Sheila Wray Gregoire on Love & Respect

Hi guys,

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,

  1. Have you read this book? if yes, your thoughts?
  2. What are your thoughts on Sheila’s findings?

Links to her blog:

Open Letter to Focus on the Family:

Podcast with her Husband:

i look forward to hearing your thoughts and will post my own soon.

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14 Answer(s)
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    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.

    Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on January 21, 2020.

    So agree, you said it better than i could.

    on January 21, 2020.

    Men of the OT also loved their wives.  God has not changed, human design has not changed, marriage has not changed.  More details were brought in the NT (probably for a time such as now where people think they can do it their way).

    A wife still belongs to her husband now before the Lord just as she did in Christ’s time.  I don’t love the word own, and prefer the way God refers to His wife Israel in the OT as his special possession.  The 10 commandments also make it clear that a wife is a possession of her husbands.  Also, she was formed from his rib.  A father gives his daughter away to her husband in marriage.  Wives are “given” in marriage.  The bible goes on and on though our modern culture is incensed by it.  For those who will accept scripture, she is his.  With this he has responsibilities towards her, and she may go free if he does not meet them.

    I disagree completely that telling a wife to respect her husband means she doesn’t have to be submit to him.

    on January 23, 2020.
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      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.


      Under the stars Answered on January 20, 2020.
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        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.

        Under the stars Answered on January 22, 2020.

        Well said!

        on January 22, 2020.


        on January 23, 2020.

        The marriage analogy is not Jesus to the Father unless we are looking for an example of what it means to submit, or order, or perhaps what love looks like between the Father has for His Son.  The analogy is of The Church to Jesus.  He lifts the church up to a place of beauty and dignity.  This is what is important.  A husband, though a sinner, should do the same, he should lift his wife up to a place of beauty and dignity.  He can’t do that if she considers herself at his same place, can he?   These things all have meaning.  The enemy would deceive us and tell us that they don’t matter, but they do.  If God wishes men and women to be the example of Christ and His Bride, this can only be done with the proper attitudes and understanding.  It really is this simple.

        In effect, the ones who are against what scripture commands are saying, “We have to do the wrong thing to make it work right”.  This makes no sense.  This is the very definition of giving way to fear.  Doing the wrong thing because you are afraid is still the wrong thing.  It would be far better to do the right thing, and then if there is abuse, separate if needed.

        Let’s be honest though, redefining the roles because of abuse is an excuse for all the wives who are not abused to not keep up their side of things, to live selfishly, to not be under authority, to consider themselves equals, and to align themselves to the world’s way which are convenient to women.  There would be total outrage if husbands were saying, “well, my wife turns into a lazy do nothing if I show her love, so I’m just not going to do that anymore.  It leads to laziness you know and it is bad teaching.”.

        on January 23, 2020.

        It seems you have a problem with us wives having a mindset to be as Christ? 🙄 If Christ can submit to a Head, so can we. Isn’t this part of doing “as to the Lord”? It doesn’t take away “equality” status, but it takes emptying and humbling oneself. If Christ did it as a man, the same Christ IN us can do it THROUGH us.

        on January 25, 2020.

        I’m not sure I am following.

        My concern is that wives want to redefine marriage and creation to lift themselves to a different position, which is exactly what happened in the garden.  When they falsely believe they can live as a man, they are buying the same lie that the enemy sowed in the garden.  It is as though they think having a husband is a burden, obstacle,  or millstone instead of trusting that God designed them to be a helper to their husband, that that is their purpose, and they should look for blessing in being what He made them.   None of us are perfect, wives nor husbands, but wives should appreciate what their husbands bring to the table just as husbands should appreciate what their wives bring as well.

        1 Cor 11:3

        When the bible says that their husband is their head, what exactly does it mean?  It means that she should approach Jesus through the authority, leading, and teaching of their husband, not think herself independent of her husband.  Should man go around Jesus authority, leading, and teaching to get to the Father?  No.

        To fully embrace God’s plan, she needs to understand that she is not independent of her husband, that her husband is her head, and to be obedient to Him, she must be obedient to him also.  It is actually very simple, but like many things, not easy.

        on January 25, 2020.

        “It means that she should approach Jesus through the authority, leading, and teaching of their husband, ”

        Wow, this really comes across so wrong, and so anti-gospel… forgive me for not realizing that under Christ that women don’t have free access to Christ but must have a “mediator” of a man …. you leave me speechless… I can’t even….


        on January 25, 2020.

