It’s fantastic to know and understand what you think, and how you feel about life, the universe and everything. It gives you identity and helps you make decisions quickly, without agonising over the possibilities. For example, if a friend suddenly turns to you and suggests you steal something from a shop, you understand whether that is acceptable to you or not and can quickly reply with “yes, that’s a great idea!” or “no, that’s ridiculous.” Without this self assurance, it can become very difficult to know what to do in such situations. People start to default to whether the loyalty they have to their friend is stronger than that of the loyalty to someone with the opposing view – they conform to the views of the person they like rather than searching for their own opinion.
Humans are an incredibly social species in comparison to the rest of biology. The primary function of most animals appears to be to survive as best as they can and produce fertile offspring. For most animals, this really consumes most of their time; they rarely get a chance to sit down with a few friends with a couple of bottles of wine and chat through the night… and even when they have the time, they seem to have something better to do! The fact is, no other animal feels the need to form and maintain relationships with others in the same way we do. If you have a pet, I’m afraid they only love you because they think they need you to survive as best as they can; it’s what you’ve taught them. But for most people, relationships are important to us regardless of whether they pose us an advantage – we love our parents, for example, until the day they die and beyond, despite any mental deterioration and financial dependence that may arise in their old age.
Whether we care to admit it or not, pornography has become a huge part of western society. Here are just a few statistics provided by familysafemedia.com:
- Every second – 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography.
- In 2006, 23% of all internet users who searched the word ‘porn’ were under 18.
- 12% of all internet websites are pornographic.
- The average age of a person’s first exposure to internet pornography is 11.
- 1 in 3 visitors to adult websites are female – this affects people from both genders.
- And, perhaps most shockingly, 80% of 15-17 year olds have multiple hard-core exposures to pornography.
I’m unsure as to how unconventional my view of altruism is among Christians but, for me, when I logically attempt to derive a conclusion as to whether the phenomenon truly exists, I only ever come to one answer. I should be clear that when I talk about altruism here, I am referring to the idea of complete selflessness; an ability to ultimately and definitively put someone else’s needs above one’s own.
One of the most common arguments used against the concept of a perfect, divine entity is that there is so much evil and suffering in the world. You don’t have to look far away to see pain, anguish and horrific mistreatment and to many people this is conclusive evidence that if there is a God; He cannot be both good and omnipotent. I’ve heard responses to this point that have been awful, and have seen some that completely dodge around it, ignoring the object and instead feeding you a decoy lined with uncommon theological jargon.
I think, certainly in the UK, people see Christianity as a form of life insurance, something that old people turn to in order to feel safe for their future. People have a very traditional view of what it means to be a Christian, and what church is like and see it is somewhere to go to when your mind is slowly deteriorating that gives comfort and peace in those final years. It is true that this aspect of Christianity exists, this is undeniable, but anyone who takes any of the teachings seriously will tell you that faith in the Christian God is far more complex, and far more relational than just a get-out-of-jail-free card.
We’ve all told that little white lie occasionally, perhaps our friend looks “absolutely wonderful” with their new life-sized tattoo of a cat’s head on the back of their neck. Or our mother has a “simply beautiful” singing voice when really it takes every ounce of self control not to cover your ears and run – we are just trying to be polite. Unfortunately, we undeniably live in a world where we can’t just go around saying what we think, we often have some fairly hurtful opinions that our minds do not hesitate to put into the clearest of words. Even the least intelligent of people seem incredibly practised in their use of imagery when talking about the new haircut of “that idiot over there;” it can be anything from a ‘dirty mop’ to a ‘dead cat.’ So, quite reasonably it seems, we are prevented from saying exactly what is on our minds.
If someone does something that is perceived as wrong then they tend to be punished. In the case of children, this punishment is usually administered as a form of discipline, teaching the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour. They aren’t punished because of the thing that they did wrong, but because they are being shaped and moulded into the person that their carer wants them to be; it’s an act of love, or at least it should be. Most legal systems work on slightly different principles – their punishments are based on retribution, deterrence and rehabilitation.
Too often in this world, people are judged by their desires. It’s easy to criticise something that you can’t relate to and makes very little sense to you, particularly if it appears to damage people’s lives. Heavy smokers, sadomasochists and drug addicts are just some of the people that fall into this broad category. The majority of people in the Western world struggle to comprehend why anyone would participate in recreational drug use or sadomasochism and so the people that do are stereotyped, just as all minorities, whether that’s sexual preference, religious belief, ethnicity or anything else for that matter.
Role models are an important part of a child’s development, there’s no doubt about it, kids are influenced by the behaviour of the people in authority over them and the people they like. Traditionally, the main role model for a child is their father, for a boy, and mother, for a girl. Parents should behave how they want their children to behave in future, as they are constantly being scrutinised by their offspring, who are desperately trying to form a view of how the land lies – of what’s acceptable and what’s not. You don’t see a father swearing in front of their four-year-old son because that father doesn’t want to endorse this sort of behaviour. Equally, you’ll find that parents try to be polite in front of their children regardless of their mood. Even in adulthood, people are highly influenced by their peers – we have a natural instinct to avoid offending the people closest to us in order to maintain relationships.