Applying Horse Sense

“How would you cure a horse that is afraid of cars?”

I recently read a quote from Dale Carnegie.  He was telling his listeners how to get over the fear of public speaking — by simply doing it.

Did you ever notice in looking from a train window that some horses feed near the track and never even pause to look up at the thundering cars, while just ahead at the next railroad crossing a farmer’s wife will be nervously trying to quiet her scared horse as the train goes by?

How would you cure a horse that is afraid of cars—graze him in a back-woods lot where he would never see steam-engines or automobiles, or drive or pasture him where he would frequently see the machines?

Apply horse-sense to ridding yourself of self-consciousness and fear: face an audience as frequently as you can, and you will soon stop shying.

How would you cure a child who is afraid of violence, and wants nothing to do with it?  Apply horse sense.  Expose him to violence in the news you watch in the home, the things you watch on the telly, the video games he plays.  The more realistic the depictions of violence, and the more often he is exposed to it, the less shocking violence will be to him.  God has put in us a revulsion for violence, but you can apply horse sense and de-sensitise your child, and maybe he’ll get over it.  You won’t make him violent by doing such things, that’s something he’ll decide for himself as the years go by, but you can take away his fear and self-consciousness over it, one of his built-in protections against it, and instead of it being horrible and shocking to him, you can give him a fascination for it.

How can you cure a young child of innate shyness about sexual matters?  Apply horse sense.  Expose him to sexual content in entertainment and video games.  Bring pornography (or tabloid newspapers, which is virtually the same) into your home.  Maybe you’ll slip up and he’ll see it, too.  Let the schools teach graphic material under the guise of sex education long before he’s ready for marriage and commitment.  Let him listen to juvenile news readers sniggering about sexual matters as if they were twelve years old (yes, I’m talking about you, BBC).  Just apply horse sense.  You won’t make him immoral, you can’t make him father children out of wedlock or engage in all kinds of perversion.  He’ll make those decisions himself someday.  But if you apply horse sense, you can put temptation in front of him, and instead of keeping up barriers that would have protected him from destructive (and self-destructive) behaviour, you can certainly tear them down.

Make sure he has lots and lots of exposure to boasting and arrogant sportsmen, singers, and entertainers, to the elements of society that shun humility and exalt pride.  You can’t guarantee that he’ll be proud, but you can expose him to enough proud behaviour that he won’t find it shocking anymore.  Just apply some horse sense.

You can’t make a child grow up to be an angry man, but you can model anger around him until it doesn’t shock him any longer.  You can’t force him to be selfish, but you can do your best to teach him that selfishness is normal life, so it won’t bother him so much when he sees it — or practices it.  Apply horse sense, and things will usually come around.

Of course, we could always apply horse sense to ourselves, too, and increase our exposure to sinful influences.  We’ll become hardened to it, so it doesn’t shock us anymore, and maybe we can silence our own conscience long enough to commit those sins ourselves.  Horse sense doesn’t just work for our kids, it works for us, too.

Of course, we could apply horse sense in a positive way, bringing positive influences into our lives and those of our children, and being positive influences, so that a Scripture-centred life, loving behaviour, kindness, speaking the truth, integrity, etc, are not shocking, but expected.  It won’t make us, or our children, behave in certain ways — eventually, each person will make his own decisions, of course.

But we CAN have a lot of choice in what becomes “normal” for us and our family.  A little bit of horse sense might go a long way.

Some Scriptures:

Proverbs 22:24-25

24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:
25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.

