This message was preached at Lakeside Baptist Church on Sunday the 8th of February 2015.
The Bond franchise recently announced plans for the 24th movie in the series including the oldest ever “Bond girl”, 50-year-old Italian actress, Monica Bellucci. Commenting on why she won the plumb role, Bellucci seemed un-phased by all the hype because after all, as she told the press, she had “beauty and talent!”
Bellucci’s comments are grating to me, not so much because of their obvious self-focus, but more so that it highlights a prevailing attitude grafted deeply into the culture of our time – that beauty, talent and an emphasis on me and my happiness is what really counts.
Author and pastor, Dale S. Kuehne calls this the iWorld which he writes about in his book, Sex and the iWorld. The essence of iWorld, he says, is an emphasis on the right of the individual to make personal choices that will lead to his or her personal happiness and fulfillment regardless of what traditional boundaries may be in place and which are also perceived as restricting one’s personal satisfaction with life.
To put it more bluntly, in iWorld every boundary is up for grabs if it seeks to restrict your right to make your own choices about what is right or wrong.
We have been moving into iWorld for some time now.
Twenty years ago I asked a newly engaged couple who wanted me to be their celebrant, “How long do you think your marriage should last?”
Normally the couple will respond with “forever!” but on this occasion the prospective bride’s response surprised me: “If it lasts 10 years, well it lasts 10 years; but if it doesn’t, well so be it…”
As I explored this answer with her, it became clear that the idea of committing yourself to another person for the rest of your life (as opposed to her notion of a commitment based on “as long as we both are happy/still in love”) was a completely foreign concept to her.
I realise I may come off sounding quite critical here – I do not intend to be. I simply want to highlight that over the past 40 to 50 years we have moved from a society based on the belief that inter-personal relationships also include thoughtfulness, love and care for others to one where the individual self and personal happiness is exalted above everything else.
The culture of iWorld strikes at the very heart of marriage and in fact, all relationships. For a marriage to grow and blossom it requires two people who not only love each other but who are also committed to the responsibilities and sacrifices that characterise that love.
Promising to stay faithful to your husband or wife at the exclusion of all others requires just such a love.
Getting up to care for a screaming child late in the night while your wife catches up on her own rest requires just such a love.
Listening to your husband’s complaints at the end of a long day at the office requires just such a love.
Sitting through numberless hours lost at your child’s school awards ceremonies most definitely requires just such a love!
But in iWorld, no such love is required or even expected. All that matters is that you are happy and in discovering that happiness you do not restrict another person’s right to their own happiness.
This does not mean that everything about the world that we have moved from was always right and beyond criticism. Kuehne bravely acknowledges this fact about our former world, a world he describes as tWorld. But he does pose this interesting question: Which world will provide us with our best chance of lasting happiness – tWorld, iWorld or is there another option?
In seeking to answer that question we must understand the world that we have come from and the world in which we currently find ourselves before we can consider the possibility of a better alternative. Kuehne believes there is a better world and so do I – I invite you to explore this with me over the coming year as we seek to both grow and find fulfillment in our relationships with each other!