The Impact of Immorality… Shhh!

On Sunday, February 16, 2014, Mitt Romney was interviewed on NBC’s Meet the Press. Asked by David Gregory if he thought same-sex marriages were going to have a negative impact on society (given that so many states are starting to allow gay marriage), Romney quipped,

“Oh I think it’s going to take a long, long time to determine whether having gay marriage will make it less likely for kids to be raised in settings where there’s a mom and a dad. That’s not gonna happen overnight. It’s something which happens over generations…”

Wrong answer, Mitt.

Now, what am I going to tell my students, many of whose parents voted for you in the last presidential election because they believed you have conservative values? To his credit, Romney did persist in saying he thinks it is best for children to be raised with a father and mother.

But to the question of IMPACT…

  1. The impact of not recognizing the spread of sin in American culture
  2. The impact of not being willing to disabuse sinful behavior
  3. The impact of “letting bygones be bygones”

What does God think about the IMPACT?

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul wrote, “18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” (Romans 1:18-27, NASB)

The spiral of silence theory

is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. The theory asserts that a person is less likely to voice an opinion on a topic–if the person feels s/he is in the minority–for fear of reprisal or isolation from the majority.  The media play a large part in determining what people’s perception of the dominant opinion is, since our own, personal, direct observations are limited to a small percentage of the population. As the media’s coverage of the majority opinion gradually becomes the status quo, people who think they are in the minority are less and less likely to speak out. The theory assumes that people are constantly assessing the public’s opinion and that they use the media to do so. It also assumes that we have an inherent fear of isolation and know what opinions will bring on isolation by the majority.

What’s the take away for mass comm students?

Young Christians entering the media workplace will immediately be faced with challenges to their faith and to their willingness to promote God’s views over man’s. They will find the public arena circus where media thrive does two simultaneous and contradictory things:

  1. It sucks out the most venomous of public opinion under the guise of freedom of expression, and
  2. It spits that venomous opinion directly into the eyes of people with conservative viewpoints.
Photo Credit: TomSpinker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TomSpinker via Compfight cc

Christians in media

That is, my students entering the meretricious realm of news, public relations, creative production, and the like, must find a way to keep godly viewpoints from being automatically marginalized. They must give voice to what has largely been called “politically incorrect” and, thus, snuffed out like a burgeoning ember. They must quell the fear of reprisal that retards balanced and fair reporting and portrayals of all perspectives, especially those given to us by the Creator of all.

Dr. Darrell Roe (Ph.D., UGA, 1998) is an Assoc. Prof. of Mass Communication at ETBU. His specialty is analyzing the content of visual media and its effects on audiences.