 Proverbs 13:20

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

I Corinthians 15:33

Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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10 Responses to Applying Horse Sense

  1. Patrick Heeney says:

    Amen. I have worked in very morally corrupt environments for many years. The opportunity to be light is great, but the dangers are VERY real. It is extremely rare to engage in battle and not be scarred in one way or another. God’s Word must surround you and be constantly challenging the “environmental influences”. You must also stand for God early, and strongly. You need to “put on the armor” but all of that is for nought if you do not “Stand therefore..” Even the world is “appalled” at child soldiers, 10 year olds with AK47’s, but just as deadly spiritually is sending children into spiritual wickedness of this world. They should be “simple concerning evil” and filled with a knowledge of God.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hi, Patrick. We can’t abandon our responsibilities, nor are we supposed to remove ourselves from contact with the world (I Cor. 5, etc). So the battles you are talking about are not ones we can always avoid — but I like your statement, it is rare to engage in battle and not be scarred in one way or another. We certainly don’t need to be willingly importing spiritual battles into our homes.

  2. ukfred says:

    While we will all come into contact with the less pleasant side of life, at least from time to time, there is a need for honest teaching in the churches so that we can see it for what it is.

    Between the city and my home, a new industrial estate was build some 15 or so years ago. Ours used to be a quiet village but now there is pretty much a constant noise with trucks going to and from the industrial estate, which has a 24/7 warehouse for a large supermarket. We had reached the stage where we did not notice the noise until we had a few days away in the country, where it really was quiet, and when we came back, we noticed the noise.

    Similarly with life, unless we have the opportunity to hear or see the contrast, we never notice how ‘noisy’ our environment has become.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Good thoughts, Fred. And that’s one of the things I’ve hoped to help accomplish with this blog, is to help people see things around them more clearly from a Biblical perspective, so that they are transformed, instead of conformed to the noise.

      On the other hand, there’s an opportunity here, too. As the world’s noise gets noisier with evil increasing, if we remain true, the quiet of our lives will be heard / seen more clearly by those around us.

  3. Forest Page says:

    Just recently found your blog. Enjoying it immensely.

  4. alcoramdeo says:

    A horse is a horse of course, of course, except when he’s Mr. Ed.
    Being neither a horse nor bearing the name Ed, I am persuaded that “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom.12:21) applies better to folk than to they of equine persuasion.
    Thanks for another thought-provoking post.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Now I’ll have that crazy song running through my head for the rest of the day. 🙂

      Certainly, if we are surrounded by evil influences, we can and should do good, and that is a victory. We are not called to monasticism, but to shine as lights in the world.

      I don’t actually think that is what Romans 12:21 is talking about, though. In context (from verse 17 on), it is telling us that when people do wrong things to us, we overcome by doing good in return.

      • alcoramdeo says:

        Please forgive my having done that to you, dear Brother– I dislike having it happen to me. Interestingly, when I can’t seem to get a song “unstuck” from my mind, assigning scriptural, Christ honoring lyrics makes it a delight rather than a nuisance.

        On the matter of Romans 12, you are surely correct on Paul’s direct intent in writing. However, each of the exhortative phrases in the chapter might also stand apart from the passage as generally applicable to situations outside their recipients’ immediate situation (hence they are preserved for our instruction and that of all Christ’s Church). E.g., when are we not surrounded by evil influences? And should we not do good and, thus, overcome evil at all times and in many different circumstances? Likewise, we are to seek to “live peaceably with all men” (v.18) whenever possible. Immediate context is vital to immediate understanding but the greater context, in which Scripture complements Scripture, must encompass the entire canon. Certainly I mean to be open to instruction and correction on this point…

      • Jon Gleason says:

        It’s ok, it isn’t as if the song was harmful, just dumb. 🙂 I did worse than that on a post a few months back with a Karen Carpenter song. I like the idea of finding good lyrics to put to it. I was busy enough that it got unstuck rather quickly, anyway.

        I think you are pretty much correct on Romans 12. It’s the old question of interpretation vs. application. The interpretation is clear, and in this case somewhat narrow, but application can and should be much broader, as is often the case if we are going to “prove all things.”

        Perhaps we do well, when we are drawing broader applications, to specifically say that is what we are doing, lest readers misunderstand the essential meaning of the text? And in this I am speaking to myself as well as you.

        Thank you for the very good comments.

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