An Example of What Gaslighting Women Using the Bible Looks Like

by | Sep 19, 2019 | Abuse, Uncategorized | 108 comments

Love and Respect and Gaslighting: How Emerson Eggerichs Uses Gaslighting Techniques to Dismiss Women
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Tragically, too often in “Christian” teaching women’s views are ignored, or “gaslighted”.

It’s time for a new Bare Marriage podcast, and this one’s a doozy, and a bit of a departure from my normal podcasts.

Recently, readers sent to me an email and a blog post that Emerson Eggerichs, the author of Love & Respect, had written, and they wanted to get my take on it.

I didn’t want to write about it in a blog post, because I’ve already written four posts explaining the faulty and dangerous teaching in the book.

It was such a horrendous blog post, though, that I thought it was worth doing a podcast on, because that’s where I get to share in the most depth. I showed Keith the blog post, and he asked to record this podcast with me. So we read Eggerichs’ blog post, paragraph by paragraph, and dissected the trouble with it.

Please listen in. It’s a longer one, but it’s important.

If this isn’t your cup of tea, that’s okay. Regular programming will resume next week! But we felt this simply had to be addressed (and thank you for those of you who sent it in! I wouldn’t have seen it otherwise).

Here’s Keith and me:

A woman is writing in saying that Love & Respect caused the men in her group to become condescending and dismissive of their wives.

In the blog post, Emerson Eggerichs explains why the women are wrong.

Here’s the question that he was asked:

 

This material is excellent and much needed. We have read the book and attended a conference and been blessed by the material. We have just completed facilitating our first small group DVD teaching. We are hesitant to do another until we deal with the following issue. There is one area we are having difficulty with and want very much to discuss it with someone. For the most part the men in our small group are not “getting” that their wives have insight also. There being a scriptural command to respect and value men does not give license for them to disregard what their wives think. If there is one weakness in the material, we are finding it is the omission of the value of a woman’s insight; not as the leader but as an integral part of information gathered for the decision-making. . . . While this is not a problem in our own marriage, it seems to be a major one for the other couples. Listening to the material seems to have swung the pendulum the other direction so far. How to love your wife is being translated into a condescending attitude. Hope you can help.

Basically, she’s saying that the book study made the husbands act worse. And then Eggerichs replies, telling the woman that all of these wives’ perceptions are most likely off, likely because they’re being contentious and nagging.

Many of you have asked for transcripts of the podcast, and I haven’t done any so far. But for this podcast, we did have notes. We copied his entire blog post, and then paragraph by paragraph inserted what we wanted to say. So if you would like to read our notes, you are more than welcome. These are not a transcript of the podcast; we didn’t say everything that was here, and we said lots that isn’t here. But the main stuff is all here.

His blog post is in black; all the other colours are from different members of my team, who all collaborated on this document. Feel free to download these notes and follow along, or read them on their own!

A few other things mentioned in the podcast that you may find helpful:

And if you’re in a marriage where your spouse is treating you in a condescending way, or emotionally abusing you (or abusing you in other ways), see these resources:

 

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We said so much in the podcast I can’t repeat it all here.

But I will say this:

 

  • If a pastor/writer/teacher tells you that disagreeing with them means that you’re disobeying Scripture or rejecting God, that’s wrong. It’s okay to examine things for yourself.
  • If a pastor tells you that you shouldn’t listen to your instincts (really the Holy Spirit’s voice inside of you), because you’re more easily deceived, that’s wrong.
  • If you go to a pastor/leader with a problem because you’re feeling dismissed and vulnerable, and you’re told that you have no reason to feel that way because no one is doing anything wrong to you, and the problem is you, that’s wrong. You matter, and what you feel matters.
  • If a pastor/leader tells you that it’s understandable if someone treats you badly simply because you didn’t ask in the right way, that’s wrong.
  • If a pastor/leader puts more onus on one person to act like Jesus than another, that’s wrong.
  • If a pastor/leader gives one person in the relationship the power to determine if the other person is acting according to Christ, that’s wrong. Whether or not you’re doing right is about whether you’re acting like Christ, not whether or not someone approves of you.
  • If a pastor/leader tells you that the way you follow Jesus is by following another person, that’s wrong.

Please, church. We can do better than this. We must do better than this.

I made an effort in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage to give a balanced view of marriage, to show what marriage would look like when you’re dedicated to serving and loving the other person, but you’re also dedicated to intimacy and truth, which involves sharing your feelings, growing together, and not enabling sin. This is what marriage should look like.

 

Are you GOOD or are you NICE?

Because the difference matters!

God calls us to be GOOD, yet too often we’re busy being nice. And sometimes, in marriage, that can actually cause problems to be even more entrenched.

What if there’s a better way?

Next week, we’ll be starting a new segment on the podcast, where the last podcast of every month is directed at men. And this month’s is going to be a fun one! So we’ll be back to regular programming. But I feel as if, since I’ve spoken up on this stuff at length, I now  have an obligation to speak out again when I see things that are really heinous. So thank you to those who brought this to my attention, and I pray for a day when there is no need to make a podcast like this one, because we are all once again focused on Jesus, not focused on the man being in charge.

Did you listen to the podcast? Tell me what you think. And Keith really wants to know, too. I’m so glad he wanted to do this one with me! Let’s talk in the comments.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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108 Comments

  1. Jamie

    Timothy Keller perfectly discusses this in a sermon about 1 Corinthians 8 (Gospel in Life episode 296 “Receptive Grace” on 9-11-19) where he talks about the weaker brother having a problem eating food sacrificed to idols. The wisdom for this subject is right there in the Bible (and I think Sheila, you have already shed some light on this teaching from Paul already).

    This teaching about women’s emotional/spiritual/logic inferiority is sinful. Jesus will say to those who continue to teach this that they are the goats and they will be sent away forever.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I agree, Jamie. I’ve been so upset about this all year. This is hurting the church, hurting women, and it needs to stop.

      Reply
    • Kay

      I personally cannot look to Tim Keller as an example of someone teaching healthy gender roles. I wrote on the recent post about the damage of being told that selfishness is our number one marriage problem and how that has damaged my marriage. That’s from Keller. His views in The Meaning of Marriage about how gender roles mirror the Trinity in that the Father still has more authority than the Son and Spirit are borderline heretical. I have listened to the sermons that original became that book several times now, and I find them deeply troubling.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        He ascribes to Eternal Subordination of the Son, too? How sad. Meaning of Marriage is on our list of books to review for our upcoming book, so I’ll be taking a look at it eventually. I just can’t believe that so many modern writers/speakers are willing to mess with the foundational creeds of our faith in order to promote authority-based gender roles. For anyone interested in the debate, Rachel Green Miller has been great on this.

        Reply
      • Jamie

        Kay, I haven’t heard about this teaching from Keller, but I will have to look it up. I also don’t know much about this teaching either. Can you tell me where you are hearing it again? I wasn’t able to figure it out from what you wrote.

        What do you mean by being told that selfishness is our #1 marriage problem? Do you mean the most often occurring? Or you mean the most damaging? I missed this post you wrote, can you point me to it?

