a portion of passion

26 01 2010

a portion of passion

Passion. A strong word. What does it make you think of? Love? Sex? Power? Suffering? Sacrifice? Sport? We British have a reputation for being a bit prim and proper. Not very passionate. Unlike the French, for example, we keep the private, well, private. Or, we used to. We used to always know things like ‘being gay’ went on, or extra-marital affairs – we knew, and we turned a blind eye, or kept it behind closed doors. These days, it would seem, attitudes are changing. According to the British Social Attitudes Report out today, we British have relaxed our attitudes to many things, such as homosexuality, marriage, and co-habiting. Like we needed a survey to tell us.

‘Traditional’ values have been changing for a while (they always do!), and as culture changes it is up to us to decide which values are simply tradition and which are actually essential. It’s the baby and the bathwater conundrum. How far should our corsets loosen? As people increasingly have little frame of reference for moral issues (such as religious teaching), decisions are made depending more on how we feel. Less so on how others feel. And less so on the consequences. No longer (wrongly?) threatened with post-mortem eternal destruction (hell!), what is there to stop us indulging our passions? Maybe this is why there is such an increase in divorce and relationship breakdown – because we have become obsessed with how ‘I’ feel, not how my actions have consequences for others.

Coinciding with the NCSR report is an interesting Facebook campaign, now with over 2,500 members in one weekend, and featured in the Telegraph and Sky News. Often, joining a Facebook ‘campaign’ is little more than the new way of mouthing of about something in the pub without actually doing anything about it, but this one urges action. It is a campaign against the dating website maritalaffair.co.uk, who explicitly target people who want ‘uncomplicated adult fun’, through being unfaithful to their partners and families. The campaign was started by Jon Kuhrt, who complained to the Advertising Standards Agency about the above billboard advert in Merton. The ASA have rejected the complaint, saying that ‘We can only act if the ad, in our judgement, offends against widely accepted moral, social or cultural standards.’

This raises interesting questions. What are these standards? Who sets them? And can anyone be bothered to make a stand for them? Surely even the most liberal of societies would not actively condone seeking extra-marital affairs, not least being so public about it? Would we? Maybe we do. Maybe we are so used to it we don’t care any more. Or notice.

Because it truly does matter. Break-up of marriage or long-term relationship is not just the break-up of a couple; it very rarely done and dusted with people just ‘moving on’. There are children, parents, grand-parents; there are friends. Lives torn apart. Loads of us know this. With affairs there is the betrayal and heartbreak, the suspicion, the long-term effects on character, on trust, on commitment. Humans are not meant to treat each other this way. We are not created for this. We are created for love – to give and receive love, which is truly a beautiful thing, in the context of faithfulness and trust. Promoting this betrayal of trust is certainly not something to promote from billboards, is it?

action?Yes, there are many other things in this world to get worked up over. Yes, there are many other things to engage our righteous anger. So do it, engage. Act. Throw over some money-changers tables. The slogan for maritalaffair.co.uk is “find your portion of passion”. So, if you have signed up to this Facebook campaign, the challenge is clear – to turn a second of passion when clicking ‘join into a proper portion of passion by phoning, writing an email, or even an actual letter. You can even do it if you don’t know what Facebook is…

Remember, Jesus threw the money-changers out, but he also showed compassion to the women caught in adultery. As society’s attitudes change, for better or worse, remember we are society. Our attitudes matter. Our attitudes are gained from somewhere. The challenge is where do we soak them up from? And what do we do with them?

If your relationship is in difficulties, can I suggest speaking to Relate or someone similar; here also you can find details of your nearest Marriage Course.




6 responses

26 01 2010

Society is broken, smashed upon the ground,
Who is there to blame then, no-one can be found,
Perhaps it doesn’t matter, what is done is done they say,
We must now move forward, look to another day.

But what about all the people who’ve been hurt along the way,
Damaged, scarred, rejected – what to them to say?
“Pull yourselves together its the way the world goes round,”
That doesn’t seem to work, I need something more profound.

“Receive the love of Jesus, he understands you know.”
Well meant but ineffective, to the hurt a further blow,
“Why did God choose me then to be battered bruised and bent,
A sacrifice to liberal thought, when will the blows relent?”

What have you done to stop it, did you take time to shout
Where was your voice when needed, what did you talk about?
Are you a guilty party, is it you that we should blame?
“Ah, but if I had spoken it would have gone on just the same
There really was nothing I could have said, I am sorry, its such a shame.”

28 01 2010

Here is an update and further reflections on the campaign for those not following it on Facebook: http://waddell.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/extraordinary-influence/

28 01 2010
David Waddell

Well done Kevin. Marriage matters, and the vows matter even if many are tempted to break them. And the pain can be widespread. My brother’s marriage has collapsed due to multiple infidelities by his wife, a woman who we believe may have found it difficult to stray without the text service she signed up to. Of course, my brother isn’t perfect (who is?) but his discovery of her liaisons was the first he knew anything was wrong…

The pain is widespread. It doesn’t just affect my brother or his wife, but their baby son too. It has affected me and my wife. It has affected our parents. And it has hurt my brother’s mother-in-law too along with many of their friends.

It’s not illegal to promote unfaithfulness as a way of life but the damage it can do is tremendous.

8 02 2010
a kiss from judas on the terry-go-round « the blog of kevin

[…] 2. The second key point is that betrayal hurts, who ever you are. Why do people betray others?  Why do they betray their friends? And why does it matter? (I explored some of these theme in a previous post). […]

26 03 2012
Anil Kantaria

If one strays, is there not an obvious reason why. Do we follow our own convictions and desires or try to confirm to conflicting standards set by an arbitrary group. Do we live our own lives or lives of others. These are deeper questions. A web site or advertising is not responsible. Why have the Christian moral codes weakened, maybe they have faults, not addressing individual and social needs. Suddenly we come judges, when clearly “judgment is mine, said the lord” is all this hypocrisy the reason for lack in Christian faith.

26 03 2012

Thanks Anil. Judgement is a tricky thing! We are told not to judge in the sense of being ‘judgemental’ or self-righteous, yes; but we are also urged to make a stand a take action, not to sit back and let everyone do what they like. Of course we can’t force them, but we are entitled express unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or even – even! – to say we think something is wrong. Now that is something a liberal society finds it hard to comprehend…!

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