Are there strong parallels between Mormonism, Islam, and ESS?

In the recent posts on ACFJ regarding Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, women, authority, etc.,  I kept thinking about the parallel and false doctrines in Mormonism and Islam.

My parents were both born & raised in the state of Utah, which is largely Mormon, and I know firsthand the damage of patriarchal politics in family, society and culture from a pervasive “religious” context that is entrenched and engulfing.

There are several strong parallels between the doctrines found in Mormonism and Islam concerning women. I have long believed that both “faiths” are probably rooted in demonic, oppressive influences. And just like abusers, one faith is covert (Mormonism) and one is brutally overt (Islam). 

Parallel 1

Both religions endorse polygamy. Mormons deny the practice here on Earth, but still perform plural “spiritual” marriages because single women “need” a husband in order to enter “celestial” Heaven. If a woman remains single and marriage is unlikely, then earthly husbands are “married” to these women, effective in the hereafter. Islam allows up to four wives during life, and of course 70 virgins if a Muslim man is martyred. Oddly, if Muslim women are martyred, there is no parallel incentive or reward.

Parallel 2

Both religions oppress women through authoritarian theology: silencing their voices, minimizing their worth, demanding submission, covering their beauty, expecting multiple pregnancies / large families, tithing to improve their status while neglecting wives and children, punitive attitudes, harsh consequences for “disobedience”, elevating men to authoritarian positions, subjugating women with abundant humiliation, denigration, etc.

Parallel 3

Both religions are strongly ‘works-based’ and since women are inherently inferior to men, their works are also inferior. Thus, women can never be assured of heaven.  Without a man they are doomed to lesser reward or no reward at all.

Parallel 4

And finally, both Islam / Mormonism recognize Jesus as a prophet, but only His humanity — not His deity.  Grudem and Ware who teach ESS / ERAS¹ are dangerously close to saying something similar to Islam and Mormonism in this respect, whether they admit it or not. The more I read Grudem’s version of submission & authority, the more it looks like shariah law and the less it looks like freedom in Christ. The more it becomes clear that it is not grace; it is anathema.

Then came this across my desk today, and it is both frightening and illuminating: Gatestone Institute [Internet Archive link].  Their post reads in part:

Islamic law, always harsh, is still harsher for women. According to the Koran, men have “authority” over women and may beat them if they are “disobedient” (4:34). According to Mohammad, the prophet of Islam, women are less intelligent than men [Internet Archive link] — two women are needed to equal one man’s testimony — and women ……are likened to donkeys and dogs [Internet Archive link] in their ability to distract a man from his prayer and thereby annul it.

How is this different from the doctrine of ESS / ERAS? Is it possible that Grudem, Ware and company are not “testing the spirits”, but instead have succumbed to them?

And what will all the Grudem / Ware aficionados do or say in defense of Christians, male and female, who are being abused, beaten, humiliated & even murdered under Islam, when THEY have turned a blind eye to the abuses excused under their own false teaching of submission & authority? What will be THEIR defense?

The Graystone Institute post ends with this:

One seldom hears of …..a Muslim wife killing her husband for apostasy, due to the lack of authority women have in the Muslim world.
You do not want to be a woman in Islam.

Many women could say the same under the Church.


¹ ESS —  Eternal Subordination of the Son (to the Father)
ERAS — Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission in the Trinity


Thank you to one of our readers for this post!

23 thoughts on “Are there strong parallels between Mormonism, Islam, and ESS?”

  1. It’s interesting you are pointing out similarities between patriarchal church teaching and Mormonism. I have long felt they were eerily similar, even before Wayne Grudem came out with the ESS teaching.

    Their view of marriage is just so out of proportion to biblical teachings. They elevate marriage to an idolatrous position, acting as though the marriage itself is essential to salvation for both husband and wife. If either spouse is abusive and / or adulterous, the innocent spouse is told to suck it up and deal with it because ‘God hates divorce’ and because ‘the abusive spouse may be saved thru the testimony of the faithful spouse.’ Essentially, they are placing the burden of both spouses’ salvation on the faithful spouse…as though it were up to them to endure the abuse until death so both can be saved.