        Reply
      • Jamie

        Kay, it appears that this researcher was unable to come to the conclusion that Keller supports the view of Subordination of the Son.

        http://amymantravadi.com/2017/07/26/an-examination-of-tim-kellers-views-on-the-trinity/

        However, I can’t argue with you as she wasn’t able to definitely match up all of his teachings into a cohesive message about this subject. Explicitly he denies the teaching, but maybe he doesn’t actually distance himself fully from it? Who knows. I also don’t think anyone can really know these level of details on the Trinity anyway since it is outside the wisdom of God.

        Any other resources you can point me to on his view of gender roles?

        Reply
        • Jamie

          By “outside the wisdom of God” I mean to say, this information is hidden (not explicitly revealed in Scripture) and can only be revealed by the wisdom of God.

          Reply
  2. Dean

    I think that it is important for Christian men to speak up against the whole “the husband is the boss of the wife” thing, and against the role of some of the Christian churches of different types around the world in enforcing that idea.

    These ideas often creep around disguised as jokes. Things like “wow, you wife is bugging you a lot.” Even when such things are expressed as a joke, it is important to answer “no, her request/issue is legitimate” when that is the case.

    I suppose that that is not enough, that one should be vocal about this issue in other ways too. I am not quite sure how though, especially since we are not part of a local Christian community.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Very true, Dean. The joking needs to stop, too.

      Reply
  3. Connie

    Created to be his help mete is just as bad

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It really is. I wrote about that book here.

      Reply
      • Manwithoutamap

        I read the book about 4 or 5 years ago, and I actually found it to be beneficial. That doesn’t mean that I agree with every word or every concept in it.

        I think one reason I am apparently less offended by it than others, is that I read it with the intent to become a better, more loving husband, and I was pretty sure my wife would not read it, so it was a very one sided study. It was also only one of a number of other books I read in the subject. I was looking to change ME, not looking to leverage my position to force change on anyone else. I have found that to be the best way to approach anything I might read.

        I think that in a generally good marriage, with two good willed people his book is a good thing. The farther away from that ideal, the more likely it is to be damaging. I have thought that to be the case in most marriage books and blogs tho, unless they are specifically addressing those difficult marriages. In short, what works in a good marriage probably doesn’t work as well, or sometimes not at all in a bad or abusive one, and can actually be damaging in those cases.

        Ultimately, the only person I have to answer for is myself.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, that’s a big problem. If a marriage book HARMS those in bad marriages, it should be recalled. Why? Because those in bad marriages tend to read more marriage books. That’s why all marriage books need to give examples of what abusive or controlling behaviour looks like, how to recognize it, and what to do about it. And books definitely should not be promoting a marriage framework that enables abuse or makes bad marriages worse. Applying the Bible does not make marriage worse. If applying what a marriage book says makes marriage worse, then there is something wrong with that advice.

          My feeling is that the issue is that far too many books are promoting gender roles and authority structures rather than intimacy. To have true intimacy, both partners must be able to express their needs, fears, wants, and dreams. If one party can be told that they are disrespectful to do so, then marriage is not based on intimacy but power, and that is not biblical.

          Again, two well-meaning people can take the information and make it work. But the real measure of whether it’s good or not is how it stands up when those in difficult marriages are reading it, and that’s really the issue, I think.

          Reply
          • Doug

            I am resolved to go back and read the book again with new eyes. I don’t know how you can write a book with every possibility in mind. I just know that was the first book I ever read with the intent of being a better husband, and it was transformative for both me and my marriage. I don’t say this lightly, but I doubt if you could find a marriage that might be restored, that was as bad as ours was. The damage went both ways and it ran deep. Maybe the reason things changed so much was that in that season, I was willing to take everything that was wrong in our marriage and own it all. I had no promise of anything better, but I decided to be better. Sometimes I am still surprised at the change that followed. Not an hour ago, my wife called me at work just to say she loved me. In the past I might have gone weeks without hearing that expressed in any circumstance.

            Whatever others might think about the book, and I am sure it is not perfect, it was helpful in restoring our marriage. There might be another that would have been better, but I don’t know what it would be.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Doug, that is wonderful. And I really think you’re on to something–you were willing to take what was wrong and own it, which was the Holy Spirit working in you. THAT is what transformed your marriage. God likely used some of the words in the book to prompt you (he can use anything), but that doesn’t mean the book itself is good. Simply that you listened to God at a very important time of your life, and God used that as a vehicle for you. I think that’s wonderful. I really do.

          • Maria

            “To have true intimacy, both partners must be able to express their needs, fears, wants, and dreams.” (Quoted from Shiela’s comment above)

            Are they really partners if one person is relegated to the role of sidekick?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Exactly!

          • Maria

            It’s good that the book helped people. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Maybe that saying applies here. Or, perhaps a better analogy is that it was like a bushel of apples, some good, some rotten. If you randomly grab an apple and bite into it, you might get sick. If you selectively pick out the good ones, you’ll be ok.

            Personally, I found the first pages to be so off putting that I did not read all of it. But if it helped your marriage, that’s great!

    • Lisa

      I think it’s actually worse. The Pearls tell women whose husbands have sexually abused their own children to let him back into the home if he repents. No. One strike and you’re out when it comes to children. You hurt the kids, you’re done and the courts will figure out where to put you.

      But I think Eggerichs would applaud the overall message of the Pearls. I know he used Ezzo parenting materials at his church in Michigan. Very harsh and legalistic, like the Pearls.

      Reply
  4. Jessica

    OK, so after your posts on Love & Respect, we had our living room painted and so I cleaned off all my bookcases and found my copy of L&R and considered a bonfire in the backyard, but decided to read it for myself one more time. I concluded it was definitely an incomplete view of marriage and while I didn’t find it quite as bad as I thought based on the blog posts, it’s definitely the sort of advice that at best is good for couples that are both generally decent people trying to be better. I thought for the most part, the couple and chairs acronyms are areas worthwhile to discuss in the sense of “is this area important to you because statistically speaking it is to most men/women? is it actually more important to me because not every man/woman is the same way?”. And I think for myself, because my natural tendency is to call out anything that I find bad behavior (whether or not it really is) and my other natural tendency is to be… let’s just say direct :), I don’t see advice to soften tone and not be so critical (ummm.. I mean direct…) in the same way that a more softspoken woman with an abusive husband would. So basically, I put the book in a “maybe not total garbage but definitely incomplete and limited in its usefulness”.

    Well, that blog post from Eggerich? Yeah, I retract everything I just said. What a #$(*&)$#. Did I really, really read that right? Lady writes in saying that it seems like his book is incomplete in the area of valuing a woman’s insight (which is essentially a nicer version of what I just said above), and his answer is “Well, the wives probably aren’t giving their insight in the ‘right’ ways and they probably just don’t like that their husbands are now leading in their families so this is my not caring face”.

    I know we all tend to give extra weight to our own opinions about things because, you know, if we didn’t believe our opinions, then they wouldn’t be our opinions. But may we never elevate our opinions, even strong, well-researched opinions, to the level that nobody can ever challenge them without being told that they probably just aren’t doing it the right way so they’re wrong.

    So I typed all that out before reading your doc with his stuff and your comments. My kids are doing school right now so I can’t listen to the podcast until later. I’m at the part where you quote Gottman and I just want to say GOOOO Gottman! (OK, maybe that’s just my flesh speaking. But really, how much intelligence does it take to conclude that the best marriages are the ones where “…those in which
    the husband did not resist sharing power and decision making with the wife. When the couple disagreed, these husbands actively searched for common ground rather than insisting on getting their way.” I mean, is that not just a no-brainer?)

