Today we’re talking about desensitization, a devious enemy that dulls our spiritual senses.
What is desensitization?
To desensitize is to:
- make someone less likely to feel shock or distress at scenes of cruelty, violence, or suffering by overexposure to such images;
- 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?
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.
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!
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?
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Other Great Posts in the Thriving in Christ Series:
- What Does It Mean to Thrive in Christ?
- What a Thriving Disciple of Christ Does and Doesn’t Do
- How to Have a Spiritually Healthy Heart to Thrive in Christ
- How Desensitization Keeps You from Spiritually Thriving
- How to Get Free of Secret Sins and Thrive in Christ (Even if You Want to Stay in It)
- 27 Ways Your Good Shepherd Helps You Thrive