Eternal Subordination–It’s a salvation issue!

2014-07-03 10.30.43There has been much written lately about the Eternal Subordination of the Son, and much of it is technical. What I want to do in this post is to bring it down to the basics.

Here is the question: Is the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Jehovah God of Israel?

The church has always confessed that he is indeed Jehovah God. As Jehovah, He is the proper object of our prayers and sovereign over all things.

Paul explicitly states this truth in Romans 10:9-13

9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.
13 For a”everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The two parts of Paul’s gospel are these: First, to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and, second, to believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead.

The question is, then, what does it mean to confess that Jesus is Lord? There are two possible interpretations if you take this verse by itself. First, it may mean to confess that Jesus is your master, whose law is to be obeyed. This is a possible meaning of the Greek “Kyrios”. It can mean a master, one who owns you and whose will is to be obeyed.

There is no question that this truth is taught concerning Jesus. But is that what is being taught in this particular verse?

Looking at the context, we see that something much deeper is being taught. Paul’s demonstration from the Old Testament scriptures of the truth he is teaching is found in verse 13: “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In other words, Paul is teaching that the way that you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord is by calling upon him for salvation, as was foretold by the prophet Joel:

31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.
32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.

To make this simple, Paul quotes Joel 2:31-32 to bear witness to the gospel. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord – as is written in Joel 2 – you will be saved.

The word that Paul uses is Kyrios (Lord, master, ruler, owner). But the word that Joel uses is YHWH (Jehovah), which is the personal name of Israel’s covenant God, the creator of heaven and earth, sovereign God and the only object of our prayers, and the only redeemer. “Kyrios” can refer to a husband, an owner of slaves, a landlord, much like our word “lord”; but YHWH can only refer to the one true God.

When the Old Testament was translated into Greek, the Hebrew YHWH was translated by the word Kyrios (lord), much like our modern English Bibles. This follows the Jewish custom of preserving the sacred name of God. Whenever a Jew would come upon the word “YHWH” they would pronounce it “Adonai”, meaning “lord”. This custom continues to our day, whatever language one speaks.

But the Hebrew text itself in Joel 2 doesn’t say “lord”; it says YHWH. In our English versions every letter of LORD is in caps, indicating that it translates the Hebrew YHWH. This is important to our interpretation of this text.

So then the question of interpretation is this. Is Paul saying that salvation is calling Jesus our owner and master? Or is it calling Jesus YHWH, the creator and sustainer of the universe?

And by quoting Joel, Paul removes all doubt. Salvation depends upon calling upon Jesus the son of Mary, who also is YHWH the eternal second person of the divine trinity, to save us.

This calling must be done with the mouth and believed in the heart. When we call upon Jesus we are calling upon Jehovah God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

This is simply a sample passage of many. Throughout scripture, Jesus of Nazareth is identified as YHWH, the God of Israel. The heart of the Christian faith is that Jesus, who walked among men, who suffered and bled and died, who rose from the dead, is one and the same Jehovah God, who spoke to Israel from Mt. Sinai, who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Since this is true, the following passages also apply to the person of Jesus Christ.

25 To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God?
28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength (Isa 40:25-29 KJV)


18 For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. (Isa 45:18 KJV)


9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: (Isa 46:9-10 KJV)


13 Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?
14 With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?
(Isa 40:13-14 KJV)


11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
(Psa 102:11-12 KJV)


14 And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you (Exo 3:14 KJV)


8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD.
(1Ch 16:8-10 KJV)


3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. (Psa 18:3 KJV)

How many more do we need? If Jesus is Jehovah, then he is taught of no one, submits to no one, does all his good pleasure, is the only source of our salvation, is the only name worthy to be praised, owes his origin to no one and is worthy of praise, glory, honor and blessing forever and ever.

If this is not the case, if Jesus is NOT Jehovah, then we are horrible blasphemers every time we sing praise to Him.

If he IS Jehovah, then he submits to no one.

