Posted in theology

What does a seared conscience look like? America

By Elizabeth Prata

Eight years ago, Naomi Wolf wrote an article for CNN asking the question, CNN-is porn driving men crazy?

It is hard to ignore how many highly visible men in recent years (indeed, months) have behaved in sexually self-destructive ways. Some powerful men have long been sexually voracious; unlike today, though, they were far more discreet and generally used much better judgment in order to cover their tracks.Of course, the heightened technological ability nowadays to expose private behavior is part of the reason for this change. But that is precisely the point: so many of the men caught up in sex-tinged scandals of late have exposed themselves – sometimes literally – through their own willing embrace of text messages, Twitter, and other indiscreet media.What is driving this weirdly disinhibited decision-making? Could the widespread availability and consumption of pornography in recent years actually be rewiring the male brain, affecting men’s judgment about sex and causing them to have more difficulty controlling their impulses? … The hypothesis among the experts was that pornography was progressively desensitizing these men sexually.

She asks a good question, especially in light of the fact that the past 8 years has seen a precipitous plunge into depravity at a speed one would not have guessed. Same-sex-marriage, trans-gender, the advent of ‘non-binary’, even many Christian pastors unveiled as plumbing the depths of all kinds of sexual sin.

Wolf offers a different possible answer to it than I would. I say it is the fallen-ness of our sinful world and the fact that satan inhabits it, provoking our own sin-nature He is actually the god of this world and operates within it through the boundaries that God sets. On the other hand, Wolf could be unknowingly exactly right when she speaks of ‘desensitizing’, because Paul spoke of some people who, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;”

The full verse from 1 Timothy 4:1 is: “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron“. The Matthew Henry commentary on this verse explains,

 It is done by their hypocrisy, professing honor to Christ, and yet at the same time fighting against all his anointed offices, and corrupting or profaning all his ordinances. This respects also the hypocrisy of those who have their consciences seared with a red-hot iron, who are perfectly lost to the very first principles of virtue and moral honesty.

We get desensitized to sin. The ‘desensitization’ Wolf noticed is the seared conscience of a sin-scarred soul. Once engaging in it, unless we repent and confess immediately, presenting ourselves for a spiritual bath by the Holy Spirit, we remain unclean in that little spot, and we get used to the unclean feeling. We decide that it wasn’t really so bad, and we do it again. And again. Until we’re so strewn with scar tissue from the searing of our consciences, we become inured to the effects of sin and never even feel its pricks any more. And before long we have men exposing themselves publicly in ridiculous ways that they have convinced themselves are fun because they have lost any ability to feel shame.

God told Jeremiah to tell the Israelites:

Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished,says the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:12).

God spoke that to Jeremiah for His people at the end of a long list of sins they were committing, which also included deceit, straying from the ways of God, listening to false prophets who say all is well, being greedy, and rejecting God. He punished them. Will He do less with us here in America? Surely not!

Edward Gibbon wrote the book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He spent twenty years researching it. Through his research Gibbon realized that all great nations, Rome included, have fallen for the same reasons. Those reasons can be boiled down to just five, usually occurring in sequence-

1. The undermining of the dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.
2. Higher and higher taxes; the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.
3. The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting, more brutal, more immoral.
4. The building of great armaments when the great enemy was within; the decay of individual responsibility.
5. The decay of religion, fading into a mere form, losing touch with life, losing power to guide the people.

So is there any good news?

Though there is much to be mournful about, there is also much to be joyful about! Each day we are not raptured is a day closer to when it happens. Each day we are on earth is a day we can obey the Lord, celebrate the Lord, proclaim the Lord, and do the work of the Lord. Each day that passes is another day in which the Holy Spirit regenerates us more into His likeness. Each day that passes is a day we can thank Him for the many, many blessings we receive from Him, beginning with salvation. And each day that passes and our country and the world dies a bit more, we know that it is one day closer to when our new home will be ready to receive us. We celebrate worship, His glowing church, and His sovereignty.

Take heart, as Jesus promised Simon,

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17).

What rock is Jesus talking of? Peter’s confession! He knew, as we do, that Jesus is the Christ, (the Rock), the Son of the living God. And nothing thwarts the Living God’s plans and decrees.

We can work hard in obedience and repentance and prayer, not to spark a seared conscience in ourselves. We can be strong and bright lights for His name. We can anticipate the day of our homecoming, whether by death or rapture.

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 13:4).

Keep praying, keep confessing, keep loving, even though it gets hard sometimes. Keep thinking of the lovely things. “”Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)”

And one day when we least expect, we will suddenly be clothed in new flesh, glorified and able to see Him as He is!

unspeakable glory


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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