Too Sophisticated for Scandal

When I was a teenager, I knew my friend Toby’s grandparents as gracious, attractive and generous pillars of the community. When Toby shared their story with me we both thought it highly romantic. It seems that Mrs. D. was engaged to a friend of Mr. D. At the engagement party, Mr. D. came to celebrate with his friend and meet the fiancée. Shortly thereafter my friend’s future grandmother called off her betrothal. In only a few weeks, she announced a new one—to Mr. D.

When one of their children repeated the story on the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. D.’s 50th anniversary, it was indeed a charming tale that brought smiles to their children and grandchildren’s faces. Only years later did I stop to think how upset and worried Mrs. D.’s parents must have been and how painful and embarrassing this was for the jilted groom and his family. The scandalous event probably animated neighborhood gossip for many months. Fifty years down the road revealed a happy end, but at the time it would have been perfectly plausible to see this as a catastrophic and immature infatuation.

What does this have to do with the recent French election?

The incoming French president, Emmanuel Macron, has a rather unique marital story. Not only is his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, twenty-four years his senior, but they met when she taught the fifteen year old Emmanuel. At the time she was a married mother of three. The attraction between the two dates from that time.

I have no reason to speculate about the Macron’s ten-year-old marriage or to wish them anything but happiness together. However, I do want to comment on the press coverage of their relationship. First of all, it is interesting that in an age when every wart and whisper about public figures is endlessly highlighted, heading into the French election the American media was inexplicably silent on this slightly unusual marriage. The marriages of President Trump and VP Pence are titillatingly headlined.  The marriages (and divorces) of celebrities are not off limits.  Yet regarding a really unorthodox aspect of the Macron marriage—barely a peep!  Why not? I have a theory about why this might be (as you’ll see, the only exception I came across was Cosmopolitan Magazine), but I’m curious to hear your guesses.

The reaction overseas, though, is truly interesting. The reports from Paris that I’ve seen celebrate the love story. I’m not French, have never been to France and after two years of high school French about the only words I remember are ‘frommage’ and ‘Mercredi.” Countries have different cultures and France has a much more ‘anything goes’ lifestyle than America does. C’est la vie.

The Mirror out of England printed the sentence that led me to write. It said, “The front-runner was just 16 when he vowed to marry Trogneux – a married mum-of-three at the time – and his parents EVEN (emphasis mine) tried to put a stop to the schoolboy love affair…” EVEN – here is where a personal story becomes important to the public square. What exactly are a sixteen year old boy’s parents supposed to do when they realize that he is infatuated with a married teacher who seems fine with the attraction? Trust his maturity and life experience while shrugging their shoulders at her teaching responsibilities, marital and motherhood status?

Cosmopolitan magazine, that portal into sophistication for so many American teenage girls, weighed in with a similarly dismissive comment: “Macron’s parents ACTUALLY (my emphasis)  sent him away from the Amiens, France, high school to a Parisian one after learning of their affections for each other in an attempt to prevent anything furthur from happening…”

What absurd parents! Unless, that is, you actually believe that parents have a responsibility to guide their teenage children and every right to consider something very wrong about a young boy besotted with an older, married teacher who seems to be encouraging his emotions.

We human beings are created in the image of God. That means that we are each unique individuals. Society, on the other hand, must make laws and rules that work for the group. There is an inherent conflict here and a constant tug of war exists between protecting society while respecting the individual.

Now that Mr. Macron has won the election and is seeking a public, official role for his wife, I expect to hear more about his marriage in American publications. So, let’s be clear. More than one American teacher is in jail for having an affair with an under age student. It is often a female teacher and a male student. While I am not implying that the French president-elect and his teacher had an affair, parents as well as citizens whose taxes fund schools are already deeply concerned as to what takes place in many high schools. Celebrating teacher-student romances is an unhealthy cultural step, not an advance.

On a societal level as well as in the message we want to pass on to our children, there’s a world of difference between Mr. and Mrs. D.’s story and that of the Macrons. If the Macron romance becomes today’s cause célèbre, let’s be careful not to forget that.

