Recent high-profile reports have brought a sense of national dis-ease under the spotlight: binge-drinking is endemic, and (largely undiagnosed) sexually transmitted infections are thought to be at epidemic levels. It is hard to imagine a better night out than going from work to the pub until closing time, then on to a club, and ending the night having sex with a stranger in a dark alley – and being able to recall very little of much of the evening next morning. Though that may not sound attractive in the cold light of day, I’m not being ironic: it is hard to imagine an attractive alternative, because this is the predominant model held out, by every genre of the media, for us to aspire to. And it is easier to adopt a vision cast us so powerfully than to imagine one of our own.
It is no surprise, then, that a growing number of young British Muslims want to see Sharia Law adopted in the UK. But legislation is not the answer. The law is powerless to change behaviour. If I believe a law is meaningless – as a third of teens under 16 believe the age of sexual consent to be – then I will justify to myself my breaking of it. Even with a ‘moral absolute,’ such as the prohibition of murder, I will claim ‘exceptional circumstances’ in my defence. Such is human nature.
What is needed is not legislation – whether Sharia Law or the further extension of New Labour’s “Nanny State” – to impose behaviour from an external source of authority; nor a better education policy (how many of those have we seen?); nor disapproval and condemnation from those of a religious perspective; but imagination, to subvert our worldview from within.
Who will dare to imagine an alternative vision of society?
What might it look like?
How might it be spread?
Too great a task? If we can pass on STI’s…if one person can infect multiple contacts…
binge drinking , sexual health , imagination , gospel , church , mission