I don’t know if you’ve heard about it, but over the past week or so there’s been a bit of an outcry about a website called “Marital Affairs”. Well, it wasn’t actually the website itself, it was an advert for the website which as far as I can tell has been posted up nationwide.
Anyway, someone wrote a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about it, the ASA rejected the complaint, someone set up a Facebook group, etc etc. If you’ve not heard it already, you can read the background here.
Anyway, apparently the ASA have now upheld the complaint and taken the adverts down (see the Church Times article). One thing I wanted to pick up on is the ASA’s response after giving in and ordering the adverts to be taken down. They said: “people have the right to choose their own lifestyle” – which presumably is why they didn’t take the adverts down in the first place.
Now, I wouldn’t consider myself ultra-conservative or anything. But that statement strikes me as being a bit odd: Yes, people can choose their own lifestyles. But would you allow advertising that positively encouraged bad traits – such as breaking promises, letting other people down, acting selfishly? Because that’s effectively what they’re doing with the Marital Affairs advert – by allowing it they are tacitly saying, “It’s OK. Go on, have an affair. It’s your lifestyle, after all.”
My view is, when two people get married, they make a commitment to each other. If you get married in a church (specifically CofE, I think the wording is very similar in other churches) you agree to be faithful to each other for as long as you both shall live. I think those are beautiful words, but they are not just words: it’s a promise you make. If you go into marriage thinking that you’re not going to be able to keep that promise, you might as well not bother.
Adultery, or marital infidelity, whatever you want to call it, wrecks marriages. Even if the couple manage to stay together things can rarely be the same. It’s not just a broken promise, it’s actually potentially wrecking people’s lives.
And, given how the tabloids react when a famous person gets caught having an affair (for a recent example see Tiger Woods), I think most people would go one further and say that having an affair is actually an immoral action.
So, come on ASA, for goodness’ sake, what the heck are you playing at? Yes, people can choose their own lifestyles, and having an affair isn’t (and shouldn’t be) illegal, but it’s hardly advisable to promote a website which allows people to indulge in such a thing is it?
Here endeth the rant…