Fallen Rep. Mark Souder, a Republican from Indiana, is just the latest excuse to throw poor abstinence under a bus full of condoms. Salon.com's Alex Pareene wrote about Souder's unseemly tryst with a female staffer - who was not his wife - under the headline, "Abstinence Proselytizer Mark Souder Regrets Nothing." For Pareene, the fact that Souder supported abstinence education is apparently an important thread of the story line.
But why? Granted, the promotional video of Souder and his mistress advocating abstinence is a delightfully vivid and embarrassing twist of irony. But Souder's infidelity, and his inability to abstain from having extramarital sex, has nothing at all to do with abstinence education.
I say this is stupid because abstinence is a great deal more difficult than faithfulness. There are many, many millions of people who observe, at the minimum, "serial monogamy," restricting their sexuality for just one person, or at least just one person at a time. Going without sex entirely is a great deal harder. Souder's inability to restrain himself and to limit his sexuality to just one person shows us that abstinence is an unrealizable ambition, even among those who announce, with great zeal and conviction, that they can do it. Souder's infidelity has absolutely everything to do with abstinence.
The problem that right-wingers have constantly had with their lecturing us progressives on sexuality is that they're committed to an impossible ideal. An ideal that I'm not even sure is actually healthy.