During the much-covered Congressional race in Georgia, the Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff became engaged to Alisha Kramer, his girlfriend of twelve years. The fact that the engagement came swiftly after Ossoff’s personal life presented itself as an electoral liability raised questions about his motivations. But Mark Bauerlein cautions against this sort of cynicism, and turns instead to the question of why this young politician saw no need for marriage until now:
Many upwardly-mobile liberal couples just can’t understand what’s the big deal about marriage. I’ve known many of them (and was one myself long ago). They are responsible, hard-working, law-abiding people, and they believe in working partnerships. Why go through a religious ceremony to sanctify it? They can do that by themselves. . . .
[So] let’s not overdo the necessity of sincerity. If it takes social pressure for individuals in America today to do the right thing, let’s congratulate them when they proceed with it, even though their motivation may be external.
Liberalism maintains that behavior must originate from within; freedom consists in the capacity to satisfy individual needs and desires. But the damaging results of that definition of liberty are everywhere around us, forcing any open-minded person to acknowledge the value of social constraints, especially those derived from religious doctrine.
A healthy society constrains the demands of the heart and the body with the commands of God and reason. This will always involve conflict and compromise. To require that resulting behaviors be ever sincere and straightforward is to press human beings toward a purity that belies their fallen nature. In the Ossoff case, from what I can see, a metaphorical shotgun marriage looks like the right outcome, a fulfillment of the commitment the candidate has shown to his girlfriend for so long.