    I’ve finished your notes now and I need to go find some brain bleach so I can forget I ever read what he said. I’ve concluded that I’ve run out of space in my life for writers who can’t grasp that theirs is not the only acceptable approach in life – we’ve just finished a parenting study in our SS class, and I’ll grant that for the most part, that book is Biblical, but these sorts of books always seem to be written from the vantage point of “What I’m saying here is the only right way”, and not “This is an approach that worked for us and could work for you so here you go, throw it out if it doesn’t”. This is even worse when there are obvious gaps in the concept and the writer refuses to acknowledge that maybe (gasp, shudder), he’s not God and might (gasp, shudder) be wrong or incomplete.

    It’s unfortunate, really, because the L&R verse is Scripture, God’s own words, and there is legit conversation to be had about what love and respect mean and what they look like in a marriage.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Jessica, Keith and I are actually camping right now, and I was reading your comment to him and he was doubling over laughing. Yep. I feel like I need brain bleach, too. It’s just awful.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      The verses about love and respect start off but saying submit to one another in love! There’s no verse inn the Bible, anywhere, that tells husbands to make the final decision or that women don’t need respect. The Proverbs 31 woman was making shrewd business deals while her husband sat chatting. She didn’t consult him, she had great business acumen and used it bless her family. She didn’t stay home cleaning and waiting for her husband to lead her. She was out there, using her gifts.

      Reply
  5. Nathan

    Great stuff as always!
    > > If a pastor/leader tells you that the way you follow Jesus is by following another person, that’s wrong.

    This is true, although other people can be mentors, role models, give inspiration, etc. We have to be careful though. While we can admire others and want to emulate some of their characteristics, we should not “follow” or worship anybody other than God/Jesus. Even the best person on the planet is still fallible and far from perfect.

    Our pastor says that if you follow somebody too closely, when they inevitably fall at something (and we all do), it can be devastating.

    So admire others, take queues from their lives, but only follow God. He’s the only one who can never disappoint or fail at anything.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep!

      Reply
  6. Nathan

    Our church is pretty good on this issue for the most part. We’ve discussed how the famous phrase “wives, submit to your husbands” is just part of a larger discussion of how husbands and wives belong to each other and should submit to each other.

    We still have some work to do, though. Our pastors (we have a team) also tells us “women, dress modestly, or men will lust and it’s YOUR fault” and “have sex often with your husbands so they wont’ stray”. Now, I think that married couples SHOULD have a great sex life, but we’ve seen that people who are going to cheat are likely going to do so anyway no matter how great they have things at home

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yeah, that’s such a toxic message that really does ruin women’s sexuality. Working on a book on that right now!

      Reply
      • Lea

        ” “have sex often with your husbands so they wont’ stray”. ”

        It comes off like blackmail to me, which can’t be healthy. And I see no evidence that it actually works.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It really is blackmail. And blackmailing women into having sex is not going to improve a woman’s sex drive, either.

          Reply
        • Lindsey

          I mean, there’s no way you can say that one persons sin is another persons fault, regardless of what the other person did. However, the do not deprive verse says that husbands and wives need to prioritize a healthy sex life so that they won’t be tempted. It is a reality that someone (man or wife) in a sexually deprived marriage may have to fight harder against temptation than someone who has a good intimate relationship with their spouse. That being said the fight is still there’s to take ownership of.

          I think the warning in that verse is NOT meant to be used as a threat from one spouse against the other, but for each of us to take to heart in order to pursue the best marriage possible which will reduce temptation for BOTH partners.

          I am not worried that my husband is going to cheat on me, but I don’t want to give Satan a good opportunity to throw temptation on him because I haven’t prioritized our relationship and the one special need that only I can rightfully meet (and vice verse). I also think that’s a good reason for both partners to consider the ROMANTIC needs each spouse may have (which is more than just sexual, and is really exemplified the term “the affection due her” ). If a woman doesn’t feel cherished, valued, and pursued by her husband it also leaves the door open for Satan to bring someone along who will do those things, in order to tempt her to sin. The choice is still hers, but a wise husband will recognize that his wife has needs only he should be meeting, and endeavor to meet those needs consistently.

          Reply
  7. Active Mom

    To be honest I was sad when I read/listened to this post but not surprised. Is it any wonder people are leaving the church? I have a firm relationship with Christ but I am tired of these types of messages. Frankly, I am concerned that if my children are raised in the church they will leave as adults to get away from this nonsense. I am tired of being told either straight out or implied that if my husband looks with lust I could lesson that temptation by being more sexually available. Let’s ignore the fact that I might be the higher drive spouse and he just lusts. I am tired when a spouse is abusive and or commits adultery I am asked what I did and told I need to stay because God loves marriage. I am tired of preachers not addressing porn within their own ranks. I am tired of being criticized for what I wear because it “causes men to lust.” Let’s be clear. I am not at fault for men lusting because I am wearing shorts and walking around in the body God gave me. Never! I was 35 years old before I sat in a church service and a pastor addressed Abraham’s infidelity. Do you know what I was told as a child? Why men in the Old Testament were living in sexual sin? Because God needed them to do that so the earth would get populated. Uh what? Question for the other women. When was the last time you sat in a service or a small group etc and a man was ever blamed or partially blamed for a women’s sin? I never have. However, I can’t count the number of times I was told I was causing men to lust. For wearing shorts. And by the way the shorts weren’t short. They went to my fingertips and weren’t tight. (No underwear lines) but because my legs are sooooo long and fit I was told I was causing men to sin. It started when I was 13. Before I even got my period.
    Men are not mini Gods walking around on earth. Yet that is how they are treated. This post you tackled is a perfect example. Ugh!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I just want to speak to the concern for your children growing up in the midst of all this, because I definitely did, as did my sister. I dealt with a great deal of hypocrisy, legalism, false teaching, and the like throughout my high school experience. And the way I stayed strong is that my parents kept the conversation more on Jesus than on Christians. We were allowed to be open and honest about when people were acting in the wrong, but mostly our faith at home talked about what it actually means to follow Jesus.

      And then they encouraged Christian friendships with other people who thought like us and, when necessary, left churches that were promoting damaging, harmful teachings to protect us, their children, from that as much as possible (without sheltering us from the fact that it was going on.)

      Just wanted to offer some encouragement that you can, in fact, raise kids in the midst of what seems to be a hellstorm of hypocrisy and have them come out knowing Jesus and being strengthened for it.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It is why people are leaving the church! And if they think millennials are going to put up with this ungodly unsanity, they’re nuts. Millennials can see right through it and they’re not impressed. Millennials aren’t leaving the church because they don’t want to be committed or because they don’t love Jesus. They’re leaving the church because the church has traded in servanthood for authoritarian power structures. And it’s evil.

      Reply
    • Tory

      @Active mom—
      You’re right. Wow. Mind blown over here. How many times have I heard women being blamed for men’s sin? A lot. Adam sinned because eve misled him. That man sinned because the woman was dressed too sexy. This other man sinned because his wife was disrespectful towards him. That third man sinned by watching porn because his wife wasn’t satisfying him sexually. Ok, we get it, it is never man’s fault. Now, how many times have men been blamed for women’s sins? Crickets… she cheated because her husband was unloving? Nope, she cheated because she was a whore at heart. She sinned in other ways? It’s only her fault, not because the men in her life failed her. Ugh— you’re right in your observation and o hate that you’re right because it’s such an ugly truth to admit to. Women are held accountable for their sins but when it comes to men, it’s always because the women in their life let them down.