        If you don’t want to discuss it further or it is upsetting you, I understand.

        How do you reconcile 1 Cor 11:3?  It says what it says.  I prefer to put it just as I did, she should approach Jesus through the authority, leading, and teaching of her husband.  She should not think herself independent of her husband.  I did not say her husband was a mediator, but clearly according to 1 Cor 11:3, he is between the woman and Jesus.

        on January 25, 2020.

        In Christ, there is no male or female. Don’t take that one out of context, either. It says what it says. Male and female are BOTH created in God’s image. I am so glad i am a woman and can represent the Creator in a unique and feminine way.

        on January 25, 2020.

        My concern is that wives want to redefine marriage and creation to lift themselves to a different position, which is exactly what happened in the garden.  

        sd595, therein lies the problem and i’m going to admonish you as a sister in Christ as i’m not admonished to submit to YOU as you are not my husband. Concern yourselves with your brothers in Christ and how to uplift, admonish, and teach them if you are a teacher. Nowhere in scripture is it taught that a man should constantly admonish his sisters in Christ to submit/subject. We are all given our direct mandates by the Lord. So please… have some RESPECT for the dear sisters on this board who are shining examples of Christlikeness and quit this agenda. You constantly post this even under posts that have NOTHING TO DO with this subject. Just have some respect for us, please. I am quite sure we sisters are being gently and lovingly taught AND MODELED by our husbands at home.  If you debate this plea and admonishment from a fellow believer, then honestly i wish you would leave this forum.

        on January 25, 2020.

        Let’s look at the verse you bring up in full context:

        Galations 3:28-29

        28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is [a]neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you [b]belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s [c]descendants, heirs according to promise.

        Verse 29 tells us exactly what verse 28 means – “you are all one in Christ Jesus” = “you belong to Christ”

        Belonging to Christ means:

        All of those who belong to Him will be covered by His righteousness for the forgiveness of sins, and as it says, will be heirs according to promise.

        Belonging to Christ does not mean:

        That women are independent of men.

        That men and women are the same.

        That hundreds of other verses in the bible are invalidated.

        Another way to look at this is that Jesus says those who do His Father’s will are going to be the ones that enter the Kingdom of heaven:

        Matthew 7:21

        “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

        What His will looks like depends on whether you are a Jew, Greek, Slave, Free, Male, or Female.  The bible is full of instructions for all of these groups.

        There is no way to take 1 Cor 11:3 out of context.  It says what it says and it does not disagree with Galations 3:28-29 in any way.

        I’m not trying to be inconsiderate, and I don’t think what the Word says is offensive.

        on January 25, 2020.

        Nowhere in scripture is it taught that a man should constantly admonish his sisters in Christ to submit/subject.

        I am not admonishing anyone – we are all having a discussion here and I am talking about what scripture says.  I’ve never said you or anyone has to listen to me, follow me, respond to me, or agree with me.  Everyone here is choosing to be a part of the conversation.

        on January 25, 2020.

        Well i should have known you’d have the last word, given your “agenda”. But i think you should take seriously the admonishment to think carefully about the soap box you are on and have some respect for the ladies here on the board. And maybe shift it around to where it should be as i stated above. I’ve had enough correspondence with you.

        on January 25, 2020.

        I have no ill will or disrespect towards anyone here.  My agenda is “what does the bible say” and I’d like to think we can all have a civil respectful discussion about it.

        on January 25, 2020.

        Well then again i would admonish you to place your focus on where it should be as a man of God, specifically your brethren since this is a marriage forum. I think your comments would probably be more well taken if you had much more to say about the husbands role or are you above taking advice from a woman?

        on January 25, 2020.

        The bible has plenty to say to both men and women, but nobody is argues when I post what the bible tells men to do.

        This thread is essentially about the book “Love and Respect” being turned into “Love and Nothing”.

        I’m open to advice from men or women if it aligns with the Word.

        I truly don’t want to cause upset to you or anyone here; I’ll try to give it a rest – often a point is made and I know there is scripture that speaks to it so I bring it, but things get off course more than I want them to.

        on January 25, 2020.
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          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.

          On the floor Answered on January 20, 2020.
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            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.

            On the floor Answered on January 21, 2020.
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              @sd595 Could you provide some references that support this statement?

              “When the bible teaches that women need to remain in subjection, there is a reason for this. “

              Twin bed Answered on January 22, 2020.

