Several commenters suggested that since I haven’t read Love & Respect myself, I was basing my conclusions on an uninformed opinion. So, I went and bought the book. If I’m wrong about the book, I’m willing to admit that.
I read the Introduction and Chapter 1. I took notes. I checked my own Bible. The following quotes are taken from the Introduction and Chapter 1. Note: I’m reading the digital version on my Nook, so pagination may vary from the hard-copy.
From the Introduction:
This book is about how a wife can fulfill her need to be loved by giving her husband what he needs–respect. (pg. 11)
Trigger alert: this book is about WIVES and what THEY should be doing in order to receive love. The only way a wife can truly expect to receive love is by doing something; ie. giving her husband unconditional respect. Trigger alert: performance-based love.
The premise of the book is that a woman’s primary need is love and a man’s primary need is respect. Trigger alert: by defining primary needs so narrowly and also defining them as gender specific, the premise isn’t sound. Yes, I have a need for love. But I also have a need for respect.
When asked how he can be sure these are correct primary needs, the author answers:
First of all, my experience as a counselor and as a husband confirms this truth (pg. 25)
Trigger alert: HIS experience confirms it as true. Not just true for himself, but true for ALL.
Now, here are two quotes placed side by side. Can you spot the problem?
Please understand, however, that what I have to tell you is not a ‘magic bullet.’ (pg. 13) The Love & Respect connection is the key to any problem in a marriage. (pg. 23)
Trigger Alert: if it’s NOT a ‘magic bullet,’ how can it be The Key to ANY problem in a marriage?
The author gives several examples from his own marriage and quite honestly, it broke my heart. After forgetting his wife’s birthday and she calls him on it, he says:
My forgetfulness had been unloving….I felt judged, put down–and rightly so. At the time, I couldn’t describe my feelings with a word like ‘disrespected.’ (pg. 21)
Trigger alert: confronting a husband with his unloving behavior is disrespectful.
Lest we question his credentials, the author makes a point of telling us how long he’s been studying the Bible:
For more than twenty years I’ve had the privilege of studying the Bible thirty hours a week for my pulpit ministry. (pg. 22)
With all that studying, it’s surprising that the author would make an insupportable, Biblical claim about unconditional respect. Trigger alert: yes, Ephesians 5:33 says wives are to respect their husbands, but Eggerichs adds the ‘unconditional’ qualifier himself.
Referring to Ephesians 5:33, the author states his basis for the claim of unconditional respect:
Paul isn’t making suggestions; he is issuing commands from God Himself. In addition, the Greek word Paul uses for love in this verse is ‘agape,’ meaning unconditional love. And the wording of the rest of the passage strongly suggests that the husband should receive unconditional respect. (pg. 25)
Trigger alert: the wording of the rest of the passage DOES NOT strongly suggest “unconditional respect.” Eggerichs added that himself. Period. Go read the passage for yourself. It’s just not. there.
Eggerichs tries to substantiate this claim by referring to I Peter 3:1-2 where St. Peter says wives can win their husbands ‘without a word.’ Eggerich interprets this as support for unconditional respect:
Peter is definitely talking about unconditional respect…This is not about the husband deserving respect, it is about the wife being willing to treat her husband respectfully without conditions. (pg. 26)
Trigger alert: Agendized Biblical interpretation. Eggerichs has an agenda.
He doesn’t just want to prove that wives should respect their husbands, he wants to prove that they ought to respect them unconditionally.
There is simply no Biblical support for that claim.
So, yes. I can keep reading the book. Sure, I can keep annotating and checking Eggerichs’ claims. But quite honestly, I’ve been triggered enough for one day. I’ve read enough.
I know exactly HOW these kinds of teachings work themselves out in marriages. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. I have absolutely no desire to go back to it.