Monday, August 09, 2010

The H Factor

I wrote this 21.2.94 .

Why did "Back to basics" become "Back off personal morality"? Why does Mr. Major tell us that his slogan is not about personal morality .ut only public policy? Surveys show that people want an emphasis on personal morality. They probably want it more than the Prime Minister. After all, like his predecessor he has not demanded the resignation of adulterous ministers. As long as you have not betrayed your leader it does not matter that you have deceived your wife. But in propounding the policy, MMr. Major must have failed to understand the popular desire for personal morality or forgotten how lacking it is in the everyday story of Westminster folk. The press take delight in unearthing embarrassing stories of how the public pronouncements of M.P.s do not square with their personal lives. The public dislike hypocrites. Mr. Major may not sack them, but grass roots constituency committees are in the real world where demands are more stringent. Mr. Yeo was forced to resign ministerial office after pressure from his local party. Ordinary people could not stomach him speaking against single parents when he had fathered a child by an adulterous relationship. Hartley Booth resigned his post when he was shown to be a flirtatious preacher. The fear of being exposed as a hypocrite was at work. I call it the H factor, fear of exposure as a hypocrite.
All too often Christians underestimate the strength of the H Factor . My children attend a Church of England High School. I wondered why the school would not teach morality simply on the basis of what the Bible said. Their answer that they did not want to embarrass children from one parent families seemed less than satisfactory. Then it dawned on me. Biblical morality was an embarrassment to the teachers. So I stood up in the annual parents' meeting and asked the chairman of governors if the failure to teach morality in terms of biblical absolutes was because a number of the staff were know not to live that way. I think it was the most embarrassing question I ever asked. I almost felt sorry for the chairman. But not quite. The H Factor needs to be exposed.
But the most glaring example of the H Factor is in the field of public health. Have you noticed how public policy on Aids is never to promote chastity and fidelity, only "safe" sex? People will not accept such a high standard we are told. It is unrealistic.
Now contrast the message on smoking. Are smokers told to smoke the safer cigars, pipes or low tar brands? Is there a safe smoking campaign? No, not at all. The obnoxious weed must be banned from polite society. There is an 11th commandment after all.
So why the difference between fornication and fumigation? It is the H Factor. The politicians and public health officials know they can give up smoking if necessary, but their little bits on the side, well that is another matter. Politicians will not talk personal morality when they personally fall short of the mark. H Factor rules O.K.?
No, it is certainly not all right. Let us pray for politicians whose personal integrity is the basis for their public pronouncements. Let us pray that Christian leaders would call for better standards in public life.
Graham J Weeks 21.2.94

Why did "Back to basics" become "Back off personal morality"? Why does Mr. Major tell us that his slogan is not about personal morality but only public policy? Surveys show that people want an emphasis on personal morality. They probably want it more than the Prime Minister. After all, like his predecessor he has not demanded the resignation of adulterous ministers. As long as you have not betrayed your leader it does not matter that you have deceived your wife. But in propounding the policy, MMr. Major must have failed to understand the popular desire for personal morality or forgotten how lacking it is in the everyday story of Westminster folk. The press take delight in unearthing embarrassing stories of how the public pronouncements of M.P.s do not square with their personal lives. The public dislike hypocrites. Mr. Major may not sack them, but grass roots constituency committees are in the real world where demands are more stringent. Mr. Yeo was forced to resign ministerial office after pressure from his local party. Ordinary people could not stomach him speaking against single parents when he had fathered a child by an adulterous relationship. Hartley Booth resigned his post when he was shown to be a flirtatious preacher. The fear of being exposed as a hypocrite was at work. I call it the H factor, fear of exposure as a hypocrite.
All too often Christians underestimate the strength of the H Factor . My children attend a Church of England High School. I wondered why the school would not teach morality simply on the basis of what the Bible said. Their answer that they did not want to embarrass children from one parent families seemed less than satisfactory. Then it dawned on me. Biblical morality was an embarrassment to the teachers. So I stood up in the annual parents' meeting and asked the chairman of governors if the failure to teach morality in terms of biblical absolutes was because a number of the staff were know not to live that way. I think it was the most embarrassing question I ever asked. I almost felt sorry for the chairman. But not quite. The H Factor needs to be exposed.
But the most glaring example of the H Factor is in the field of public health. Have you noticed how public policy on Aids is never to promote chastity and fidelity, only "safe" sex? People will not accept such a high standard we are told. It is unrealistic.
Now contrast the message on smoking. Are smokers told to smoke the safer cigars, pipes or low tar brands? Is there a safe smoking campaign? No, not at all. The obnoxious weed must be banned from polite society. There is an 11th commandment after all.
So why the difference between fornication and fumigation? It is the H Factor. The politicians and public health officials know they can give up smoking if necessary, but their little bits on the side, well that is another matter. Politicians will not talk personal morality when they personally fall short of the mark. H Factor rules O.K.?
No, it is certainly not all right. Let us pray for politicians whose personal integrity is the basis for their public pronouncements. Let us pray that Christian leaders would call for better standards in public life.

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