grain. As a mother I’m trying to teach my children critical thinking skills when interacting with media. I don’t know what choices they’ll make as adults, but I’m teaching them to be discerning now. Like you I feel that if the choices aren’t good for children, how can they be good for me as an adult? Pinning and tweeting this, friend.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      So glad you’re teaching your children now. I wish all parents would do the same!

  7. Thanks for tackling this subject! I am a highly empathetic person, so that alone prevents me from watching a lot of violence, but I can tell where I’ve become less sensitive to other things. Just last night I had to turn a TV show off because I realized it was not moving my walk with God forward to listen to all that profanity. I have in the past felt awkward or ashamed about telling others I can’t watch something with them, but your post has inspired me to obey the Holy Spirit with boldness.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Oh, trust me, it wasn’t easy to tell my friend. I’m glad you are listening to the Holy Spirit!

  8. This is exactly how the enemy works. He gradually leads us down the path of a dulled conscience so that what once was offensive no longer is. I have begun the process of walking backwards with the regard to honoring the Name of the Lord and as I’ve edited those flippant usages out of my language, I’ve found that I’m much more highly sensitive to it around me. I think that’s the way we need to retake holy living. Apply truth to our lives and then we’ll be more aware of how much it exists everywhere. thanks!

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      That is so true, Karen! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. This is great! Desentization is such a powerful, common thing that most people ignore.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      I’m praying we will be more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, Brittany!

  10. Hey Kelly! I found the post lol. Great points regarding desensitization. It’s something that really creeps on you sometimes, unfortunately. Thanks for writing this post. God bless you!

    -Dana

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Blessings to you as well, Dana! Glad you found it! 😉

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      Happy to see you here, Susan!

  11. Kelly, you were on point about this topic of desensitization. I realized I have allowed some things that used to be shocking to get casual in my life. But the Holy Spirit is a great convictor !
    We cannot serve two masters ,right ?

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      He is indeed, Diana! Blessed to see you here!

  12. Hi Kelly, This is SO good – and I couldn’t agree more. We Christians should gasp and be shocked – not ever get used to it. Col. 3:8-10

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      His way is always the best way. Glad you joined us here, Alyson!

  13. This topic is dear to me as we raise our kids. They are being inundated with images and ideas that challenge them daily to make small (or large) compromises. As are adults. Teaching them to hear the Spirit is so important so they can walk in light.

    1. kellyrbaker says:

      When I wrote this post I was thinking of adults, but that is so true that it applies to our children as well. May we continue to train them in the way they should go!

  14. You’re so right, Kelly. It is easy to become desensitized to things, just a little at a time. Thanks for the encouragement to be mindful instead!

  15. Never apologize for doing right. Wonderful read.

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