Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Emotional Chastity

Kathy Shaidle denounces the Oprahfication of culture and I think she's right. I remember in the eighties watching the Oprah Winfrey show and learning to let it all hang out emotionally. People would share their most intimate secrets with millions of viewers, as if we dignified our pain and our negative experiences by making them public. Martial issues were hashed out on t.v. when they should have been dealt with privately and confidentially in a safe space. I have nothing against learning more about martial issues, but using a couple's experience and pain to expose them may not have been the best way of doing it.

This is why we need this advice:

A campus minister once told me of a concept called, “emotional chastity”, or the idea that there’s really no reason to share certain kinds of information with people you don’t know well or have a tenuous relationship with. I’ve been at parties where a guest whom I barely know will start telling me intimate details about her personal life. This information is inappropriate without a larger context with which to understand her. In other words, certain kinds of relationships come with understandings and privileges that others don’t.

I also think that valuing this spousal privilege is important to upholding the dignity of marriage in the public square. Marriage needs to be set apart and elevated as an institution that fundamentally structures our society. It sends the message that there are privileges that come with pledging one’s life to another and sticking with it for life. It makes marriage the kind of relationship that society recognizes as elevated and respected. If we don’t treat marriage with a special sort of reverence in our own lives, why should the opponents of marriage?

Now, obviously, if there are problems obviously they should be discussed in an appropriate forum and it is of my personal opinion that the occasional discrete conversation with a trusted girlfriend is fine. If we want to promote the importance of marriage, however, I think we should all make an effort to uphold the dignities of our own individual marriages by giving our spouses a trusted environment to love.