To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses.
I like the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary definition even better:
To do or provide exactly what a person or group wants, especially when it is not acceptable, reasonable or approved of, usually in order to get some personal advantage.
The United States has the perfect conditions for pandering to succeed, to take hold, to spread, and then to dominate. People here are consumers and have a consumer mentality. As much as people may say that they don't want to be pandered to, they continue to be, because it works. And people will continue to pander as long as it does work. I don't see any end in sight.
Of course, it is the nature of the flesh to enjoy and reward pandering, so that without restraint of that flesh, pandering will continue. Flesh also feeds off of other flesh. The flesh of the panderer and that of whom is pandered feed off of each other. Both flesh get what they want. One wants the pandering and the other the success of pandering---perfect complements to each other, a perfect couple.
The Bible speaks to the dangers of being pandered to, to reject it. We see it all over Scripture actually. Satan pandered to Eve. Jacob pandered to Esau. Aaron pandered to Israel. Delilah pandered to Samson. Jeroboam pandered to the ten northern tribes. Solomon warned about the pandering of sinners in Proverbs. He admonished regarding the pandering of people with money.
Part of business education is the art of pandering. So much of it goes on in advertising that people have grown to expect it. They want it. They have rewarded those who are best at it.
As a result of the above, we've got the Pandering President of America, who has become perhaps the biggest panderer in political history, pandering to homosexuals, to blacks, to hispanics, to illegal immigrants, to Hollywood, to the poor, to the middle class, to women, to teachers, to unions, and to environmentalists---a list of special interests from which he hopes to cobble together enough votes to win in November. Both major political parties pander to various groups, but pandering is virtually the entire strategy of Democrats. At one time, Democrats used class envy to guarantee the poor at election time. With that economic group now safely in the bag, they are applying the same type of pandering to the middle class, hoping to use class envy with an even larger segment of the population, to divide America. They have reached an almost political nirvana, arriving now to a place where 49.5% of Americans don't pay any income tax. That has become a sweet pandering point for the PPOTUS (pandering president of the United States) from which he can keep an amazingly high approval rating even though the economy is tanked.
You can only keep pandering as long as you have something really to offer people with which to pander them. The pandering in Greece, for instance, doesn't work anymore, because Greece doesn't have anything to give anyone. They have successfully stifled productiveness by redistributing wealth. The people who received the benefits were still angry with the gravy train out of business. Since there was so few left to punish, they just started destroying things. We see the same thing here in the United States with the occupy movement. It is an astounding level of reprobation arising from desolate minds.
Pandering, of course, is a kind of lying, mainly flattery. God calls it a "lying vanity" in Jonah. Pandering mainly degrades God and then truth. Since God is the God of Truth, when truth becomes a casualty, God is the victim. And that is why pandering is even worse when it is being practiced by those who profess to be God's people.
Churches today of all kinds have copied the pandering that has become the culture of the United States. Rather than stand against pandering, they customize it and then implement it in the church. There are so many examples of it, but the two greatest examples that come to mind are Rick Warren, with his Pandering Driven Church, and then Joel Olsteen. I personally don't get Joel Osteen or how that people get sucked up into his type of pandering, the big hairdo type. It says "fake" all over it. But his kind of glitz does work at least in Houston. There are so, so many though. I hardly know where to start or stop when it comes to examples of pandering. I'm more angry with those who should know better, those whose preaching and writing would indicate that they repudiate pandering, but then they do it. Those are the ones that I think should be exposed. It is the more subtle pandering that I believe is even the most dangerous and then destructive.
The worship in churches has deformed almost exclusively for pandering. Instead of evangelism, churches use pandering. Preaching styles have become a kind of pandering. Theologies have been distorted by pandering.
Since there is so much of it, I'm going to give just a few examples to indicate how rampant it is. John MacArthur and Grace Community Church panders to the youth culture with the staging and rock band of their Resolved Conference. MacArthur also pandered to the Jesus' Movement by calling it a modern day revival. He pandered to the rock music lovers of his church by saying that church services shouldn't be rock concerts, but that he wouldn't say that there is anything wrong with any particular musical style. All that is pandering. Ron Hamilton panders to children with his Patch the Pirate inventions. Forty something Mark Driscoll panders to punks by dressing like a pubertic fourteen year old. John Piper panders by calling "Desiring God," "Christian Hedonism." Most church marketing today is mere pandering, attempting to connect with someone with some fleshly or worldly lust. Most brochures are pandering to the carnal interests of a constituency or demographic. Many Bible colleges and Christian universities are non stop panderers in their promotions. Pensacola Christian College came first to mind, but I'm sure there are many worse.
Certain practices nauseate me as I think about it. I read about a church that promoted their own prayer for a nearby community that had suffered a tragedy. They exploited that situation by pandering with their mention of prayer. I'm not going to say the name of the church, because that would make naming the name the whole issue. I believe churches do this with all sorts of practices that they continue as a means to pander to a certain people group of their church. What the Bible teaches should be good enough. A congregation should want that. But no, they also expect some pandering, and the leadership, therefore, provides it.
So much more could be said about pandering in and by the church---a whole book. But this is only a blog post, especially intended to get you thinking. And then I might be accused too of pandering to people who hate pandering or who don't want to be pandered to.