Our August 23 cover story on monogamy and Dan Savage has gotten a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. Benjamin Dueholm offers a nuanced take on the ways the popular sex columnist is beating pastors at their own game--and the ways Savage's ethical worldview falls short. Some readers seem too stuck on the first point--"the Christian Century believes we should be instructed by an advice columnist," crows Joe Carter at First Things--to hear Dueholm out on the second.
Recently, I learned that a young couple I know had filed for divorce after 18 months of marriage. By my calculations, they spent more time planning the wedding than being married.
Eighty years ago marital counseling was a brand new profession. Today millions of married couples and 40 percent of all engaged couples receive counseling.
I noticed a disheveled and unshaven man in his early fifties a few barstools down from me. Something about him seemed uninviting. Soon an attractive 40-something woman arrived in a crisp little black dress and perched on the stool next to him. She seemed nervous.
"You can be a minister. Just don’t marry one,” I heard myself telling a little girl in my church, and then wondered where that came from. I suspect that I meant it as a compliment to my husband, who was standing nearby. Perhaps I had been short-tempered, as I sometimes am on Sunday mornings, so the comment was my way of saying that I know it is not always easy to be married to a minister.
Early on in our marriage, Karen began to decide that even if she believed in some kind of God, she could not accept basic Christian teachings. The faith claims that Christians make about Jesus—about him being the Son of God—seemed unbelievable to her. The Bible is just another book, she began to conclude, and so we cannot grant it any particular authority. She wondered whether she could continue to attend church. This stirred a bit of panic in me. She was not just my wife. She was the minister’s wife.