Watch your political tone

The tone of politics on the Left is becoming notably worse. Just watch MSNBC.

There is no room for fair and balanced political commentary on MSNBC. They give new meaning to agenda-driven journalism. They only employ opinion journalists who fit a predetermined point-of-view.

Commentators like Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and Lawrence O’ Donnell share a bitter partisan spirit aimed at trashing the Republican Party. Currently the network seems to be in overdrive to win the House of Representatives to Democrats in the 2014 midterm.

But this tone is hurting political dialogue in America. It’s a tone of intolerance mixed with sneering and condescending arrogance.

It has been particularly disappointing to see Chris Matthews devolve into a cynical and sarcastic commentator with a venomous (and, at times, irrational) hostility toward Republicans.

It’s more than a little scary that these commentators actually believe that they represent mainstream America. Their ratings alone should snap them into reality. And it’s widely known that Americans thirty-five and under are turned off by angry partisan politics.

Perhaps I shouldn’t trouble over networks like MSNBC given their dismal ratings. I’d prefer to see this as more of a problem on the far left, but the tone is slowly dominating liberal politics. Lately the President himself appears to be taking his tone and talking points from MSNBC. This was particularly clear during the government shutdown.

The last time I wrote about this concern I received emails from liberals who concurred and expressed similar dismay over the tone that is slowly dominating politics on the left.

It was the extreme Right side of politics for many years that was labeled narrow-minded and controlled by litmus tests. The Left side is now competing for those labels — and winning.

The spirit taking over the Left is based on an insistence that there is only one correct and permissible way to think about a growing number of issues.

Party acceptance (socially) requires complete (and often irrational) rejection of Republicans, unquestioned support for abortion (disguised as women’s rights or only a “fetus”), total embrace of gay marriage (disguised as a civil right or sexual orientation) and commitment to big government (disguised as compassion for the less fortunate).

But along with these litmus tests comes a tone of mocking ridicule toward poor ignorant people who dare to see things differently. Do you want to be identified with that tone?

There is no longer any safe zone on the Left for those who oppose abortion or for those who disagree with homosexual marriages. Yet a few bold members willing to self-check the radical extremes and divisive attitudes of liberal politics could bring sanity to the Democratic Party before it’s too late.



Fair-minded liberals should be asking if this is what they want for their side of politics. If you’re bothered by the tone and direction consider organizing an internal revolt and demand changes before it’s too late.

Perhaps you fear the consequences of opposing the tone or failing the litmus tests. But I believe you could find enough courageous members who are willing to hold the Democratic Party accountable.

Steve Cornell


Should wives submit?

Why do people resent the way Scripture portrays a wife as a keeper of the home who submits to her husband? (See: Titus 2:3-5)

Sadly the intended beauty of this requirement has been marred by distortions and maligned by misrepresentations. This is partly why we need a closer look at the Scriptural portrayal of a wife.

Please read through to the end of this post where I highlight seven things submission is not meant to be to protect us from wrong applications. 

When the nation’s largest Protestant denomination amended its documents to include a statement on the need for a wife to “submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband,” it resulted in a significant media backlash. Even in the church many were outraged. 

So what should we conclude about the New Testament passage that says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-40)?

When I perform weddings, if I use the “s” word in the bride’s declaration of intent, (asking, “Will you take John to be your lawful wedded husband, to live with him according to God’s ordinance? Will you submit to him as to the Lord?”), I usually hear whispers of dissent from the audience. Yet I’ve never heard any dissent when I ask a groom if he will love his bride “as Christ loved the church.”

Misguided notions about submission in marriage abound. Some picture a wife who allows her husband to order her around and force her to do whatever he demands. Although this was largely the way wives were viewed in the culture of New Testament times, it’s a profound violation of the biblical understanding of wives submitting to their husbands . 

In Scripture, marriage is viewed as a one-flesh relationship based on mutual self-giving love. It’s a covenant of companionship between two spiritually equal human beings. Yet this doesn’t mean that the relationship is without roles and roles in marriage do not diminish individual uniqueness, equality and the call for mutual respect.

Some husbands foolishly misuse Christian teaching about headship and submission to diminish the uniqueness and contributions of their wives. These men typically insist that life conforms to their dominant identity so they can get what they want. 

