Sheila Wray Gregoire on Love & Respect
I know a lot of you follow Sheila on her blog, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and wanted to get your perspective on her series this week on Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. She was going through the results of her most recent survey of over 22,000 Christian women and found a disturbing trend when it came to this book. I have 2 questions,
- Have you read this book? if yes, your thoughts?
- What are your thoughts on Sheila’s findings?
Links to her blog:
Open Letter to Focus on the Family: https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2020/01/open-letter-focus-on-the-family-love-respect-emerson-eggerichs/
Podcast with her Husband: https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2020/01/podcast-our-love-respect-wrap-up/
i look forward to hearing your thoughts and will post my own soon.
The cultural context of Paul’s writing in Ephesians 5:33 is important. In B.C., wives were owned by husbands. The husband and wife relationship was a notch above that of a master/slave. Abuse of a spouse was not considered grounds for divorce.
Under the New Covenant and the by the grace and message of Jesus (He interacted with and treated and honored women contrary to Old Testament customs) the Christian marriage relationship transformed to a true oneness of love and respect. The admonition of husbands to love their wives is revolutionary; husbands in the Old Testament demanded obedience. Stating that wives ought to respect their husbands liberated them from living in subservience to their husbands.
I struggle with Eggerich’s interpretation and application of Ephesians 5:33, particularly that men need respect and women need love. I relish Mrs. Oldbear’s love and Mrs. Oldbear thrives on my respect as much as I need her respect and she needs my love.
I will be honest, I don’t have very high opinions of this blogger, therefore I rarely read her and I didn’t get very far into reading the link you provided before deciding I didn’t want to invest (waste) my time or energy into her opinion.
I have read Love & Respect, a couple of times, I liked it. Just as with any book, the lens with which we go in reading it, will often determine how we interpret it.
This is in reply to the general concept of this whole topic, but also to where some of the comments are going….
There are always some who will take something to an extreme and “abuse it”. I believe we could say that about Sheila, just as I believe she is saying it about Eggerich and maybe of FotF. We have such a fear and a strong reaction to someone taking something too far to one side (or at least we perceive it that way), it becomes natural and easy to swing to the other side, in just as much of an extreme way. A husband could (and does) take the message of Love & Respect, or of submission, and uses it as an excuse and justification for their sin and abuse…. but does that discredit and nullify what Scripture actually teaches, or the heart of the book of L&R?
The truth is, there will always be some who will “abuse” something and distort it, but that doesn’t take away the truth of God’s message. I would bet that each of us have believed, and maybe even taught, a distortion of Scripture at some point in our lives…after all, we are still being sanctified (praise God for that!) Some of these recent conversations have made me reread and study again what we are told in the New Testament. With the actual words spoken, I cannot disagree, it’s written right there in Scripture (though I still don’t fully agree with the interpretations of certain Scriptures)… but then I have to take it further and broader than just within a marriage. If I am to be as Jesus, and He is my example as a child of God, what can I learn from Him? He is God Himself, yet, God is the head of Him (1 Cor 11:3). Jesus only did what He saw the Father do, and only said what the Father told Him to say (Jn 5:19; 12:49). If Jesus didn’t see equality with God something to be grasped, and He emptied and humbled Himself, for our sake, becoming a servant (Phil 2:5-11)…. can I, or you whom are in the faith, do any less? If we strip away the whole husband and wife thing, male and female thing, and we are to be like and imitate Christ, would that change how I/you are living as a husband or a wife? If it would, maybe our hearts and actions truly need to be considered and examined…and maybe even changed. I personally hope I never believe in this life, that I have “arrived” and have reached perfection and full understanding of God and His ways.
One thing I can say with certainty is, Christ is not inferior or “lesser than” in a derogatory way (which is the feel of some message we can get as wives, and I feel is part of what the Spirit in us is rejecting) to the Father. In fact, God the Father, highly exalted Him (Phil 2:9)…. and when we humble ourselves, He will exalt us as well (Jam 4:10).
I firmly believe if we, whether a husband or wife, would take our eyes off of “man” and lay aside what men, or women are saying out there, and we fix our eyes on Jesus, and we live our lives to be like Him, we will have peace, we will have favor and grace, we will have gladness, and we will be blessed.
I’ve never read the book so perhaps i shouldn’t comment but if half of what she said is true (i perused it) then yes it should be carefully examined (the book Love and Respect) and it’s consequences…. i’m not a real big proponent on “love and respect”. I do agree that it is generally how men and women respond but i also am very leery about how an individual man interprets “respect” and always have been. And that a woman should shut up and quietly address him very carefully, i think that kind of thinking/teaching one should be very careful with, especially in handling women’s abuse situations.
I read the book, but it’s probably been 10 years. I side with more of the egalitarian marriage folks, but I had no issues with the book. I think Sheila has an axe to grind. No author can control who reads his book or what the reader will do with that information.
