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No Longer Like a Horse and Carriage

Sexual relationships without discipline.

by Barnabas
February 25, 2004

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Love and marriage, love and marriage
Go together like a horse and carriage
Dad was told by mother
You can't have one without the other.
- Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen
Sung by Eddie Fisher, late 1950’s

We like to eat ourselves sick and then moralize over the upchuck
Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools

My concept of a great relationship is two people who have more fun together and are better together than they are alone. When it stops being that, why keep on keeping on? I actually know a very cool couple in their 70s who amicably divorced after their marriage got stagnant. They had the guts to go live life instead of settling for "security" — a polite way of saying you want a spouse around to fasten your adult diapers.
– Amy Alkon, "The Advice Goddess" St. Paul Pioneer Press, February 22

Marriage was and remains the first line of defense against sexual chaos. It is also the first line of offense for establishing sexual discipline.

Forty years ago, before the sexual revolution got its name, it had its prequels. Eddie Fisher made a hit recording of "Love and Marriage" not long before he left Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor; Taylor then left him to marry Richard Burton. Four front-rank celebrities played out their private lives in public, but the difference between then and now is that the public response to Taylor’s behavior had some moral force. The excuse, "At least they sanctified their adultery with marriage afterward" didn’t cut it.

The grandchildren of that generation are in college today. The generation between came of age in the sexual laissez-faire of the late sixties and seventies. One of them, a well-brought-up eighth grader back then, asked me what was the point of dating if it wasn’t to get the girl to "go all the way." Maybe his own children grew up with a more disciplined attitude, but probably  not. Their father’s early viewpoint was affirmed by pop culture throughout their childhood and youth, so why should they think any other way? 

This is not to say that boys who seduce girls today never feel guilt about it. But if they do, the guilt is more of the quality cited in Ship of Fools: eating until you’re sick (that is, doing  what makes you feel good until it no longer feels good) and then "moralizing over the upchuck." Ship of Fools was written before the sexual revolution, about characters in the 1930’s; but the morality described in it is now the majority view. A young man admits to his girlfriend to having felt morally cleansed after   visiting a whorehouse, and she makes the crack about the upchuck.  The young man wanted to assign moral value to his sin because it's a lot easier than giving up the sin.  

Last week, a report of alleged rape at the University of Colorado became public. No doubt a  great many non-consensual sexual episodes occur at an institution of that size in any given month. Many of them go unreported because non-consent, like any negative, is hard to prove. But in this case there were suggestions that the athletic department had been, either explicitly or implicitly, promising sexual opportunities to football recruits. If indeed this had happened, officials of the university were condoning, if not encouraging, fornication.  

If we do not believe in sexual discipline as such, then there is nothing but personal opinion and preference prohibiting certain behaviors. Even the question "What’s wrong with that?" will cease to be asked because by definition nothing would be wrong with that. 

So we come to the amoral statement of a syndicated advice columnist in a major American newspaper. In her view, marriage has nothing to do with faithfulness, making a home, interdependence, and keeping your word. Disciplined people know many reasons "to keep on keeping on." If the advice goddess cannot name them, she is not qualified for her job.

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