    That is really not too far off from the Mormon view of marriage being essential to salvation…and a far cry from sound biblical teaching.

    Then, when I heard of this ESS teaching, I was again reminded of Mormon teaching. Mormon doctrine holds that Jesus is ‘a god’…but a lesser god to the Father. They have a saying, “What man is, God once was. What God is, man may become.” From this paradigm, Jesus is seen as less far along the evolutionary path than the Father…making him a lesser god…and therefore, eternally subordinate to the Father…very similar to recent ESS teaching.

    Frankly, I see Wayne Grudem’s teaching as being much better aligned with Mormon doctrine than with orthodox Christian teachings.

    1. Joepote01 wrote:

      They elevate marriage to an idolatrous position, acting as though the marriage itself is essential to salvation for both husband and wife. If either spouse is abusive and / or adulterous, the innocent spouse is told to suck it up and deal with it because ‘God hates divorce’ and because ‘the abusive spouse may be saved thru the testimony of the faithful spouse.’ Essentially, they are placing the burden of both spouses’ salvation on the faithful spouse… as though it were up to them to endure the abuse until death so both can be saved.

      This is exactly what’s been going on and what is so often written about on this website!

      When my daughter was in grade school she was very well-behaved and quiet-natured. She was a great student and self-motivated. What was her reward? The teacher(s) would put the trouble-maker children next to her because she wouldn’t cause a scene or fight with them and basically was forced to suck up their abuse in order to keep the peace. This happened all throughout grade school and each year we had to address it to the teacher in order for them to notice that these trouble-maker children hadn’t STOPPED being trouble-makers but that they now had a compliant victim! After grade-school she refused to allow teachers to do this (knowing we would back her up 100%).

      It’s the same principle. In order to keep the peace and keep the lie rolling (the lie that modeling perfect behavior can change a demon into an angel) they dump the responsibility AND blame on the one who will try to help. SHAME ON THE CHURCHES FOR PERPETUATING THIS EVIL!

      Thank you Joepote01 for summing up a shameful–and all too common situation–going on in many churches today. Evil sucks but those who don’t acknowledge that it exists and that it’s a signifier of those who belong to their father the devil, make it suck so much worse!

  2. I was born and raised into Mormonism in the state of CA. However, I was never introduced to misogynistic theology until I became a Christian at age 21. There are different branches of Mormonism. I believe the CA Mormons are very egalitarian in marriage [and] although still no women in the clergy they are allowed to stand up before the congregation once a month and share their testimony and what they’ve been learning personally in their spiritual walk.

    The Mormons in CA do believe that Jesus is the Son of God although created and was once a man who obeyed the Father so perfectly that God exalted him into godhood to rule over a kingdom in the heavens that is for the lesser-perfect Mormons. Christ is worshipped in the hymn books but not prayed to. They do close their prayers in Jesus’ name like we do.

    They also believe the godhead is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost but the Father has preeminence and the “lesser two” are one with the Father (meaning they are perfectly subservient to the Father) not like the evangelical Christian view of the trinity.

    But in my upbringing my mom was a devout Mormon who was very much still to a degree a feminist and I certainly didn’t learn submission to husband from her. She never got in trouble. Women were treated much much much better in church where I grew up.

    1. Hi God Fearing Mom,
      Your observations are interesting.

      It may well be that some Christian churches are more misogynistic than some Mormon churches.

      But I would never ever recommend a person go to a Mormon church. While misogyny can be damaging, believing false doctrine about God is FAR more damaging because it will lead a person to hell when they might have thought they were going to heaven.

      The Mormon belief that Jesus is a created being like us, who was elevated to Godhood because he obeyed the Father perfectly, is utterly and completely wrong. It is heresy. And it leads to the belief that Jesus is not equal to the Father. This defective doctrine of the Trinity supports other false beliefs of Mormonism, for example, the idea that Mormon men can become Gods in the afterlife if they (and their wives?) are obedient enough. This is just false. It’s hubris. It is works-based religion. And anyone who is relying on their own obedience (their own works) for salvation is just not saved. They are going to end up in hell if they keep believing that.

      Praying in Jesus name doesn’t indicate that a person or a religion has correct doctrine. It’s just a verbal formula.

      I’m sure you know all this, 🙂 but I wanted to say it to guard others from falling into error, if they do not know it.

      1. Right, Barb. No problem. 🙂

        I probably sounded just a tad advertising for Mormons in the last paragraph there. I guess I was just commenting from pain and maybe even envy that some of their systems are just overall more Christ-like and they are really devout and sincere although still lost in the sense that some of them trust in misinformation about God and they are trying to earn grace etc. Some baby Christians get sucked into Mormonism not realizing that the beliefs about God are so far removed from biblical truth that it’s dangerous.

      2. God Fearing Mom, Thank you for sharing your experiences with Mormonism (your testimony) as I really don’t personally know any Mormons that became Christians, so your knowledge is shining a light on it for me. Barb’s responses too are helping me learn.

        Again, it’s why we need to share our true life experiences–the truth of what’s really taken place in our lives–because God is the author, creator and perfecter of our faith and our walk, and He has meant for each footstep to be spoken of truthfully. Who knows who we’ll meet in the future or if someone we know has a friend who is going through something similar–but that old adage, “knowledge is power” is true for us Christians. Knowledge given by God is very powerful stuff!

  3. These things are also very similar to ultra-conservative homeschoolers. It gave me great pause and caused me to clear many authors from my shelf. My emotionally abusive, stbx loved some of their teachings and blamed me for not following close enough.

    1. As a former homeschooled girl I would have to agree. Mormonism is very similar to conservative homeschool teachings. This post helped me confirm something I always thought but was too afraid to say.

  4. Islam, Mormonism, “C”hristian” polygamists, ESS, ERAS have the spirit of the Nicolaitans, Canaanite Baal worship, and Roman paganism written all over it. The god they worship is one and the same but it is not the God of the Bible. I’ve recently read autobiographical accounts of women who have escaped polygamist cults. It destroys families and individuals. There is no fruit of self-control, it is all about lust, power and control. There is no sacrificial love. The men pit the women and their children against each other and manipulate them, they do not take care of their families, they expect their wives to work or use tax payers to fund their lack of responsibility. There is no closeness with wives or children, it is the absent father on steroids, women and children are commodities. It is marriage covenant breaking of the worst kind.

  5. Mainstream Mormons don’t practice polygamy in this life but believe to get to the highest degree of heaven you have to get married and sealed in the temple. And I heard the mainstream Mormons still believe that the men will practice polygamy in heaven because if they are nearly perfectly obedient they will be gods of their own worlds and need to produce offspring for those worlds and not to mention redeeming saviors for those worlds. These doctrines are not generally revealed to young mainstream Mormon kids as far as I know.

  6. I grew up as a Mormon and am now on my own spiritual journey to discover faith for myself. This post brought up some points that I’ve heard before about Mormonism: that it is seen as an oppressive religion or cult run by a patriarchy, encouraging polygamy. I understand these points from an outside perspective (because I’m there now), but I’ve also lived it most of my life from an insider perspective. […] Some of the claims in this post rang true about Mormonism, and others did not, from what I’ve personally lived and known. In any religion, there are abusers. People who oppress their spouses. Who exercise authority over the ones they should love. It’s not just a Mormon thing or a Islam thing–it’s everywhere. Likewise, in every religion there are truly incredible Christlike people who are not oppressive, who are genuinely living their best and being a light in whatever community they are in.

    I found that most Mormon men were not authoritarian, punitive, condescending, or demanding submission of their wives (though I’ve heard of polygamous groups not affiliated with Mormonism running into those problems). Most of them honored and loved their wives without looking at them as inferiors. My husband didn’t, but I don’t feel like my situation reflected the majority. It’s true that there is not very much help for Mormon women in terms of abuse. They are encouraged to go to professional counseling, which is often paid for by the church, whether the counselor is affiliated with the church or not. It’s true that abuse is not talked about nearly enough within Mormonism, which is the main reason why I went on my own spiritual path, and found places like this one to help validate and teach me about what to do in an abusive situation, from a religious perspective.

    I must ask, though, does it help to label other religions and / or men within them as demonic, oppressive and punitive? Does that help the victims of abuse within these systems to leave their situations any faster? What kind of help can be offered to these women that will empower them to leave? If they are oppressed, traumatized, and under the authoritarian influence of their husbands, then they are probably in denial and dissociating from their reality. They might be incredibly resistant to those who tell them their religion is wrong and their belief systems they’ve known their whole lives are not, in fact, based in truth. How do we help them?

    I apologize for voicing my thoughts, if they are contrary to your mission here. I didn’t write to stir up any controversy, or attack. Just wanted to bring up a perspective as a former active member of one of the religions in question.

    1. I agree, I don’t think it helps to label other religions as demonic and oppressive. I’ve seen and experienced too much of that kind of behavior within evangelical Christian churches. Some of the abuse that happens in evangelical churches is already the worst of the worst, I don’t see any point in criticizing other faiths.

      1. I don’t think the main thrust of this post was to criticize other faiths. I thought the main point was to shed more light on the error of ESS (which we believe is an erroneous doctrine parading as a Christian doctrine). But inevitably in a post like this where we are comparing religious doctrines, there is some discussion of the errors of other religions.

        Hope that smooths the waters a bit.

      2. (This is a reply to Barbara’s comment below, which I’m not able to reply to.)

        I’m just curious as to how discussing the errors of other religions benefits anyone? Or alluding to members of other religions going to hell for their beliefs is helpful to those who are trying to leave abuse behind? Specifically those who might be visiting this website as members of those religions? To them, this might feel like an attack on their integrity and their beliefs.

      3. It will help them if it makes them realise they have been holding wrong ideas about how to be saved.

        Yes, a person who is holding wrong ideas about salvation will perhaps feel like what I said is an attack on their beliefs, and by implication, an attack on their integrity. But the gospel is an offence to those who do not believe it. Jesus and the authors of the New Testament all taught that. This blog does not aim to protect wrong beliefs, especially when they are beliefs which have dangerous consequences if one holds them.

        This blog aims to expose wrong beliefs and to help people understand what the Bible really teaches. The danger of believing error about the way of salvation is a very grave danger because it has eternal consequences.

        Hell is certainly real, and Jesus spoke a lot about it. As His followers, part of our calling is to warn unbelievers in the hope that our warnings will be heard by them and they will reject their wrong beliefs and come to believe the gospel which is the only true way of salvation.

      4. Thank you all for addressing this, and Barb thank you for your reply.

        This website is such a great example of how repetition, repetition, repetition works– it’s how God works. Over and over and over the Bible repeats itself and the prophets say many of the same things over and over as well. Do they really need to repeat themselves so many times or say the same thing using different words? Apparently the answer is “Yes!”

        In that vein, it’s due to the diligence of people like Barb and Jeff who are not afraid to stand up for the truth even though they may offend some people—INITIALLY. The truth of God’s word is LIFE and the evil one does NOT want any who belong to him to have a chance to live. He wants to keep as many as possible enslaved and going to hell and those who do belong to God he wants to keep from growing and walking in the Spirit.

        When I first started waking up to the truth of God’s word I had been a Christian for decades. DECADES! Yet due to horrifically wrong teaching and evil people who look like Christians but belong to their father the devil, I was worn out, hopeless, and working like a madman with zero fulfillment in Jesus.

        Enter my Lord and Savior. BAM! Went my marriage. BAM! Went any relationships that in the past had led me to believe I had loving people who cared about me. BAM! Went our finances and the haven that money can be in times of famine. BAM! Went all the teachings on how being a good role model or a loving parent or spouse ensured that all would be well.

        How did life look to me? IT LOOKED LIKE DEATH!