44 thoughts on “Too Sophisticated for Scandal”

  1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Very well said, Lora–
    Susan and I often discuss the accelerated change we’re experiencing. Why does government push feminism? Wouldn’t you have thought it ought to be neutral? Because government grows and gets fat on tax money. The more people (i.e. women) working the more tax revenue can be collected. A woman making the choice to be a stay-at-home-mom is only raising the next generation; who cares about that-it’s a long time away. But more importantly she is NOT earning money and paying income taxes. So government and its witting and unwitting agents disparage that woman and malign her until embarrassment forces her to leave her children with an illegal immigrant nanny and join the army of citizens working to grow government.

    1. Indeed. As a stay at home mom, I have certainly experienced that pressure. And as far as it goes, I’ve told friends that our government will never help end addiction as long as it is growing much of its bloat from addictive vices like alcohol, gambling, and so on. My state is one seriously arguing for the legalization of marijuana, for instance. Yeah, that’ll be great. It will feel so good knowing our drug taxes will be going to state run addiction recovery programs. (just to be clear for readers, that was sarcasm).

  2. I was somewhere in high school when the Equal Rights Amendment was in high form. I wrote several papers for classes with my unpopular opinion that ERA and other feminist movements were dangerous for various reasons. But even I didn’t quite accept the idea of some anti-ERA voices who declared something to the extent that “Next thing you know, they’ll be making men and women share the same bathrooms!” Honestly, I thought, that would never happen.
    Now we are seeing more and more ‘explorations’ into just how useful sexually active teens/children can be for the predatory adults among us. And know what? I’m not hearing that voice I heard years ago- the ‘that’ll never happen’ voice. I think too many of us sense that someone wants to rip away ALL boundaries. I pray we hold the line.

  3. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

    Dear Kevin–
    We’re not opposed to teenage pregnancy as long as it was preceded by a marriage and followed by a birth.

  4. I work as a hospital chaplain in Texas and meet older adults all the time who been married 40 to 50 years and they married when she was 13, 14, 15 and he was 21-28. They talk about how they needed their parents permission to get married. I hear their stories and often think, in today’s world he would be arrested! All these experience have caused me to pause though and think about cultural societal norms. It seems odd to me, but it may not be so odd after all. The morality is one thing, but the age, position of power, and all those issues are another. I think in bible times there were arranged marriages of 13 year olds to 30 year old men? Weird to me, but who knows? Deciding what is right or wrong probably should not be based on cultural norms?

  5. Dear Mrs Lapin,

    The question on the last podcast was whether or not we want you to join in on future sessions, my answer is YES please come and do the show together. Your husband is lucky to have you as his wife. I like how you don’t miss a thing. I wish our educators were like you, highly intelligent, deeply caring, having high moral standards and expecting that from themselves as well as others and enthousiastic about whatever they do. You come off as greatful for being able to do all you do. It is infectious.

    Kind regards


    Ps I laugh so hard whenever you correct sir Lapin and he says ‘yes ofcourse’ and I can see your honest face trying to act like you believe he did. Between the two of you, you have at least 10 encyclopedia memorized, please do a podcast on how you remember so much facts!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear H-
      Mrs Lapin and I celebrated our anniversary yesterday and she is visiting Boston with our daughter so I will respond to you. I’ll tell her you want her back. (So do I!)
      I know I am lucky to have her–no argument from me. I feel very grateful to be able to do what I do. You’re right.
      Happy we make you laugh

      1. Dear sir Lapin,

        Thank you for your kind, heartfelt reply. I hope you won’t have to miss mrs Lapin for too long I believe she is a sunshine in the family home. I understand that she likes some girls time with your daughter, I would like to steal my mom away from my dad sometimes but so far every mission has failed. Dad has proven himself to be an strong sparring partner in the fight for who gets to have mum around.

        Sir God bless your sunny household, thank you for passing my greetings and I wish you a lovely day. Your combined genuine enthusiasm is a delight for the soul.

        Kind regards,


        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Right here, you will very soon read her fascinating account of her visit to Boston

  6. Teacher finally gets pupil she always had a crush on!
    And now, as adults, that student is an authority figure. The leader of a country that also routinely harshly prosecutes teachers who engage in sexual relationships with their underage pupils.
    Ironic, no?

