How the Promiscuous Still Honor Marriage

When I was thirteen years old, we decided that the time was right for a dog to grace the sprawling 2-acre Brooks family plantation. I don’t remember the exact details of how it came to be, but we wound up giving a dog named Rolly a 2 week test drive. Rolly must have been trained by the last survivor of World War 1, because the only thing he seemed to know how to do was dig massive trenches throughout the yard that then became convenient bunkers for the brothers’ occasional mud wars. At the end of two weeks Rolly was loaded back up in the truck, and the Brooks family danced a jig in the driveway as he departed. Despite the Rolly catastrophe, our hunger for dog ownership was unabated, and so entered Hank the Black Lab.

It is no secret that the American marriage adventure has been nothing short of catastrophe. CNN published a statistic that 41% of babies in 2009 were born to unwed mothers, up from 11% thirty years earlier. Divorce rates are astronomical. Browse the Barnes & Noble marriage shelves, and all you’ll see are works on how to put the romance back into whatever you’ve gotten yourself into.

And yet somehow, marriage still holds an exalted place in our culture. Yes, 41% of children are born to unwed mothers (and unwed fathers). Yes, serial monogamy is probably the best way to describe how we functionally live our lives in a culture of cheap and easy divorce. Yes, any concept of faithfulness to vows and commitments has been crumpled up and thrown next to that pair of pink bellbottoms in the dumpster of social disapproval. And yet, the state of marriage is still held in high esteem. No matter how many trenches dug by Rolly, the longing for a dog was yet unabated.

This week Bobby Petrino, head coach of the Arkansas Razorback’s football team, was discovered to be having an extramarital affair with a fellow member of the University’s staff. Petrino was summarily dismissed amidst a chorus of furrowed brows and scolding remarks. This is one in a long list of public officials and celebrities to have an extramarital scandal scuttle their career ambitions.

But why is our culture so outraged when infidelity takes place within marriage? Petrino’s consorting with a woman not his wife doesn’t look a whole lot different than what all of his football players are doing most every friday night. Among them, the scandal is the guy who isn’t doing what they’re doing. Nobody writes articles on the adventures of a Sigma Rho Epsilon freshman. They write articles on Tim Tebow’s virginity. The only difference between Petrino and his players is that he was married. And once the ring is on the finger, even a culture deeply approving of promiscuity understands that something changes.

No matter how far we go in approving what is evil, the ghost-like traces of Christian morality still haunt our hearts and minds. No matter how many trenches Rolly dug, we still longed for the dog that would not. It’s astounding that even the homosexual community longs to be able to marry. As muddle-headed as our culture becomes, there is one thing that it cannot shake: Marriage is something to aspire to. Amidst all the statements of why an indiscriminate offer of our bodies and hearts is best, they still dance no jig in the driveway when a marriage is loaded into the truck and taken away.

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