I’ve also observed women who suppress their identity under more dominant men who frankly need the gifts and strengths of their wives. These wives entertain misguided understandings of headship and submission. They often end up enabling their husbands while wrongly thinking that they’re being submissive wives. They violate the original design of being the complementary completion to men who need the unique contributions of their wives. 

The original plan for marriage assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness in husbands and wives for completion of combined oneness. Think about it. If it wasn’t good for the man to be alone, it won’t resolve matters if a wife disappears into his identity. The unity sand offers a nice picture of two becoming one — without one disappearing into the other.

Whatever else oneness is meant to be in marriage, it’s not the disappearance of either part into the other but the merging of the uniqueness of each into one.

I realize that as sinners we all must resist the temptation of selfishly demanding our own way in relationships — especially in marriage. I also understand the tensions of give and take and how two people must be willing to honor each other above themselves. 

If each person is important to the strength of a marriage, each one must bring the beauty of their uniqueness and gifts to the relationship. It takes two for marriage to be what it is meant to be. 

According to scripture, the husband bears primary responsibility to lead the home in a God-glorifying manner. His leadership clearly involves authority and should be honored by his wife and family. This authority, however, should be based deeply in love (see: I Corinthians 13:4-8a) and thoughtful consideration (see: Philippians 2:3-5; I Peter 3:7

Scripture issues strong warnings against husbands who treat their wives with insensitivity (see I Peter 3:7). Husbands must never forget that they are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Cultural limitations should not be placed on this command any more than on the command for wives to submit to their husbands. 

It’s equally important to recognize what is not meant by submission of wives to husbands.

Consider some helpful distinctions about submission:

  1. Submission does not mean putting a husband in the place of Christ.
  2. Submission does not mean giving up independent thought.
  3. Submission does not mean a wife should give up efforts to influence and guide her husband.
  4. Submission does not mean a wife should give in to every demand of her husband.
  5. Submission is not based on lesser intelligence or competence.
  6. Submission does not mean being fearful or timid.
  7. Submission is not inconsistent with equality in Christ

(7 points from: “Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood” ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem)

Submission is most evidenced in a wife respecting her husband through her actions and speech. Wives must resist attitudes, tones of voice and facial expressions that convey disrespect. The same applies to the way husbands treat their wives! Husbands must act and speak in ways that encourage respectful responses from their wives. 

Oneness (as God intended) can only happen as each partner learns to live in harmony with the uniqueness of the other. Along these lines, I remind couples that playful rivalry is often part of this balance and keeps life interesting and engaging. But there’s a big difference between playful exchange and divisive or nasty rivalry. The latter is a sign of deeper trouble in the marriage.

Insecure and immature people make oneness in marriage very difficult because they are too focused on themselves and how others see them. They tend to approach relationships more as competition for attention and control — as divisive rivalry. They mostly want others to serve them.

The greatest prescription for practical oneness and for overcoming insecurity and immaturity is found in the powerful description of love in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Prayerfully revisit the great description of love in this passage and notice that it is especially anti-rivalry. 

See also: 

Steve Cornell

8 Links worth seeing

  1. The End of the World’s Leading ‘Ex-Gay’ Ministry
  2. Group apologizes to gay community, shuts down ‘cure’ ministry
  3. Conversion therapist: Lawsuit won’t stop us
  4. Why Do So Many Rappers Impersonate Christ? 
  5. The Evolution of the Swimsuit
  6. Marriage rate may be low, but more weddings predicted
  7. Marry Me. And Me
  8. The Pornography Culture (an older column worth seeing again)

Other ministries dedicated to helping those with unwanted same-sex attractions

Learn something from Canada

Hundreds of Canadians have faced legal proceedings over same-sex marriage:

Michael Coren, writing for the National Review Online, said:

“Once gay marriage becomes law, critics are often silenced by the force of the law. The Canadian litany of pain, firings, and social and political polarization and extremism is extraordinary and lamentable, and we haven’t even begun to experience the mid and long-term results of this mammoth social experiment. I seldom say it, but for goodness’ sake, learn something from Canada.”

Canadian Crackdown

A considered and empathetic opposition to same-sex marriage has nothing to do with phobia or hatred, but that doesn’t stop Christians, conservatives, and anybody else who doesn’t take the fashionable line from being condemned as Neanderthals and bigots. This is a lesson that Canadians have learned from painful experience.