      Reply
  8. Phil

    Sheila and Keith – I really think you did a great job at dissecting this stuff without attacking Emerson. The problem is this: It really does come down to character. The Authors character influences the message. That is just the way it is. So if you won’t say it I will. Emerson has a character flaw. He thinks he is on a level higher than women. He clearly delivers that message through his writings. Unfortunately people read this stuff and follow it….especially when its a best seller. Thank you for your service and attacking this subject. I know it will help some people. When I listened to this it just gave me gratitude. Gratitude that I have the marriage I have and that what our marriage boils down to is I really and truly only have my wife – it’s just us. That’s it. Not the kids not my Mom not her parents not our friends….not the people at our church. If we aren’t following Jesus together then our marriage has large potential to fall. And if I speak in terms of the cup half full rather than the cup half empty it goes like this. When I follow Jesus my marriage has all the makings for a joyful and fruitful life together. Thanks for your work.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Phil! I’m glad you liked it.

      Reply
  9. Nathan

    Good comment, Phil!
    > > Emerson has a character flaw. He thinks he is on a level higher than women.

    The whole attitude that women are an afterthought of creation so that men would have servants is sadly still pretty widespread. You can see it in those comments and in other ridiculous things like that “98 ways a wife can sin against her husband”, or the belief that “nice girls” are supposed to have sex with your husband whenever he demands it, but aren’t supposed to want it or enjoy it themselves in any way.

    I know that we don’t and can’t fully understand the mind of God, but I just can’t see any reason for Him to create half the human race to be nothing but servants and pleasure tools for the other half.

    Reply
    • Active Mom

      This made me think of a comment our former church’s youth pastor made when speaking with middle school about biblical roles etc. he was discussing the man is the head portion and the boys started to laugh and say that was because they were made first and meant to be in charge. Boys all chuckled and the girls looked defeated. He stopped and said “yes, it’s true God made Adam first but, remember when he gave his most precious gift to the world who did he use?” The kids answered Mary. His response was “exactly and Mary was a woman. Who didn’t he use?” A middle school girl answered, “boys.” Suddenly the boys were silent and the girls were chuckling. He explained that by using Mary he was showing the world the importance and value of women even though men currently treated them as less than. He laughed and said “in his opinion being chosen to help bring Christ into the world outweighed being made second.” He instantly showed all the girls and boys in the room the importance of women. He did it in a way without contradicting Gods word.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        I literally just had this EXACT conversation with my 7-year-old son who was teasing his sister about Adam being made first. I even took it a step further and brought out that the only point in the creation account where God said that something was not good was when Adam was the only person. And it was because Adam realized how alone he was. I am convinced that’s the reason why they weren’t created at the same time – because God wanted Adam to know how desperately he needed Eve, and to not take her for granted.

        Reply
    • Arwen

      It’s not surprising Emmerson has that view. If you know about his background, his father almost murdered his mouth by strangulation. He grew up in a household with a man who taught him women were worthless. Thankfully he didn’t end up like his dad but you can see elements of disrespect for women he still has that was influenced by his childhood. Telling his wife he didn’t miss her when she returned from a vacation is something his dad used to say about his mom. When the foundation is built on sand it will crumble.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Very well may likely be true. On the other hand, I grew up with an absent father to a single mother, and I like to think that I have a great marriage and Keith and I are truly partners. It’s not his past that bothers me; it’s what he teaches in the present, which seems to suggest that he may not have fully dealt with his past.

        Reply
      • Carla Lipke

        Great discussion. Thank you! Reading these “help” books and not reading one’s bible as the final authority-on everything in life-can lead to leaning on one’s own understanding. Or someone else. The church has a long way to go… if Christians didn’t so embrace black and white thinking and legalizing and instead,embraced loving and kindness and consideration (as co-heirs with Christ!!)life and marriage would be- so much sweeter. Again, thank you for your work on all this! More Jesus and less influence of life coaches perhaps.
        (seems this author offers “canned” advice for $$$!! As he’s producing marriage “help” aids that might not help at all)

        Reply
  10. Debbi

    Thank you I will share this with my husband especially the gaslighting , when confronted he often says I did not see, not believe,not whatever that I could not believe myself I

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      I’m sorry. Sometimes we just have to speak up and say “No, stop gas lighting me. You must respect me enough to be considerate of my perspective.”

      Reply
  11. sarah

    i’m looking for an intensive marriage counselors near West Virginia, let me know of you know something like this counseling site. http://www.recliammarriage.com thanks

    Reply
    • Lindsey

      I don’t have knowledge of that region of the country, but I’m saying a prayer for your situation.

      Reply
  12. Melissa W

    Thank you for this comment (whoever said it as I didn’t listen to the podcast) “If people reject Love & Respect, he’s saying they’re rejecting God’s Word. So he’s equating Love & Respect with God’s word, right off the bat. If you disagree, you’re in rebellion.” This line of thinking that your interpretation of scripture and application of scripture is somehow sacred and if people interpret or apply scripture differently than you that they are in rebellion is so incredibly dangerous. Yes, the Bible says that husbands should love their wives and wives should respect their husbands but the Bible also says that husband should respect or honor their wives and wives should love their husbands. To equate your whole philosophy of how this gets worked out on the same level as scripture itself is so scary. In the comments above Phil said he has a character flaw. I would call it idoltary. He is idolizing his own philosophy on how to apply this particular scripture. Yes, it may have worked for him but to now demand that his way of doing that is the only way to have a godly, happy and God honoring marriage is just alarming. I probably shouldn’t say this to someone who writes about marriage and parenting but I can count on one hand the number of marriage and parenting books I have read and I never read any books that claims to have some sort of formula for having the perfect marriage, kids, etc. Seek God and listen to his Holy Spirit in your life and stop looking for formulas on how to make things perfect. They will never be perfect and we need to stop lining the pockets of people who dole out formulas and then can’t admit they may have been mistaken or at least need to clarify some things in light of how their formulas have been misused. Once their formula becomes their meal ticket and retirement plan it is very hard for someone to admit they were wrong or admit their formula has become their idol.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I completely agree, Melissa. Besides, relationships aren’t formulas. It’s about increasing intimacy, which means increasing vulnerability and trust. That can only happen when we are safe to be ourselves, which we can’t be if we’re following a rigid formula.

      Reply
      • Melissa W

        And I will add Sheila, that I appreciate the fact that you have always been willing to admit when something you have written was maybe not clear enough or upon further reflection, time, experience, etc that it was maybe not the best advice. You have always been humble in that and I know I appreciate it. You have been very honest about how some of the things that you maybe taught your daughters when they were younger (I Kissed Dating Goodbye for example), you now realize weren’t good. No one is going to be perfect but a willingness to say that you were wrong is God honoring.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Thank you, Melissa! I really do think that blogging should be a conversation. I’m growing as well! And I’m so grateful for commenters who help me see things in a fuller light, too (and there have been so many!). It does bug me a bit when authors don’t allow comments. It makes it seem like authors are “above the rabble” or something, simply bestowing their wisdom, and that’s honestly not how I want to be. Seriously. I have such fun meeting people in real life when I travel, too, even if it’s just over coffee or frozen yogurt!

