Groups on the right are irate with the Associated Press for caving in to gay pressure and changing its influential Stylebook so that its writers will now refer to same-sex couples as “husband and husband” or as “wife and wife.” But the change really shows that “objectivity” as conventionally defined does not exist.
The problem has been clear for years regarding abortion. Newspapers until the 1960s referred to creatures in women’s wombs as “babies” or “unborn children.” Then they switched to “fetus,” technically correct but linguistically distancing—and inconsistent, since they didn’t go Latin by calling the mom a “gravida” or having their crime reporters write about the “corpus mortuum.”
Now, language used—“fetus” vs. “unborn child”—quickly types a person as favoring or opposing abortion. New Orleans residents refer to their boulevard median strips as “neutral ground,” but we lack neutral nomenclature on abortion—and now, on marriage as well.
Yes, once upon a time a married couple consisted of a husband and a wife, and The Associated Press Stylebook did not specify exactly how those terms were to be used. Now, whichever way AP decides, it’s not being “objective” in the sense of “neutral” or “even-handed.”
When an internal AP memo earlier this year expressed reluctance to write about two husbands or two wives within a “marriage,” former USA Today reporter Janet Kornblum complained in mock horror, “Surely the straightlaced AP wasn’t saying that husbands are not husbands and wives are not wives—unless they are heterosexual.” Kornblum argued, rightly, that AP was “taking a stand” by “equating legal gay marriages with civil unions and not, well, marriages, and therefore basically siding with people who are anti-gay marriage.”
AP leaders took some heat and, this week, flipped. Nathaniel Frank in the Los Angeles Times declared victory and stated, “Those who get married have already decided about terminology.” In a previous version of the column, written before AP made its announcement, he stated, “AP’s job is to reflect this reality without hesitation. Anything else is editorializing.” That pretty well summarized a major tenet of much non-biblical philosophy: We create our reality—in this case, by endorsing same-sex “marriage.”
The Bible has a different understanding. God created the world—that’s biblically objective fact. He created human beings male and female—that’s biblically objective fact. He created Adam and Eve and made their union “marriage”—that’s biblically objective fact.
But it’s not neutral or “objective” in the conventional sense, as something that all people regardless of worldview will recognize as true. When the Associated Press began in 1846, many Americans were not Christians, yet the country’s politics and journalism were grounded in a Christian consensus. That’s long gone, and our language reflects the divide.