Compare this, then, to current teachers of ESS – the Eternal Subordination of the Son:

The Father, then, is rightly the primary object of Christian prayer, since he is the one who, as designer and architect of all things, has highest authority and position over all things. The Son, for his part, accomplishes the atoning work by which alone he may bring those who believe in him to the Father (2 Cor 5:18-20; 1 Pet 3:18). The Son, then, is not primarily the object of the Christian’s prayers but rather the one through whom his prayers are brought to the Father. (Bruce Ware)

Though all three members of the Trinity are equal in power and in all other attributes, the Father has a greater authority. He has a leadership role among all the members of the Trinity that the Son and the Holy Spirit do not have. (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan 1994) p 459

In this chapter, I will attempt to show that this “temporary submission” view is incorrect. In contrast to that view, I will examine the meaning of the names “Father” and “Son” as well as 31 passages of Scripture that give evidence that God the Father has eternally had a role of leadership, initiation, and primary authority among the members of the Trinity, and that the Son has eternally been subject to the Father’s authority. (There are also good reasons to hold that the Holy Spirit has eternally been subject to the authority of the Father and of the Son, but it is not the focus of this essay.) (Wayne Grudem)

And rather than back down when confronted with the charge of anti-nicean trinitarianism (read “heresy”) they continue to teach this and dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes. Salvation is at stake. This is not simply a difference of opinion among Christians. This is the heart of the Christian faith.

You cannot say that Jesus has all the same attributes as the Father and ascribe to him an eternal subordination role. Either he is sovereign, or he is not. If he is Jehovah, he is sovereign. If he is sovereign, then he submits to no one, by definition.

This is the foundation of the faith, according to the scripture and the confession of the church. Anything else is another gospel. Let’s call it what it is. Damnable heresy. That isn’t me. That’s the bible. If Jesus is not the object of our prayers, according to Ware, then he is not God. You can quibble over the meanings of ontological and economical all you want, but the point is still there. Jesus is God or he is not. If he is God, he is the One we pray to. If he is not, then say so and be done with it.

But don’t call yourself a Christian.

There is much more to be said. But you, gentle reader, study this issue from the scriptures. Salvation is at stake. It is not a minor thing. If one is to be saved, according to Paul, one must confess with his mouth that Jesus is one and the same Jehovah, Covenant God of Israel.


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30 responses to “Eternal Subordination–It’s a salvation issue!

  1. I agree with you.
    However, why did a voice from above identify Jesus as His Son (Matthew 3:17, 17:5), and why did Jesus teach us to pray to “Our” Father (Matthew 6:9), and why did He pray to His Father (Matt 26:39,42), and ask that His Father forgive those that crucified Him (Luke 23:34) if Jesus is indeed the same Being as the Father/Jehovah?

    • Those are good questions. First, we confess that there is only one true and eternal God – Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is no other.
      But in this one nature of God, there are three persons – Father, Son and Holy Ghost. There is a real distinction, but there is only one God. This is beyond our understanding.
      The reason that the eternal Son of God is called the Son has nothing whatsoever to do with submission and authority. It has only to do with nature, or essence. As a father, I beget a son who is of the same nature as me. A human father begets a human son. The Father also has begotten a Son – and the nature of God is unity, indivisibility, simplicity, independence and sovereignty. None of these attributes are lost in the begetting of the second person. Also, since God is eternal by nature, this did not happen in time, but in eternity. There was never a time when the Son was not.
      There is a real distinction in the persons, and yet there are not three almighty beings. But only one.
      The distinction is this. The Father begets. The son is begotton. The spirit procedes from the father and the son.
      What that means is beyond our understanding. But it certainly cannot mean submission any more than the Son can be not almighty. Divine nature is not in parts that can be lost. Every attribute of God is essential.
      I Know that this is very confusing, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language. If you were here, I would take you through all of it step by step.
      In the meantime, what the church confesses is in the Athanasian creed, which I’ve attached here:

      • My questions were hastily phrased, and I apologize for that. Clearly, ESS is in opposition to the Athanasian creed. My thoughts here are drawn more towards the significance of The Son professing His submission to the Father’s will (as in Matthew 26:39, and John 12:49), rather than actually existing as subordinate. In your opinion, is Jesus setting an example for us and modeling the necessity of our own submission to God? Would that be the correct way to interpret these passages?

    • Still Reforming

      Hi! I have read that some early manuscripts do not include Luke 23:34a, so it may not be a verse about which questions could be raised with respect to theological matters. I myself tend to find the verse somewhat suspect, given the need of repentance for forgiveness (at least as I see what is consistently throughout Scripture; I don’t really have the time for debate on that.issue, but just wanted to throw out the idea to you that that half a verse is questionable since it is not in some early manuscripts).

