Last week I was invited to speak to all the ministry and church leaders of our city on a topic of my choice. What an honour! I chose the topic ‘Skeleton’s In The Closet; A Look At Infidelity and What We Can Do About It’, primarily because more and more couples are requiring my help to work through the devastation of infidelity. (It must have been a good topic choice since the organizer indicated attendance had not been that high since the mayor spoke last year!)
As I researched for the presentation, it began to dawn on me that our society has embraced certain social norms that provide the right conditions for infidelity to flourish. Here’s what I mean.
The Entitlement Norm – Our increasingly entitled society tends to favour ourselves and what we want, when we want it, ahead of the needs of others. It’s all about me and what I deserve.
Our Media Dictated Morality – The media promotes messages of marriage, commitment and sex that are confusing and distorted, often mocking traditional viewpoints. They sows ‘seeds of tolerance’ that allows for marital compromise to gain acceptance.
Commercialism – This norm fuels impulsive decision making over cautious planning and delayed gratification.
Political Correctness Norm – To be correct politically, we close our eyes to the choices people make, as long as their choice ‘doesn’t hurt anyone’. Incidentally, the ‘hurt’ caused by infidelity to a spouse or child is usually considered to be something ‘they’ll eventually get over’, and therefore doesn’t actually count as ‘hurt’.
Fragmented Logic – The logic used to justify an affair generally falls outside an individual’s good judgement, personal standards and spiritual values.
Schizophrenic Tendencies – Our society has the disturbing ability to hold two seemingly opposite opinions, considering both to be acceptable. For example, all men are created equal and yet slavery (as an example; the ongoing debate to decriminalize prostitution in Canada) is becoming more permissible.
Need For Extreme – There’s no doubt, our society has cultivated an insatiable desire for youthfulness and the need to feel more alive. This norm has the ability to push us to take extreme risks in order to achieve a new high.
Unfortunately, these norms are effecting the moral attitude of our society as 42% of all adults believe that it is morally acceptable to be in a sexual relationship, with someone of the opposite sex, to whom they are not married. (Barna Group 2009)
Hmmm..apparently, a monogamous lifestyle is just not that popular anymore. But why?
Perhaps we have missed that fact that 1/3 of all divorces occur as a result of infidelity and 67% of those who marry a second time will find that relationship ends in divorce as well. Or maybe the private reality of infidelity has filtered out the devastating psychological and physical affects their actions have on children, extended family and friends.
It comes down to this; if we as a society, embrace the ‘anything-goes-if-it-feels-good-do-it-whatever-it’s-all-about-me’ mentality, it actually doesn’t matter what anyone does. After all, if someone gets hurt over our actions, ‘they’ll eventually get over it’.