Just so you know, I'll be following Douthat's post one for one until he changes the subject just because he seems to be in some ways vocalizing thoughts I've had inside for a long time. But also pushing those thoughts further putting my feelings into words I myself have had trouble vocalizing. And every time I read Douthat's posts lately, I just want to say, amen.
His latest post is actually a rebuttal to a conservative criticism.
"The main objective of any serious social conservative, in the end, should be to restore a particular sexual ideal among heterosexuals, not just to forestall the redefinition of the institution of marriage to include gays. The goal should be a world where the struggle to defend marriage is understood primarily as a struggle against divorce and out-of-wedlock births and premarital promiscuity, and not just a world where the law offers a particular distinction to Newt Gingrich’s third marriage that it doesn’t afford Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi. "
"And if all that social conservatives can ever hope to accomplish is to keep homosexual couples from getting marriage licenses, then there’s a case to be made for living with the public redefinition of the institution, taking the older ideal private, and trying to rebuild a thicker culture of marriage from the ground up."
And Sullivan I think would largely agree with this conclusion:
"Ross, I think, is particularly worried about monogamy in this context - because it is so unnatural a state for most of us. The threat to monogamy, of course, is not universally - but largely - a function of testosterone and evolutionary biology. And the heterosexual marriage ideal offers social status to males to stick to one woman for the sake of children (and his wife)."
"Of course, actual real life-long monogamy is relatively rare, especially if you take into account pre-marital sex. And therefore, the ideals of monogamy and hypocrisy are deeply entwined. But the social conservative will be fine with some measure of hypocrisy as a concession to human nature as long as the norm is enforced. I know of no more sophisticated treatment of this than Jon Rauch's here and most acutely here."
So, what I don't want to see in America is a continuation of the cultural civil war, where both sides set the parameters of their argument, neither willing to concede one iota on any of it. What I do want to see is ways in which both sides can find common ground and then from that common ground we can define policy and shape our culture to build something that improves society.
I think finding ways to increase monogamy, decrease divorce and sexual promiscuity would be one obvious place to look. Certainly, those ideals should not be controversial.