      • The phrase in question is part of the inspired text, and I have no problem with it. Look at the words carefully. He is not saying “I forgive you”, because you are exactly right – forgiveness is an act based upon repentance. Instead Jesus is praying that the Father would forgive them – this prayer is a prayer that they would come to repentance, confess their sins, embrace the sacrifice of Christ and become new creatures in Christ.
        This prayer was fulfilled at Pentecost, when 3000 repented with tears, and accepted Christ. The father forgave them, just as Christ prayed would happen>
        There is a lesson here for us with regards to what it means to love our enemies. To say, “I forgive you” cheapens the word forgiveness. But we can pray for the grace to ask God to forgive them – what we are praying, then, is that they will come to true faith and be covered by the blood of Christ. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

      • Pastor Powell,
        I love your ability to draw poignant portraits of the Divine reality from your extensive study of Scripture. It’s a refreshing change from what I’m accustomed to, which is reliance upon short-sighted, legalistic interpretations of Scripture to underscore one’s own theological points. The loving, gracious nature of the Christ you serve shines through your words. Thank you for serving Him this way:)

      • Thank you for your comment! And yes, you are spot on with your assessment of Luke 23:34a, as it does not appear in the earliest Lucan manuscripts.
        Because I’m by nature a theology geek, I’m going to go on to say that to prevent criticism of the doctrine of repentance (at least as it’s typically understood by laity) into question, we’d have to do more than throw out half a verse in Luke– we’d have to call the entire Gospel of John into question, as ‘metanoia’ (alliteration of the Koine Greek word translated as repentance) occurs ZERO times in that text.
        However, that is a topic that we do not need to debate here, as I suspect we agree that true, saving “belief” in Jesus can only come about through the process of metanoia (a turning around, or change of mind). So, theological crisis averted. You’re welcome;)

  2. Hi TheUngodlyWoman ( and by the way, your Berean-like questions suggest that you are NOT ungodly)

    The ESS doctrine, the Eternal Subordination of the Son doctrine, is damnable heresy because it says that the Son was is and will be subordination to the Father ETERNALLY.

    The Son was subordinate to the Father in his incarnation. The Son, took on flesh. He subordinated Himself to the Father, and He was perfectly obedient to the Law, to his Father’s will and precepts, in his life as Jesus the Man. Voluntarily, out of love for us, He bore the sin of the whole world, He bore the wrath of God for all sin, in his suffering and death on the Cross. He voluntarily bore the penalty and punishment for sin for the whole world. But in practical application, this atonement is and will be applied only to those who will come to effectually believe unto salvation, their names having been written in the book of life from before the foundation of the world.

    So the subordination of the Son only pertains to his Incarnation. It does NOT pertain to the Son in Eternity.

    In Eternity, the Son was, is, and always will be EQUAL with the Father. And the same applies to the Holy Spirit. Equal in authority. Equal in rank.

    And to teach otherwise, as Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware do, is pernicious heresy.

    • Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and expand on this. It makes perfect sense to me that the will to subordination of the Divine-Man would not necessarily translate into an actual Eternal subordination. In the same way that I have the hope that the limits of my own human nature (being the ungodly woman and all) will not transfer over to Eternity, I’m banking on that Jesus Christ’s Divinity and equality with God is no longer hindered by His short period of Incarnation!
      It’s fascinating to me that a theological idea like this could gain any traction… Which is why I’m trying so hard to see it from the other perspective, lol!

  3. The church has confessed mystery – the fathers used the term “a certain subordination as to order” in the Trinity, but would always hesitate and refuse to define it more closely, wanting to safeguard any hint of Jesus as a lesser being.
    All of the passages that speak of Jesus as submitting, obeying, doing the will of the Father – etc, have in view the incarnation and his work of redemption.
    There are two distinct natures in Christ – human and divine. But only one person. Properties of each nature are ascribed to the one person. So Jesus is all-wise, all powerful, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent Jehovah. And at the same time, submissive to the Father, weak, ignorant, growing in wisdom and stature, hungry and capable of pain and death. And yet there are not two persons. Only one. For this reason, the shepherds worshiped the baby in the manger – for he was not only a weak, hungry and tired baby, but he was also true and eternal God and worthy of worship and praise.
    We don’t understand it but we confess it by faith.
    Where Grudem goes wrong is ascribing the attributes of Jesus’ human nature to his divine nature. By saying that Jesus is submissive as to his divine person (ie, eternal subordination) he either redefines deity, or denies deity to the person of Christ.
    The fact remains that if Jesus is not sovereign, doing all his good pleasure, then he is not God, unless you redefine who God is and remove sovereignty from His attributes.
    Good answer, Barbara.

