Need something to eat? Just call up the nearest Pizza delivery service. Need to get somewhere? Don’t bother pulling out the map, just tell your GPS where to direct you. If you’re tired of the current TV channel, a push of a button will take care of that problem – you don’t even have to leave the couch. Whenever you’re home alone, just text back and forth with all of your acquaintances. You don’t need to wait until you get home! Text in the office, in class, or wherever you are! If your room is too hot, turn up the AC. If you’re bored, go online. If the kids whine, stick them in front of the Xbox.
All these modern conveniences are certainly convenient. But though I admire the ingenuity of their inventors, and I appreciate many of the ways they save time, I’m here to go beyond the surface of everything equipped with a power cord or batteries to examine what kind of an influence “easy living” has on you and me. I believe that, although saving time is a good thing, these “time savers” don’t always do that.
Think of coupons. There’s one hanging in front of you at the store, letting you know that “boxes of chocolate chip cookies are buy two, get one free” today! Now, I like chocolate chip cookies, and you should too, because they taste good. But do you need three boxes of them? If you grab the coupon and use it to “save money” in this case, you will end up saving money on something you weren’t planning to buy in the first place. Which is wasting money, even if you like chocolate chip cookies. The same concept applies for all the time-saving devices in our ease-based culture. There are wonderful ways to cut back on the amount of time it takes for you to flip television channels. But the blatant truth is, if the TV weren’t there, you might save half a lifetime. Not to say you need to get rid of your TV this minute. But it’s just a thought!
So as this mindset of ease has penetrated society, what has it done to us? Is it anything all that bad? Is it anything we need to stop? There are tons of examples I could use in order to illustrate the unfortunate, serious, and deadly effects that this mindset has introduced, but I’m going to give you three right now – three issues that are especially dear to my heart. The first is an unfortunate effect: the decline of intelligent, specifically Christian music. The second is more serious: the decline of meaningful relationships. And the third is indisputably deadly: the increase of birth control and abortion. All three examples are, I believe, direct effects of the mindset of ease, and I hope I can clearly communicate the reason why.
1). The Decline of Christian Music
There’s a reason why I don’t appreciate many songs that reach the top 10 charts. It’s because they’re stupid. No offense! It’s just true. Now, I’m not bashing all contemporary music, because there are many selections that I really like. I’m just bashing contemporary music in general. Why does every song sound the same? Why do they repeat the same phrases over and over? I suggest that it all flows from the worship of ease. Easy living, easy listening. This specifically bothers me in Christian music, because there’s very little merit in flowing out of that genre, either. Certainly not the excess you’d expect from artists who claim to have Christ inspiring their every note. Of course there are Christian songs which I think deserve high praise! But the composers of those songs are fighting against a torrent of difficulty. After all, why try to write a one-of-a-kind song with a rich melody line if all the ton 10 hits could be memorized after one hearing? And why write a song with thought-provoking words if you could have a hit by repeating the same 5-word chorus seven times? There are few to appreciate such struggles for excellence in art. Yet music is more powerful than we realize. It has power to excite us or calm us down, power to make us go to sleep, power to fill us with inexplicable longing! Those who wield it wield the same power. If all the music in our culture is designed to be “easy listening,” it will set the stage of our minds to accept only those things which are easy, convenient, and bereft of any turmoil.
2). Decline of Meaningful Relationships
The last time I went out for a meal with my parents, I noticed that a mom and her daughter at the table next to us had had the same idea. But instead of talking and laughing together, they were both absorbed in their iphones, exchanging real pleasure for virtual entertainment and distraction.
Do we think that since the introduction of texting and online social networking, our relationships have benefited? We need to wake up. You see, although Facebook, Twitter, and IM are potentially useful ways of contacting people, they can very easily turn into black holes of needless attention. You might ask, “how can attention be needless?” But if that attention is spread between 1,045 contacts, you aren’t left with very much. I have about 30 people who I actually call my good friends. But I have about 233 “friends” on Facebook, and that’s less than most people I know. There’s no way I could relate to all of those people and form solid friendships with them on a one-on-one basis. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them, and it’s not like I wish I could delete them off my friends list. But it does complicate things to log in and have to scroll through the activity of nearly 250 people, searching for items of interest posted by people I talk to regularly. It’s hard, with the world at your fingertips, to keep your focus on people you truly care for. It’s so easy to neglect those most important to you, just because so much is crowding them out. The internet, chat rooms, texting, etc., are easy distractions from the most important things in this world – your family and true friends.
3). Increase of Birth Control and Abortion
I recently read an article on the history of the birth control pill- We don’t normally think of ‘the pill’ as an evil instrument in the hands of the adversaries of God, but in his article, the author shows how this is so:
“For the Sanger generation, mature family life with children was no longer a part of growing up. Approved drugs could be obtained – free – by the healthy adolescent for a new cultural purpose: to bypass the responsibilities of family. These drugs cured no medical ailment, but promoted a long-term social purpose endorsed by the government. The FDA, the Post Office, the courts and the school curriculum all approved of the new “pill” culture. Take a pill and engineer the population of an entire nation. Take a pill and be yourself. Take a pill and gratify your desires immediately. Take a pill and protect yourself from the consequences of infantile stupidity. Now, sex and recreation were co-joined with the concept of permanent adolescence. …It circulated wildly in the locker room, teaching my peers the joys of predatory, zero-consequence freedom.”The birth control pill was only the beginning. When its mass distribution introduced irresponsible men and women all over the world to reap pleasure as a main dish, with no unpleasant side effects, it showed the world how sinning could be easy. No one would have to suffer. It was the unchaining of a world previously bound to consequences. Of course, sometimes it didn’t work. But with Roe vs. Wade and the introduction of abortion, the consequences disappeared for good. So the masses rejoiced in their victory, while their children lay slaughtered behind a white-washed clinic. No one cared. Still, no one cares. It is so easy to block the disturbing thoughts and pangs of conscience. It’s too easy.
So what do we do?
Surely we don’t need to shut down our Google Readers and call our toasters instruments of hell. No, I’m not suggesting that we shun convenience. But we have to recognize that what is easy is not always what is right. The road to destruction is wide and rolling. The road to God is straight and narrow. We’re too trained as a culture to always be looking for the easy way! And we’ve got to stop. Don’t seek out the difficult paths simply for the sake of their ruts and bumps, but when you’re faced with a decision to either converse with your family or watch a TV show, think carefully about your choice. Remember, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the best in the long run. It’s the charm of easy pleasure competing with the knowledge that ease will never accomplish anything. Everyone has their own personal battles to fight against the lie that ease presents, and everyone has the opportunity to join the battle against its unfortunate, serious, and deadly effects.
The question is, which side will you join?