The Gay Divorcees

Announcing the results of his long-term “evolution” on the subject last week, President Obama revived the debate over gay marriage. In the widespread discussion, however, there is one question that’s rarely asked: How interested are gay couples in getting married?

Heretofore at least, the answer seems to be “not really.” Since 1997, when Hawaii became the first state in the union to allow reciprocal-beneficiary registration for same-sex couples, 19 states and the District of Columbia have granted some form of legal recognition to the relationships of same-sex couples. These variants include marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, and reciprocal-beneficiary relationships; and the most recent U.S. Census data reveal that, in the last 15 years, only 150,000 same-sex couples have elected to take advantage of them.

In Norway, male same-sex marriages are 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than heterosexual marriages, and female same-sex marriages are an astonishing 167 percent more likely to be dissolved. In Sweden, the divorce risk for male-male partnerships is 50 percent higher than for heterosexual marriages, and the divorce risk for female partnerships is nearly double that for men. 

Is Gay Parenting Bad for the Kids?

This contention — that homosexual parenting is either neutral or better than traditional family structures — has found its way into our academic, legal, and cultural conversation and is rarely questioned. Hence the Ninth Circuit’s declaration: “Children raised by gay or lesbian parents are as likely as children raised by heterosexual parents to be healthy, successful, and well-adjusted. The research supporting this conclusion is accepted beyond serious debate in the field of developmental psychology.”

Ultimately, Mark Regnerus set out to answer the question of whether children who have parents in a same-sex relationship experience disadvantages when compared with children raised by their biological, married parents. The answer, contra the zeitgeist, appears to be a resounding yes. 

Does Ephesians 5:21 teach mutual submission?

 

The biblical command for wives to submit to their husbands is one of the more difficult teachings for people to accept.

This is partly due to ways that the command has been misrepresented or abused. Unfortunately, there will always be those who try to make the Bible say things it doesn’t and those who misuse Scripture to oppress others.

But misuses should not make us avoid the truths of Scripture. Some do this regarding submission by suggesting that Scripture actually teaches mutual submission in marriage. They point to Ephesians 5:21 which says, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” But this verse should not be read as an isolated command. The context does not support the idea of mutual submission as I will demonstrate in a moment. 

First, we should note that when Scripture portrays a wife as one called to be a keeper of her home who submits to her husband it is not an idea limited to the time it was written. Although responsible interpreters of the Bible understand that not everything in Scripture is meant as a binding obligation on all people in all places, when it comes to marriage, Scripture explicitly transcends cultural limitations by connecting the teaching to the way God created humans and ordained marriage for our good (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:21-25; Matthew 19:3-9; I Timothy 2:11-15).

So a question the Church must answer is what the New Testament requires when it says,

“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Ephesians 5:22-40)?

A closer look at Ephesians 5

In the original text, the word for “submit” in verse 21 prepares the way for verse 22 (where there is no greek word for submit).

The word in v. 21 also prepares the way for the flow of the next chapters. What we find after verse 21 is the order of submission. It would be like saying, “Submit to one another in a way that looks like this: wives to your husbands…” “Church to Christ,” “children to parents” and “servants to masters.”

To apply mutual submission to any of these would be misguided.

(* V. 21: Ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ “submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.” v. 22: αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ὡς τῳ κυρίῳ, “wives to your husbands as to the Lord.”)

While one might suggest ways in which a husband could submit to his wife, I believe it is best to call such acts “servant-love.” The term submit is better left to structures of authority and submission. 

Servant-love and submission

The word submit is a term of response to those who bear responsible leadership in human relationships. When Scripture says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (I Peter 2:13), it reminds us that God endorses orders of authority and submission.

Since we can even find this structure demonstrated in the Trinity, we know that submission has nothing to do with inequality or with the fall of humanity into sin. God both models and ordains the functional structure of authority and submission for us. He instituted it in the angelic world as well as the human.

Along these lines, I cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is for husbands and wives to have the same vision of the nature of marriage. A primary reason for many marital problems is a failure on the parts of husbands and/or wives to understand, respect and live by the God-intended plan for marriage.

