There are probably several complex factors that can throw light on the causes of the riots. Examples are the culture of consumerism and acquisition as well as the possible effects on
moral values of permissive parenting. This is the third of four articles trying to understand what is going wrong from a spiritual dimension.
One view expressed in The Times newspaper is that “these disgraceful scenes were perpetuated by people who have not experienced any meaningful consequences for misbehaviour at school ” And so one spotlight is falling on social discipline in the education system.
Whether to allow gay bishops is currently a hot issue in the Church of England. Many people feel puzzled by this reluctance to embrace homosexuality by strands of organised religion. And some feel angry and want to promote the idea that gay people should be proud of their sexual orientation feeling this is their natural inclination. From a spiritual perspective, we might ask whether a gay partnership has the same potential for human happiness as that of a heterosexual one. So what does Swedenborg have to say about it?
Is marriage an impossible dream? Is it unrealistic to expect two people to live together happily for the rest of their life and find spiritual healing together?
These days in England for example, couples, more often than not, live together for some time before even considering the possibility of marriage; a very different way of looking at things from say the middle of the twentieth century.
What lies behind this change? Some would point to the availability of contraceptives that allow us to have a full sexual relationship for the time being without the long-term commitment of parenthood. Others would point to a less hypocritical society. We all know that nearly half of marriages these days end in divorce. It is asked, “Why pretend everything is perfect by getting married when it clearly isn’t likely to stay that way in many cases?”
Another suggested reason for living together without getting married is to do with a fear of failure of the relationship in the full glare of public knowledge. At least in Britain this pessimism is perhaps not surprising given the high rate of marriage failure. People see cohabiting as having the advantage of being a private arrangement between two people not involving any socially recognised level of commitment and which can be finished as well as started relatively quietly.
Many of us are inclined to rebel when someone tells us what to do. We do not always take kindly to being told what is right and wrong behaviour. However, ethical living is part of spiritual healing according to the world’s spiritual traditions. That following a set of rules of conduct is conducive to spiritual growth. How does this apply to sexual relationships?
People may not be concerned about the rights and wrongs of sexual behaviour. They ask:
“Isn’t sex a basic drive that needs to be satisfied, just like hunger and thirst?”
“Isn’t sexual expression one of our inherent freedoms?”
“Isn’t sexuality a way of expressing our unique individuality?”
To answer “yes” to these questions may be correct for some but it is to miss a spiritual principle, for it ignores the idea of a growing union of mature love between two people. There are many reasons for coldness developing between a couple but one of the most damaging tends to be the sense of hurt and distrust in one partner caused by the other becoming sexually drawn to another person.