CNN runs Pride Month essay by married mother of two (a former CNN reporter) who watches Saturday Night Live, decides to leave her husband and break her family up to live as a lesbian. No, really, this is a thing that happened:
But there I was, at 36 years old, realizing I didn’t know myself at all.
I had everything I thought made my life perfect. I was married to my best friend and we had two beautiful, healthy and hilarious children, with successful careers and a beautiful home.
My life would change forever after a simple Google search in November 2016. I had just seen Kate McKinnon perform the song “Hallelujah” on SNL and discovered that she’s a lesbian. That shocked me because she didn’t fit the awful stereotype often depicted in the media.
I quickly declared her my “new girl crush.” But it was more than that.
At that moment, I realized that I wanted a relationship with a woman like her — but I felt terrible for even having this thought, as someone who was faithfully married.
It was slowly becoming clear to me that I was not straight.
“I wanted.” So she made it happen. More:
I kept waiting for the moment where I would realize I was no longer gay so I could put a halt to everything. My family was being shattered and I couldn’t stop it. I constantly had to remind myself, “You get one life. This is your life and no one else’s.”
No, Melisa Raney, you’re wrong. When you married and had children, your life was no longer your own exclusively.
One more quote:
I don’t think I would have been able to accept who I am as quickly as I did without the changes in American society in recent years.
I don’t think you would have been able to deny who you were — a wife and a mother, bound in covenant to a family — without the changes in American society in recent years. Your husband did not abuse you. By your own admission, you were in a happy family, a successful family. But you wanted something different — no matter how much it cost your husband and your children.
Here’s the difference: if you had that your happy marriage wasn’t working for you anymore, because you wanted a younger boyfriend, and you walked out on your husband and kids, you would be fairly universally looked down on. Because you destroyed your family for the sake of another woman, you’ve got the major media holding you up as a good example, and the power of American capitalism not only validating, but also valorizing, your choice.
If there were any sense of tragedy here, it might — might — slightly redeem the piece. But there is none. Raney says that everybody’s happy now. What matters was what Raney wanted; everybody else just had to get in line. It was all for the best, you see.
I wonder what her husband and children really think. I know this: if they dissent in any way from the Narrative, they will not be permitted to say so. We know now that many of the children of the divorce revolution in the 1970s came to resent their parents, who convinced themselves (aided by pop culture) that their children would be happier if their parents severed the bond between them, so that they (the parents) could be happier going their own ways.
We never learn. We never, ever learn.
Everything in contemporary American culture — media, consumerism, emerging religion, law, all of it — is designed to smash the traditional family and its natural support, traditional religion. You watch: this ultimate expression of liberalism is going to lead to the destruction of the liberal order.
Every parent knows the ominous feeling of watching one’s child transform a mere mistake into a full-blown disaster.
A similar sense of gloom hovers over Helena Rosenblatt’s recent book, The Lost History of Liberalism. Rosenblatt presents her work as a history of those who have called themselves liberal through the centuries. More accurately described, however, it is her attempt to redefine liberalism’s founding in order to rescue it from the worrisome future toward which it seems to be headed. Liberalism was founded on commitments to duty, patriotism, self-sacrifice, and the other virtues that guide humanity’s use of freedom, she notes. But contemporary liberals are trading their birthright for an untenable pottage of rights talk and anarchic freedom that lacks solid grounding.
Rosenblatt foresees disaster at the end of that path, and her book is a call from within the liberal tradition to turn back. That alone is worth a cheer.
Stuart recounts the history of early liberalism, and how its thinkers recognized that as a political and social project, it depended on a virtuous citizenry to govern itself. More:
Continental liberals believed that republican self-rule required the people to be educated in moral and civic virtue. In fact, at least in the early years, they seem to have agreed on little else. For many years, liberalism in France and Germany was a grab bag of political projects and policies. Still, these liberals always shared a commitment to republican forms of government founded on a civic virtue inculcated in the populace. They distrusted or even opposed pure democracy as little more than mob rule (although they recognized, especially thanks to Tocqueville, the inevitability of democracy’s rise). Only virtuous citizens, they reasoned, could navigate between the extremes of reactionary royalism and radical democratic revolution. A combination of democratic institutions with the more aristocratic emphasis on virtue would ennoble democracy and prevent the return of the exhausted ancien régime.
