March 31, 2017
If the worst thing people can say about Mike Pence is that he's a good husband, then he's accomplished something very few politicians have. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age when marriage is rarely revered -- in definition or practice -- so the idea that the vice president would take intentional steps to protect his own has apparently come as a shock to some of the elitist media. Probably no one was more surprised by the attention the Pences' personal boundaries are receiving than the woman who wrote the story in the first place: the Washington Post's Ashley Parker. It was just a small portion of a generous profile piece on the vice president's wife, but it soon turned into the biggest storyline in Washington.
"Mike Pence never dines alone [with] a woman not his wife, nor does he attend events [with] alcohol [without] his wife," Parker tweeted as one of the many sneak-peaks about her piece. Social media lit up with scorching comments about the couple's decision -- one that most of us would agree could stand to be emulated in this city. The Pence-bashing caught the attention of the media, who seemed just as surprised as the rest of us at the attention Mike was getting for showing his marriage the respect it deserved. To some, like the New York Times's Nate Cohn, it pointed to the great gulf in today's society. "The response to Pence's unwillingness to be alone with women is, from my [point of view], the most surprising and eye-opening cultural divide in a while."
With tweets too insulting to repeat, liberals accused the vice president of everything from misogyny to sexual compulsion. These days, I suppose the simplest morality is the most confounding for liberals. I've known Mike for 20 years, and I can tell you that his marriage and family have been a consistent priority before he was even a member of Congress. When he was elected to the U.S. House, he intentionally moved his family here to DC so they would be close -- a choice some politicians, Mollie Hemingway points out, probably regret not making. "Many folks on the Left," David French writes, "find this entire line of thinking absurd. They don't see men and women as ‘men and women' (what is gender anyway?) but as ‘people.' ...So [to them] it's thus strange and sexist to argue that men and women can't live and work side-by-side in any number of close and intense circumstances without causing sexual tension and drama."
That doesn't mean Christians never succumb to temptation, but it does mean they have a greater awareness of it. What the Pences have done -- out of respect not just for each other but for his female staffers -- is create an extra line of defense against the weaknesses of human nature. Not only is that admirable, it's advisable. "He sounds like he's a smart man who understands that infidelity is something that threatens every marriage and must be guarded against..." Hemingway writes. "Pence's smart tactics for avoiding the kind of marital failure that could destroy him, his wife, their family, and the lives of those around them [shouldn't be mocked -- they should be commended]!"
And Karen isn't the only one who benefits from this prudence. So do Americans, who have been conditioned to expect sexual scandal in Washington. Mike's personal values show the utmost esteem for his family and the office of the vice president. It's a tragic commentary on our culture that something as sensible as not having one-on-one dinners with women is scoffed as antiquated or old-fashioned. As usual, the Left doesn't want guardrails on the road of life; they want more ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. In today's world when some on the Left can hardly wait to celebrate the down fall of another "moralizer," even the appearance of wrongdoing can be devastating.
More than anything, this reveals the outright hostility toward religious freedom in America. The Left sees this as the foolishness of faith. They think it's okay for a pastor to have this rule, but not a public figure or a businessman. But where do you draw the line for living and working according to your beliefs? Secularists want us to shed our values when we're outside the four walls of the church. And yet those values are almost always in the best interest of society as a whole. Fidelity is one of the greatest weapons for protecting the family, which -- as much as liberals despise it -- is still the cornerstone of civilization.
When a marriage ends, it doesn't just affect one home, it affects several. So while risking disgrace and ruin may be an acceptable option for the Left, the Pences choose wisdom. And in a nation starved for role models, we should congratulate them for it.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.