The Pro-Family Irony of Dan Savage

The Pro-Family Irony of Dan Savage November 2, 2012
Image Credit: Better Than Bacon via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Recently The Atlantic did a write up on Dan Savage, one of America’s most influential homosexuals. Savage is a popular sex columnist and has written books and been featured on almost every big news outlet. But, despite his open homosexuality, Savage takes an interestingly uncommon approach to family & parenting:

Savage promotes the nuclear family unit because he believes that it is a healthy model for everybody: gay couples, straight couples, children. … Savage says, “It’s really straight guys who get the bum rap. The way straight people have redefined marriage, and the way they define sexuality, it’s really unrealistic about male sexuality.”

And while most of what Dan Savage says regarding the “sexual freedom and liberation” that is sweeping Western society is worthy of criticism, he does, in a peculiar way, enact healthy family practices:

And soon enough Savage had a lot in common with the average straight guy. He is a breadwinner in a fairly traditional marriage, with a son and a stay-at-home spouse… [His] heart clearly lies with the two-parent family with children.

Savage, despite being a product of a sinful society that increasingly promotes disordered sexuality, seems to be drawn towards the monogamous family unit almost instinctively. Despite being a strange place for Christians to pull wisdom from, it is an important and pronounced sign of the very real Image of God that is stamped on the souls of men and women, even those who seem as far away from God’s law as possible. And while I wouldn’t necessarily advise that anyone listen to advice on sexual matters from Dan Savage, I would like to think that God is ironically glorified here. In that one of the most trailblazing anti-christian thinkers in American culture is finding rest, support and purpose in an institution that God designed to make Himself known in; the covenantal family (or something designed to resemble it).

Savage is just further evidence that God’s “eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, since the creation of the world’ (Romans 2:20) and that even in the darkest cultures, the Imago Dei must and does come through, even if it is shrouded in irony.

Also see: Dan Savage “Bullies” Christians.

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  • Savage, despite being a product of a sinful society that increasingly promotes disordered sexuality, seems to be drawn towards the monogamous family unit almost instinctively.

    To be accurate, you’d have to replace “monogamous” with “two person.” Savage is not in favor of monogamy. He believes that as long as the couple is open about what they are doing, sexual infidelity is something that should be encouraged.

  • As the author of this article makes the, apparently startling revelation, that many LGBT families have kids, one wonders how they can continue to wage financial war against those children by denying their parents same-sex partner benefits.

  • I agree with Joe, Savage is not monogamous in his relationship but otherwise good article. Thanks Nick.

  • Umm

    Since when is the nuclear family a creation of (your Christian) God? That’s a pretty big leap.

  • Foggen

    Savage is in favor of whatever level of monogamy a couple is comfortable with. He’s just skeptical that strict monogamy is compatible with everyone, which seems accurate.

    I wonder if, having backhandedly endorsed Savage’s family values, Nick Rynerson could now understand how marriage for gay people would in fact promote social order and morality. After all it does, as we read here, promote “healthy family practices”.

  • Brent

    Dan is not really pro God. If you listen to his podcasts he is very critical of the Catholic Church.

    The irony of you quoting the bible in support of him is humor and proof that you are trying to spin his popularity in your favor. He also does not tell gay couples to be like his family . Lol

  • Jere

    Of course, Dan Savage is critical of the Catholic Church. Anyone who can string a thought together in his brain would and should be critical of the Catholic Church, an organization that has much to answer for over many millenia. But being critical of the Church is not the same thing as being anti-God. The Church is a creation of (and is made up of) man.

  • trailrunnr

    “Dan is not pro God” because he is “critical of the Catholic church”. How confused that is. Last I looked the Catholic church is not God. I am pro God, no one is more pro God than me. But I too am critical of the Catholic church.

  • James K

    “Dan is not really pro God. If you listen to his podcasts he is very critical of the Catholic Church.”

    Considering the Church’s systematic mishandling of the abuse scandal for decades (if not longer), I think the criticism is warranted.

    Dan is critical primarily of a self-professed “literal, fundamentalist” reading of Scripture that takes the passages on homosexuality at face value while spinning all the other passages on slavery, genocide and divorce to mean whatever one happens to want them to mean.