According to Scripture, marriage is a one-flesh relationship based on mutual self-giving love. It’s a covenant of companionship between two people who are equally made in the image of God. Yet this equality does not mean that marriage is a relationship is without roles. Nor do roles in marriage diminish equality and the call for mutual love and respect. 

The husband bears primary responsibility to lead the marriage relationship in a God-glorifying manner. His leadership clearly involves authority and should be honored by his wife and family. This authority, however, should be based on love (see: I Corinthians 13:4-7) and thoughtful consideration of the needs of those he leads (see: Philippians 2:3-5). As with all human authority, it should not be followed if it requires one to disobey God. 

What submission does not mean

Misguided notions of submission abound. Some picture a wife who allows her husband to order her around and force her to do whatever he demands. These ideas do not reflect the biblical understanding of wives submitting to their husbands.

To guard against abuses of authority and wrong notions of submission, it’s important to note what submission does not mean. I appreciate the seven things that Piper and Grudem note concerning what submission does not mean (“Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism” ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem). Their list is based on a New Testament text that curiously offers Sarah as a paradigm of submission (see: I Peter 3:1-7).

  1. Submission does not mean putting a husband in the place of Christ.
  2. Submission does not mean giving up independent thought.
  3. Submission does not mean a wife should give up efforts to influence and guide her husband.
  4. Submission does not mean a wife should give in to every demand of her husband.
  5. Submission is not based on lesser intelligence or competence.
  6. Submission does not mean being fearful or timid.
  7. Submission is not inconsistent with equality in Christ

Submission is most evidenced in a wife respecting her husband through her actions and speech. Wives should resist attitudes, verbal tones and facial expressions that convey disrespect. Playful rivalry is not bad between husbands and wives but divisive rivalry is a sign of deeper heart issues. Husbands must equally act and speak in ways that encourage respectful responses from their wives. But, if their husbands are not being respectful, I encourage wives to find a respectful way to tell them that you are finding it difficult to respect them. (see - Celebrate distinctions between men and women)

For more on what submission should not mean, and on the beauty of diversity within marriage, see - Does unity sand offer a better picture of marriage?

(See - Position Statement On Marriage).

Steve Cornell

Differences between men and women

Counselors have agreed for many years that sex is one of the four or five main areas of marital conflict.

I love asking young couples preparing for marriage why sex would be such a big source of conflict in marriage. If they’re striving for purity in their relationship, one of their toughest challenges is keeping their hands off each other! 

Most engaged couples don’t understand why sex would be a source of marital conflict. It sounds strange to them. So premarital counselors must look down the road and help them to think realistically about life — and, reality is not unclear on this matter. 

I tell singles and engaged couples that one of the primary reasons sex is a source of conflict in marriage is the very thing that makes it possible. I always get a look of confusion from them until I say: “It involves a man and a woman!” Then, after awkward laughter, they return to their confused look. To help them understand, I use the illustration of microwaves and crock-pots. 

Microwaves and Crock-pots

Men tend to be like microwaves when it comes to sex; women tend to be more like a crock-pots. Sex for most women is more of an extended part of an overall relationship. It tends to be more of a physical act for men.

I am not validating all that could be implied by the imagery, I am just trying to illustrate general facts. The point of the imagery is that men and women typically approach sex differently.

In most marriages, sex will be more of an area of intentional giving for women. But relationship-building will require more thoughtful intention from men. A primary reason sex is a source of conflict is the fact that husbands tend to want more sex in marriage than their wives. When you factor in how a man often tends to connect his sense of self-respect to sex, things can get really bad if he feels rejected or like he is always the initiator.

I’ve sometimes observed resentment from husbands over the way their wives were sexually aggressive before marriage and shut down after marriage. Some single women (sadly) assume that they must use sexual advances to “win” a man. In doing this, they give him the impression that this is how life together will be. I’ve talked with men who resentfully express how they had more sex with their wives before they were married. 

Lest I sound like I am picking on women, in a similar way, men are often guilty of using intentional relationship building to “win” a woman and then shifting into complacency after marriage. The pastor who performed our wedding charged me with these words: “The graces you used to win her love, use to keep her love.” 

Sober words for married couples:

When it comes to the sexual part of marriage, couples should pause over these words:

“But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife. Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (I Corinthians 7:2-5, NLT)

If couples want to have a better love life, husbands must be intentional and take initiative in building relationship and wives must be intentional and take initiative in sexual matters. 

