To what extent does the Son submit to the Father? How does that relate to marriage roles?

I’d be extremely cautious, and my thoughts here are entirely speculative, but one analogy i’ve considered from the realm of geometry piques my interest in these topics…

Atheists and skeptics have challenged me at times on my trinitarian beliefs… and one critique is that you can’t have multiple beings (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) that are all omnipotent, as what would happen if their wills ever conflicted? you can’t have two conflicting “absolutes”…

(like the riddle about “What happens when an unstoppable ball strikes an immovable wall?”… the question is nonsense, because such a state of affairs is logically contradictory. You can’t have an existence or reality where two “unstoppable balls” strike each other.")

So, leaving aside the issue about whether this would be tritheism vs trinitarianism… I have observed that there is no conflict in a hypothetical universe or reality with two unstoppable balls so long as there is no possibility of them striking each other… they could be fired in opposite directions, or in exactly parallel courses, or on the same path at the same speed but at different times, or simply askew from each other never to intersect.

So purely tossing out thought… i would observe that the idea of tritheism, wherein you have three separate, distinct omnipotent persons, with three independent, distinct, separate wills, is indeed logically contradictory.

But for what it is worth, i see no inherent conflict in a trinity of persons wherein the relationship / perichoresis is such that, even were there in some sense three distinct wills, they would be such wills as could not ever conflict, and hence luke still not be wrong to speak of one “will of God”.

i don’t share this to “answer” the question one way or the other, just a general observation.

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Notable proximity of subject and timing:

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As a geometry teacher, I really like the pictoral clarity of your image there. Skew … parallel … or coincidental (but at different times) lines indeed! Will have to ponder these possibilities of consistent absolutes co-existing.

I think that makes incarnational sense. … to me anyway.

Absolutely not! In fact, when I spoke of “agonizing submission” of wills, I was not wanting to imply that the son was the only one in agony. I think it was God’s will in the situation that Christ not be conquered by evil (i.e. to do what all the rest of us usually want to do: preserve our own lives by responding in kind). It was God’s will that the son stay true and faithful, even if that meant wickedness would then nail him to the cross.

Willful submission to another’s is still ultimately my will, even if difficult?

I don’t understand your response - but am not worried about it since I was just thinking outloud myself. You don’t need to clariy unless you want to. I think it’s mostly just me being dense. Maybe my morning brain will make more sense of it another time.


Notable proximity of subject and timing:

    Don’t be a tritheist.<

I don’t know what you mean.

That was in the preview thumbnail on your post:

That is essentially the same topic as the other thread I linked, One and One And One Is Three… Discussing The Trinity, and your post was essentially simultaneous with its posting, that’s all.

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Boy are you in trouble.

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If you mean agreement say agreement, which is what Jesus did with the Father… If you mean submission, then it is not really my will, but someone else’s.

@Mervin_Bitikofer, how can you suggest that the refusal of Christ to die on the Cross would have been evil? He did not to do that. You do not know what He would have done if that would not have happened.

If the Father agonized over this it was because the Father did not want the Son to suffer any more than the Son did, that is unless you believe that God cannot suffer. Don’t you believe that love involves pain and suffering?

Love does not involve submission to others. It involves reconciliation with others which brings brings them together without compromising their wills. Jesus Christ was God and therefore could not by definition be subordinate to anyone and anything, even God the Father.

Jesus Christ died for the sin of the whole world because He freely chose to do out of Love for us, not because He had to because of the will of the Father.

I meant what I said and said what I meant.

If I willed not to and chose not to, then I would be accepting and submitting to whatever resulted.

If i follow what you"re saying, i respectfully disagree… in the military i regularly “obey the orders of those appointed over me.” And I do so willingly. the fact that i am in fact submitting to another does not remove free will in the general philosophical sense, or even in any practical sense.

to be a bit more specific with the language, when my commanding officer directs me to engage in a particular course of action, then in submitting to my authority, it has become my “will” to do that particular course of action. My initial preference may have been to have a meeting at 0800 in the morning, but when commanding officer states an order that said meeting will happen at 1000, then I disregard my preference in deference to submitting to the command of one in authority… but in no sense has my “will” been violated. My will is in such cases to do the bidding of the one to whom i am in subjection.