    One common response to these issues is “The Bible doesn’t endorse slavery … it’s a misinterpretation” or “It’s taking the Bible out of context”. Maybe, but the reality is that this “misinterpretation” was the standard interpretation accepted by Christendom for centuries from the early apostles and church fathers all the way to the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention. Rather than admit that we’ve come to different conclusions about the morality of slavery after the Enlightenment than what Scripture teaches, we just insist that Scripture means something *other* than what it so plainly says.

    That’s the type of common practice he likes to point out, one which seems to so infuriate fundamentalists.

  • Andrew

    Actually you SHOULD listen to his advice on sexual matters. At it’s root Dans advice is about how couples can be more compatible, because sexual compatibility and happiness is one part of the glue that keeps relationships together under the inevitable stress of life. We are not naturally monogamous for 50 years as a species, it takes work to stay together for the long haul.

  • BCasey

    The bible was written by Man.
    Any opinion I’ve ever heard or read about regarding Dan Savage, or anything at all, is the opinion of Man.

  • David in Houston

    You do realize that you are denigrating gay people when you refer to Dan as an open homosexual? Homosexual is a clinical biological term. I don’t refer to straight people as living an openly heterosexual lifestyle. That would be an insult. If you expect any level of polite discourse, you should refer to Dan as a gay man.

    As for homosexuality being a “product of a sinful society” that promotes “disordered sexuality”, decades of scientific research (and common sense) have proven that sexual orientation is innate. People do not choose their sexual orientation. I have yet to meet a straight person that had to make a conscience choice to be straight. Gay people are not suddenly a new phenomenon. There have been gay people throughout history: Alexander the Great, Socrates, King David, Nero, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and on and on…
    I doubt that Socrates or Michelangelo were a product of a sinful society, or do pious people say that about every generation?

  • Lauren

    Despite the fact that this article is condescending and self-righteous, it actually makes a decent point. Guess what? Gays are not out to destroy the institution of marriage. How can we discourage monogamy (though I agree with others that monogamy is not what Dan advocates) and stable families for American children? As a Christian and a Catholic, I don’t understand the constant bigotry and bullying of homosexuals by so-called Christians. “Love one another.”

  • tatararabuga

    The fact that you are seeing the “stamp of God” on the soul of Dan (and LGBT people) is proof that they are not at all far away from God’s law.

    His family doesn’t only ‘resemble’ a template, his family is exatly that.

  • s mcnamee

    Re: Dan Savage: “…even those who seem as far away from God’s law as possible. ”
    Wow. Can you say ‘back-handed insult?’
    Just so arrogant, how well these people know what god wants for the world…

  • Andrew

    This is the weirdest thing I’ve read all day.

  • Arwen

    Agreed. The weirdest thing I’ve read all day. Using someone else’s family structure that is based on an open relationship dynamic as an example for “God’s way” just shows how eagerly religionists will grasp at whatever straw that might possibly verify the correctness of their own perspective, not that you are right. *Sigh* Human beings are so dumb most of the time.

  • Nick, despite the usual hordes of trolls and troglodytes, most of whom don’t know what the word “irony” means, you’re pretty much right, here.

    That is, that folks constantly break “free” from the “restrictions” that define who they are, only to “reinvent themselves” as the nearest equivalent they can manage–as close to their creaturely being as they can be while maintaining the illusion they create themselves. Ourselves. We all do it.

    It’s called original sin. And it’s pretty darn ironic.

  • Jon

    So gays don’t destroy marriage? Glad we cleared that up.The sad truth of what is written is worthwhile,those who stand against marriage for lgbt people will not even consider this. This is said as a gay, christian and slightly traditional man.

  • I find it interesting that whenever a Christian discusses this topic in a civil fashion that they are still attacked like they are the most evil person who ever existed. It seems to prove over and over again D.A. Carson’s idea, the intolerance of tolerance.

  • Shorty

    You’ve obviously never read or heard his stance known as ‘monogamish.’

  • Frank

    It’s amazing that any intelligent person give Savage a modicum of credibility. He is a joke, a bad and unfunny one.

  • Heidi

    “disordered sexuality”? How incredibly condescending and obnoxious.

  • Mattiedef

    Dan Savage also thinks bisexuals, like myself, don’t exist. So I’m pretending he doesn’t exist.

  • Bob

    Good essay. I am a Dan Savage and Bruce Campbell fan. I agree with Dan Savage at about the same rate that I agree with Michael Savage, but that is not why I am a fan. I just like reading what smart people write.