        So I started searching and researching and reading and crying and screaming out to God and over and over I’d run into certain words on many websites or certain beliefs (like those expressed by the moderators of this website) and although INITIALLY they may have been foreign to me or offended me because I didn’t understand their significance, the more I ran into them and the more that people addressed them, the less odd they were and the more I researched. God used truth perpetuated by people who lovingly refused to agree to “tolerance” of evil or erroneous beliefs and who repeated themselves (as Jeff is often pointing out, few of his new posts are actually new–just the same biblical truths addressed with new experiences that have added depth to his understanding) over and over and over–just as the Bible does.

        “Boundaries” was one of those words that I ran into for YEARS before I started researching it. Prior to that I thought it was one of those new-fangled terms used in psychology that was trendy. Nope. Boundaries ended up being one of the last major puzzle pieces to understanding how the evil one was able to gain access to me and how abusers train us to accept abuse as normal and then include us in the blame. And how God is BIG into setting boundaries and this flows throughout His word. Boundaries are set and are necessary to EVERYTHING so that it can operate correctly including how our bodies function all the way to not inviting evil spirits into our spiritual boundary–our souls. To violate a boundary marker was a MAJOR offense in the old testament.

        I pray this long post helps explain how important and necessary it is to speak the truth through God’s word even though we know that initially it may offend some people. But it needs to be said and written anyway because God may have been working in a persons life for a while and when they ONCE AGAIN stumble upon one of these truths spoken or written of in other places–here may be where He breaks off the final scales that kept them blind. Or here may be the FIRST time they read about a truth from His word, and He will use it as a building block so as they come across it again and again, they are finally able to see the truth.

        Thank you again Barb and all who comment here. Just look at the progression of this string of comments in this one post alone and see how as we read through it we are learning and sifting and the Holy Spirit is here lovingly guiding us. We so desperately need each other and we so desperately need God’s truth. Thank you for creating and safeguarding a beautiful place to help God’s little ones to grow in Him and share their hearts.

      5. Thank you, Anonymous. 🙂

        Yes, we need each other. And I’ve been thinking about that OT principle that to violate a boundary marker was a major offense.

        Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless (Prov 23:10 NIV)

        When you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession, you must never steal anyone’s land by moving the boundary markers your ancestors set up to mark their property. (Deut 19:14 NLT)

        ‘Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ (Deut 27:17 ESV)

        Evil people steal land by moving the boundary markers. They steal livestock and put them in their own pastures. (Job 24:2 NLT)

        The princes of Judah are like those who move boundary markers; I will pour out My fury on them like water. (Hos 5:10 HCSB

  7. I would also add the Masonic Order to the groups that worship a false “god” […] Did you all ever notice the Masonic red fez with the crescent moon?? Demonic in origin and nature and many church leaders have taken Masonic occult vows, some unknowingly so..

  8. Years ago I had a good friend who really helped me search the scriptures. At the time (of course) I had no idea that God was preparing me so that as I was careening through the shattering of my entire belief system, as well as realizing that my husband, children and family members were psychopaths, I knew cognitively and biblically that these major trials were a possibility in the life of a Christian. She was one of those pivotal people in my life and we talked several times a day for years (over the phone), always related to the Bible. We challenged each other and dug deeply into God’s Word and shared our experiences and understandings. She was African American and really woke me up to so many things.

    One of those things was how the Mormons in the past, have viewed black people. She loaned me the videos titled, “The God Makers.” It’s been well over a decade since I’ve watched those videos but I remember asking her at the time if the man who started the Mormon religion (Joseph Smith) was on drugs! He was so bizarre (to put it nicely) that it amazed me people bought his insanity and followed him. Fast-forward and I now wonder if he wasn’t simply a psychopath with that psychopathic way of seducing others and manipulating their perception of reality. And with this realization I wonder if all the people who started these abusive religions, weren’t all psychopaths.

    People without a conscience belong to their father the devil so it would make sense that if this was the caliber of men who created entire belief systems that were set up to enslave people, the subjugation of others was simply a typical trait. Does it even matter now? Oh yes, and it explains a lot.

  9. And I’ve been thinking about that OT principle that to violate a boundary marker was a major offense.

    To your comment, Barb, I would add this:

    Whenever you remove any fence, always pause long enough to ask yourself, ‘Why was it put there in the first place?’ (G.K. Chesterton)

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