the end of innocence

Meredith Baxter played the mother on the television show, Family Ties, and today on Today she announced that, after three marriages and five children, she had decided that she would try being a lesbian.

There goes what’s left of my childhood.  I don’t know what’s true anymore.  I suppose that next I’ll learn that Alex Keaton (Michael J. Fox) never was a Republican; that Bo Duke dated my governor; and that Mrs. Brady was messing around with Greg.  Never mind.

Here is a serious question:  has anyone else noticed that gay couples, especially lesbians, still reflect a typical relationship in that one of the partners plays the role of the man (e.g., Ellen Degeneres, Rachel Maddow)?  Doesn’t this imply that even those engaged in unnatural sex recognize an underlying natural law?  That there are limits to human rebellion?  That even our sin will be shaped by the way God made us?

Here’s a follow-up:  if you’re playing the woman role in a lesbian relationship (e.g., Portia de Rossi), why would you prefer to play that role with a “butch” rather than with an honest to goodness man?  Could you just as easily switch teams and fall in love with a man (e.g., Anne Heche)?

I recognize that these questions may be sensitive to some, but they are honest questions that I have.  I am being vulnerable by sharing them, so please be kind in your responses.



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10 responses to “the end of innocence”

  1. Mike:
    Interesting application of God’s natural law; this could gain some mileage. I wonder if, at a higher level, the sense of belongingness and togetherness all humans have is not a reflection of God’s announcement “It is not good for man [or any human] to be alone.” It seems apparent that everyone seeks significance with some “other” with whom they can be with. The I-Thou relationship (vis-a-vis I-It) runs deep in our being as God’s children.

  2. John

    Wow – I’ll be kind….that took guts. Probably the reason I read your blog…well, second after Justin Taylor but before Peter Ruckman.

  3. mikewittmer


    I think you are right on. It’s also interesting that this expresses itself not just in any “I-Thou” relationship (thank you, Martin Buber) but most often, even in homosexual relationships, according to a male-female pattern.

  4. Adam F.

    These are very interesting questions.

    I will admit that I’m confused about how these two things relate: (1) God’s design for man and woman, (2) God’s design for male behavior and female behavior

    Was Adam in touch with his feminine side?
    Is it fair to say that in God’s design, bearing the Image as a male=masculinity? And that bearing the Image as a female=femininity? I don’t know, because our models of masculinity and femininity often seem closer to stereotypes than a real apprehension of how gender should function. So Dr. Wittmer, although I will echo your observation that some lesbians seem more “butch” than their partners, I wonder if we’re merely observing that one is more “masculine” than the other — and I know some straight women who can act more “masculine” than me–and I’m a straight man!

    Do straight but “butch” women live in sin? / Do straight but effeminate men live in sin?
    When our model of masculinity includes qualities such as being “emotionally stunted,” we speak of healthy men as those who are “in touch with their feminine side.” But is this hybrid-gender state an unhelpful way of thinking about Godly masculinity and femininity? Is it actually related to our confusion over gender? And should we instead say that Godly masculinity and Godly femininity share some similar qualities?

    The Lean, Mean, Mannish Boy —


  5. Adam F.

    By the way, I apologize if I caused anyone offense with that last post. I don’t mean to make fun of the pain caused by gender issues.

  6. Mike,

    Interesting thoughts. Family Ties was one of my favorite shows ever.

    I’m not sure that “all” lesbian couples fit the model you’ve thrown up here, although that doesn’t necessarily invalidate your question. I do think it means that the issue is probably pretty complex.

    That said, in this story, I’d rather focus on the whole “I’m going to try being a lesbian” thing. It feels like Mrs. Keaton has failed several times at her first choice and had decided to settle for her second choice in hopes that she can maybe be successful. This “settling” seems to be a real slap in the face to all those who have claimed that they don’t have a choice in the matter.

    Either way, there’s definitely some sharks in this water! I’m interested to watch this discussion play out.

  7. Jonathan Shelley


    I’ve been thinking on this a lot, especially in light of the points Paul and Adam made, and I think what you are observing is a function of the way we are wired. I think people tend to seek a relationship with someone who complements their own unique blend of masculinity and femininity. God made us to desire (need) that balance in our lives, so I don’t think we should be surprised to see that as a general rule for all relationships. Certainly there are plenty of relationships that do not fit this model, but I think that part of being in the image of God is a need for a companion who balances out the aspects of our unique personalities.

    I’m not saying this very well, I realize, but basically I agree with Paul and Adam. I see part of God’s design for relationships coming through even in relationships that are fundamentally outside God’s intention for relationships.

  8. Adam F.

    I like and support Jonathan’s emphasis, that we all seek a complementarity to our own identity.

    Most people will acknowledge that humans can make bad decisions while searching for a complementary partner. For example, I would receive little support from my loved ones if I told them that my ideal, complementary partner is a silicone mannequin. And my loved ones would probably not be called “discriminators” for pressuring me to seek out the companionship of a human being.

    I’m observing that most people draw the line somewhere when it comes to sexual identity; and I’m also observing that many people are uncomfortable to draw the line at homosexuality. Why do you think this is? I think there are many reasons, and I believe one reason is that many of us know homosexuals who believe in gospel and live it out in many ways.

    Now I need to be very clear – I don’t think all non-heterosexual relationships are on equal footing; I do not equate homosexuality to other types of non-hetersexual relationships, because it seems at least some different factors would be at play if I preferred to hang out with a mannequin on the one hand, or an animal on the other. I’m sorry for getting gross there at the end.

  9. Joel

    I’m not sure the observation works. Before going into some of the problems I perceive in it, I should probably note that I do find the act of homosexuality to be sinful. There is no question about it, the Bible is quite clear. Plus, there are good philosophical reasons for believing that homosexuality is wrong. With that said…

    The glaring problems with the observation is (1) not all homosexual couples fall into this category, (2) most modern heterosexual couples are egalitarian in nature, and (3) in cases where there is a “male/female” relationship, this can be explained by social conditioning.

    (1) – There are quite a few homosexual couples that are egalitarian, where neither partner holds authority over the other or displays any role more than the other. There’s enough couples that act like this (granted, this is from my own anecdotal background with friends and family who are homosexuals) that it’s difficult to say they’re an anomaly.

    (2) – Many heterosexual couples are egalitarian and show little to no differentiation in responsibilities. I’m very much a complimentarian and believe that men and women have different responsibilities due to their genders, especially when it comes to a family, but the fact is many heterosexual couples don’t act this way. I bring this up because it begs the question that if seeking out a natural authority structure in inherent within sexual relationships, then we should see the same thing occurring in the heterosexual community, but we don’t.

    (3) Any postmodernist could use their favorite tactic and simply point out that homosexuals having a “butch” and a “woman” in a relationship is nothing more than them adhering to social conditioning. And there might be some merit to that argument.

    Again, I’m not arguing for homosexuality, I’m merely pointing out what might be a weak argument against the practice.

  10. For the Old Testament theology class I am taking we were asked to pick a book and write an theology on it. I tried to pick a challenging book and one that has often been avoided and ignored by the Christian community. I’ve taken the paper I wrote and have adapted it into a post that now appears on my website. You can read this theological reflection by clicking on the link below. Any feedback, correction or comments posted after the writing would be encouraged…

    “It’s the Same Old Song”: A Theology of Song of Songs

    Note: this email was sent to only those who requested to continue receiving updates on things I write. Please let me know if your status in this regard has changed.

    May Jesus’ name be praised….

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