The world I’m raising my children in is nothing like the world I grew up in. I never imagined that everything would change so drastically, so quickly. The differences are evident in a myriad of ways: technology, fashion, education, pop culture, all of which would be fun or interesting to muse about. What has gripped my heart, though, falls into the pop culture category. We, as Americans, have become incredibly desensitized. Our kids, especially.
We are a culture of profanity. A culture of vulgarity. A culture that embraces evil. A culture of disrespect. A culture of obscene excess. A culture of shallow materialism. A culture with blatant sex in every corner. A culture that drowns its sorrows in self-abuse.
Sounds pretty hopeless, doesn’t it? How can we possibly raise children to adulthood without them being desensitized to all of that….that disaster I just described? Will they get to the point of not even noticing that it’s going on around them? Will they accept it as just “what kids do” these days? Even if they choose to not be a part of it, will they fail to be shocked by what they see and hear? When they stop being shocked, they become part of it.
As parents, we have the tough job of setting the standards for our children. What will we allow them to watch, listen to, read, or even say? What friends will we permit them to hang out with? We want to protect them, and to teach them how to protect themselves; but there comes a point when we have to allow them to begin to make their own decisions, and pray we have equipped them well. It’s scary. I’m slowly entering that realm myself, in my parenting career.
In our home, God sets the ultimate standard. Not because we have to live up to some perfect model of the “Christian life” in order to please Him…..let’s be perfectly clear on that. Salvation doesn’t hinge on our performance, or how well we follow the rules. It’s free, and unconditional. But God’s Word is good, and every bit of it has a purpose. His warnings to guard our hearts and our minds, to be careful of what comes out of our mouths, to avoid giving the appearance of evil….these guidelines aren’t just suggestions. They are a recipe for a joyful, fruitful, peaceful life in which we can serve Him more wholly and make a difference for His sake.
I realize that Christians have differing opinions about what things are good, and pure, and worth allowing into their lives. I tend to ere on the side of caution. We don’t know how much violence will trigger recurring fear or anxiety in our child. We don’t know how much nudity or sexual innuendo will trigger an obsession with lust (no human can escape the feeling of lust, I am sure, but we’re talking destructive levels here). We don’t know what brand of evil, demonic influence, or darkness will intrigue them to delve deeper. Clearly we can’t shield them from any of these things forever, unless we go the deserted-island-family-commune route. But we can delay and control their exposure, so that we can have those crucial conversations with them.
We’ve all seen evil disguised as good, but what about the other way around? What about something that’s inherently good, with a solid, Christian message, that’s draped in an evil costume to appeal to our “modern” sensibilities? Because evil is cool. Darkness is fascinating. It draws them in. I’m not really comfortable with that brand of trickery. That, to me, is a perfect example of desensitization.