Doctor and Mrs. Christian February 21, 2011

Doctor and Mrs. Christian

I read this in the middle of an article in the latest issue of Wired (19.03) and had to check it out for myself.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when you give money to a Christian charity and they ask you who’s donating, “Mr. & Mr.” is not an option for “Title.” They don’t support gay marriage, so why would they offer that? The exclusion at least makes sense (even if it’s a bigoted move).

But if you and your spouse want to donate to Mission: Dignity (“Financial services guided by Christian values”), there is no option for professional women and their non-professional husbands.

There are options for:

Dr. and Mrs,
Capt and Mrs,
Commander and Mrs,
Judge and Mrs,
Lt Col and Mrs, and
Rev and Mrs.

There are no options for:

Dr. and Mr,
Capt and Mr,
Commander and Mr,
Judge and Mr,
Lt Col and Mr, and
Rev and Mr.

Mark Vanhoenacker writes in his article:

Married doctors (and judges and reverends) who are straight women or gay men are out of luck. (Lesbian couples in which one partner is a doctor? You’re good.)

You ask how behind Christians are when it comes to equal rights and catching up to the rest of society?

Well, here’s another piece of evidence that they have a long way to go.

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  • Min

    What’s baffling here is that the person who designed this page made a single combo box containing every combination he could think of rather than making two separate combo boxes, one for each person, one with a “N/A” at the top. I would feel uncomfortable just using a site where the designer made such a noob mistake.


  • Jeanette

    *facepalm* That is just…they are aware it’s the 21st century, no?! Actually, I’m afraid to ask…they’re not exactly known for keeping up to date information. At least they have “Drs” I guess. But really…just sad.

  • As I remember from my brief stint in going to church, it is not part of God’s plan for the woman to be in an elevated position relative to her husband. Probably almost everybody who buys into this non-sense (God’s plan for family hierarchy) will not have a problem with the limited title possibilities shown and may even get a nice “warm-fuzzy” feeling from it..

  • Meg

    Given what the schools around teach about titles of female teachers, I’m not surprised. Here’s my rant about their mis-use of Ms.:

  • Richard Wade

    Even with nonreligious organizations, that kind of boneheaded backwardness has been enough for me to change my mind about a donation. Instead of money I send a letter of protest.

    My wife and I demanded that we be pronounced “husband and wife” rather than “man and wife” at our wedding, and that was 38 years ago. Wake up, you “retro”bates!

    “Financial services guided by Christian values”

    Apparently the “Christian values” that they say are guiding them do not include married women being more qualified or accomplished in any way than their owners husbands.

  • Gabriel

    Yeah, it would be easier to have two boxes instead of preset combos.

  • Luciferadi

    This put me in mind of this scene from a Fawlty Towers (greatest show ever!) episode:

  • Steve

    That’s not a combo box, but a list box. A combo box is a combination of a list box and a text box

    But yeah, very stupid design. It doesn’t even offer all combinations of the existing options. What about married lieutenants?

  • Tony

    Regarding Dr and Mr, in Britain the term “Dr” is used to denote a medical practitionaer. A medical specialist such as a surgeon or a consultant is referred to as “Mister” or “Mrs” or “Miss” with an emphasis on the letter M to show that they are the surgeon Mister and not the patient mister.

  • Traci

    This is odd to be sure, but not really that much. There are some Christians and certain denominations that put very strict guidelines on women. Most don’t, but there are some that do. Apparently, this particular organization has members in high places (at least) who adhere to the more strict doctrine about women. Not admirable, in my opinion. If it were me, I’d just assume that they meant that they don’t want my money if an option wasn’t there for me. 😉 Because, honestly that’s all they’re doing. Making themselves look ridiculous and cheating themselves out of money.

  • Ron in Houston

    I’m with Steve. While the stereotype is true that generally Christians tend to be behind the times on gender issues, I write this one off to poor web site design.

  • I’m with min. Such noobery hurts my brainz 🙁

  • Erp

    Well back in the old days ‘wife’ just meant ‘woman’ (e.g., alewife or fishwife was a woman who sold ale or fish [the former might also make the ale]). In the latter case it sort of made sense in that the womenfolk (who might be sisters, daughters, mothers or wives) would be selling the previous day’s catch while the menfolk were out catching more. English evolved but the wedding ceremony retained the old form (and allowed people to misinterpret).

