It is interesting to look at the definition of this phrase. One of many definitions that can be found on the Internet makes the point well:
”They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant, and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling, the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late. The frog’s survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.
“This is a story that is used to illustrate how people might get themselves into terrible trouble. This parable is often used to illustrate how humans have to be careful to watch slowly changing trends in the environment, not just the sudden changes. It’s a warning to keep us paying attention not just to obvious threats but to more slowly developing ones.”
Looking at all the evidence to see whether the story is true or not is not within the compass of this particular Q&A. The analogy raises a very interesting way that society, under the sway of Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2), brings about the change it desires, even if the process is over the long term. Examples of this will show how true the analogy can be.
First of all, let us look at homosexuality which is roundly condemned in the Bible. Genesis 18 and 19 show that this was one of a number of sins for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Other passages on the subject include Leviticus 18:22; 20:13. In Scriptures such as Deuteronomy 23:17; 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 15:12; and 2 Kings 23:7, the Hebrew term “qedeshim” is used for “perverted” persons, describing those practicing sodomy and prostitution in religious rituals. New Testament passages include Romans 1:25-27, 32 (condemning those who even approve of such acts); 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; and Revelation 21:8. We are admonished to live by every Word of God (Matthew 4:4), and so these references must be taken seriously.
In England, Henry VIII introduced the first legislation under English criminal law against sodomy with the Buggery Act of 1533, making buggery (a British English term, which is very close in meaning to the term sodomy) punishable by hanging—a penalty not lifted in England and Wales until 1861.
In the UK, the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was an Act of Parliament which decriminalized homosexual acts in private between two men, both of whom were 21 years of age or older. Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” However, it was repealed on 21 June 2000 in Scotland as one of the first pieces of legislation enacted by the new Scottish Parliament, and on 18 November 2003 in the rest of Great Britain.
The politicians feel that homosexuals should have “equality” in law, and it is their reasoning for approving behaviour, which is an abomination in the sight of God. It seems that anyone now citing biblical proof stating that this practice is wrong could be guilty of a “hate” crime showing how far we have come in such a degenerate society.
So we can very briefly see that in the UK, it was an offence punishable by hanging until that act was repealed, then it was still illegal until 1967, then promotion of homosexuality was banned in schools, then repealed, and many politicians apologised for this as they saw public opinion moving quite quickly in the direction of approval and then civil partnerships and now same-sex “marriages”. All this took many decades, even hundreds of years to get from the death penalty to men “marrying” men and women “marrying” women, and all the time, public opinion was being manipulated and softened towards the acceptance of this ungodly practice. For the biblical teaching on this subject, please see our Q&A #184 on 11th March 2005, entitled “The Biblical Teaching on Homosexuality”.
Next we may look at abortion. Wikipedia states that “The Abortion Act 1967 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom legalising abortions by registered practitioners, and regulating the free provision of such medical practices through the National Health Service (NHS). Apparently this was introduced in order to reduce the amount of disease and death associated with illegal abortion.”
Abortions were made legal in the United States in a landmark and controversial 1973 Supreme Court judgement, often referred to as the Roe v Wade case. On the “Women’s History website” it states that “While many celebrated the decision, others, especially in the Roman Catholic Church and in theologically conservative Christian groups, opposed the change. ‘Pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ evolved as the most common self-chosen names of the two movements, one to outlaw most abortions and the other to eliminate most legislative restrictions on abortions.”
The BBC reported in 2009 that “The Church of England encourages people to think through the issue of abortion very carefully and recognises that each individual will have differing views on the subject. However, the Church’s governing body, The General Synod, has passed resolutions on the matter which provide a coherent Church of England position. The Church of England combines strong opposition to abortion with a recognition that there can be – strictly limited – conditions under which it may be morally preferable to any available alternative. The Church of England shares the Roman Catholic view that abortion is ‘gravely contrary to the moral law’.”
Figures in a UK newspaper report on 25th May 2010 stated that there were 189,100 abortions in 2009 for women living in England and Wales. A total of 48 women had had seven or more abortions. Most of these were funded by the National Health Service (NHS) which paid for 94 per cent of all terminations. The report said that the figures could reignite the debate into whether some women use abortion as a form of contraception, rather than a last resort to unplanned pregnancy.
Over the years attitudes have changed, little by little, regarding abortion, and it is now commonplace in many countries around the world. What was once seen as a shocking thing is now considered part of everyday life in many countries. Over time, with plenty of publicity and exposure, most have now accepted that this is the right thing to do in some or many circumstances. The Bible tells us that it is always wrong (Please read our free booklet “Are You Already Born Again?” and view the StandingWatch programme, “Why Abortion Is Murder in God’s Eyes,” dated 13th November 2013).
