Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

I have noted here on more than one occasion that we are in the midst of a coup de culture that seeks to supplant the Judeo/Christian philosophical underpinning of society with one that combines explicit utilitarianism, open support for hedonistic indulgence, and a “faith” founded neo earth religion/scientism.  Thus we have seen increasing advocacy aimed at casting aside self restraint and eradicating “taboos” against individual behaviors ranging from the normalizing of suicide, to promoting the acceptability of sexual extremes such as consensual adult incest, engaging in bestiality, and breaking gender biological roles, e.g., a male writing in Slate about how he tried to manipulate his body into lactating.

Now, working the same vein, the NYT Magazine has a huge cover story pushing consensual adultery, byline its “Beliefs” writer, Mark Oppenheimer.  From “Infidelity Keeps Us Together:”

[Sex columnist Dan] Savage believes monogamy is right for many couples. But he believes that our discourse about it, and about sexuality more generally, is dishonest. Some people need more than one partner, he writes, just as some people need flirting, others need to be whipped, others need lovers of both sexes. We can’t help our urges, and we should not lie to our partners about them. In some marriages, talking honestly about our needs will forestall or obviate affairs; in other marriages, the conversation may lead to an affair, but with permission. In both cases, honesty is the best policy.

Sure, we all have urges and temptations, and sometimes they are powerful and seductive.  But part of human exceptionalism—one of the things that separates us from animals—is that we can choose not to act on them for moral and ethical reasons.  Just because we fantasize or desire to indulge, doesn’t mean we have to indulge.  And it certainly doesn’t mean we should.  Indeed, social norms serve a useful purpose by helping us restrain our “if it feels good, do it” baser urges—which is why articles that undermine these informal restraints are destructive.  (Yes, I know that societal opprobrium can also be destructive of personal identity and inhibit individual freedom if overdone.)

But Oppenheimier says that Savage thinks that the best way forward is to allow cheating, but be honest about it (which I guess would supposedly mean it isn’t “cheating”):
Savage’s honesty ethic gives couples permission to find happiness in unusual places; he believes that pretty much anything can be used to spice up a marriage, although he excludes feces, pets and incest, as well as minors, the nonconsenting, the duped and the dead. In “The Commitment,” Savage’s book about his and Miller’s decision to marry, he describes how a college student approached him after a campus talk and said, as Savage tells it, that “he got off on having birthday cakes smashed in his face.” But no one had ever obliged him. “My heart broke when he told me that the one and only time he told a girlfriend about his fetish, she promptly dumped him. Since then he had been too afraid to tell anyone else.” Savage took the young man up to his hotel room and smashed a cake in his face.

The point is: priests and rabbis don’t tell couples they might need to involve cake play in their marriages; moms and dads don’t; even best friends can be shy about saying what they like. Savage wants to make sure that no strong marriage ever fails because an ashamed husband or wife is desperately seeking cake play — or bondage, urine play or any of the other unspeakable activities that Savage has helped make speakable. If cake play is what a man needs, his G.G.G. wife should give it to him; if she can’t bring herself to, then maybe she should allow him a chocolate-frosted excursion with another woman.

Oppenheimer is up for the flexibility option:
Stacey and Savage each say that monogamy is the right choice for many couples; they are exalting options, not any particular option. As a straight, monogamous, married male, I happen to think this is a good thing: if there are people whose marriages work best with more flexibility, they should find the courage to choose an arrangement that works for them, society be damned.

Oppenheimer seeks to legitimize Savage’s views on adultery and hedonistic surrender by noting that he started the “It Gets Better” project to help gay teens navigate through tough times.  But the one has nothing to do with the other.

Cutting through the high brow sociology, Oppenheimer’s article nudges people toward an adultery accepting stance, and in doing so in a cover story in the NYT, promotes the coup de culture:
Savage is not arguing “let Arnold be Arnold.” He is imploring us to know the people we marry and to know ourselves and to plan accordingly. He believes that our actions mark us as a compassionate people, that in truth we are always ready to forgive an adulterer, except the one we are married to. He points out that the Louisiana senator, and prominent john, David Vitter — “who I hate,” he reassures me — is still in office, and that “Bill Clinton is a beloved elder statesman, and Eliot Spitzer is back on television.” We are already a nation of forgivers, even when it comes to marriage. Dan Savage thinks we should take some pride in that.

To the contrary, it shows that by denigrating the importance of character and self restraint, we are making it increasingly easier to surrender to the temptations that lead to betraying and destructive behavior.  Not good.

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles