The third time running for a seat in the U.S. House was a charm for North Carolina Republican Mark Harris — he bested incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger in May’s primary — but his success has opened the door to criticism over his views on women, specifically their submission to their husbands.
> Mark Harris on multiple occasions — as a preacher and political candidate — has said that women should submit fully to their husbands and that he believed homosexuality is a choice. Before venturing into politics, he was a pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte.
Harris told Roll Call he doesn’t believe submission is a matter of inferiority but holds it is a relationship requirement ordained by God.
> “I say [to the husband], ‘Here’s how this works. You’ve got to love your wife with an incredible love that can only come through Christ,’” he said. “It’s really submitting one to another in a relationship.”
> “[Jesus] didn’t consider it wrong to submit himself to the Father,” he said.
Harris’s opponent, Democrat Dan McCready, has not wasted the opportunity to use the former pastor’s words against him.
> The Charlotte Observer criticized Harris in an editorial last month for once saying that women have lost basic skills “like how to prepare a meal, how to sew on a button, how to keep a home.”
> McCready also criticized Harris for comments he made in 2013, when he questioned if women pursuing careers and being independent was “a healthy pursuit for society.”
Harris has preached on wifely submission many times, saying in a sermon a few years ago that most marital problems could be resolved if couples simply followed God’s directive:
> “Many marriages could save beaucoups of marriage counseling money if they would just understand; husbands love your wives even as Christ loved the church. Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord,” he said in the sermon.
Preaching on the topic on another occasion, Harris cautioned men that they ought not try to force their wives into submission, saying it would likely backfire on them anyway.
> “You cannot force your wife to submit,” he said. “And the more you try, the more you will produce the exact opposite result.”
> He also told women in the video that they should submit, not because their husbands demand it, but “because the Lord ordained it.”
> “So get over this inequality thing — because that’s not the point of submission**,”** he said.
Shocking as they might sound to some, Harris’s views are in line with mainstream conservative Christian teaching, which professor of Christian theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Owen Strachan pointed out to Roll Call.
> “That’s not wild, out-there stuff,” Strachan said. “If you’re in the Bible serious inerrancy of evangelicalism, that’s totally normal commentary.”
> Sandra Glahn, the interim chair at the Dallas Theological Seminary, said Harris was trying to say that “submission is a hierarchy.”
> But women’s role in submitting can be over-emphasized, she said.
> “When you continue to emphasize wives, you sure set yourself to be saying, ‘Put up with abuse,’” she said.
The contest between Harris and McCready is expected to be close, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee naming McCready to its Red to Blue program targeting Republican-held seats the party believes it can flip.