          Reply
    • Phil

      Hey Melissa – I am sure there are host of character flaws at work here. Sheila did previously in other comments in previous posts on this topic with regard to directing blame directly at Emerson mention narcism and there was discussion around that. They simply just did not go there today. Fair enough and understandable. The supporters of Emerson are blinded by what they think is good character because: It’s a best seller: Because they have fallen trap. Because he has “authority” because he is well known etc etc. I again say this: I am here at this blog because I believe in what Sheila and Becca and Joanna write. Their character is behind TLHV. Their character is behind the posts and the books they write. Their character is real on the table and they admit their own faults as they write and grow with US. That is why I am here. You just don’t find that in the many blogs that I have visited. As one christian blogger said to me one time. He doesn’t need you to agree with him. He just wants to make you think.

      Reply
      • Melissa W

        Could not agree more Phil! You echoed what I just said to Sheila above. Her willingness to humbly admit when she is wrong stands in stark contrast with Emerson and some others out there. And yes, it is part of the reason I have been reading this blog for so long.

        Reply
  13. Mara

    I guess it’s a good thing that the Love and Respect site doesn’t allow comments. That would be a mess. With women trying to shine light on the error and then feeling threatened and trying to figure out how to put women in their place. I could see it deteriorate rather quickly

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep. It looks like they used to, but they turned them off this year.

      Reply
  14. Nathan

    ActiveMom writes
    > > Men are not mini Gods walking around on earth. Yet that is how they are treated.

    I can guarantee that I’m not anything like that by any means. I try to be as good as I can, but I’m far from perfect, and in no way divine.

    Reply
  15. Lindsey

    Today’s podcast was amazing and truly a mirror of the church my husband and I were raised in on how they view the ministry. The obsession with following a man (all the while claiming that we don’t follow men, but God – and then punishing members who attempt to do just that) is truly vomit inducing.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I hope you’re out of churches like that now, Lindsey! 🙂

      Reply
  16. Charlotte

    Wow, Sheila and Keith, thank you SO MUCH. I definitely had to do some deep breathing on this one. What some people believe and spread as gospel is just beyond me. It’s heartbreaking. Your willingness to tackle this head on with such boldness and humility is very much appreciated.

    Also, side note, it occurred to me that the term “gaslighting” likely comes from an old movie called Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. I saw it when I was a teenager. It’s about a man who woos and marries this beautiful, hopeful young woman. Then he systematically drives her mad by causing weird things to happen around their house–like gaslights flickering and going on and off–then telling her she’s crazy and that what she sees and hears is not actually true. It was a powerful and disturbing movie, and listening to this podcast brought it back to my mind. Christian women are being told that the problems they see, hear, and observe in their marriages and the church are not real. That they are inherently invalid because they are female. And it’s honestly driving women mad. I know my own struggles with anxiety and depression were hugely exacerbated by the confusion and deception I encountered in my spiritual journey, specifically relating to who I am as a woman.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Isn’t that interesting about gaslighting? Keith was asking me today where the term came from, and I said I didn’t know. I’m going to have to look it up now!

      Reply
    • Blessed Wife

      You’re right about where the term comes from, Charlotte.
      You’re also dead-on about what the behavior does to marriages and individuals. It is incredibly destructive!

      Thankfully our church (we are in the SBC), has had pastors for years who were stridently pro-women and anti-abuse. Our current pastor has been more proactive than any I can remember about calling it out.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s wonderful!

        Reply
    • libl

      I recently left a church because the pastor said, from the pulpit, that he spent nearly a decade in seminaries and we didn’t, so don’t come to him “arguing” about things you disagree with that he preaches.

      Reply
  17. Natalie

    Wow! Just… WOW!!! That latest blog post! I’m officially, 100% turned off to everything Love & Respect contains & every church/counselor/etc who promotes it (including the church counselor who did our pre-marital counseling & officiated our wedding and gave us a leather-bound, monogrammed copy of Love & Respect as a wedding present). I think there are a lot of good, kind, Christ-like Christians who go along with Love & Respect because 1) they don’t really read it thoroughly or process all it entails and the repercussions of what it teaches, and 2) they trust Love & Respect because it’s such a highly respected book within the church and has been for years. It reminds me a lot of the type of hype that was around I Kissed Dating Goodbye and other purity culture books 2 decades ago that did such damage to me & other Christian millennials when it comes to sex, sexuality and marriage.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think you’re right. I know I assumed it was a good book until I actually read it in January. So sad! Why can’t the church do better?

      What also amazes me is how many of his articles are based in him defending L&R because people have written in saying it didn’t work. This obviously doesn’t work because it’s toxic. Why, then, did a book that didn’t really work for many people become a best-seller? My guess is because it reinforces what all too many pastors want their congregants to believe: That Christianity is about a power structure (with pastors at the top), with men in authority over women, and with women deferring to men. That’s the only answer I can come up with. Keith and I are camping right now and we were walking along the beach talking about this today. (It was actually him who said all of that, not me). There was more to it about how people equate things “different from the world” as meaning “must be of Christ”, so we want to be as different from the world as possible. But that’s seeing the gospel wrong in many ways. Perhaps I’ll write more about that one day; Keith has a lot to say about it anyway. Truth is truth; sometimes the world has truth. Trying to look different from truth never wins. When Jesus was talking about “the world”, He really meant a system that was different from God’s kingdom–meaning a system based on injustice and power and sin. We’ve got a lot of things backwards, because sometimes non-Christians can act in a good, godly way.

      Reply
      • Melissa W

        I think this is a really good point Sheila. The reality is that what so many churches teach in regards to marriage now is what was “worldly” when Paul was writing to the churches. Power structures and people as property were the culture of the time and Paul was writing about a new way to do things without causing “culture wars”. For instance, don’t be a part of the slave rebellion but rather live out your faith within the current system, even if that system is evil. Allow the influence of Christians as a whole change the system from the inside through the changing of the hearts of people. Thank goodness that now a days slavery no longer exists and wives and children are no longer considered property but the way so many in the church teach you would think that those systems were what God wanted all long. Nothing can be further from the truth and the fact of the matter is that the world is catching up, finally, to what it is that God really wants for us and now we are rejecting it as if it is evil. We are so afraid of being influenced by the world that when the world actually starts to show that they are being influenced by Christ and Christians we reject it and say it is not of God. Really is mind blowing!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, my goodness, I was just sitting on the beach at our campsite fleshing out a post and then I came back here to read and your comment is EXACTLY what I was thinking. I shall have to write it and I’ll include your comment in it!

          Reply
          • Melissa W

            I guess great minds think alike. Ha! I just want to add that I do know that slavery still exists now but it does not exist in the same culturally acceptable and legally authorized way that it did in Paul’s time or throughout history.

        • Kim P

          “The reality is that what so many churches teach in regards to marriage now is what was “worldly” when Paul was writing to the churches. Power structures and people as property were the culture of the time and Paul was writing about a new way to do things without causing “culture wars””

          Melissa, thank you, this is so impactful and amazing I’m saving your comment to reread and ponder! This is the CRUX in my opinion! The very verses being used to oppress and subjugate women today were meant for the opposite back then! Wow!! I feel like everything ab Jesus, Truth, and the gospel finally makes sense to me.

