Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bait and Switch

by C.J. Chase
A few weeks ago, my husband and I discovered a new-to-us television show on Netflix. We watched the first episode. It was fun, smart, creative. We liked it enough we watched again with our oldest son, who also enjoyed the show immensely.

We proceeded to watch a few more episodes. But after four or five, we quit. Along the way, an agenda became more and more obvious. The show became less entertainment and more propaganda for a worldview that conflicts with ours.

What upset us most was the stealth involved. The first episode contained none of the material we found so offensive in later shows. We felt like we'd been tricked, like the writers had lured us in and then set out to preach to us.

Many years ago as a poor college student, I worked retail. (To this day, I always try to be considerate to store clerks, especially at this time of year when they are putting in long, hard hours.) My boss made certain we knew the difference between a bait-and-switch and a loss-leader.


Loss-leaders are items stores offer below cost in the hopes of attracting customers into the building.  Grocery stores often have such promotions. They offer a few items (usually promoted on the first page of the weekly fliers) below cost because they know you will probably pick up a few non-sale things: bread, milk, butter, etc. The store owners calculate you will buy enough other goods that they will still make a profit overall. Loss-leaders are perfectly legal, as opposed to a bait-and-switch.

Bait-and-switch is out and out fraud. It's when a vendor promises you something with no intention of actually delivering the goods. The idea is to get you into the store (bait) and tell you they are so sorry, they don't have the advertized item but you can buy this other, similar item instead (switch). Of course the replacement will either cost more or be of inferior quality to the one in the promotion.

Sin is the ultimate bait-and-switch. It promises wealth or power or beauty or happiness or fame -- or any combination of the above. But it's only an illusion. In the end, the cost is far more than you bargained for.
In German legend, Faust (etching by Rembrandt c. 1650) makes a deal with the devil: knowledge and worldly pleasure in exchange for his soul

"You will be as God" the serpent promised Eve in the Garden of Eden. And so Adam and Eve ate, only to experience hardship and sorrow and death.

The Bible is full of illustrations of people who succumbed to temptation. David killed to obtain a beautiful woman, and he brought strife to his own family. Ananias and Sapphira lied to receive the accolades of the early church, and they reaped their demise.

But the Bible is also full of God's promises. At the same time God pronounced punishment on Eve, he promised deliverance--a future fulfilled in the birth of a baby boy 2,000 years ago. Jesus triumph over Satan and death (notice he didn't succumb to temptation!) led to the world's greatest offer: grace. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8)

This year when you do your Christmas shopping, be certain to remember God's gift. "And this is what he promised us--eternal life." (I John 2:25) Now there is an offer no one should refuse!

Have you ever been deceived by a bait-and-switch operation--either physically or spiritually?

After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Redeeming the Rogue was an August, 2011 release. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at


  1. Powerful devotion,CJ.

    One spiritual bait-and-switch scheme that has burned me once or twice is bitterness. It promises to make the person that hurt you suffer, but it brings more stress and pain into the person who buys into it, instead.

  2. Barb, you are so right about bitterness, and unfortunately, you aren't alone in wanting to hold onto those grudges. The world would be a much changed place if we calculated the real cost of not forgiving when we hold those grudges.

  3. Excellent post, CJ. I felt that way about the Secret Life of the American Teenager. The early episodes reminded me of the old after-school specials. But by the second season, it was just a sleazy soap opera.

  4. I hate it when blogger eats my comments.

    I think this is the perception a lot of people have gotten from religion. Too many unscrupulous preachers using this technique to "grow" their ministries. First time I've been able to put a name on it, C.J.! Great post.

  5. I love your analogy, C.J. Sin is the ultimate bait-and-switch. I never thought of it that way, but it's so true.

    Barb, Dina, and Niki all have great points, too. And Dina, btw, I watched the early episodes of Secret Life, too, and you are so right. It certainly devolved into a huge disappointment.

    There was one really popular show that my husband always watched. It was unashamedly bias, and the more I watched it with him, the more obvious it became in the message they were attempting to send to viewers. I really am disappointed when movies, television and books use their "entertainment" as a platform. I'd rather the platform appear as what it is, than to be disguised as entertainment.

  6. Wonderful devotion, CJ. And the comments are all thought provoking too.

  7. Dina, I wonder if sometimes it's a matter of the writers trying to "top" themselves, and so they keep pushing the show until it's lost the original charm.

  8. Niki, it's sad (and harmful) when Christians mimic the worst the world has to offer. (Not that we all aren't guilty of that -- sigh.)

  9. Suzie, it's always the stealth involved that annoys me. Entertainment is going to reflect the worldview of the creators. I understand that. I don't mind nearly so much if I know up front what I'll be getting.

  10. Glad you got a chance to stop in, Lisa.

  11. Great devotional, CJ. I've seen myself in a few of the comments, too. What Barb said about bitterness is all too recognizable.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  12. I'm sorry to be so late with my comments, C.J. Of course, now I'm wondering exactly what show you were watching.

    Maybe bait and switch in people is really just the difference between how we try to act versus when our true colors show. And the very worst of it is when someone pretends to be a Christian for some ploy. Happens a lot during political seasons.

    The cliche' Actions speak louder than words is so true. We all want to present a good first opinion, but it should just be a view of what we are really all about.

    At least we know there's no bait and switch in our relationships with God. He doesn't pretend to be anything other than he is, and we have no chance of attempting to!

  13. Great devotion to dwell on, CJ.

    I remember the first time I fell for a sale scheme although I'm not sure if it has a name as it hinged more on my way of looking at things...
    As a teenager, a variety store on my bus route put up a huge 'GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE' sign. I'd always been interested in the cute items in the window so I hopped off the bus one day and walked inside. I didn't see any sale stickers, so I asked. Imagine my surprise when the owner gleefully told me I'd read the sign wrong. I went outside and read it again. Huh. The little word that I thought said 'of' was actually 'for'. Such a big difference for such a little word.


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