Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Infidelity comes out of the closet...

The hot new infidelity web site, which promises that you'll have an affair or you get your money back, is doing a bus tour! The bus stopped yesterday at, of all places, Temple Square in Salt Lake City as part of it's "have an affair anywhere tour", which you can read about here.

Of course, we're all shocked and offended at this new online access to cheating. And yet, a new person is signing up every fifteen seconds, which is considerably more web noise than pastoral musings are able to produce. It appears that there are more people interested in a romp in the hay than, say, a discussion about Christian ethics, or the ramblings of a middle aged guy about how he encounters God in the everyday things of life, like sunrises and good conversations. Who'd of thought???

All sarcasm aside, though, I'll just observe that this "coming out" of infidelity seems to be simply the next chapter in our cultural evolution as consumers. It's gone something like this:

1. Declare that our right to the pursuit of happiness is inalienable, a divine right granted by God.

2. Allow that pursuit of happiness to be defined materially, with the result that we become a people characterized, throughout our history, as claiming land by divine right, either displacing or killing the occupants (both animal and human) as a result.

3. Throw in a healthy dose of mobility, enabling us to move out of our settings when they become challenging.

4. Continue the relentless pursuit of our divine right to happiness by seeking an economic dominance that will enable us to try and fill the aching void in our souls by shopping for more, bigger, and faster stuff, in spite of the clear and undeniable evidence that such pursuits are killing our planet and failing to deliver on the hollow promise.

There it is. Suddenly you have the perfect cocktail of discontent, rootlessness, and predisposition to demand the fulfillment of personal needs as a means of happiness. Throw all these elements in a blender and what comes out? A web site that matches you, in your pursuit of happiness on demand, with someone else who is just as frustrated, wounded, discontent, or bored. Now you can have that happiness that neither a faster car, implants, or season tickets were ever able to provide; easily and privately. The web site even comes with an app for your i-phone so that your paranoid spouse, who monitors your web tracks, will remain none the wiser.

This isn't shocking at all. This is simply the next step in our culture's worship service, held perpetually at the altar of self-fulfillment. What's sad to me is that the church has been quick to aim the gun at adulterers and pull the trigger, without taking the time to see the cultural elements that have created this problem. Until we think about our collective values and choose intimacy and interdependency over isolation, and service over self-indulgence, and quiet simplicity over loud ambitions, the infidelity siren will continue to sing, and souls will continue to crash and burn on her rocks.


At 26/8/09 18:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The inability of film/movies to know what to do with marriage throughout the industries (at least recent history) is another indicator that something like this website (and the causal attitude about intimate relationships) were next in the cue.

Recently I saw the indie film "Ira and Abbey", which essentially said, marriage is an empty tradition that gets in the way of having relationships that make us feel good; so why not just live together and hope it works out for as long as it can? But this isn't new, didn't "Four Weddings and a Funeral" say the same thing in the early '90s? Oh, and that TV show that was on for a few years....Friends!

Practically speaking, I see the need for churches to equip people to counsel people in marriages, perhaps beyond pre-marital counseling. In the same way BCC has trained people for the Stephen Ministry, why not offer some basic relationship mentoring skills. Thus, couples who are successful with their marriages can help those other couples in their sphere of influence.
It takes the value of preaching it, and moves into answering people in the pews' question: "How do we help them?".

Of course, I'm married to a Marriage and Family Therapist-to be grad student, and I've studies Church Ministry, so of course I think in terms of program and training along those lines :)

On a broader scope and returning to the subject of film, as a group, the Christian community has been strikingly absent in places such as film in offering the Christian ethic on marriage (or any other topic) for consideration in Provocative ways. Fireproof promoted stickin' it out through tough times, but I wouldn't say it's exactly what I think of as provocative.

My point is, people are exposed to secular perspective on relationship and marriage in nearly every movie out there, and to say that film doesn't influence us in some way would be a bit blind. People believing holding other worldviews somehow manage to intrigue enough critics to make it into places from Sundance to more mainstream audiences. Where are we, the Christian voice amid all this? Not that film alone is the key to it all, but it's a suggestion to throw into the ring with any other.

At 28/8/09 07:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The culture is a reflection of fallen humanity, what is already in people's hearts.

The Lord Jesus Christ said in Matthew 15:19 -

"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies."

The solution to our fallen nature is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.


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