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To see it clearly

February 17, 2014

A few days ago I read a blog post called An Olympic Message for Husbands and Wives in which the author, John Ensor, informs us that the pairs figure skating clearly teaches the principles of a complementarian marriage; a marriage where the husband leads in love and strength and a wife submits with respect and grace.  He goes into great detail explaining how the event gives us a clear picture of how such a marriage ought to work.

Not to be outdone, and indeed in response, a few days later there was another article called Complementarianism on Ice by Naomi Hanvey, explaining that Ensor is not only wrong, he is exactly wrong, because the pairs figure skating clearly teaches the principles of an egalitarian marriage; a marriage of mutual submission and partnership.  She is polite and detailed in her refutation and her article, like Ensor’s, does not contain any of the sarcasm or ridicule that so often characterizes debates between Christians on such hot-button issues.

You are free to read the two articles and decide for yourself which of the two authors make a better case for their point of view.  My personal opinion is that it is quite possible that the Olympic event has nothing whatsoever to say to a marriage.  I am certain that none of the competitors see their efforts as an effort to prove either point of view.

What is on display here is a very fine example of confirmation bias; the human tendency to favor information that supports beliefs they already hold.   Ensor, a confirmed complementarian, watches the skating and has his “Ah Ha!” moment where he clearly sees his views confirmed.  He rushes to his computer and dashes off an article sharing his insights with the rest of us.  Hanvey, an egalitarian (I suppose) reads the article, sees the same event, and has her “Ah Ha!” moment confirming exactly the opposite point of view.  She too needs to let us know.

I suspect strongly that the hope of both Ensor and Hanvey is that we choose which one we think is right.  The articles are intended to persuade.  But what they do for me is to make me aware of my own fragile mind.  In truth, I am no different than either of them.  I too have beliefs.  In this case I already held an opinion similar to one of them.  Not so shockingly I found her article the more persuasive.

But my opinion needs to be held with humility, expressed with grace, and always open to be changed.  Theological disputes on non-essential issues can, for some of us, be fun.  They can also sharpen our thinking and cause us to spend more time in God’s Word.  All this is good.  The only way we can make it bad is to be certain; to be sure that we alone are right; to be sarcastic or condescending to those who differ.  For me, Ensor and Hanvey have come together to teach me this lesson anew.

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