  4. Still Reforming

    I see your, point and I agree that Jesus is not subordinate. I find that term inappropriate for the Second Person of the Trinity.

    However, it does make me wonder then why Jesus would ask ,”Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). It sounds like Jesus is submitting to the Father’s will.

    In like manner when Jesus said that He had “come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38). Can you elucidate for me?

    I see some sense of submission here but not subordination (which to me carries with it some kind of hierarchy or over-arching authority).

    • Jesus is one person in two natures. As such, the scripture applies attributes of both human nature and divine nature to the one person of Christ. Submission properly belongs to human nature, not divine. So this is the incarnate Lord suffering. He become flesh to suffer and to die and to obey where Adam failed. He is the second Adam, taking away the penalty for sin in his person – both human and divine, in one person.
      Grudem is specifically NOT talking about that, but speaking of the eternal Son of God, in eternity, submitting to the father – not according to his work as mediator and redeemer, but according to his position as Son. That is where the problem is.
      No Christian has ever had an issue with the man Christ Jesus submitting to the Father’s will. Our salvation depends upon it. The question is this “Is Jesus of Nazareth truly Jehovah, the God of Israel”. To which scripture responds with a resounding “Yes!”
      As our mediator, he is now clothed with our flesh, with attributes of both God and man, and therefore submission is not a problem, for he is now both supreme and sovereign Lord AND submissive to the Father’s will at the same time.
      There is only one divine will; not three divine wills.
      Hope this helps.

      • Still Reforming

        That does indeed help. Thank you, Sam. Yes, I do not think the Trinity could be split in the sense that Jesus would be eternally subordinate, which suggest some sense of inequality, with which I could not agree. They are one in essence; Three in persons.
        Thanks again.

  5. Some great thoughts on here. Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. It’s a good conversation here!

    SR wrote:
    “Why Jesus would ask, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42). It sounds like Jesus is submitting to the Father’s will.
    “In like manner when Jesus said that He had ‘come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.’ (John 6:38). Can you elucidate for me?
    “I see some sense of submission here but not subordination (which to me carries with it some kind of hierarchy or over-arching authority).”

    Sam has already answered well, but I’ll add my two cents.

    In His work of redemption, Jesus WAS submitting to the Father’s will. He did that voluntarily. He and His Father had agreed upon the plan long before (in the eternal counsels of God — which is a mystery that we dare not try to articulate much lest we misrepresent it with our clumsy thumbs!)

    The Father and the Son loved us so much that they chose to make a way of salvation for us fallen human beings. Jesus becoming Man and doing the work of redemption was the way.

    Jesus the man, modelled submission to God. He did this for us. He modelled submission in his incarnate human nature, while at the same time He was Divine.

    Now, there is ONE aspect of Jesus’ submission which we cannot and must not ever think we could model ourselves. It is this: we cannot pay the eternal penalty for sin. Jesus died once for all. That sacrifice is never going to be repeated. (This is why the Roman Mass is just mumbo–jumbo: they think they are re-sacrificing Christ every time they conduct the mass — that’s just superstitious nonsense.)

    If someone teaches between the lines of their doctrine, or infers or imposes legalistically, the idea that we ordinary human beings can perform the work of redemption for ourselves (or for anyone else), that person is wrong. That person is dragging us back to the error of the Roman church.

    Jesus’s sacrificial suffering and death was what obtained redemption. A wife cannot redeem her husband, no matter how much she tries to submit to her husband OR to God. A submissive child cannot redeem his or her abusive parent no matter how obedient the child is. An oppressed peasant cannot redeem a cruel overlord, no matter how much the peasant submits to God’s precepts.

    Those who try to make the abused submit endlessly, those who tell the abused to overlookingly forgive the unrepentant heinous sinners who are sinfully oppressing them — they are trying to make the abused do the same kind of sacrifice as Jesus did on the Cross, which is impossible. IMPOSSIBLE. That kind of teaching is Pharisaic legalism. And it’s hubris.

    Jesus’ submission to the Father is a model for us, but only up a to a point. It is wrong to think that we ought to model our submission on Jesus’ submission to the point where we try to do the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We cannot replicate the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. We cannot reduplicate it. We are fools (or, more likely, we have been TAUGHT by fools) if we think that by our suffering like Christ we can redeem ourselves from sin — or redeem anyone else from sin.