Wives who read this from a fundie, cult-like church background are going to take this book a completely different way than wives who grew up in healthy emotional families/churches. In my view, someone who says the book almost killed them is someone who has never learned how to use common sense, probably because they’ve been brainwashed.
I haven’t read the book, but feel sure I’ve read a FoF excerpt article in their magazine or heard a broadcast discussing the concept at some point because it is one of those things that I would have said, had you asked, is just true: “Men want/need/value respect and women want/need/value love.” Honestly, if I had analyzed it, I would have thought of it much like a love language that applies in a more general way to genders rather than individuals. I do believe that God designed men and women differently, with different strengths and tendencies and that we are meant to be complementary parts of a whole in marriage. (I also believe that where the complementary parts are missing, as in singlehood, unsaved spouse, or even an apathetic and neglectful spouse, God himself can provide what is lacking and will provide what is needed.) So it makes sense that our needs in relationship might differ slightly. But I believe love and respect are two sides of the same coin. Webster defines respect as: high or special regard or to consider worthy of high regard. Don’t we give the highest regard we have to those we love? So (IMHO) it is just a matter of wives loving husbands by showing them we believe they are worthy of high regard, that we trust them, that we value their leadership, that we believe in them. And husbands respecting wives by showing us we are precious and important to them, that they value us and believe in us. It’s two flavors of the same tea. I believe Ephesians 5:22-30 supports this idea
It is entirely possible I arrived at my conclusions regarding love and respect from combining the catchy title with other teachings I have heard over the years, especially if I only got a very brief glimpse of his actual thesis. I don’t know. I only recently learned about this blogger and have spent less than an hour exploring her posts, other than reading this open letter. I had no idea she had this–vendetta?–against this book and its author.
The excerpts chosen in the open letter do give me deep concern. The clips of the author speaking are rather shocking. What I don’t know is if there is other context that mitigates these detrimental comments. The logic that if he says A then he is therefore claiming B is solid, and proves her point. I really wish I knew what FoF had to say about this because I have received many of their resources over the years and always found them to be dependably valuable.
One final thing: I believe that there have been and can be more miracles where an injured spouse of their own conviction in the Lord, might decide to imitate Christ even unto death in the hope and faith that God can and will change their partner and restore their marriage. I don’t believe ANYONE has the right to decide that for someone else. I don’t believe God requires it, only blesses it if volunteered. But I also believe it can be very very dangerous indeed to start throwing scripture at someone’s marriage without being right there alongside them and being guided explicitly by the Holy Spirit. And it can be catastrophic to give the wrong man any hint of a “man-dominant/woman-submissive” worldview. (I’ve actually seen it, and it isn’t pretty.)
1. I’ve read the book twice. It was one of the books recommended to me by my RN and MD therapists during my outpatient mental health program. They felt it would help me better understand the differences between men and women, and be helpful to me as I reevaluated the condition of my marriage in light of my mental health diagnosis and recovery process. I value their professional opinion over Gregoire’s lay blogosphere opinion.
The book was helpful to me. Was it perfect? No. But I’ve read many books on marriage, especially as it relates to mental health and the protection of one or both spouses. It’s rare to find a book that has everything, or that offers perfectly sound advice.
2. While I don’t read Gregoire’s blog, I do follow her on social media because of my past involvement in the #churchtoo community. There are larger issues with her, and I would agree with LuckyinLove that she has an axe to grind.
#Churchtoo really skyrocketed her online presence, as she was specifically asked by some leaders of that movement to use her blog to help further the cause. She took that to heart in a big way. All of a sudden, she was involved in almost every conversation I saw. All of that is fine. #Churchtoo does need strong voices. She’s jumping in on a couple other issues, too, and that’s her prerogative.
But I see from that link that she is using this particular issue to further promote her book. That’s a red flag for me. I have theological disagreement with her, but that doesn’t bother me so much as the commercialism. I always evaluate websites for trustworthiness. Once I see that someone is trying to use a subject to sell me something, then their website becomes suspect.
I did just read a lot of what Love and Respect contains and i find some of it quite questionable, not scriptural and downright harmful especially to women. If this quote “A husband has a need for physical release. A woman does not have a need for sex; her need is only for emotional connection, which she won’t get unless she gives him sex. Men experience respect through their wives giving them physical release. If wives don’t meet their needs, husbands will be tempted to have an affair, and affairs tend to be caused by women not having sex. Men are visual and will be tempted by other women; when we don’t allow a husband to confess that he finds other women attractive, he will clam up and will cut himself off from us emotionally.”
if the above is indeed in his book (among many other examples) then i absolutely do think it should give one pause… no mention of the fact that the wife’s pleasure SHOULD be pursued. i guess i could go on and on but i don’t care or have the time to be embroiled in this kind of thing but i think it’s important to bring this up…