          Reply
      • Kim P

        Sheila you blew my mind with this comment! You’re right – you really flesh things out in the comment section and from now on I will check it out. I feel like I am finally free of the fog of confusion and wrestling with this so hard for many years! My observations that many non-Christians were not only acting in a better more godly way, but that the “truly” reformed Christians I was surrounded by acted like THE ABSOLUTE WORST people I’ve ever encountered in my life – was so confusing and such a dark long road for me. We were constantly warned about becoming “worldly”, trusting the world, so much legalism to protect against that. Fear mongering at its worst.

        “But that’s seeing the gospel wrong in many ways. Perhaps I’ll write more about that one day; Keith has a lot to say about it anyway.” Yes, please! More!! Both of you!

        “Truth is truth; sometimes the world has truth. Trying to look different from truth never wins. When Jesus was talking about “the world”, He really meant a system that was different from God’s kingdom–meaning a system based on injustice and power and sin.”

        I’m crying reading this. I feel like God has opened my eyes so much and that this is the core of what was so wrong for so long. Thank you, thank you! My father-in-law as a well respected pastor still believes there is a godly aspect of slavery (if it’s not based on race but rather foolishness and not following God’s Law.) I can’t tell you how enslaved, empty and alone I felt at his church and the “daughter” church of that one, which we thought at the time was a step up! You have given me truth answers and validation that I didn’t think I would get in this life. From now on I will base my perception of Truth with how much it lines up with Jesus’ words, ministry and life…. no matter where I find it.

        Reply
  18. Jen

    Thank you for this post!
    Interesting how the gaslighting and sexism you address in this post reminds me almost exactly of the gaslighting, and degrading way my husband treated me when he was deep in his porn addiction… He acted like my opinions and feelings didn’t matter simply because they where mine… He was very emotionally abusive.

    (Thank goodness for GOOD marriage books that gave me the tools I needed to call him on these behaviors, and for a man willing to change! He is a very kind, caring husband now).
    Mainstream ‘Christian ‘ marriage books shouldn’t be enabling the same horrible behaviors as porn does!

    Your words are absolutely necessary! Thank you for having the courage to say them!
    I have experienced first hand this sexist type of teach in church and I can’t even express how angry it makes me. It seems that well meaning teachers have no idea the abuse they are enabling, especially to a culture saturated with porn, and as a result, many emotionally immature men. I don’t think they have an excuse though, teachers have a duty to know the culture they are teaching!

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      I’ve actually written before about how this type of marriage teaching has much more in common with how porn sees women than with how the Bible sees women. You’re totally right. It’s awful! I’m glad you got better teaching on how to grow boundaries!

      Reply
  19. Nathan

    Sheila says
    > > Why can’t the church do better?

    > > That Christianity is about a power structure (with pastors at the top), with
    > > men in authority over women, and with women deferring to men.

    My guess is that this attitude (especially the idea that men are in command, and women are their silent, unquestioning servants) has been going on for centuries, passed down through the generations, and people just believe and accept what the older folks tell them (and it’s not just Christianity, it’s a global thing).

    Like I said on other threads, we seem to be waking up to this, but as my great uncle often says, we’re climbing the mountain, but we ain’t at the top quite yet!

    So keep on doing this, and hopefully more will hear the words understand.

    Reply
  20. Ashley

    Ugh, ugh, ugh!

    You and Keith did such a great job with this. Keith seems like such a terrific man, by the way.

    The more of this kind of stuff I discover is out there, the less I even want to remarry. Christian woman are really in a bind when non-Christian men have healthier ideas (at times) about mutually in marriage than Christian ones. *sigh* Or maybe someday I will meet a man who is a newer Christian and hasn’t been steeped in all this junk.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I understand the sentiment. I had a time of grief when I realized that one of the “selling points” I liked about Connor when I first got to know him was that he was a new Christian from a very healthy family and so he hadn’t ever been involved in this legalistic garbage. That was really hard–recognizing that someone not being in church his whole life made me feel safer when it came to my worth in the relationship.

      But I will say that since then I’ve switched denominations and WOW the difference. I highly recommend (not just for finding a spouse–just for everyone looking for good community) to try denominations you may not have thought of before. It is SUCH a difference, and the men in my church wouldn’t even consider ignoring my opinion just because I’m a woman. In fact, I was actually asked to be on a committee to search for our new pastor simply because I was a young person in my early 20s and they wanted it to be representative of the congregation. I was the youngest one by far, and the board members who were in their 40s, 50s, and 60s didn’t only let me have input–I had as much input and deciding decisions as the older men. It was SUCH a healing experience, and it really shows that there are churches out there doing it right. So don’t settle for the legalistic poison that God never intended for us–whenever possible, find people who are doing it differently and jump on board.

      Reply
      • Charissa

        Totally resonate with this. My husband also grew up in a different religious environment from me – and I was so relieved by it. After a really terrible experience dating very theologically conservative guys I started screening for how complementarian a guy was pretty early on – by posing a question about common teaching in those circles. The teaching says that if you ever come to a gridlock point in marriage, the wife should express her opinion, and then she should submit to the husband’s decision. I asked my now husband what he thought about this – and he looked almost confused. He said, “I suppose if you were at an impasse, there would be a variety of ways to resolve that. But it never occurred to me that my vote would count more because I have a penis.” I literally laughed out loud and almost told him to put a ring on it right there 😂. But seriously – it’s sad to me that I needed to look outside of my church background to find a marriage in which I would feel fully respected as an equal – but I ultimately decided that how a man behaves is much more important than his doctrine. We found a church together that we both love where women are encouraged to lead and teach – it’s been a breath of fresh air.

        Reply
          • Charissa

            Right?! I saw the post this morning and thought – that was timely 😎.

            There is one other part of the teaching we received in my church related to this – and I’m wondering about how common it was. The teaching basically said it was OK that men had the final say – because the husband should submit to older, wiser men in his life. So the first question we should be asking when we dated was “who is he submitting to?” – since that would serve as community protection from selfish or unwise decisions. I’m this church context, I started dating a guy before my husband who was very kind and a good man but having trouble figuring out his career. We were having a conversation about the options he was considering, and he brought up that he thought God might be calling him to become a professional race car driver. In my head I was like, “Um, you’re 32. I think that ship sailed as a career option a while back.” I didn’t say that out loud – but I did express some concern that maybe this wasn’t the wisest choice. And then per the church teaching I asked him to go talk to this elder he was submitting to about his decision process. When he got back from the conversation, he told me that the elder had told him whatever God put in his heart to do, he should do that – and that some wives are controlling (including his own wife), and I might struggle with that issue 😳. That was the moment when I was like – this system doesn’t work. Because if the man I’m sending this guy to “submit to” is more concerned with MY submission than with helping the man make a wise decision, this system will not offer any sort of protection. As it turns out, you know what does result in solid decisions? Marrying a kind, wise and responsible man who shares your values and approaches important decisions with mutuality. No crazy submission trees needed 🤷‍♀️

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Oh, great story, Charissa! Yes, the system totally doesn’t work. It’s focused on male power rather than doing the will of God.

  21. Ina

    During the whole, “of course a man would listen to a PRUDENT wife, ” I just kept thinking about Abigail and David and her first husband. Clearly foolish men who don’t listen to wise wives exist… and better watch out!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I wish I had thought to say that in the podcast! Exactly!