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Tal–
      I’m always intrigued by the inconsistencies inherent in progressivism or in any system that replaces reality with dogma

  7. Once, many years ago, while eating lunch with my coworkers, one of them, a Frenchman, was obviously enjoying recent reports of a sex scandal involving a British politician. Thinking about the then current French president who frequently appeared in public with his mistress and their child, I replied, “A sex scandal in French politics is an impossibility.”
    My friend thought about that for a moment, smiled, and answered, “You’re right.”
    Nations, as well as the people who inhabit them do have different moral standards. Historically, on this kind of question, we could look at Europe today and see where our country will be in a decade or two. However, I think that time lag is shrinking.
    Then there is the question of the media’s double standard on how they report, or their failure to report the sexual peccadilloes of liberal politicians and their conservative adversaries. — But that is a subject for another day.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Henry–
      Customer service and sex scandals are both impossible in France, and both for not disconnected reasons.

  8. We are lacking a lot of detail, and we surely don’t want to descend to the level of the “drive-by” media. Susan admirably mentions that the current marriage has lasted ten years and wishes them well; someone else notes that Mrs. Macron stated that at first, she was not at all in favor of the relationship. Was the first marriage already on unsound ground? Macron’s parents did send him away to school to try and let the whole affair cool down. Perseverance is a desirable quality, depending on what one’s goal is. When and how did the first marriage end? We can solidly support a general principle and still acknowledge the need for an occasional exception, which is why we have judges. The real issue here seems to be the widespread double standard for political opponents. Thanks, Susan, for raising our attention and awareness.

    1. Thank you for understanding, Deb. My biggest point is exactly what you said, that the fact that something may work for an individual doesn’t mean it should be celebrated for the group.

  9. Truth is always stranger than fiction. I have no desire to travel to France–never have.
    Thank you for your intelligent commentary.

    1. I used to wish to travel afar, Ruth, and some of our children have real wanderlust, but I’m pretty happy to stay home or on our well trodden paths these days.

  10. Adriana Mandon

    Dear Susan,
    America is a contradiction in so many levels. I agree with Mark about the French culture and I have been in France and I agree that French people don’t think is their business the president private life or anyone’s life for that matters (Americans think that what people do in their private life reflects in what they do publically, not always it’s true) but I find that the left can be very prude, they want to marry the homosexuals (sanctity of marriage) so they may give them more of a dignify status and not confront the true about the high level of promiscuity, also they want to let them adopt children so they may look like a “family”, they want to erase the stigma of belonging to a gender so the ones who feel “confuse” don’t feel exclude and can share the same facilities, also the transgender are the ones who more defend “to be a woman” or “to be a man” thing that don’t make the LGB community very happy, but a boy of 17 years old who falls for a young teacher or not so young that is a sin, of course the teacher is the one who has to set the boundaries, also girls fall for their teachers all the time and it is a big deal too. You would think that the transgressive love story of the new French president would be of a lot of gossip in the American media, but this probe the bias of the Media, the hypocrisy, the same hypocrisy who silenced the support of H.C. for her husband and his escapades and also the business with men of countries who allow those men to marry girls. In America we have the puritans in one hand and the men who visit or belong to a website that connect marry people so they can cheat in their spouses, I read 36 millions customers (I don’t think is so high, but still), we have an association who support and defends the love between men and kids and they have their meetings almost openly, intercourse starts very early in America comparing with other countries, abortion is legal too, human traffic also happen here although Americans like to think that that happens only in third world countries, and American men hire prostitutes Asians or from Russia knowing that these girls are being held hostage after being brought here under false pretenses and dreams of become famous models, or travel to Thailand to be with girls without the trouble of the law, and the drugs that are consumed here, legal and illegal, just because we can afford it. So, yes. We try hard to keep ourselves civilized, but there are so many things going on here as in any another place, we have lost the individual moral compass and it has been replaced for our Media that dictates what we must think, say or feel, at some point Americans, in general have started to trust more in the associations, the institutions, the news, the tv, the internet, than in themselves and their common sense, and then the Media took over easily.

