Posted on | February 14, 2012 | 46 Comments
In the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry . . .
— I Timothy 4:1-3 (KJV)
Steven Crowder gets some CPAC PDA from his fianceé, Hillary
“My theory is that, in contemporary culture, young ladies have become unaccustomed to being paid compliments outside the context of being ‘hit on.’ Because of feminism and political correctness, young guys have never learned to flatter a girl merely for the sake of flattery.”
— Robert Stacy McCain, Feb. 28, 2010
Every great love story ends “happily ever after,” and my concern for Traditional Family Values is often expressed by three words of encouragement to young couples: “When’s the wedding?”
One of the tragedies of 21st-century American culture is that young people from affluent backgrounds have been indoctrinated to think of marriage as a horrible financial burden, which must be avoided until one has completed college (and perhaps also grad school), and landed one’s Dream Job with all the perks — middle-class salary, 401(k), health insurance, et cetera. To do otherwise, the Indoctrinators of Youth have taught them, is to doom oneself to a life of impoverished misery.
Urgent News Bulletin to American Youth: That’s crazy.
If you listen to that nonsense, you’ll be 37 years old on your wedding day. I’ve often remarked that many upper-middle-class parents who would not dare disapprove if their daughter came home from college and announced she was a lesbian would, however, be outraged if their daughter came home from college and announced that she had eloped to marry her boyfriend.
There is no law that says college students can’t tie the knot, nor is there any law that requires young couples to pay for a lavish wedding, and anyone who says you can’t afford to get married is lying.
You can get married at the courthouse. A marriage license costs next to nothing. And two can live as cheaply as one.
Of course, I urge young people to respect their parents’ guidance in regard to marriage, but I must also caution that many parents — including sincere Christians — have heeded “doctrines of devils,” so that their guidance to young people comes near to “forbidding to marry.”
What has crept into our culture in recent decades is a subtle prejudice I call “Middle Classism,” the belief that the only life worth living is the affluent upwardly-mobile life, with a college education, a suit-and-tie office job, and two late-model cars in the garage of a house on a suburban cul-de-sac in a good school district.
Middle Classism is a status-obsessed sort of materialism, which measures people according to their incomes, their career advancement, their possession of consumer goods, and other indicators of social status associated with the middle-class lifestyle. What this involves is a type of cargo-cult fixation on acquiring the superficial trappings of “success,” a pursuit of overpriced symbolism that often misleads young people into foolish choices, impairing both their spiritual and economic well-being.
When Professor Glenn Reynolds talks about the “higher education bubble,” he is criticizing one of the biggest side-effects of Middle Classism, the Everybody-Must-Go-to-College Syndrome in which young people believe that they must pursue post-secondary education, without regard to their academic aptitude or their ability to pay for it.
Whatever else might be said about Middle Classism, my point here is that it generally involves an implicit requirement that marriage be postponed until couples are well past the age when their wedding song might be that classic by the Carpenters, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day.
Where are those romantic “horizons that are new to us,” when the newlyweds are 30-something professionals who have been cohabiting for three years? And here is a fact that is likely to shock many young people: When the Carpenters recorded that ballad in 1970, the median age of newlyweds was 22 — 23.2 for men, 20.8 for women — which means that nearly half of American brides in 1970 were still in their teens.
Go ask your Grandpa and Grandma, kids: There was a time when many people married their high-school sweethearts, and they often didn’t wait too long after high school to do it.
‘Who’s the Blonde?’
When my buddies and I gathered in the lobby bar at CPAC in late February 2009, we discussed all the important questions of the day: What sort of policies would the newly-inaugurated President Obama pursue? How could Republicans possibly recover from Bush-era “brand damage” and the Democrat landslides of 2006 and 2008? What the heck was all this crazy talk about “tea parties”?
Yet there was no question so widely discussed as, “Who’s the blonde?”
Tall, slender, fashionably attired and with teeth of astonishingly white perfection, the mysterious young lady had cut quite a swath through the conference, turning heads everywhere she went. And so, as happy hour arrived during CPAC and the Usual Suspects bellied up to the hotel lobby bar, many of my colleagues murmured in awestruck curiosity about the identity of this long-stemmed lovely.