      Reply
  22. Kay

    I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I’d like to say that I would love to hear more conversations about spiritual gaslighting.

    I’ve been quiet around here lately because things finally came to a head with my husband and his dad’s church. We left. And I was officially “removed from the rolls of the church” in the process, which really means “excommunicated.” The gaslighting in this church discipline process was egregious. I expected it from my spiritually abusive father-in-law, but I was caught off guard by how much of it came from my husband. He frequently told me that he dad didn’t say what I said he did. When I pulled out my notes of exact quotes, my husband said his dad probably didn’t mean it like I “interpreted” it. He told me I was bitter and angry and just looking for every single little thing to be offended about, all the while his dad was teaching that if you believe anything different than what he is teaching, you aren’t even a Christian. So I finally met with the elders to go over all of these issues, and it turns out I understood perfectly; because I reject so many of these toxic teachings, they told me I am not a Christian and subjected me to church discipline. They even held a town hall meeting to announce my apostasy and pray for my lost soul.

    Meanwhile, I’m over here scratching my head because it was following Jesus that led me out of that church in the first place. I tried to explain that these teachings are toxic and are hurting people, but I was told that it doesn’t matter how it makes me feel (suicidal) because it’s just God’s truth. I was told I am the problem for feeling hurt by these terrible teachings about what wretched worms we are, about women not being made in the same image of God as men, about how angry God is and that if you don’t submit to your church leaders God will punish you. I am the problem for having a problem with this. When I called out their fear- and shame-based faith systems, my father-in-law responded with, “But Jesus says that anyone who leads a little one astray” (as I am supposedly doing by telling my children that they are good and God loves them) “deserves to have a millstone thrown around their neck and be thrown into the sea.”

    I say this is spiritual abuse. They say I am the problem. Spiritual gaslighting is real, and I personally believe it is why millennials are running away. Because we have literally been traumatized by so much of our upbringing, then gaslighted for feeling traumatized.

    They can worry about my soul all they want. I have found a FAR more beautiful gospel that is truly good news for ALL people. I have tasted the abundant life Jesus offers for the first time in 35 years, and once you’ve tasted it, you cannot go back to that kind of slavery and oppression.

    I. AM. FREE.

    Reply
    • Nathan

      Wow. Kay, I’m so sorry that you were in that situation, but very happy that you got free of it.

      Sadly, the ideas of “being a Christian means what I SAY it is, and nothing else” or “only men are the true children of God” are still out there.

      Hopefully we can all leave that behind, and understand that we are ALL the children of God.

      The “we’re all wretched worms” things is a bit more complicated. Yes, all of us are imperfect, and fallen, and sinful, but we’re not inherently evil (the vast majority of us, anyway). We’re still the beautiful creations of God, all made in His image, and he loves us all. We all, while imperfect, have the ability to improve and to do great acts of goodness

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Kay, I’m so sorry, but I’m so glad at the same time! You are free. I have thought of you often in the last little while; I missed you in the comments, and I thought of emailing, but then I didn’t want to intrude on you in case something had happened that made you leave. I wish now I had reached out. I think one particular day it was actually God who brought you to my mind; I’m sorry for not listening to the nudging!

      Spiritual gaslighting is SO real. Absolutely. And spiritual abuse is real, too, and what you’ve been describing for years from your father-in-law’s church is definitely spiritual abuse. I wish I could say that your story surprises me; sadly, it does not, because I have heard it far too many times now.

      I will really pray for you and your husband to find common ground on this and to find a new level of intimacy away from a toxic church. But it still hurts when people malign you and call you names. Even if you’re free, and even though you know they’re wrong, it still hurts. And I am sorry you’re going through this. You may need to get a good counselor talk to you in this time, because it does sound like you’re dealing with some pretty powerful emotions. Don’t be afraid to reach out.

      I think you will find over the next few years a joy in the Lord that you have never really known, and I am excited about that for you. I pray that you will find a good, welcoming church to go to that values you and doesn’t shame you or the children!

      Reply
  23. EM

    As I was thinking about this, I realized what really bothers me is his use of verses that describe contentious women, and uses that as a template for how ALL women are. Proverbs is also chock full of verses about men who are lazy, foolish, and unwise, but that does not mean ALL men are like that! I know for a fact that I am not a nag. My husband tells me all the time I am the most patient, gentle person he knows. But as a young bride struggling with my husband’s occasional harshness, the only option Eggerichs gave was that I must be somehow nagging without realizing it. What hogwash. I’m so glad I have learned to stand up for myself with grace, and we are both growing so much as a result. I’ve said before that the advice in this book could be really helpful for a wife who is truly critical and nagging. But it is presented as a universal solution, when I don’t think the majority of marriages are really like that. It is the absolute wrong advice for a marriage involving a wife who has a harder time speaking up.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Well said, EM!

      Reply
  24. NateMountainHi

    Wow, Sheila & Keith, you guys really nailed it! I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ for doing what you do and to encourage you to keep blazing the trail for the Truth. I don’t comment a lot on things online but I felt moved to do so in this case. I think it is because in the last few years, I’ve had experienced several close friends and family go through divorces. In each case, the husband was abusive and had implemented the patriarchal view of marriage, as promoted in L&R. I’m also close to several couples that aren’t divorced yet, but have destructive relationships, who are also trying to elevate man/demote women. What I find most disturbing is that in most cases, they thought they were doing what was ‘biblical.’ Unfortunately, the hierarchical view of God and man (Father, then Son, then Spirit, then men, then women, then children, then animals, then plants, etc) is very prevalent in the church. While this view feels good because it gives structure/certainty to the world, it is false and creates power struggles. I’m thankful for people like you that are bringing to light the major problems with the ‘man is in charge’ view of things. As you continue your efforts, no doubt more and more peoples’ eyes will be open to the Truth and that a life focused on Jesus is the way to go. Once again, thank you for being bold and putting up with the social media drama.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate that! That was a great encouragement. I do think that we’re seeing a lot more abuse and divorce in those circles, and we will continue to see that, because God is shaking things, and people are realizing they do not have to put up with toxicity. I just pray the Truth will go even further, before people get in these messes!

      Reply
  25. wifeofasexaddict

    Well done, Sheila and Keith. I never read L&R, for reasons unrelated to its content, but ideas like this have been around my whole life, and they set me and my husband up for disaster. Teachings like this promote narcissism or addiction in men and codependency in women. It is not a healthy dynamic. I don’t care if you think you found it in the Bible- it’s not healthy. Look at the fruit.

    Reply
  26. Dena

    Sheila and Keith, THANK YOU. Just… thank you for the truth you’re willing to share, and the lies and misconceptions that you’re tackling head-on. I can’t imagine what a tough job that is (and all of the emotional turmoil, etc. that comes with it!), but you are appreciated. Sending virtual hugs from Alberta! <3

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, thanks so much, Dena! Good to hear from a fellow Canuck, too. And it really means a lot to both of us!

      Reply
  27. Mara

    I finally got a chance to listen to this podcast all the way through.
    You two did an amazing job exposing that blog post for what it was.

