Has the Media Desensitized Us to Sin?

by Jason Moore
Biblical Insights, July 2007

Yes ... and no. It is so that the media fills the airwaves with programs, movies, music, ads, games, and even news reports of sexual indulgence, sexual perversion, sexual innuendo, violence, irreverence, godlessness, shamelessness, and other deviant and damnable behaviors. It is true that every form of human vice is aggrandized and exhibited with an ever-increasing degree of shock and awe. It is also true that reality programming and the merging of television, telephone, and Internet technologies has introduced an era of amateurish exhibitionism which holds the promise of an unimaginably raunchier media experience for the future. It is so that the media has trained people in the knack of sloth by seducing them to wile away hours of prime time in idle activity.

So yes, the media is to blame for desensitizing us to sin. But then again, we have let it happen. You see, the thing about this electronic age is-everything has an off switch. The media has set the table. But unlike Daniel, we've not made up our mind to not defile ourselves with the media's dainties (Daniel 1:8). What's needed is some good old-fashioned repentance. Not, mind you, the "I wish they hadn't put that in there" conscience salve that folks liberally apply when reconciling their media experience with their morals. By repentance, I mean the deliberate choice that we'll not sully ourselves by feeding our heart things our heart should hate. Here are some goads to poke and prod our minds in hopes of re-sensitizing consciences dulled by the average daily dose of modern media.

The Buck Stops with Dad

Fathers must embrace accountability for the souls in their charge. When Joshua said, "as for me and my house," he took responsibility for himself and for the souls placed in his care when God blessed him with a wife and children (Joshua 24:15). What father lets his children eat all the sweets they want? Or permits them to neglect bathing? Or allows his children to stay home from school when they please? If fathers should concern themselves with their children's diet, hygiene, and education, should they not concern themselves more with matters of the heart and soul?

Too many homes have too few fences around the media devices. And children know how to work the technologies better than their parents because they're tailored to the young consumer. And what are the consequences? It was only after his family was neck-deep in crisis-with a molested daughter and murderous sons-that Jacob charged his house to "put away the foreign gods" that had corrupted their family values (Genesis 35:2-4). Too many fathers, like Jacob, wait too long to curb childhood behaviors that evolve into adolescent habits and establish lifelong values while they were occupied with other interests than fatherhood. Dad -- wake up! Make some media rules for you and your house. Your family is following your lead.

Parents Must Model a Good Conscience Before They Can Train One

Moses told parents in Israel that God's teaching had to first be on their hearts before they could teach it diligently to their children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Fathers and mothers must consider the example they're setting for their children by the quantity and content of their media consumption. If Dad is not disciplined and discriminating, then neither will his children be. If parental habits imply that there is one media standard for adults and another for children, then the message to a child is that the R-movie that mother rents and the "slasher" video game that father plays late at night with his cronies are something to which one graduates. Parents must model moderation in the quantity and discrimination in the content of their leisure time activity.

In addition, they must demonstrate a sincere sense of shame and moral outrage that takes immediate and strong action to avoid, to condemn, and to turn off illicit content rather than to mildly chide culture's slouching standards. Attaching animated disclaimers to poor entertainment choices complete with eye-rolling and "what's this world coming to" tones-has become polite etiquette among Christians. But children aren't fooled. When parents compromise their own consciences they only steel the resolve of young hearts to someday be free of the shackles of hypocritical standards and fill up their senses with all the things that Mom and Dad watched when the kids went to bed.

I Suggest a Forty Day Media Fast

Maybe that sounds extreme, but indulging the soul in spiritual exercise is the anecdote. We need a forty-day media fast where we replace our hi-def TVs, our hi-fi iPods, our hi-speed Internets, and our hi-res video games with some hi-priority Bible reading and prayer. We need forty days where we starve our entertainment cravings to indulge our souls and discover that "man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). We need to indulge ourselves in prayer the way Daniel did not because we're obliged but because we're hungry for the Lord's presence and help (Daniel 6:10; 9:3). We need forty days of secret time where we learn a God-consciousness and the passion for a relationship with Him (Matthew 6:5-14).

We need to hide our remotes and keep a Bible next to the recliner and recreate in the Word for forty days with the technology unplugged. Such a commitment will re-sensitize the conscience (Hebrews 4:12), re-ignite faith (Romans 10:17), rejuvenate hope (Rom. 15:4), reacquaint us with sin (II Timothy 4:2-4), and re-equip us for righteousness (II Timothy 3:16-17). Whether you proclaim a forty-day media fast in your home or not, here's the point: your technology has an off switch. Use it.

So before you take your finger off the remote to wag it at the TV and vainly rebuke it for bringing its filth and ungodliness into your living room, hit the off button. Find your Bible. Fall on your knees. Get back to God. Replace your media time with manna time. It will do your soul good. Real good.

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