Vice President Mike Pence has caused controversy by saying he does not eat alone with women other than his wife and he does not drink alcohol outside of her presence. Me, I thought the second claim was the weird one. I never want to eat with other women if I have a partner but not drinking with the boys? That is another thing.
What about the dining business then? Firstly, I want to note a peculiar trend of people describing their own circumstances and then being attacked as if they had demanded that everyone else adopt them. Pence said these were his arrangements, not that they should be universal. Is it not conservatives who find it difficult to live and let live? Get off his back.
People who have mocked Pence underestimate temptation – not just sexual temptation, which, in our pathetic culture, is all we have heard about, but romantic temptation. Marriage, I suspect (as someone who has never been there) is to some extent reliant on people not just being in love with their husbands or wives but repressing those parts of themselves that could love anybody else, or, indeed, even imagine loving anybody. I do not think I am projecting when I claim that spending time with people of the opposite sex can make this more difficult, and if Vice President Pence believes it would for him I think he is commendable.
Traditionalists should have to courage to admit that lasting monogamous relationships are far from easy or ideal. If they were then Britain and the United States would have not have one in two marriages ending in divorce, with far more people going separate ways and never being married. All couples are different and will have different boundaries but at the very least it is more respectable to be overcautious than to end up boffing interns in the Oval Office – still less sending naked selfies to teenage women.