“The Body & Society” Notes Pt 2: Against Celibate Privacy

Eve Tushnet | 1/24/2018 | Staff
Night987Night987 (Posted by) Level 3
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The heart should be all of one piece. No hidden motives should lurk within it. The believer should face others with a heart as transparent to their needs as it was to the will of God. “Singleness of heart” condensed a warm and eminently sociable ideal. It summed up the moral horizons of the average man. It formed the basis of a morality of solidarity, which stressed unaffected straight dealing and ungrudging loyalty to kin and neighbors. It was a virtue particularly appropriate to the self-reliant and abrasive householders of the small towns and villages of the eastern Mediterranean. … Their most bitter struggle was to control cunning and resentment in their relations with their modest peers.

This is a description of the ideal of “singleness of heart” for married people, householders raising families. Just as you can harm your neighbor by holding back your material possessions from him, you can harm him and your community by harboring–cherishing, cultivating–envy, covetousness, and resentment. You can harm him by dishonesty and impatience.

Today - Ways - Problem - Privacy - Problem

Today we’re struggling to find ways to describe the problem of privacy, the problem of the opaque heart. I think a lot of our talk about “emotional affairs” is really an attempt to describe how it damages a marriage when one spouse creates a private world, a cherished sphere of intimacy and fantasy which isn’t shared transparently with your spouse but is held secret. (That’s what distinguishes “emotional affair” from “devoted friendship,” by the way, although we today have such a hard time recognizing and cultivating nonsexual friendship that these lines get even more blurred than ordinary fallen human nature would make them anyway.) And we don’t even talk about the problem of the privacy and opacity of our financial lives. Would you be ashamed to have your church see your bank...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Eve Tushnet
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