    1. Adriana, as you describe the wrong things that take place at the end of your comment, it makes me wonder when they will stop being considered wrong per your first part of the comment. Sin is a part of humanity, but when we can’t even acknowledge something as a sin we sow great confusion.

  11. I said to my wife after the election result that it was between two godless candidates for a godless country. God have mercy on France.

  12. Years ago a male friend of my mother’s told me that it was common when he grew up for boys to have a crush on their teachers and even have affairs with them. I suppose it was as common as Rabbi Lapin once said that his relatives married each other. I think the outrage is because times has changed. Boys were considered grown at age 15 and girls at age 13. i have my mother’s and grandmother’s birth certificate and on each one their mother’s were 14 years old when they were born. They were married at age 13. I couldn’t imagine being married at such a young age but I can tell you that the little boy I had a crush on way back then lasted a very long time.

    We don’t know how Mrs Macron tried to deal with Mr Macron infatuation we weren’t there. However, in the article I read she said she thought it was ridiculous and tried to discourage it. She doesn’t have a history, at least that the media is reporting of seducing young boys. So, I have no reason to think she encourage the behavior. I would think that she talked with him to be nice because I believe that is what a reasonable person would have done.

    Obviously, the attraction from his point of view wasn’t infatuation. Mr. Macron was pressuring her and not the other way around. An affair didn’t take place until after he was of age. In my opinion and moral ethics Mrs. Macron was wrong for allowing him to put a wedge between her marriage. On the other hand, temptation isn’t temptation if you’re not tempted by the temptation. Judging by the article I read it doesn’t appear that she was tempted when he was 15 years old but after he had grown up and was still pursuing her that she was vulnerable. By now she is over 40 and perhaps, going through her own mid-life crisis. In my experience temptation may always be with me but when I’m strong I can keep it is in the distant background however, it waits for that sweet moment when my resistance is down and then pounce on me. I believe Mrs Macron was pulled into this relationship because she didn’t have a health FEAR of the situation nor the determination of this young man. I hope the French people don’t make the same mistake.

    One thing about this man he is determine to get whatever he set his heart on and judging from the way his life has gone thus far I would NEVER underestimate him. In my opinion, Mr. Macron is another Obama and he has the will and determination to turn Europe into whatever he wants. In my opinion, if he raises to the head of the European Union then he has the ability to be dictator. He is younger than the other globalist and perhaps smarter too.

    Everyone is dumping on Mrs Macron and I can understand why but , just because you’re the oldest doesn’t mean you’re the wisest. What I can’t understand is the double standard. Trump current wife is 24 years his junior but nobody made a fuss about her age just her nude photo’s. And, even though Melanie’s previous lifestyle was more than questionable conservatives still voted for him.
    Trump himself has had two divorce and one we know was from infidelity to his first wife with his three children therefore, I don’t think we have room to talk about anyone. We voted for Trump because of what he promised and we thought he was the only candidate who could be Hillary. Hillary had to be defeated at all cost. If we are willing to give a pass to Trump then why aren’t we willing to give this woman a pass? No article has said that she had sex with him at fifteen. Although, many others have implied. I believe she said, it was three to four years after that therefore, he was well within the law. I believe France’s law for sexual consent is 16 or 17 years old.

    I, for one is very glad to see the tables reversed for a change. Even Rabbi Lapin make older women feel like life is over for a relationship unless they take someone on a respirator, with one leg in the ground and another on a banana peel. No this isn’t the normal but it is more normal than most people think. I don’t see a lot of young women running towards men their grandfather’s age either unless they have money and lots of it!

    1. Marie, you make an interesting point about Macron’s tenacity and ambition. I admit to not following his story closely and perhaps it needs more attention. My husband’s podcast that will be out this weekend talks about leaders – both men and women – who do not have children. A surprising number of European leaders do not. That is, of course, the major difference between older men and younger women and the reverse. Like you, I find Mr. Trump’s personal life disturbing and, like you, I voted for him because I found everything about Mrs. Clinton even more disturbing. We don’t always have the choices we would like to have.

