This week's Community Column is written by retired local minister Rev Ian Miller.

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A CHURCH organist sent the following note to his minister: “I am sorry to say that my wife is ill. Could you please find a substitute for me for the weekend?”

Well, I hope he meant a substitute organist, not a substitute wife!

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The late Jimmy Currie – an inspiring minister and a notable public speaker – loved to tell the story of when he was preaching at another church.

He explained to the children how he was a substitute. One wee lad looked lost, so James said by way of explanation: “If you break a window in the house then your dad might put a piece of cardboard in the window until he gets it repaired. That’s a substitute.”

At the end of the service one elderly lady said to him: “Minister, you were nae substitute this morning. You were a real pane.”

I often think we have substituted time honoured values for what “everyone else” thinks is right. Is that how we should set our standards? Do we let society dictate what is right and wrong?

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A recent survey indicated that 69 per cent of married men think it’s OK to have an affair. If majority rules then it must be OK. If everybody else’s mum is allowing their 14-year-old unlimited access to the web, then it must be OK.

There is always the temptation to conform. None of us like to be the odd man out. If everyone else is doing it then it must be right.

That sort of logic should have convinced Columbus that the world was flat, and the Wright brothers that they could never fly.

I take my hat off to those who have dared to dispute the majority opinion when it was in error.

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I think it’s sad that in the USA we have a president – soon to be joined, perhaps, by Boris Johnson in this country – whose attitudes to others, and whose personal morality, are questionable.

We used to expect that our leaders would be decent, honest and trustworthy. It’s no longer the case. We are now prepared to accept the substitute for the real thing.