The Desensitization of America

​“Mom, the movie was great, but I don’t think it is appropriate for my brothers,” said my nine-year old daughter after returning home from a movie she recently saw with a friend. “Really, “I said. “Why do you say that?” “Because there are a couple of inappropriate words in there,” she responded.
Curious about what those “inappropriate words” might be, I scoured reviews about this new movie  - a remake of a movie from 1982. I looked up the movie on CommonSense Media and still could not quite figure out what she was referring to.
(, After reading a friend’s Facebook post, I learned what she might have been referring to. Oddly enough, what she was referring to did not even make it into the review on the CommonSense Media. After reviewing the commentaries on both the new movie and the old movie, I quickly came to the realization that the world is not necessarily worse or better than thirty years ago. Instead, we are just growing progressively more and more desensitized to how we view life, humanity, gender roles and children.
According to, “desensitization” is in one use, a behavior modification technique, used especially in treating phobias, in which panic or other undesirable emotional response to a given stimulus is reduced or extinguished, especially by repeated exposure to that stimulus (emphasis mine).
What is our problem today? We are constantly bombarded with more and more exposure to foul language, violence and sexual situations. I mean, when you cannot even watch a live sporting event on television with your children for fear that you may have to have the uncomfortable “birds and bees” talk with your six year old because of all the erectile dysfunction commercials, you know there must be a larger problem.
​I am currently re-reading through the kings who ruled the Southern and Northern regions. While some of them were God-fearing men, some were not. However, even some of those who were God-fearing men did not do anything about the people who were worshipping false gods and building Asherah poles. If you read through the Book of Chronicles and Isaiah, you will see that this did not make God happy. It is not enough to just look out for number one – especially those put in a position of leadership. What the leaders did and did not do and what they did and did not allow did effect their present situations and future generations.
The reality for most of us is that we may or may not think of ourselves as leaders. However, let me warn you. If you are a parent, you are a leader. You are raising the next generation that either has the potential to be better than this generation or worse.
Some of the saddest words in the Bible were said by King Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:8:

Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah. “This message you have given me from the Lord is good.” For the king was thinking. “At least there will be peace and security during my lifetime.”
Hezekiah was not concerned about the future captivity because it was in the future. He knew he was not going to be placed into captivity. He did not give a thought to his children or the generations to come and what their lives would look like in captivity. Sometimes in our exasperation with the state of this world, we too can find ourselves saying, “Does it really matter? I will be long gone someday in the safety and security of heaven.” I am here to say today that yes, it does matter what we to do today for the sake of future generations. What we do or do not do today will effect what happens tomorrow.
Even Christians who “train up their children in the ways they should go” (Proverbs 22:6) by taking them to church and reading the Bible with their children can fall victim by allowing the enemy to penetrate the walls of their homes and the minds of their children. How?
Let’s take, for example, the Disney channel on television. When my oldest child, who is now almost thirteen, was a toddler, the Disney channel was fairly innocent. Cartoons like Mickey Mouse played throughout the day. However, slowly over the past decade while shows like Mickey Mouse have moved to Disney Junior, shows like Jessie, Liv and Maddie and Austin & Ally play throughout the day. While not everything is completely inappropriate, some of the attitudes are and the shows are more mature in nature than some of our children should be absorbing. For example, lots of seven, eight and nine year olds watch the above shows, however the main characters are teenagers. My question: would you let your nine year old consistently hang out with a group of teenagers for hours on end day in and day out? If your answer is “Of course not!” but you are allowing your child to watch these shows day in and day out, you are in essence doing just that. The subjects are mature, issues about dating are discussed and language and teen attitudes are used. We balk at middle schoolers being mixed with high schoolers during the day (in schools that are multi-grades), but we do not have an issue with our lower school children watching shows that put them right in the hallways of high school.

​We, like many of you, struggle with monitoring our children's choices and media viewing too.
​Another example….movie theatres. My seven year old begins to shake visibly whenever we mention going to the movies. Why? One time we went to the movies to see a family friendly movie and one of the previews showed a very violent drive-by shooting scenario in an upcoming movie. I was so upset. If I had wanted to take my children to the movie that was previewed, I would have taken them to that movie, but I didn’t. We usually now have to stand in the hallway with him (and sometimes I think I need to bring the other two out with me too just because of the unknown) until the previews are over.
Commercials. Please do not get me started. I am so thankful for the ability to record live television. Commercials are relentlessly portraying scantily clad women, alcohol, previews for violent and scary television shows and sexual-in-nature material. Again, as much as we try and screen what our children watch, we have zero control over what might pop up during a commercial. I hope one day we have the ability to block commercials like we have the ability to block pop-up ads on the Internet.
We need to not be like King Hezekiah and resign to the fact that future captivity is coming. However, while he had the privilege of knowing it would not be in his lifetime, we do not have that luxury. We need to believe that the actions we take today will change the course of a generation – whether that generation is our generation or a future generation. We need to fight for our children when they do not even realize that they need to be fought for. We need to fight for our own souls as well. Like toxic waste that slowly seeps into groundwater, we need to realize that the wickedness of this world can slowly seep into our souls if we are not taking proactive measures to shut down the toxic waste-contributing factor. Repeated exposure = desensitization.
Use your voice. Use your words. Use the power of prayer. Use the Word of God to stand on. Stop watching the shows. Stop watching the movies. Write lawmakers. Discuss these things with your friends who may be unaware. Be pro-active instead of reactive. Start today.
"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life" (Proverbs 4:23).

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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1 Comment

Juli - January 8th, 2015 at 10:32am

Great Blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!