The responsibility of answering this question was asigned to me and, with my fine-honed chivalry, I was able to properly introduce the young lady to my curious colleagues, including the famed VodkaPundit:
The young lady’s name is Hillary and I hasten to point out:
A. For some reason, VodkaPundit was drinking bourbon that night; and
B. Their acquaintance was entirely platonic, an assurance necessary to prevent Mrs. VodkaPundit from murdering her husband.
Having met the Mystery Blonde, she was quickly de-mystified, as we learned she worked as an assistant producer for a talk-radio program, and CPAC 2009 thus passed into the annals of history.
Fast-forward to CPAC 2010 where I was minding my own business in the lobby bar when I espied amid the passing throng a suspiciously familiar figure — a certain long-limbed blonde, whom I approached as if greeting a long-lost friend. This earned me a suspicious glance from the young lady’s companion, Steven Crowder.
And no sooner had Mr. Crowder explained that he and Hillary were romantically paired than I asked, “When’s the wedding?”
This earned me yet another suspicious glance, and there subsequently ensued a minor uproar when I sent this message on Twitter:
Outrage! How dare I compliment Crowder’s girlfriend and jocularly congratulate him on his good fortune? Such was the reaction from at least one of the young lady’s friends, who suggested it was “degrading” to call attention to Hillary’s pulchritude. And as I said at the time, I blame feminism and political correctness for this widespread attitude — an attitude which seldom gets critical scrutiny — that there is something “degrading” or unseemly in taking notice of beauty.
It seems to me as though this attitude is also symptomatic of our sexualized culture, wherein every social interaction is laden with sexual meaning. Among other things, the sexualized culture obliterates any separation between the erotic and the aesthetic.
Even while concerns about “discrimination” tend to suppress any overt mention of disparities in attractiveness in our workaday lives — lest we be sued for harassment or creating a “hostile environment” — people are simultaneously (and quite surreptitiously) playing a sort of mental “Rate-a-Date” game with everyone they meet, evaluating them in terms of their romantic desireability.
Perhaps never before in human history has a society been so sex-obsessed as ours, while at the same time we rigorously suppress discussion of this topic with a neo-Victorian prudery.
People magazine annually devotes an issue to declaring one celebrity “The Sexiest Man Alive.” Sports Illustrated annually publishes its Swimsuit Edition. However, even while our popular culture constantly emits such messages — next time you pass a magazine racke, glance at the cover of Cosmopolitan, with its quite explicit monthly offers of “Sex Secrets” — it is considered scandalously rude, if not indeed legally forbidden, to remark that a good-looking young woman is . . . well, young and good-looking. Because such a remark is assumed to imply:
A. Sexual interest in the woman; and
B. Discriminatory intent toward women who are old or not quite good-looking.
As I say, this attitude seldom gets critical scrutiny simply because it has been so widespread for so long that most people under 40 have no experiential frame of reference by which to judge it, and even most older people have forgotten what life was like before the advent of political correctness.
It is therefore unfortunately necessary for me to remind readers, both old and young, that it was once considered scandalous for unmarried couples to live together, but not scandalous for a man to compliment a lady on her looks.
The implicit assumptions of the sexualized culture have so pervaded American society that we don’t notice these ironic contradictions for the same reason that fish don’t notice water: It’s all around them, it’s all they’ve ever known, and it defines the entirety of their existence.
People who are either shacking up or else looking for their next hook-up will therefore find it necessary to condemn me, a happily married husband and father, for remarking (in the common parlance of contemporary youth) that Steven Crowder is fortunate to have won the affections of the fair Hillary.
Because she’s HAWWWWTT.
And let’s admit that Crowder’s kinda sexy, too.
See what I mean? This is the real “homophobia” that bugs me: No heterosexual man is supposed to be aware that some men are more handsome than others. Guys supposedly can’t tell the difference between Brad Pitt and Michael Moore, or between George Clooney and Carrot Top, because it we do we’re presumed to be closet cases — another seldom-remarked aspect of the sexualized culture.
In the Famous Words of Elvis . . .
Also seldom remarked (indeed, it seems quaintly old-fashioned to mention it) is the biological purpose of sex, namely the propagation of the species. Sex has become so drastically separated from its procreative function in our culture that we are supposed to think of sex only as a recreational activity, rather than in terms of breeding the next generation. Americans nowadays do not as a rule embrace the worldview expressed by an old Elvis song:
Mama never told me ’bout nothin’ like Y-O-U.