    • Still Reforming

      First of all, many, many thanks for your reply and thoughts on this matter, about which I still continue to ruminate. I’m not entirely clear on the whole matter with respect to submission verses subordination.
      My mind thinks of subordination as having some sense of hierarchy, which I don’t believe the Trinity could have, although the doctrine of the Trinity itself is difficult to adequately articulate – lest, as you rightly and aptly stated, we misrepresent it as if playing with marbles. It is a truth, yet in some sense remains a mystery.
      We don’t as humans have words to adequately describe the Trinity, and
      perhaps therein is my own struggle with this doctrine discussed here (eternal subordination of the Son). I inquired with my pastor about it today. He started off by saying that the terms would need to be well-defined (subordination versus submission), and I confess I haven’t done that legwork (yet).
      When I inquired with my husband about the matter, he cited 1 Corinthians 28:15, which states “And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”
      My husband read that passage of Scripture in context to me, and I kind of got lost in all the pronouns, but I think his (husband’s) point was that Christ will be subject to the Father, which suggests some kind of subordination, but I can’t accept that to be the case, so there’s something I’m not understanding in all of this.
      Again, many thanks for your thoughts. I greatly appreciate reading what you’ve studied and the conclusions you reach about matters. Thank you.

      • I am not a Biblical Greek scholar; I rely on those who are.
        I hope Sam will come in here and correct me if I’m wrong. 🙂

        With that caveat stated…. I believe that Greek doesn’t distinguish between ‘submission’ and ‘subordination’. In English, those two words have somewhat different connotations. ‘Subordinate’ connotes inferiority to authority. ‘Submit’ may connote the same thing as subordinate, but it can also be used for person A voluntarily giving way to person B, even though person B has no more authority or superiority than person A.

        I wouldn’t get too hung up on the English. Try to dig into the Greek. 🙂

    • Still Reforming

      Thanks, Barbara. I’m reading Rachel’s post now and likely will read it a few times to absorb it. I’ll also go to her other links in the article to more fully grasp this issue.

      I appreciate your encouragement to dig into the Greek. Quite often I do, although lately I’m digging more into the Aramaic. The only reason for my getting hung up on the English is because that’s the language in which the doctrine seems to have been formed, and I imagine that the terminology was chosen for a reason (subordination versus submission).

      Still, good stuff, and I always appreciate your perspective on things. Thanks again.

  7. Dear all. Great discussion. All of those resources are excellent. I would also recommend Donald MacLeod’s book on the person of Christ.
    I will be offline for a few days. Happy studying!

  8. I read this post earlier and now, wow…. great discussion but pressed for time so I had to skim the wealth of studying going on!
    This is wonderful. Wanted to connect so I don’t miss out on further study material. Thank you for posting this Pastor Powell and thank you everyone for your great study discussions. These are the people I want to connect with; true Bereans; studying the precious Word of God.

  9. Pingback: It’s vital to talk about motivation in the debate about ‘Eternal Relations of Authority and Submission’ (ERAS Part 1) | A Cry For Justice

  10. “I only just recently heard that Genesis 3:16 is being used to justify domestic abuse. ”

    Really? Who is doing that? Does anyone know of any abusers who actually use Genesis 3:16 as the thing that makes their abuse right?

    That seems like a stretch to me. Maybe its happening. Is it happening a lot? In confessional circles or more loose circles?

    I’m very surprised an abuser can use a single verse. Does his pastor agree the verse is correctly applied? Does the abuser think verses that indicate sacrificial love and treating a wife gently are overridden by this verse?

    • You may have put this comment on the wrong post. You perhaps meant to put it on “odds and ends”. At any rate, yes it happens. The one who tells the story owns the story, and I will not tell someone else’s story, but all who deal with abuse and learn to listen hear the same things. The pastors use the verse to support the abusers. The abusers use the verse to continue to abuse. Sacrificial love and treating a wife gently generally don’t enter the practice of these groups, except in words.

    • P Duggie, if you want to read examples of abusers using Gen 3:16 to justify abuse, read Example 15 in this post. In that example, the pastor is implicitly referencing CBMW’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16 to admonish a wife who had sought guidance about how to deal with her abusive husband.

      And for detailed documentation of how CBMW has interpreted Genesis 3:16 to mean that all wives ‘desire to usurp the authority of their husbands’ — an interpretation which empowers abusive husbands and compound the oppression of the abused wife — see this post:

      For a testimony from a woman whose abusive husband used Genesis 3:16 against her, see Megan’s (Davidand Megan Cox)’s comment on Sam Powell’s FB page —

      BTW, Megan is talking about her first husband, who was an abuser. She is now happily married (to David Cox).