    I will note another sign of old thinking. The dual choices are “Mr. and Mrs. Peter Christian” or “Captain and Mrs. Peter Christian”. I very much doubt many if any same sex couples have adopted the name of one partner so completely that Mr. and Mr. Peter Christian makes sense. It is not that common in opposite sex couples anymore (except on formal occasions and even then not always).

    The best choice would be an optional second person to be filled in and an independent set of titles for that person.

  • jemand

    what box would a single woman tick?

    Seems more fundamental than just no Mr and Dr…

    they don’t really want money from women.

  • Hazor

    I’d chalk it up to the mentality of only the person(s) who came up with or implemented the list. (Which was necessitated only by, as previously described, a poor design choice..) I doubt that the organization as a whole was specifically meaning to be exclusionary with this, as creating the menu in that limiting fashion doesn’t seem to me like the sort of thing a non-programmer would even think about.

    That said, I would not be surprised if a large portion of the organization’s members/supporters held these sorts of sexist ideas.

    @jemand: If you go to the site, there’re options for Miss, Mrs., etc.

    Something worth pointing out is that the have the option “Mses” (although not “Messrs.”) This suggests to me that it was really just a poor design choice combined with the mentality of whoever came up with the list, be it that they are bigoted or that they didn’t think of every possibility.

  • Bill

    Why is there ‘Dr’ and ‘Dr.’ and ‘Bro’ and ‘Bro.’?!

  • Rich Wilson

    I’m sorely tempted to see if I can get that page to accept Mr and Mr by editing the response. Or maybe (wordpress won’t let me put it in, probably for good reason)

  • Spencer

    I was going to suggest at first that this was simply a mistake, but damn, they left out the option for a woman to be in a professional position six times.

    If I was considering donating to this charity, this blatant sexism would definitely put me to my senses.

  • Sackbut

    My first thought on seeing the list was the combinatorial explosion that should occur when they have all possible titles for both parties: “Commander and Lt Col”; “Ambassador and Dr”; “Mr and Chaplain”; and so on.

    But Dr. Arnold Jones and Gen. Betty Smith, a married couple, are unlikely to want to be addressed as Dr. and Gen. Arnold Jones, anyway.

  • Michelle

    I will take this opportunity to share that my son still insists that my husband has the same double last name that I do. Hyphenating seemed odd to me so I just have 4 names. My son has 3 names, two of which are last names.
    To Meg’s point, I also sub and it is beyond me why my gender should require me to denote my marital status. Loving my husband has nothing to do with my job, but when I say Ms. Guzman people just look utterly confused.

  • GaR

    Pity there’s no “Bro and Bro”

    That would be awesome.

  • Amanda

    So I guess the “dignity” in “Mission:Dignity” doesn’t apply to women. 🙂

  • Thegoodman

    I was recently married and my wife is an M.D. The “minister” (my friend who is a Reverend of the University Life Church) introduced us to the crowd as Mr. and Dr. Kyle O.

    I thought it was pretty cool and I couldn’t have been more proud.

  • jonezart

    I think it’s hilarious that they have Bro, Bro., and Brother as options

  • HP

    “Bro” is a nice touch, but I’m holding out for “Homie.”

  • HP

    I understand that in an earlier version of the web app, if you selected “That colored fellow” as the Title, then the Name field would be greyed out.

  • matt

    My wife is a PhD, and I always refer to us as “Dr. and Mr.” just to mess with people’s preconceptions. I myself have no title, other than “awesome”.

  • Dan Murphy

    “Madame” is there, but what about Wayland Flowers and Madame?

  • Meg wrote:

    Given what the schools around teach about titles of female teachers, I’m not surprised. Here’s my rant about their mis-use of Ms.:

    Nice ‘rant’ Meg 🙂 I have a female relative who is in her mid-50s and single who prefers to be called ‘Miss’ and (for some reason) gets a little annoyed if someone refers to her as ‘Ms’. And this is a woman who could be the poster girl for feminism!

    *shaking head*

    What on earth is offensive/insulting about using the female version of ‘Mr’, that isn’t related to marital status at all?

    I don’t get it at all….

  • matt wrote:

    My wife is a PhD, and I always refer to us as “Dr. and Mr.” just to mess with people’s preconceptions. I myself have no title, other than “awesome”.