Wives, please remember that you are God’s source of protection for your husbands. Couples must view sexual frustration as a threat to their marriages. Prolonged sexual abstinence must not be permitted in a marriage. Scripture specifically identifies it as an opportunity for the evil one!

Teach singles 

Men and women are different. Without some prior discussion about this reality, the differences will likely become unnecessary sources of selfishness and conflict. Many images have been used to explain male/female differences. Men are from Mars, women from Venus; Men are like waffles; women like spaghetti. The differences are real and should be studied by couples preparing for marriage. Once understood, couples should consider the way God can use their differences to build stronger oneness. 

A unique challenge in the Church

The challenge to allow differences lead to oneness is sometimes hindered by an unfortunate tendency to use biblical references to headship and submission to diminish the uniqueness and contributions of wives. When a husband insists that life conforms to his dominant identity, he violates God’s original plan for marriage and fails to embrace the original truth that it’s not good for the man to be alone. 

I’ve also observed women who suppress their identity under more dominant men who frankly need their gifts and strengths. Sometimes these women entertain misguided understandings of headship and submission. Trying to be “submissive wives,” and letting their husbands be “leaders of their homes,” these women violate the original design by not fulfilling a complementary role for husbands who badly need their unique gifts. 

The original plan assumes the necessity of individuality and uniqueness (in both husbands and wives) for the completion of oneness. The two must become one — without one disappearing into the other.

 Steve Cornell 

Losses in the battle for equality

 In every reaction, there is always danger of overreaction. 

I was recently reflecting on this when I met with two young people asking for my advice about whether they should pursue marriage. I asked each of them to share what it was about the other that they appreciate and value.

There were some very nice exchanges between them, but when the young man tried to express appreciation for his girlfriend’s domestic strengths, he stammered and struggled for fear of sounding chauvinistic or sexist. 

Although I appreciated his sensitivity, I encouraged him not to feel that such a commendation is inappropriate. We then noted how sad it is that the good battle for equality between men and women left us feeling inarticulate about distinctions between men and women. Please don’t misunderstand. I am not suggesting that domestic work is exclusively a woman’s role. It’s not. But I have little doubt that women are much better domestic managers than most men. I simply view this area (as all others) to be a shared part of life together. Frankly, however, it’s more troubling and very revealing that a young man would feel hesitant to even commend his potential mate out of fear of sounding chauvinistic. It was a red flag telling me that while we got many things right on equality, we’ve suffered losses in the process.

In the good struggle for equality, there were gains and losses.

A primary loss is the ability to articulate and celebrate the distinctions between men and women. Perhaps there is a fear that focusing on distinctions could reverse the gains in equal treatment. Yet we must not allow this fear to obscure the amazing diversity that strengthens us.

It’s not without significance that the same era emphasizing equality of the sexes also witnessed soaring divorce rates. Perhaps our failure to respect gender differences has contributed to an inability to relate peacefully with each another. I can assure you that if a man and woman walk into marriage without understanding and discussing the differences between men and women, they will have a much more difficult adjustment.

The loss of a clear vision for distinctive womanhood has led to confusion for many young women and men. I find that many women have become inarticulate concerning what they intuitively know about themselves. And men are less likely to understand and honor women appropriately without a clear appreciation for their unique distinctiveness.

Perhaps our determination to celebrate diversity should be applied to male and female distinctiveness. We really should be able to do this without losing respect for either male or female.

We can build the right vision for this by recalling the fact that God created humans in his image and likeness— both male and female. And God gave them co-regency over the created order: “God blessed “them” and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it” (Genesis 1:27-28).

 Marriage (in the Christian view) is a relationship between two spiritually equal human beings (see: Galatians 3:28). But it’s not a relationship without roles. And roles in marriage are not meant to diminish equality and mutual respect. Roles are intended to provide order and security for a beautiful relationship of diversity and unity. 

Furthermore, when two people understand and receive the love of God in Jesus Christ, they will choose to serve each other in love (see: Romans 5:8; II Corinthians 5:14-15; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:25).

Steve Cornell
Senior pastor
Millersville Bible Church
58 West Frederick Street
Millersville, PA. 17551