But how are citizens to be fitted with the virtue that republican government requires? This question brings us to the second important contribution of this book, and its most curious feature. Liberals concluded that the answer to this question was religion—Christianity, to be specific. Not the Christianity of the Catholic Church, which liberals regarded as the problem; and not the Christianity of orthodox Protestants, either: they, too, had often sided against democratic forces during the French Revolution. Early liberals needed a new theology for the new man at the dawn of a new age.
So they invented a form of Christianity that denatured and tamed Christianity. It has now reached its final stage, says Stuart, in Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Read the whole thing.
A society based on nothing but atomized individuals asserting nothing but their rights, and ignoring their duties; of people following what they want, heedless of what they owe to others, is not a society that will last. A society that makes a hero of a woman who watches a YouTube performance and decides to blow up her family’s life is morally insane. But hey, #LoveWins, right?
UPDATE: Reader Axxr:
It’s not just a gay thing. I’m middle-aged, but this all sounds like the trajectory of my relationships in life, and ultimately of my failed marriage, which I tend to believe was undermined by social media in the end.
The question becomes “Are you delivering to me what I believe I deserve?” This is increasingly seen to be the purpose of marriage—a mere “win-win” in which everyone is owed what they believe they deserve. Not even “Are you trying your best to do right by me,” no—you must deliver, and you must deliver precisely what your mate believes that they deserve, whatever that is, because such is “their truth.”
There is no question of mutuality or mutual sacrifice or duty. If not everyone gets what they believe they deserve, it is no longer a “win-win” and *of course* the moral thing to do is to split up so that both can go searching for another “win-win” in which everyone *can* get what they believe they deserve.
And as if that wasn’t shaky enough, social media works very hard, day-in and day-out, to ensure that people believe they deserve more and more—much of it irrational or unrealistic or narcissistic, much of it entirely contrary to any possibility of stable relationship or commitment.
And so it is that these days, everyone deserves complete financial security immediately, full freedom to pursue idiosyncratic sexual whims without limits or even comment, an ideal career (no matter how often this changes, and no matter the financial impact of such changes), a partner who “validates” them no matter what choices they make, with zero hint of criticism or even discussion, etc.
The very concept that marriage or family could ever prevent anyone from doing anything, no matter how small, is seen as the fatal, totalitarian flaw in marriage and family. It is seen as nothing more than an anachronistic mechanism to oppress, to prevent people from “being who they are” at every moment, as this ephemeral quantity evolves, and to place limits on peoples’ ability to “get what they deserve.”
Then when people end up alone and unattached with no one to care for them, rather than question their choices and the entire value edifice, they bitterly bemoan all of those people along the way who failed to give them “what they deserve” and they thus cry out for “justice.”
I grew up in the and ’80s in a lower-middle-class, white neighborhood (struggling, but employed and home-owning) and already by then most of my friends had divorced parents. In my grade in school I knew only of two families—mine and that of one other child—who had both parents living at home.
Since that time, the pressures against marriage and family have grown by many orders of magnitude and though I thought I’d married someone that shared values with my own, that someone found Facebook early on in the marriage just as Facebook was really picking up speed. Suddenly she was “Facebooking” and “resharing” day and night, often articles and other content that clearly attacked and demeaned the life that we had.
Soon, what had been a happy relationship was seen instead to be an “unjust” one in which we were both, apparently, keeping each other prisoner and unjustly “limiting us.” Or whatever.
I don’t see how my children will ever be able to marry and in a way, I’d rather they didn’t. The pain and suffering are terrible.