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.
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.
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.
Success is an interesting concept to consider because it’s definition is hyper-variable from person to person. My copy of The New Oxford Dictionary of English defines it as:
“The accomplishment of an aim or purpose”
You may be surprised as to how general that definition is. Of course, when we talk about success in general we are talking about the success of one’s life; how satisfied we are with the accomplishment of our own personal goals. These vary from person to person from happiness to love, sex, money, power, changing the world, having kids, marriage, having material published in their name – the list is endless. But is there a right or wrong answer?