What is it that keeps us grounded–that keeps our thinking correct and lives focused in the right direction? In an ever-increasingly confused and contradictory world, the only thing which keeps us from becoming waylaid is a correct understanding of reality. Without this, we become morally mired down, functioning but without knowing why we do what we do, and ultimately at risk of making wrong decisions.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
God has told us the truth in the Bible; He has described reality as it is and we can stake our lives on this. Yet, I’ve noticed a new trend recently–to flip truth on its tail, so to speak–to present a reality in which rather than being good, the things associated with Christianity (and God by association) are presented as frightening and untrustworthy, even devious and evil. At least two of the programs our girls regularly watch are guilty of this. So what, exactly, is happening and why?
Satan uses many tactics to deceive. Referring to him, Jesus said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10) The devil is real and he is active. Some of his more obvious ploys involve tempting us with physical needs, power, or glory, which he tempted Jesus with, or with sexual gratification or material items, with which he tempts many today. Yet, he also employs even more devious tactics which we should be aware of, not the least of which are negative association, negative modeling, and outright lying.
Sufficient generations have been educated without the grounding influence of the Bible so that there are now creative and talented individuals in leadership and media positions who are not only not Christian themselves, but who are also ignorant of and even openly hostile to Christianity. Jesus said of people like that, “You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.” (Matthew 12:34-35 NLT)
A person with a right understanding of the world and God’s goodness in his heart and soul will not misrepresent truth; out of the fertile ground in himself he will create what is good, uplifting, and beneficial to others. An artistically gifted man or woman without that, on the other hand, will still create. In many ways his work might be appealing and it may even contain many elements of beauty or interest, yet it will nonetheless reflect the darkness of his mind–the confusion and jumbled mess in a heart devoid of a true understanding of God. This problem is compounded when the individual is openly hostile to Christianity and to God Himself, by extension. And that is what we are seeing in an increasing number of options available in the popular media today.
A trend I am particularly concerned about is that of negative association. It’s a variation of Pavlov’s experiments with dogs. Years ago, a researcher named Pavlov did a conditioning experiment in which he rang a bell every time he fed a group of dogs. Eventually the dogs would salivate every time the bell was rung, whether or not it was followed by food, because the dogs associated the bell with food. The popular program Dr. Who uses this technique brilliantly by taking Christian symbols and terminology and using them out of context to represent something reprehensible and frightening. The end result is that, like Pavlov’s dogs, we begin to associate any use of these words or symbols with evil, even when used in their proper context–like speaking of or worshipping God!
Another tactic Satan uses is negative modeling. This is when the hero consistently does wrong, and it is a technique used extensively. From sexual immorality to sinning “for the right reasons,” to various perversions, negative modeling isn’t something new. What is new is the brazenness. Previously, wrong was modeled but it wasn’t necessarily consistent; rather, it was more of a character flaw–an Achlles’ heel used to make the character seem more human. Now, we are seeing heroes who blatantly refuse to turn from their sin, proudly clinging to it as if it were a virtue rather than the rebellion against God that it is.
Of course, we also have outright lying. This is how Satan deceived Eve, and he still does this. Evil is called good and good is called evil. That which isn’t is portrayed as being so and that which exists is said not to exist. These, as well as all other kinds of outright lies, are presented to the gullible who do not know any better. God says:
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6)
It was true in the days of Hosea, and it is true today. Generations of individuals have gone through the public school system since 1962 and 1963 when school sponsored prayer and official Bible instruction were removed. The simple truth is that people these days grow up not knowing much about God. And the problem is compounded by the fact that those under thirty tend to live on the internet and get their facts about life not from Biblical sources, but off of various online sites.
What this means is that an alarming number of people not only do not know the truth about life and how they should live theirs, but also soak up the misguided, confused, or simply wrong ideas they pick up from the popular media and form their world-view from it. Add to that the negative association from programs like Dr. Who, Black Butler, and others, and we have generations who not only don’t know God, but who are also now preconditioned to be hostile to any mention of Him. The danger is that when we try to tell them about God or what He has told us in the Bible, they may mentally shut down as they encounter the trigger words, symbols and ideas that they have come to associate with feelings of fear and disgust.
The book of Revelations describes the judgment of God on an unrepentant world:
“Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, causing it to scorch everyone with its fire. Everyone was burned by this blast of heat, and they cursed the name of God, who had control over all these plagues. They did not repent of their sins and turn to God and give him glory. Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. His subjects ground their teeth in anguish, and they cursed the God of heaven for their pains and sores. But they did not repent of their evil deeds and turn to God.” (Revelation 16:8-11 NLT)
For years it seemed incomprehensible to me that people could continue to resist God, even after being presented with incontrovertible evidence of not only His existence but also His authority. Yet for a world so preconditioned against their Maker and Savior through Biblical ignorance and habitual exposure to negative association, negative modeling, and outright lies of the enemy–exposure that associates God with evil, not the good that He genuinely is–becoming hardened in their rebellion is simply one more step away from Someone they have been resisting their entire lives. May that not be us!
Help us not call evil good or good evil; protect our families, our loved ones, and our entire culture against the effects of the negative association, negative modeling, and lying we are being exposed to. Give them a right understanding of You, and a heart that genuinely desires You and what is right. In Jesus’ name, amen!