What’s so hard about fidelity? Senator John Edwards has joined a long list of public officials, both Democrats and Republicans, who have admitted to cheating on their spouses. I suppose Independents do it, too, but who cares? The consensus online seems to be that Edwards’ hypocrisy is what is reprehensible, not the actual betrayal. (I have this weird vision of Edwards answering questions during an interview:
Interviewer: The National Enquirer has reported that you had an affair while your wife was battling cancer. How do you respond to that?
Edwards: Yeah, that’s right. I told Liz about it, and she was… upset, but we got past it.
Interviewer: What impact do you expect news of this affair to have on your political career?
Edwards: I suppose things will be a little rocky for a while, but I think the long-term result will be positive. I mean, look at how the Lewinsky affair played out for Bill Clinton. And he even lied about it.
Somehow I just can’t believe in that vision.) In short, there would have been no occasion for hypocrisy, if he hadn’t cheated in the first place.
So what makes fidelity so hard?
I don’t consider myself especially virtuous. I’m as likely as the next fellow to put myself in the best light (especially when talking to an attractive woman) or let my eyes linger where they shouldn’t when I see a woman wearing less than she should. I know the difference, though, between temptation and sin. No one can avoid temptation. Everyone can avoid sin. It isn’t that hard. You just let yourself imagine the probable consequences of discovery.
So I’m mystified. I don’t know why others find fidelity so hard. Do you?