When (if?) you “obey” (i.e., submit to) the posted speed limit on the road, have you in fact lost your free will by so doing? Is it no longer your will, since you are doing the will of those who posted that sign? i don’t think many people would use the language in such a manner.


Thank you for elaborating and developing the idea well.

I’m not sure where you get most of this stuff you attribute to me, Roger. There is very little of what you wrote that resembles anything I believe, or indeed anything I wrote.

Yes. Yes I do (especially among sinful people - all of us).

Um … yes. Yes it does. Willing - even joyful submission.

Jesus could have responded they way we all are always tempted to respond to evil - by responding in kind. By outwitting his enemies before they “outwit” him. And yes - those are the typical violence-perpetuating choices we even still make today; but he chose not to use our evil ways and instead exposed them for what they are. He didn’t have to do it, but he did - even though it meant he had to suffer a cross. Your last sentence finally gets it right. He didn’t like having to suffer in body - who does? But his love was so strong that it prevailed over any tempation, fear, or avoidance of the necessary suffering that looms so large for any of us.


I think that these discussions need to include freedom - when Christ said “your will be done …” we would understand this as an expression of total freedom. Also, Christ made sure that the Romans and others who came to arrest Him, did not harm or kill any of His disciples, so we would understand His actions at multiple levels, all showing perfect freedom and love.

Well put.

I struggle about this a lot.
However, Paul seems to have written with presumption for the times–and with instructions about how to live gracefully within those presumptions. For example, he instructed slave owners how to treat their slaves as Christians. We would never accept that situation today. Similarly, the leadership role in marriage is a cultural construct Paul was working with at the time–not one we would accept today.



Thanks for your feedback, @Daniel_Fisher . You raise good points, I’ll go away and do some more thinking.

Anyone interested in reading some more, might like to check out this post and this post by Liam Goligher that originally kicked the hornets open back in 2016. @Relates & @eyeillustration you two might find it interesting if you’ve not already read it.

Great thoughts, @Randy, I always appreciate your thoughtful replies. A couple of quick reflections:

  1. I have absolutely no issue with a person holding an Egalitarian position and/or that Eph 5:21ff is based on cultural assumptions that are not binding today. I think the arguments are very strong, I simply find the classical complementarian position more convincing. However, I would never teach that it is sinful or unbiblical to hold to an Egalitarian form of marriage. Each must do what is right by their own conscience on this point.

  2. As to Pauls teaching of slaves and masters. Slavery is absolutely wrong, no doubt. And yet Paul also addresses Children and Parents, a role relationship that continues in the present day. Additionally, much of what Paul says to slaves and slave owners are applicable to employers and employees today too. But I freely admit this is probably my weakest point.

  3. I think that whether complementarian or egalitarian, Christian marriage should promote mutual flourishing. In our case, I stepped down from my employed church ministry and leadership roles so my wife could take up a job as a seminary professor. I now work part-time for a charity and do most of the housework/childcare. Too often Christians have used Eph 5:21ff and complementarian to prop up ungodly sexist gender tropes.

  4. This leads to my final reflection. I would agree that Paul is working within his cultural presumptions, but I would suggest that he does that in a counter-cultural way. For men, Greco-Roman culture was about power, status, and influence. If Paul wanted to work within those cultural norms we might expect him to say that husbands should care for their wives as a good king cares for his people, with wisdom, dignity, and thought to their welfare. Instead, Paul invokes the image of a slave washing and preparing her mistress for her wedding day. There is not a lot of power, status, and influence to be drawn from seeing oneself as a slave whose ‘job’ is to serve their wife. In that sense, I don’t think Paul is making the best of the cultural situation but rather trying to replace it with a better vision.

I say all that not to convince you that I am right and you are wrong, but only to help explain my position and, hopefully, lessen the struggle.


Do all infinite inhabited worlds from eternity have sons and fathers and submission?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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