    As I was listening, it reminded me of my own experience with Promise Keepers back in the day. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but once I realized what they were teaching, it made perfect sense. Promise Keepers ruined my husband similar to the way the group leader described in her email to Eggerichs.

    http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2012/05/promise-keepers-hurt-my-marriage.html

    Reply
    • BJ

      Thank you Sheila for all the work you did to get the word out about this toxic teaching.
      I’m so grateful I read your previous posts about this because I got married earlier this year and my new mother in law gave me both the book and the workbook. The mother in law herself and our relationship to her is a whole other can of worms
      But I took the books and normally, since I highly value books I would just donate something I’m not interested in, but I was so concerned they would poison someone else that I tore the books apart page by page and threw them away.
      So so glad I didn’t receive them when I knew nothing of them and didn’t have to stumble across any of it on my own, such as the wet towel story. (STILL can’t believe his immaturity there)
      Anyway, thank you and keep up the good work and spreading the actual good news!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Hi BJ! Thank you for your encouragement, and way to go for throwing the books away so they don’t harm anyone else! That’s awesome.

        And, yes, the wet towel story is the epitome of immaturity. The fact that he didn’t even realize, “If I put this in the book, it’s going to make me look like an idiot,” is equally concerning. Is his worldview that warped that he doesn’t even see how bad that story is?

        Reply
  28. Wild Honey

    Sorry to be late to the conversation.

    As much as Eggerichs hammers away at men needing respect, even he can’t get away from women needing it, as well. His acronym for how men should act toward wives is COUPLE. E = “esteem.” A good, biblical word. But has anyone bothered to look it up in a good, plain, old-fashioned English dictionary? According to dictionary.com, esteem is (among other things) “to regard with respect.”

    Huh. Go figure.

    Reply
  29. Maria D

    So excellent! Totally enjoyed you and Keith sharing together; you had me smiling at your interaction.

    Reply
  30. Mr. Wobbet

    Until I started listening to your podcast episodes on “Love & Respect” I had completely forgotten I actually read it early in my marriage.

    I was very young in faith having only come to Christ a year or so before and wanted to be a good, strong, Christian husband. This book had very strong reviews and I was dead center of the target demographic so I bought it.

    I did not have the maturity or emotional vocabulary to fully understand what it was that he says. But I very much knew that it was NOT how my marriage was going to be. As much as it may be every newly married man’s dream to have his wife be told that she must grant him release for the marriage to be successful, I could not follow the book’s advice. It was horrifying to me as a young husband.

    What may well have been worse for me though was the guilt. Here was this book that is highly recommended as a model for Christian men and I wasn’t following it. I felt guilty because I wasn’t doing everything that I needed to so that I could be a strong, Christian husband. I could toss the book into the trash and walk away from doing it, but not without feeling that I was destined for failure.

    I got over it and even forgot about it until listening to your podcast. Fortunately no guilt remains and, in fact, I am thankful that even without the maturity or vocabulary to describe what was wrong, I knew it was.

    I am thankful you have chosen to stand on Christ and on real Love and not for allowing boys in men’s bodies to throw candy wrappers and wet towels wherever they please.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, what a wonderful comment! Thank you so much for leaving that and encouraging me this morning. (And the fact that you knew it was off even when you didn’t have words for it shows that you were far more mature than you realized–and that you were able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit in you!)

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Mr. Wobbet, I’ve thought of another point. I think that growing up outside of evangelical circles, as you did, can be a protective factor against messages like this–and that’s very indicting of the evangelical church (and that’s why I’m so passionate about trying to change the conversation about marriage in the evangelical church). When you grow up in evangelical worlds, you are taught to see everything in terms of gender roles, rather than in terms of healthy communication and intimacy. That can be so toxic, and I think that’s what’s happened here.

      Reply
      • Mr. Wobbet

        Sheila,

        I have been inspired by listening to and reading your work.

        To that end I just finished editing the Wikipedia entry for the book to include criticisms from you and others. I published what I have had time to do and I will work to continue adding additional details.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_%26_Respect

        Respectfully yours

        Reply
        • Kim

          Mr. Wobbet,

          What a great way to get the message out! Very creative and proactive. I also appreciated your comment about candy wrappers and wet towels because for the life of me I cannot get over this story and the conclusions the author presented.

          Reply
  31. Kim

    Listened to this podcast today and can I just tell you both how much I appreciate your insights! I learned a lot more about true (and mutual) love and respect from just observing how you two interact with each other than any book, so thank you.. 😉

    I really can’t evennnn with this guy anymore. I said the wet towel story was the last straw for me but then to hear his response to this very respectful request for help just blew my mind. The gaslighting is real! I also see blame-shifting, minimizing, deflecting, word salad, arrogance, and mocking in pieces of the book, this email and the video you posted where he makes fun of women who bring up the narcissistic or abusive behaviors they see in their husbands. I’m glad you went deep into this rabbit hole and posted so many articles on it, because it has revealed over time to be more toxic than most of us would have originally believed.

    Reply
  32. Sarah Eze

    Love&Respect talks only to women, how they are to respect their husbands. However, the book doesn’t talk about how husbands love their wives. Loving, serving, taking care of their wives, this isn’t mentioned.

    Reply
  33. Lynnica

    Half way through this podcast and I’m thinking: You know what would be great? If the only attention we had to give things like this was to laugh at them. Like, “oh my goodness guys, you will NOT believe what I found on the internet today! This is written like it’s supposed to be serious marriage advice but it’s just so awful it’s hilarious!” And our friends listen to us read it and just die laughing “oh my! That’s terrible! Who in the world would take this seriously?” And none of us can stop laughing because it’s so obviously wrong! It’s just so sad that so many people believe these things so completely and teach them so authoritatively, that people like you have to spend so much time countering and correcting these horrible ideas. Thank you so much for what you do! I just wish it wasn’t necessary. 😥

    I did have one question though: how do you interpret 1 Tim. 2:11-15 that talks about the woman being deceived? I did a little searching (a very little so far) and I found something that says it’s in reference to Eve admitting (or at least saying) that she was deceived by the serpent, but I’m still not sure what Paul was trying to say about how that relates to why woman shouldn’t teach men. Have you written a blog post on that? Or know someone who has?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Lynnica! The best source I have for all things women & New Testament Greek is Marg Mowczko. She has an amazing site that’s really well-organized so you can find all the interesting passages. You can check her out here.

      Reply
      • Lynnica

        Thank you! I’ll check it out.

        Thank you for all you’re doing to dismantle these ridiculous and toxic teachings!

        Reply
  34. Lisa

    Bravo! Excellent podcast. I truly appreciate hearing both of your insight and the greater depth than you can cover on the blog.

    Please keep these coming.

    Thank you. I know there is an emotional cost to doing this work as opposed to simply posting happy, encouraging topics.

    Reply
  35. Lisa Manske

    A really important point in the question– The married couple leading the DVD group is asking the question. Both husband and wife are making this observation.

    ” If there is one weakness in the material, we are finding it is the omission of the value of a woman’s insight; not as the leader but as an integral part of information gathered for the decision-making. . . . While this is not a problem in our own marriage, it seems to be a major one for the other couples. ”

    In their own marriage, it’s not an issue. But the husband and wife both have observed this very negative response to the L&R teachings. The husband agrees.

    Eggerichs is completely ignoring his own teaching. There is a MAN who sees the problem.

    Yet, Eggerichs cannot take a critical look at his own material.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      Notice the “we” in the question. Multiple times.

      Reply

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