  13. Imho, and to mix metaphors, you have hit a nail in a huge iceberg. That the media, in France or here, or anywhere in the West, would pooh-pooh the basic wrongness of an older woman in an authority position welcoming the “romantic” advances of an adolescent boy, and sniff at the boy’s parents doing all they could to protect their son, is a symptom of the growing wrongness in secular society’s whole approach to sexuality. It is almost as though secular society is seeking the way of the lemming, racing toward the precipice. We condone homosexuality. We applaud Bruce Jenner’s “courage” in going public with his transgender angst and subjecting the public at large to the process of his transformation from man to pseudo woman. We teach our children, practically from the cradle, that all this perversion from God’s standards is “normal”. We, are now at a point where young people are so confused they cannot simply look in a mirror and figure out their sex. Why did this happen? Simple. Western society has abandoned worship of the one true God and His absolute standards. Man has instead been worshipping at his own altar. Unless we repent our blasphemy and return to the worship of the Creator and Sovereign Lord, society at large will end up worse than Sodom and Gomorrah and the Lord will pour forth His judgment on a world beyond redemption. You may wonder why I say “we” here. It is because even though individually we may be appalled, too few have spoken out against what is happening and too many of us have remained silent. To the extent we have failed to object and stand for God’s principles, we are complicit with the secular society in the downfall of Western civilization.

    1. Joyce, do you think that the Trump election was as much about this upending of societal norms as economics? Could that be the ‘people’ speaking up, though more needs to be done?

      1. I think for many, perhaps even a majority, of those who voted for President Trump it was indeed about more than economics. While he is not anyone’s idea of a spiritual leader, even during the campaign he advocated for Judeo-Christian values in a way no one else did. In other venues, others have seen in him a new Cyrus, opening the way for people of faith -whether Jewish or Christian – to return to the ancient paths. Regardless of whether that is his role, one thing is sure, his ascendency to the presidency has stirred up spiritual warfare in the heavenlies over this nation at an unprecedented level. The culture wars are not culture wars at all but spiritual battles over the heart and soul of this nation and President Trump, despite his flaws or because of them, is the catalyst because he refuses to conform or be politically correct. Elsewhere, he has been compared to a wrecking ball aimed directly at political correctness. I happen to agree with these assessments. However, I also believe that his presidency will not have a lasting impact unless people of faith humble themselves, repent of their sins, and turn back to the Lord. Moreover, I believe this may be the last opportunity for us to do so. If we fail, I believe the United States is finished.

  14. Susan, I usually agree with you, but in this case I can’t.

    I’m afraid it is a bit of a Hollywood and pop culture stereotype to characterize French culture as “anything goes.” The French middle classes are about as rigid and conventional as any on earth, and often more so. In many ways America has a much more “anything goes” attitude than does France, except in a few areas of life.

    I have no opinion about Mr. Macron’s marriage one way or the other, and I admit it is an issue I have not followed closely, but is it really a “cause célèbre”? My hunch is that the French are simply more inclined to think that whom Mr. Macron is married to, and the nature of their marriage, is their own business. It is true that the French are more easy-going about that side of life, at least publicly. I think Mr. Macron won the election more because of other aspects of his background, and his stated views and intentions regarding various political issues, such as the EU, immigration, the economy, etcetera, but not because of who his wife is. (Time will tell if the voters made the right decision or not.)

    1. Mark, I wasn’t suggesting that Mr. Macron won the election because of his unusual marital story. I was objecting to the attitude that his parents were weird or controlling for not thinking that their sixteen year old son’s involvement with a married teacher was problematic. Maybe it won’t make the papers in the U.S. at all (though after I wrote my piece, I did see that CNN had just come out with something about it). However, if it does make the papers here, I would hate to see it being held up as a role model of a great love story.

      1. Susan, my mistake. I had the impression you were saying that Macron’s marriage was a significant reason why he won.

        I should have added earlier that according to the opinion polls in France, the main reason people voted for Macron was to prevent Marine Le Pen from winning. (I’m only the messenger.) Time will also tell if that was a smart strategy.

        I can’t help but wonder if the American media hasn’t paid much attention to Macron’s marriage—aside from their typical low interest in the rest of the world—because they are so caught up in their fanatical effort to destroy the presidency of Donald Trump.

