Monday, August 2, 2010

Thought Manipulation

Do you really think that you are not the subject of thought-control? And that the networks are presenting a balanced portrait of reality? Please take another look. The networks are as subject to cultural biases and personal pressures as anyone else. They are not above the manipulations of sponsors and special-interest groups, and concerns about their ratings. For example, on July 30, 2010 reported that,

CBS President Nina Tassler has apologized for the network's low rating on the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's (GLAAD) recent "Network Responsibility Index," which ranked broadcast and cable networks by the percentage of "LGBT-inclusive" hours in their original prime time programming. "We're very disappointed in our track record so far," said Tassler at the Television Critics Association fall previews. "We'll try to do better."

What does, "We'll try to do better," mean? It means that CBS is caving into to the pressure to manipulate images and minds according to a special interest group. Why should we be concerned about this? For one thing, it often entails the denigration of those – along with their views – who oppose alternative sexual lifestyles.

Yesterday, my nephews innocently asked, “Why do Christians hate homosexuals?” This was the message that the media has been ritualistically server up to an unsuspecting public. I answered that the vast majority of Christians that I know (perhaps all) recognize that we have a Biblical responsibility to love gays, along with everyone else. However, I could tell that all of my words were mere pebbles ricocheting off the edifice of misinformation already in place in their hearts.

Many Christians respond, “Well, that doesn’t concern me. I can continue to live for Christ despite what the media might say.” Although this is true, I’d rather live for Christ as a free man than behind bars because I spoke out against what the Bible calls sin.

However, I think that there are more important factors at stake. According to many surveys, our beliefs are rapidly undergoing modification, especially within the church. And they are not changing because we just happen to come to new Biblical insights. The younger believers – those who are educated and closely tied into the prevailing culture – are increasingly questioning the Biblical faith. Why? It seems to them that the church has utterly failed and that we have become objects of contempt, especially of the educated elites.

In one survey of non-evangelical college professors, it was found that 53% “hold cool or unfavorable views of Evangelicals,” while “only 3% of the faculty holds cool/unfavorable feelings towards Jews, and only 4% towards Buddhists.” This same survey also found that 71% agreed that: “This country would be better off if Christian fundamentalists kept their religious beliefs out of politics,” while "38% of the faculty disagreed that the country would be better off if Muslims became more politically organized.”

The contempt for Evangelicals is palpable, and it’s also highly influential. The result is this – that through an invisible process of cultural osmosis, we begin to experience self-contempt and try desperately and hastily to change whatever it is that has caused this almost ubiquitous contempt. The resulting self-loathing has prompted attitudes of church-loathing.

Yes, I trust that some good will come out of this – perhaps a renewed determination to truly follow Jesus. However, all the bad press seems to be driving people away from both church and commitment to the Biblical faith. I find this tragic.

I think we need to keep an eye to the greater context – the Biblical context. Jesus warned that we’d be hated:

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also." (John 15:18-20; also John 16:14)

Persecution comes with the turf, and we have to remember this. Indeed, we’re far from perfect, but this doesn’t justify Christo-phobia. After all, no one is perfect. Jesus explained that there was a purpose that He was revealing the depressing reality of persecution to His disciples:

• “I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.”
(John 16:4)

We need to remember this so that when social contempt smacks across the face, we will not reflexively attempt to abandon the church or to re-configure it according to what the surrounding culture might find acceptable.

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