Here are the six posts in my Grounds for Divorce series.
The false doctrine that God the Son eternally submits to God the Father is known as ESS (Eternal Submission of the Son, or Eternal Subordination of the Son). This false teaching has sometimes been applied to coerce women to submit to their abusive husbands.
ESS has been soundly refuted by many eminent theologians and pastors. This post features an article by Brad Mason which explains that Philippians 2 contradicts ESS. Brad’s argument is one of many scriptural arguments that soundly refute ESS.
Here is a segment from Brad Mason’s article Answering Four Common Laymen Objections to ESS Critics.
(Philippians 2:1-8) Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
This passage in Philippians CANNOT mean: “Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus, who having always and eternally been a subordinate Person of God by nature, nevertheless set aside this natural estate of obedience and submission in order to become obedient and submissive.”
Reflections by Barb
God the Son, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are eternally co-equal. Jesus in his divine nature is eternally co-equal with the Father. In my decades of walking as a Christian, I have found this to be a truth that bears much pondering. Again and afresh, new light shines when I ponder passages that speak about the co-equality of the Persons in the Godhead, and the uniqueness of Jesus in coming into the world as a man to voluntarily become a sin offering on our behalf and open the way for us to be restored from certain death, to life in Christ.
This post is being added to the ESS Digest which has links to other posts about ESS.
I recently discovered the blog Tolerant Jesus Meek and Mild. The blogger obviously understands the dynamics of abuse and how the Bible is misinterpreted in ways that enable abusers and encumber the victims of abuse. He or she has been a student at Moody Bible Institute. The posts show a pretty good understanding of what is taught in evangelical fundamentalist Christian circles.
I came across the blog because Julie Cleaveland, who blogs at Be Outside The Camp, linked to it in her recent post A Letter to Anna Duggar. I recommend Julie’s letter to Anna Duggar. I think most of my readers would get a lot out of it.
Here are several posts at Tolerant Jesus Meek and Mild.
I have added Tolerant Jesus Meek and Mild and Be Outside the Camp to our blogroll.
Other posts by Julie Cleveland
Comforting My Church With the Comfort They Gave – Julie kindly wrote this as a guest post at ACFJ, before she started her own blog.
Here are the four posts in my series Theologians on Grounds for Divorce.
Is the husband’s role parallel to that of God the Father, and the wife’s role parallel to that of God the Son?
(1 Corinthians 11:3) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
Professor Wayne Grudem interprets 1 Corinthians 11:3 as follows:
just as the Father has authority over the Son in the Trinity, so the husband has authority over the wife in marriage. The husband’s role is parallel to that of God the Father and the wife’s role is parallel to that of God the Son.
— Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, chapter 14
Wayne Grudem is notorious for pushing the idea that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father. That idea is commonly referred to as ESS — Eternal Subordination of the Son.
ESS is a fallacious doctrine which has compounded the entrapment of women who are abused by their husbands.
The ESS interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:3 gives the wife the role of being the self-sacrificing suffering servant under the headship of her husband. That means it contradicts Ephesians 5.
Brad Mason exposes how just fallacious and un-biblical the ESS interpretation is:
[The ESS reading of 1 Corinthian 11:3 is] that the suffering Servant role of Christ toward God is the role of the wife to her husband. On that fallacious reading, the wife’s co-equality is realized in her self-sacrificial servant role under the headship of her husband.
On the contrary, in Ephesians 5 we see the husband bearing the self-sacrificial role of loving service on behalf of his wife.
In the ESS analogical reading of 1 Corinthians 11, headship implies rule over the self-sacrificing servant wife; in Ephesians 5, where an actual and explicit analogy is present, headship implies self-sacrificing service on behalf of the wife.
Take home message
The husband’s headship means he ought to self-sacrificially serve his wife. Jesus the suffering Servant, who serves and builds up the church*, is the model for the husband sacrificially serving his wife.
*The church / the congregation / the people of God means all the people whom God has been, is and will be making one with and in Christ.
Articles by Brad Mason
For further reading