Family Values on the Lips and in the Heart
On the occasion of his thirty-first wedding anniversary, P.Z. Myers gives us his views on how a secular atheist can be happily married to the same woman for over three decades while Newt “family values” Gingrich is twice divorced and on his third marriage:
It’s a strange situation where the political party with more ex-wives than candidates, that houses and defends a disturbingly amoral network of fundamentalist operators is regarded as the protector of the sanctity of the family. They’re anything but.
I think I understand, though — it doesn’t matter what you do, all that matters is what you say. The Republicans support a version of marriage that rests on tradition, authority, and masculine dominance, and everything they do props up one leg of the tripod or the other. Public piety reinforces religious tradition; the insistence that there is one true form of marriage, between a man and a woman, which represents a legal and social commitment is part of the authoritarian impulse; and of course, if a man steps out of the matrimonial bounds, it’s an expression of machismo and patriotism and entitlement.
There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and that things happened in my life that were not appropriate. And what I can tell you is that when I did things that were wrong, I wasn’t trapped in situation ethics, I was doing things that were wrong, and yet, I was doing it. I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness.
Gingrich was cheating on his wife, but it’s OK — because he also tells us that it was wrong and inexcusable, and then he wraps it all up in God and country to make excuses for it. Hypocrisy is acceptable as long as the right words are said to reinforce the public face of propriety.