Another area where the frog in boiling water analogy has been very effective is the concept of “living together or co-habiting”. In our weekly Update #199, dated 24th June 2005, we quoted from “Psychology Today” as follows: “Thirty or 40 years ago, cohabitation was relatively rare, mainly the province of artists and other questionable types, and still thought of as ‘living in sin.’ In 1970 only about 500,000 couples lived together in unwedded bliss. Now, nearly 5 million opposite-sex couples in the United States live together outside of marriage; millions more have done it at some point… Some evidence indicates that women have less control over the progress of the cohabiting relationship. She may assume they’re on the road to marriage, but he may think they’re just saving on rent and enjoying each other’s company… Cohabiting men may carry their uncertainty forward into marriage, with destructive consequences. A 2004 study… found that men who had lived with their spouse pre-maritally were on average less committed to their marriages than those who hadn’t…”
Since this report some nine years ago, co-habitation has continued to flourish and is now an unquestioned part of society. Fifty years ago it would have been completely unacceptable, seen as “living in sin,” but over the years, opposition has gradually dwindled away and very few seem to question it any longer. However, the Bible has much to say about fornication – for a full explanation, please see our Q&A #226, “Does the Bible Permit Adultery and Pre-Marital Sex?”
One other secular matter is a prime example of the frog in boiling water principle working effectively. After Princess Diana died in 1998, much was made of Prince Charles’s extra marital affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. A plan was put in place to have her accepted, as there was much hostility towards her at that time.
After several years of the marketing of Camilla, she and Prince Charles married in 2005. At the time, one report stated that “The couple have had to make some controversial adjustments in the hope of gaining public acceptance for the marriage, most notably the pledge that if Charles becomes King, Camilla won’t be named Queen, instead she’ll carry the title of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Consort.” Another report stated that “If you go back five years ago, the memory of Diana was still very fresh. And it’s still reasonably fresh with a lot of people, seven and a half years after her death. And it would’ve been wrong five years ago to go through it.”
Since then, the propaganda machine has been in continuous action, so that now, contrary to public opinion in 1998 and 2005, polls show that she is now accepted in her position as the Duchess of Cornwall.
In a report in 2012 about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, these comments were made: “Only 10 years ago she attended the Golden Jubilee Party at the palace and sat in the background behind the Royal Family trying not to ignite controversy over her relationship with the heir to the throne. For years she was the ‘other woman’, but yesterday Camilla’s increased prominence demonstrated she has been truly accepted as part of the Windsors’ future in the Queen’s new slimmed-down version of the Royal Family. Her Majesty’s decision to have Camilla sitting in the Landau’s seat in the absence of Prince Philip, who was suddenly taken ill, emphatically told the country her daughter in law is now an important part of ‘The Firm’. This was reaffirmed by Camilla’s appearance on the Buckingham Palace balcony with the Queen, Charles, William, Kate and Harry just a few moments later, as well as her seat just one along from the Queen in the royal box during Monday’s rock extravaganza.”
The spin doctors were given a task that, over the years, they have accomplished in getting her accepted by those who were initially opposed to her place in the Royal Family.
Please note this reference taken from page 5 of our free booklet “Should You Fight in War?”: “Notice that NOT seeking peace and pursuing it is labeled as ‘evil.’ Refraining our tongues from evil means to refrain from speaking evil about our enemy. Each war begins with words, with propaganda, with hateful comments about others, until a government’s decision to attack and fight against a foreign country – the enemy – seems to be justified in the eyes of the citizens. As a prime example, Adolph Hitler could never have convinced many Germans to approve of ‘total war,’ if his propaganda machine, under Joseph Goebbels, had not carefully prepared them, far in advance, for such a viewpoint.”
These examples show how public opinion can be manipulated, given time. It probably goes a good way to explaining Isaiah 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” It appears that almost anything can be addressed, changed or manipulated, given enough time, and with Satan in charge of our society at this time, we should not be surprised.
Unfortunately, man always seems to think that he knows best when God’s Word says differently. The old saying that it is “a cinch by the inch but hard by the yard” is an excellent way of getting acceptance of an unpopular matter, usually over a protracted period of time. Let us never forget that the frog in boiling water analogy can be very effective in getting this point across. Also let us never forget that it is a tool that Satan uses very successfully, even in the Church, as we saw in the 1990’s, when destructive heresies were subtly introduced, and as we have seen subsequently, when many in the Church of God forsook most, if not all of the truth which they had once seemingly understood (For a full explanation of these horrible events, please read our free booklet, “Are You Already Born Again?” ).
We have to be very careful that we are not taken in, particularly in the Church, by “the frog in boiling water” analogy!
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (UK)