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Posted at 05:40 PM ET, 09/20/2012

Congratulations on your wedding. Now good luck on happily ever after.


"This I know is true,” Al Franken said: “An abstinence pledge is much more commonly broken than a condom ... so we gotta grow up and teach our kids". (Rebecca D'Angelo - For The Washington Post)
I just want to say, congratulations to Steve Crowder, the Fox News blogger who managed, after three years of unstinting effort, to get Fox News to post an announcement to the entire world that he had just had sex and it was perfect, wonderful and life-changing.

Well-played, sir.

For anyone who thinks I am joking, here is an excerpt:

“Our wedding was perfect. Our wedding night was nothing short of amazing. I write this on a plane heading into a tropical paradise with the most beautiful woman to have walked the planet earth.”

“As anyone who’s read my abstinence column here at Fox News Opinion could guess,”the piece begins, “my wedding is something that I’ve looked forward to for quite some time. After having tied the knot at the end of August, I can now say beyond all shadow of a doubt, that it was everything I’d hoped and prayed that it would be since childhood.”

As Oscar Wilde notes, there is only one group in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor.

He continues:

Feeling judged? I couldn’t care less. You know why? Because my wife and I were judged all throughout our relationship. People laughed, scoffed and poked fun at the young, celibate, naive Christian couple.
We’d certainly never make it to the wedding without schtupping, and if we did, our “wedding night would be awkward and terrible,” they said.
Turns out that people couldn’t have been more wrong. Looking back, I think that the women saying those things felt like the floozies they ultimately were, and the men, with their fickle manhood tied to their pathetic sexual conquests, felt threatened.”

It goes on in this vein for some time, calling people who cohabit before marriage “harlot/mimbos.”

I can relate.

I spent years and years reading Proust, and nobody cared. It is hard to do something that you think is deeply important and difficult for years with no support whatsoever from society. You feel that you deserve to be patted on the back. So you console yourself by judging the reading choices of the people you see on the subway. “Ah, ‘Anna Karenina,’ ” you mutter. “So mainstream. And don’t get me started on ‘50 Shades of Grey.’ ” It is only natural to want some sort of validation when you have completed a difficult feat. Yet all you have is the satisfaction of doing what you believe to be right.

If anything, Crowder’s piece suggests how hard this is. It's a powerful case against abstinence-only teaching. If it’s this bad for him, a Conservative Comedian and Fox commentator, just think how it must be for everyone else. You struggle for years and years, mocked by your friends, judged by society, with nothing to get you through the wilderness but the promise that your wedding night might just be as good as Steve Crowder’s. And we wonder why fewer than a third of teenagers have proved able to refrain from all sexual activity.

Crowder later relates a story of “our morning after,” as he and his wife chat with a woman at a neighboring table who also got married one night earlier:

“Where’s the groom?” my wife innocently . . . scratch that, naively asked.
“Oh, he’s sleeping. There was no way he was coming out with me this morning!” She paused and smirked. “Let’s just say that he’s got a lingering headache from a really good time last night.”
My heart sank. Firstly, that poor schmuck’s “good time” was simply getting snookered. Not enjoying the company of close family and long-lost friends with a clear head and clean conscience, not staring in awe at his beautiful new wife, wanting to soak in every glimmer of her eyes as she shot him heart-racing looks from across the dance floor, not taking all of the cheesy pictures as they cut the cake, not even carrying her across that suite threshold as they nervously anticipated their “nightcap.” He probably won’t remember any of it. Instead, he got smashed. He was “that guy” . . . at his own freaking wedding.

Crowder concludes with a flourish: “Your wedding can be the most memorable day and night of your life . . . or just another party. Oops. Did I just make a ‘judgment’? You’re darn right I did.”

For the fewer than one-third of teens who have had no sexual contact with the opposite sex, keep up hope. Someday, you too can boast to millions of people on the Internet about it. For all the other teens, you are horrifying sinners who will rot in some dank hole. Just kidding. Well, sort of. I apologize for never explaining contraception to you, under the mistaken impression that you could restrain yourself, you harlot/mimbo.

I had forgotten how strange it was to hear people boast of their own virtue. You so seldom hear it these days, just as people seldom seem to get “snookered” and harlots seem fewer and farther between, after overfishing in the 1760s. We have so much relativism these days that this was almost refreshing. Hurrah, embracing values! Embrace the heck out of those values, after waiting as long as you would like. Then write an essay telling everyone how good it felt. And I give Mr. Crowder sincere congratulations for his lack of hypocrisy.

But —

The miracle isn’t the wedding. As a culture, we are all too obsessed with weddings. We are obsessed to the point that Crowder thinks the prospect of a tremendously remarkable, groundbreaking, life-changing wedding is enough to motivate people to Abstain or Not To Abstain, rather than, say, values. What’s better than a party? he seems to ask. A RIGHTEOUS PARTY! And this may work.

But.

It’s not the covenant of wedding or even the Sanctity of Wedding Night that people are always so heated about. It’s marriage. Marriage is not an event. It’s an institution. You have to live in it. I don’t care how the wedding night was. How is the night after that and the night after that and the night after that? If all that mattered were how things felt going out of the gate, M. Night Shyamalan would still be a respected filmmaker, and the Titanic would be a highly regarded boat. It’s the voyage that counts.

Sure, Crowder has a number of points in his favor. Statistics suggest that marriages not preceded by cohabitation fare better. But not all marriages preceded by it fail, nor do all marriages without it succeed. True romance, as Neil Simon said, depends upon the participants, not the accoutrements.

Some saints spend years mortifying their flesh with thorns. Others manage to reclaim real virtue out of what could easily be dismissed as imperfect lives. “Grant me chastity,” St. Augustine prayed, “but not yet.” It’s a pity he could not live up to Steve Crowder’s standard.

So perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Crowder will do better than the hung-over bride next to them.

But I’d like to hear from both couples in 20 years. That’s when we should really be impressed.

By  |  05:40 PM ET, 09/20/2012

 
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