Many of us were taught at an early age to respond affirmatively to what is determined to be right. As a result over time, we develop a particular sensitivity concerning whatever has been determined to be wrong. This discipline or conditioning regarding what is right and what is wrong trains us and gives us our moral inclination and our mental sensitivity or conscience. As we continue to mature and learn from the circumstances of life, we formulate our own moral paths. The conditions of life and other experiences help shape our moral characters. An ideal character is one trained to be affected–pained even annoyed by those things considered wrong.
Today our moral compass is being challenged, under attack as the media fills the airwaves with programs, movies, ads, games, and even news reports of sexual indulgence, sexual perversion, sexual innuendo, violence, irreverence, godlessness, shamelessness, and other deviant and damnable behaviors. This continual systematic process is a deliberate attack on our conscience. If this were not bad enough often it is the company we keep that helps to reshape our conscience regarding right and wrong. The unavoidable truth is that we are becoming desensitized. The Holy Spirit no longer fills our hearts with a passion for purity and holiness. As a result, there is a general lack of conviction.
In psychology, desensitization is defined as the diminished emotional responsiveness to a negative, aversive or positive stimulus after repeated exposure to it. It also occurs when an emotional response is repeatedly evoked in situations in which the action tendency that is associated with the emotion proves irrelevant or unnecessary. Prolonged and repeated exposure to violence, pornography, programs or conversations that glorify adultery, murder, and other immoral acts or actions will reduce or habituate the initial psychological impact until they do not elicit negative responses. Eventually and over time the spectator will become emotionally and cognitively desensitized to whatever it is they are exposed to.
As children of God we are taught to “avoid all forms of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:22), and the person who has developed the moral sensitivity ought to have will not only respond to that enjoinder but will actually come to “abhor that which is evil, cleave to that which is good” (Romans 12:9). The boundaries of God are very clear on these matters. We are not allowed freely to choose wrong or evil even on the premise that we will balance it out with a commensurate good. We are called to holiness, not to moral compromise. It is the pure of heart who will see God, not those who are half-worldly and half-pious.
Desensitization is well illustrated through a story that I heard sometime ago. Eskimos in the barren North often kill wolves by taking a razor sharp knife and dipping it in blood. They allow the blood to freeze to the blade. Then they bury the handle of the knife in the snow with the blade exposed. As the wolf begins to lick the blade, his tongue becomes numb and desensitized due to the cold. As he continues, his tongue begins to bleed, and he licks even faster — unaware that he is consuming his own blood and slowly killing himself.
Within time, the Eskimos return and bring the dead animal home. In the same way, the enemy numbs us through compromise by what we allow into our mind. Within time, we, like the wolves, don’t see that we are dying — dying spiritually. We best be careful that we don’t allow our sensitivities to be dulled. The devil’s subtleties don’t ever stop. Let us maintain a sense of vigilance, a careful alertness so that our sense of right and our moral suasion is not lost.
The enemy will not stop until you are desensitized and numb to the things of God … until your conviction totally fades.