    *teehee* I like you already 🙂

  • this just feels like it’s getting pretty picky…

    You could have at least emailed the webmaster an asked if they support a women having a profession while a husband does not. This could just be a mistake, right? If you wrote to these people and they wrote back explaining how they expressly do not support women who are more well educated and earn more then their husbands, then I’d say you’d have something worth writing an article about.

    But since this blog has been lacking on articles lately, I’m going to guess you’re just desperate for a story.

  • Shawn

    It appears to me that the title pulldown list is generated from a list of titles, perhaps from a previous database where people could just type in the title. This would explain why they have “Bro” and “Bro.” and “Mr” and “Mr.”. It would also explain why they have “Commander and Mrs” but not “Colonel and Mrs” (I doubt anyone is suggesting Christians think colonels shouldn’t marry?)

    I think this is just poor programming. If I’m right, the lack of options would reflect the reality that, say, a couple who would choose to call themselves “Dr. and Mr.” likely wouldn’t donate to a charity like this.

  • Brian Macker


    “there is no option for professional women and their non-professional husbands.”

    Actually there is an option but you just couldn’t get to it. It’s obvious that the choices have run off the bottom of the page. Notice that there are no rounded corners on the bottom. Another clue staring you back in the face it that the selections run alphabetically from “A” to “D”. So where is the rest of the alphabet? Nothing sinister. Just poor programming, and poor QA.

    Well, here’s another piece of evidence that they have a long way to go.

    Well, as programmers maybe. I checked and they have come a long way in one day.

    They have switched to a drop down menu. In both IE and Firefox show a drop down that includes “Mr. and Mrs.”, “Mrs.” and “Ms.”.

    They’ve come a long way as programmers but still don’t have “Mr. and Mr.” or “Ms. and Ms.” I understand that the Mormons are pushing for “Mr., Mrs. and Mrs.”, “Mr., Mrs., Mrs. and Mrs.”, and so forth.

  • Hmmm…quite a few unsupported assertions being made here.
    Isn’t that one of the issues we have with “the other side”?

  • Brian Macker


    Unfortunately it’s a problem with all “sides.” I try to avoid it but being fallible it happens. Solution it to correct when someone else points it out. I’m sure Hemant will update since the error is obvious in the image he posted.

  • A facebook atheist friend of mine John Reed Braden referred me to this article. Insightful as always.

    To be fair, the site is collecting donations for a ministry supporting retired pastors and their wives…so I’m guessing their target donor audience isn’t gay individuals or couples. But what you bring up is fair in that we SHOULD be sensitive to this and it’s just NOT on our radar.

    To compare, I looked at (the Human Rights Campaign) which collects donations to support equal marriage rights. I looked at their donation form: and I notice they don’t even have a Title/Salutation field. Sounds like a smarter way to go :-).

    Finally, I looked at my own (Changing the Face of Christianity) donation form:

    It’s just using out of the box software presets that I can’t immediately change. However, I’ve emailed the folks at giftworks ( to have them remove the Title/Salutation field…following the HRC’s good example.

    Thanks for raising this issue that we all should learn to be more open and sensitive too.

    Feel free to donate 🙂

  • andyinsdca

    Eh…I think they get sort of a pass on this; it’s like they queried a database somewhere for all of the titles that were in it and that’s how they got their list. It’s lazy, to be sure, but I don’t see the evil. That would explain why there is “Dr” and “Dr.” and other such silliness.

  • Nordog

    Oh, the humanity!

  • Nordog

    what box would a single woman tick?

    There’s a joke in there somewhere.

  • Craig

    Obviously dignity isn’t for everyone.

  • Kaylya

    According to the section of Wedding Planning for Dummies that goes over the rules of etiquette for invitations, that is the correct form of address for a formal invitation – males by professional title, but females not. It goes with the tradition of addressing the wife in terms of the husband (e.g. “Mrs. Peter Clark”, as in “the wife of Peter Clark”).

    Now, they go over the formalest of formal rules from the etiquette books and break down which ones you should probably stick with to avoid confusion and which ones you should probably consider breaking since times have changed since Emily Post, and that one was probably the highest on the list for breaking.

  • Erp

    It can get strange. When Prince William marries his wife officially becomes Princess William of Wales.

  • my folks are “the Honorable” and “Professor/Doctor” and it’s always amusing to see how the mail comes to their house and addresses them. charities and marketers often mix up the titles as they try to decide which goes where.

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