Well, I bet your mother must have been a good lookin’ mother, too.
Yes, beauty is a genetic trait, yet the sexualized culture does not encourage us to think of ourselves as gene-bearers. The procreative purposes of sex are suppressed in popular discourse, so that young people do not evaluate their prospective partners as breeding stock, nor do we see a young beauty and have that Elvis moment of realization that her mother must have been a good lookin’ mother, too.
Three years have passed since that 2009 CPAC when everyone was asking, “Who’s the blonde?” And two more years have gone by since I was happy to congratulate Steven Crowder on his good fortune in regard to the young lady. So it was quite a pleasant surprise when, upon encountering the couple again at CPAC last week, I got a surprising answer to my customary question, “When’s the wedding?”
Hillary displayed her engagement ring, and that dazzling rock on her finger betokens a scheduled trip to the altar, when young Mr. Crowder will be required to recite those fateful words, “Forsaking all others . . . ‘Til death do you part.”
Ah, speak memory! What a sudden psychic jolt I had that long-ago April day, in the Gordon County Courthouse in Calhoun, Georgia, when Probate Judge Johnny Parker had me pledge such a solemn vow toward my own lovely bride.
“Forsaking all others . . . ‘Til death do you part.”
Wow. That’s a heavy concept right there. And even though I’d devoted extraordinary effort to wooing that brunette beauty, the momentous nature of this nuptial oath hit me in that moment with overwhelming force. Here I was, giving my word before God and man to eschew the companionship of “all others” for the rest of my life.
Six children and more than two decades later, I’m so accustomed to being married that it might be possible to forget how shocking those words seemed back in the days of youthful glory. Most days, I just take it for granted that I have a wife, one who has retained her bikini beauty much more than has her erstwhile Speedo-sporting husband.
This morning I woke up early, came down to my basement office to work and had been at it nearly an hour before I needed to check the date and noticed that today was February 14. Then I heard my wife upstairs getting in the shower, which inspired me to go to the kitchen and start a pot of coffee. Once it was brewing, I went to the bathroom, drew back the shower curtain and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, naked lady.”
Married folks can do stuff like that any time they want.
You’ll excuse me for having neglected to add a “Disturbing Mental Image” disclaimer to this post, but the silly neo-Victorian prudery of political correctness requires me to point out that married middle-aged couples sometimes get naked, and our six children are proof that Mrs. Other McCain and I have gotten naked together a few times.
Having glanced back to the distant past, then, now we look forward to the future and think of generations yet unborn. Our oldest daughter got married a couple of summers ago, but she and her husband insist we’ll have to wait a while for grandchildren. Our 19-year-old twin sons have girlfriends, but so far have not suggested the prospect of marriage, et cetera. (Important Reminder to 19-Year-Old Sons: Please make sure that the “et cetera” does not precede marriage.)
Such thoughts of the future generation are probably far from the minds of Steven Crowder and his bride-to-be. Young people do not usually think forward like that, and so they probably haven’t given much thought to what their circumstances will be on Valentine’s Day 2035.
However, we should all join together in hoping that this fine-looking couple are blessed with a Duggar-sized brood of baby Crowders, because I will dare to make this Valentine’s Day prophecy: At some point in the remote future, when one of those little baby Crowders is all grown up, she’ll walk into a honky-tonk saloon where a crooked-grinning hillbilly-looking fellow with a guitar in his hand is up on the stage.
Just as beauty is a hereditary trait, so too is musical aptitude, and if I know anything about crooked-grinning fellows who play guitars — trust me, I do – I can say with prophetic certainty that when the grown-up baby Crowder girl walks into a future honky-tonk, that hillbilly boy is going to start singing an old Elvis song, wondering what T-R-O-U-B-L-E is doing A-L-O-N-E. Ain’t that right, Travis?
Happy Valentine’s Day, to Steven and Hillary and young lovers everywhere, but also most especially, to Mrs. Other McCain.
UPDATE: Speaking of CPAC, unintentional offenses, and clever song lyrics, Crowder had to explain his short pants to some HuffPosters who got their knickers in a twist.
UPDATE II: And speaking of Professor Glenn Reynolds, why does it seem he is always blogging about sex?