    • Debbi Klaver

      I’ve heard Christian woman used it in women’s Sunday school classes. Not justifying abuse but putting a lot of false guilt and responsibility on women for supposedly wanting to control their husbands and take over his ‘role’.

      • Yes, Debbi. That’s what I was exposed to and still am. And I must confess that at one time I felt the same way mainly because I have witnessed some very ‘controlling’ women and were not very respectful to their husbands or anyone for that matter.
        I don’t worship at any of the local churches — it’s just too painful. It’s so sad because sometimes a pastor will deliver a message that would lead one to think that they are against abuse and yet turn around and put more burden on the vulnerable.

    • Seeing the Light

      P Duggie, yes, it is really happening. It is kind of surreal, but my husband is doing it to me. He began financially abusing me last year and uses Genesis 3:16 to defend it. He says that “…and he will rule over you” is God’s provision of protection for me. His domination of me is for me. He treats me with ridicule, accusation, and contempt all the while claiming to be doing God’s will and that he is doing it because he is maturing spiritually. It is crazy-making. (By the way, he does this proudly in front of the kids, who are so scarred spiritually).

  11. And P Duggie, you asked some good questions. I shall answer each of them in turn.
    First: how do I know about this? I co-lead a blog which is trying to awaken the evangelical church to domestic violence and abuse in its midst. We hear testimonies from countless Christian women who have been abused by their so-called Christian husbands. I’ve probably heard accounts from thousands of women by now — I’ve been doing this stuff for about sixteen years, and have co-led that blog (A Cry For Justice) since 2012.

    “Who is using Genesis 3:16 to justify domestic abuse?”
    Abusive husbands. And many church leaders; CBMW in particular. And now the ESV translators have changed Genesis 3:16 to make it even EASIER for abusers and church leaders to justify or excuse husbands who choose to abuse their wives. See the ESV’s announcement of its Permanent Translation here:

    “Does anyone know of any abusers who actually use Genesis 3:16 as the thing that makes their abuse right?”
    Yes I have heard accounts from many victims of abuse that their husbands used Genesis 3:16 against them.

    “That seems like a stretch to me. Maybe its happening. Is it happening a lot?”

    Yes it its happening a lot. And the rate that is is happening can to a large degree be blamed on CBMW which has promoted Susan Foh’s interpretation of that verse. Leaders in CMBW have said repeatedly that Genesis 3:16 means that the default desire of wives/women is to seek to usurp the authority of their husbands/church leaders.

    “In confessional circles or more loose circles?”
    In confessional circles, baptist circles, Biblical Patriarchy circles, Pentecostal circles, and all other shades in between. There is no research about whether it’s happening more or less often in any of those streams, but from our observations at our blog, it seems to be happening more in confessional, Biblical Patriarchy, Southern Baptist, and any of the streams that are influenced by CBMW, TGC, Desiring God, and/or Federal Vision. But at our blog we (the co-leaders) are Reformed Baptist in our theology, so our blog readership may be more likely to come from confessional circles as a result of that.

    “I’m very surprised an abuser can use a single verse.”
    An abuser can and will use any single verse. Abusers use whatever they think will help them gain and maintain power and control over their victims. If a male abuser is familiar with the Bible and churchianity, he will use any bible verse which he thinks will help him oppress his wife and keep her subjugated to him. Most ‘c’hristian abusive husbands use quite an array of bible verses as part of the arsenal of tactics. They also use the church leadership if they possibly can: they recruit the pastor and elders to take their side, or at least to take a ‘neutral’ stance. This further entraps and oppresses the vicitimised wife.

    “Does his pastor agree the verse is correctly applied?”
    Yes, he often does, because of CBMW’s teaching about what it means.

    “Does the abuser think verses that indicate sacrificial love and treating a wife gently are overridden by this verse?”
    The abusive husband believes that he is entitled to abuse his wife. Because of his fundamental attitude of entitlement, he believes that he can use ANYTHING in that enterprise. He cherry picks verses to suit himself. He has no fear of God. He may portray himself to the church and in public as a wonderful Christian and a great guy, but to his wife and kids he is abusive. He is Jeckyll and Hyde.

    Thanks for your questions, P Duggie. I encourage you to come and visit our blog to learn more.

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