              1 Cor 14;34 –

              1 Tim 2:11 –

              1 Tim 2;12 –

              1 Tim 2:14 –

              Gen 3:16 –

              1 Cor 11:3 –

              1 Peter 3:1 –

              Rev 2:20-24 –

              There are more verses, but these speak to the question more closely than others.

              I don’t see these things as a condemnation for women, but rather that God made women for a different role.  Just like when a man ignores the role God assigned him to make the most of the gifts God has given him, if a woman rejects the role God has assigned her, she too goes off path.  Even in the creation order this is clear, her purpose is not to run things, but to be a helper.  This becomes much more clear when we see God’s marriage analogy of Himself to His church.  This is hard for some to accept, and I would argue that it is the same spirit that lured Eve to go the wrong way in the garden now tempts women to go the wrong way and reject what the bible says, or at least fight against the spirit of what the bible says, because they want more or want to be more (enemy deception, “you are not enough” or “you need to be more”).  What they need to know is that God has already made them enough!  They were knit beautifully in their mothers’ wombs.  He has already made them enough for the purpose He fashioned for them, and the blessing He wishes for them.  The preamble to the 1 Tim 2 verses (9-10) above tells a woman what God is looking for.

              Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, [a]modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.

              Furthermore in 1 Peter 3:1-6:

              In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.

              There is a constant theme here (and all throughout scripture) and it is that women need to remain in subjection which is pleasing to God.  A lot of things God calls us to are not easy, and with sin and rebellion, frankly, this isn’t easy, but ultimately we have to decide who we are going to please, ourselves or God (this is a statement that speaks to men and women).  Many try to play word games and ignore the spirit of the Word, but there is no point as it is crystal clear and says the same thing over and over again.  Again, one has to decide which way they will go.  Will I accept His ways even if I don’t like them?  Will I accept that he made me a man or a woman and embrace the way He wishes me to live?  Whose will do I wish to do?

              Let me put it a different way, they are certainly wise women who know the right way to go.  I don’t dispute this at all because I know many of them.  Even still, they should remain in subjection to honor God.  The instant they think they are above His instructions, they are no better than a man who does the same.

              They should do what Titus 2:3-5 says:

              Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may [a]encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

              I think a big problem now is that women want to see themselves as independent of men.  The enemy is behind all of this, it is his way to divide and destroy and it is successful.  Many are deceived.  I hope and pray that many also hold fast to Him, putting their trust where it belongs, where it has value, where it has blessing.

              on January 22, 2020.
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                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.)

                Under the stars Answered on January 22, 2020.

                Very eloquent as usual, Duchess. I also agree with your last sentence so much especially with what does that have ANYTHING to do with the OP’s post?  (letters to FoF about the book Love and Respect)

                on January 22, 2020.

                Duchess, that was beautiful.

                I haven’t read much into this, as I truly saw the book as being more of the two sides of one coin metaphor that you mentioned. As broken as I was when I read it, it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with the way it was written. I wonder if things have been taken out of context, but I’m not really invested enough to check.

                I do know that the vitriol against Eggerichs has also been placed against Dobson, based on some past comments that he made that would indeed be detrimental to an abused spouse. (This vitriol isn’t necessarily by this blogger, but other contemporaries.) If you were really interested, you could easily learn more about that. It was about the time this all arose that I had to take a break from #ChurchToo. It gets exhausting, and my interest is mainly around child abuse advocacy. Plus, I’ve seen the good FoF has done, although I’m not a huge fan of it for different reasons.

                Thank you for your final paragraph. Man is not to require submission. The definition of the word, and the way it is handled in the Bible, indicates that it is to be offered. It’s so dangerous and frankly unBiblical to start tossing around any ideas otherwise.

                on January 22, 2020.
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                  I’m here, just have been quietly following along as this thread has taken shape. it will probably be later this week before I can post my own thoughts as I have a tough work schedule and family demands on my time. 🙂

                  Double bed Answered on January 26, 2020.
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                    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.

                    Blanket on a secluded beach! Answered on January 21, 2020.
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                      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…

                      On the floor Answered on January 22, 2020.

                      If this is from the book I do disagree that a woman does not have a need for sex.  The bible teaches that she does.

                      Other parts of it are true however.  A man is designed and pushed to need a physical release.  If she starves him in this area, it is a grave mistake for the life of the marriage.  A starved man sometimes has the strength to endure it, but a weak starved man is much more likely to have an affair or be captivated by the first women who comes his way showing him what his wife does not.

                      on January 23, 2020.
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