About Those Tickled Ears

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,¬†and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” – 1 Timothy 4:3-4

As a general rule I do my best to adhere to the policy that one ought to promote what one loves rather than bashing what one opposes. But today, I feel the need to warn y’all about the ear ticklers. “Have their ears tickled” was something of an idiom in ancient Rome which meant that a person was listening for things which were pleasing to them rather than the truth. What people looking to have their ears tickled really had a preference for were ideas which were new or novel. Paul warned young Timothy that the day would come when ear ticklers would be all the rage in Christian circles. And people being people, the accusation of tickling ears has probably been thrown around among Christians who disagree with each other ever since.

Now, I must be upfront and let y’all know that I have myself been accused of being an ear tickler on more than one occasion. If you can believe it. And I’ve noticed that whenever I’ve encountered someone warning about ear ticklers, the underlying assumption is always that ear tickling starts with rejecting a wrathful, condemning, harsh God. For some reason these people seem to be under the impression that it is a common problem that human beings would desire a nice, squishy God whose motto is “I’m OK, you’re OK.” Only I’ve yet to see any evidence of any such thing. Just the opposite, in fact. Continue reading