        1. Not a problem, Mark. If I expressed something unclearly then I’m sure you’re not the only one to have missed what I meant to say. Yes, the American media is obsessed with destroying Mr. Trump and it would be hard to attack his marriage, as they enjoy doing, while praising Mr. Macron’s.

  15. Like ooh-la-la, Ms. Susan! Since you have never been to Viva-la-France, I suppose it is left painfully to me to advise that in Europe, les liaisons outside the realm of holy padlock are more recognized as ‘the norm’ or at least more accepted or less ‘chastisable’ by society. If you think France is badly infected by liaisons outside, I invite you to look at the other Mediterranean nations. Do not mistake me, I remain in agreement with you, that violations of marriage, as a sacred covenant with the Almighty, act as mighty ax-strokes against the trunk of society’s tree of life.

    For one thing, the conviction that post-marital affairs are OK-to-de-rigueur serves to set in stone that:

    1. Promises to the Almighty mean nothing;
    2. The man is entirely at the mercy of his drives and is not answerable to any Higher Authority, and
    3. The woman is quite the inferior creature vilified by The Prophet, a despicable courtesan at the mercy of her lower urges and emotional tsunamis.

    Like you, I fervently hope that none of Items 1-3 are true. Of course, our degenerate media, having become the organ of socialist narrative, will sweep Macron’s marital infelicities under the rug, only to impute and broadcast Mr. Trump’s ‘Russian connection’ every time the poor guy uses Russian dressing on his salad. Our mainstream media has made a pitiable travesty of itself. Founding Father Benjamin Franklin with his Poor Richard’s Almanack dedicated to airing the truth in grass-roots journalism must be spinning in his grave.

    Shalom Shabbat!

    1. I rather like our American ways, James, as do you. That’s one of the reasons that politicians who hold out Europe as a role model don’t get my vote.

  16. Perhaps it is long past time for we – Who call ourselves Children of God- to stop accepting – by our SILENCE – that which is an affront to God Almighty?

    1. Karen, I think we, especially adults who have children in our lives, have to be very aware of the normalization of deviancy.

  17. It’s as sick and demented as Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, dating his deceased brother’s wife. That too was never widespread in the press. What makes me think if Bristol Palin were Hunter Biden, it would have been front page news…

  18. Susan,

    I think the main reason why this story is not a big deal here is because I think most people in America assume that the French are pretty liberal when it comes to their sexuality. France like the most of Europe is pretty secular. Also I’m pretty sure France’s previous prime minister was having an affair with an actress during his reign. Macron, one could say, had a low bar to reach.

    I also would argue that the main reason why Donald Trump’s marriages or Bill Clinton’s infidelities mattered to the U.S. public is because they portrayed themselves as men who had Christian values during their campaigns. What people hate the most more then anything are hypocrites. Notice how no one really talked about Bernie Sanders, a secular Jewish man, previous divorce.

    1. You are right, Phillip, that the cultures differ greatly. You make a good point about hypocrisy.

  19. When we read news articles where the facts indicate there is such a disparity, I am compelled to read between the lines because just as you have pointed out, a teacher having an affair with their student has become an all too common event. So I’ll go with my gut on this one and say that you are probably right about what you are thinking. No doubt the media isn’t pumping out any negative drivel over it because after all, Mr. Macron is Globalist and a champion of the Left.

    1. Mark, my question was not why this wasn’t front page news in the American media – I get that. But I was surprised that I didn’t see almost any mention of it and I do think it was because this wasn’t going to play well in Peoria, as they say.

  20. Stephanie Clare Hart

    My first reaction to this marriage is that there was something wrong with him, and her, and that thought has stayed with me until today. It’s creepy. If this was an older male teacher and a younger female student the teacher would have ended up in jail. Not good. The manlet Macron broke up a marriage. Sorry, I can’t get around this.

    1. Stephanie, as Philip points out, France does have an entirely different cultural outlook than America. The basis of modern France included an anti-religious bias. I’m not sure that older male teachers with younger female students are a problem in France – I just don’t know.

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