An Open Letter to Focus on the Family about Love & Respect and Emerson Eggerichs

by | Jan 15, 2020 | Theology of Marriage and Sex | 419 comments

Merchandise is Here!

Focus on the Family initially had its logo on the book Love & Respect, and heavily markets it through their website and emails, often giving it as a freebie to people who donate.

As I have talked about at length on this blog, I have grave concerns about the book. After writing my initial series on Love & Respect last year, we created a report of women’s testimonies of the harm that was done by the book, and we sent that along to Focus on the Family.

We did not hear from them, although they did answer other readers who wrote in. After I sent several emails about this, they did finally respond.

(You can view that email thread here; it shows the context of what comes below). 

In response, I wrote the letter that appears below, which I intended to be my last ditch effort to share my grave concerns about Love & Respect. I have now said it all. I wanted to encapsulate all of it in one place, and so I would like to share that letter with you today as we cap off this discussion.

For context, at the time the letter was written, the Caring Well conference, covering how to handle sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, had just ended and was front page news on Christianity Today. I reference some statements from that conference in this letter. This letter was originally addressed to Jim Daly and his assistant, Rebecca Marshall. (It was Ms. Marshall who replied to my emails on Mr. Daly’s behalf.)

I have edited the letter slightly. I have taken out some personal information, and added more to incorporate the video footage from the sermon series at Houston First Baptist, and the results from the survey we recently conducted with 22,000 respondents. 

On this, the one year anniversary of the week that our Love and Respect series first ran, I want to post it as the culmination of our discussions. My prayer is that people who work for Focus on the Family, and others who are promoting this book, will listen. Thank you for your patience and support as I’ve tried to bring these issues to light.

As I have wrestled through these issues, I remember Jesus’ words:

John 8:36

“If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.”

Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

He came to set people free. Please, may 2020 be the year of the Lord’s favor, when women are set free from this bondage; when couples are free to be truly intimate and truly serve Jesus together.

Dear Jim and Rebecca:

Thank you for your letter. I know this is a difficult situation to navigate, and I appreciate you taking the time to respond to my email.

I would like now to comment on your response and shed some more light onto the problems with Love & Respect and your stance regarding the book. I realize that this will be a long email. I apologize for that, but there is much to be said, and this is important.

This email will cover:

  1. Focusing on the author’s intent rather than the author’s published words
  2. Framing things as a doctrinal issue rather than addressing the harm that has been brought to your attention
  3. The contradiction between your embrace of the book’s core message and the message you give to readers writing in and to those listening to your radio program
  4. 10 problematic things that Love & Respect states and that you apparently condone
  5. Examples of Eggerichs’ attitudes towards women who are describing marriage problems
  6. How to proceed from here

Intent vs. Results

To begin, an important point of clarification must be made. You said in your email that my interpretations of the author’s intent do not match your own. However, I am not commenting on his intent. I do not know Emerson Eggerichs; I have not attended his seminars or seen his DVDs.

(Note: I have since watched his sermon series from Houston First Baptist).

I am commenting only on his book. The public does not have access to his intent, and most have not seen his seminars or his DVDs either. They only have his words written in Love & Respect–the book that you are promoting and to which I am referring. If his intent differs from what is in his book, then he should withdraw or modify the book. The fact that he has not indicates that he stands behind it, and it is legitimate to critique it. Thus, I believe his intent is irrelevant. What matters is his book and the teachings that it contains, and it is that which I wish to address.

Doctrine vs. People

You have framed my issues with the book Love & Respect as a doctrinal disagreement. However, doctrine is not the primary problem I have been raising in my emails. What I have been talking about, again and again, through my emails and my report, is that real harm is being done to real people with this book. I would hope that preventing the abuse and mistreatment of women is something that all can agree on, regardless of doctrine.

I have asked you, again and again, to take heed of the stories of abuse that have escalated when people read Love & Respect. As Beth Moore said last week at the SBC Caring Well conference, hyper-complementarianism is often used to promote and justify abuse, and is heavily implicated in abuse. The fact that you would repeatedly disregard the harm that I have brought to your attention, and that your team would disregard the harm that my readers have repeatedly raised, and that you would instead frame it simply as a doctrinal issue, is highly concerning.

To paraphrase Diane Langberg from the Caring Well conference, “Jesus was not crucified for our doctrines. They are not eternal. We are.”

Or, to put it another way, a person is not a doctrinal disagreement.

Here are just two stories of real people that I pulled out of the report that we sent you:

Years ago, when in the throes of my husband’s sexual addiction, which had starting progressing beyond porn, a marriage mentor at our former church made it all about respecting him. She told me I was fully responsible for making him feel 100% respected and like a man. Over the next year, our marriage mentor asked at every meeting if he felt more respected and if I felt more loved than the previous week. He happily reported each week that he was feeling more and more respected, while I was becoming severely depressed each week as I was feeling less and less loved. He was reaping the benefits of “unconditional respect,” while still fulfilling his sexual needs outside of our marriage, ignoring and neglecting my sexual needs, emotional needs, etc., and being verbally and emotionally abusive to me. Practicing unconditional respect, especially while my husband blatantly showed no desire to behave respectably, nearly killed me. I became near suicidal from depression. Fortunately we’ve gotten away from that person, and that church, we have found good counselors and recovery groups, and he and I are both much better today.

If you had asked me at the time of reading Love and Respect what I thought of it, I’m sure I would have said positive things. Those were the days-excuse me, YEARS of trying to fix my rotten marriage by myself. My husband and I are still together after 21 years of marriage but only after he filed for divorce, I moved out and finally understood and then faced the hard truths of what a mess our marriage was. My part being that I could/should hang in there and keep trying selflessly no matter what. I stopped going to church because of not wanting to be around that type of teaching anymore. Still love Jesus of course. I had read every marriage book that I could get my hands on. I’m free from that now, thank God. It’s terrible to live through emotionally abusive crap for 19 years and with every turn and all advice being to fix myself. Ugh. Much better since I learned to be me without the brainwashing. No longer do I believe so many unhealthy teachings. Never will I go back to works based sacrificing my life only to promote more selfishness in my husband. I’m finally free and back with my husband and he has become better since I changed my wrong beliefs and ways of handling marriage.

I have just finished a massive, comprehensive survey of more than 22,000 Christian women, asking over 150 questions about their marital and sexual satisfaction. In that survey, I left open-ended questions where people could name resources that helped their marriages and those which harmed their marriages. I did not list any resources; people volunteered them on their own.

Love & Respect was the most frequently mentioned resource that harmed marriages. For every 10 women who said Love & Respect helped their marriage, 15 volunteered that it harmed them. Two women even reported that the book nearly killed them–one said, “without exaggeration” and one “almost literally”. This book has hurt people, and that matters, because they matter. 

The Inconsistency of Your Message

In the original emails sent on behalf of Focus on the Family by Tammy Masters to those who raised concerns about Love & Respect, it was implied that Focus on the Family did not recommend Love & Respect for “troubled or destructive marriages”. However, in your recent email to me, you seem to be contradicting that position, now saying that you stand behind the book’s core message and believe that it helps marriages. You are giving one message to listeners, and another one to me. I assume this is because you have since clarified your response. I would respectfully ask, then, that you craft a different email for readers who write in from now on, embracing the book as you have done with me, so that you do not mislead them and they can judge accordingly.

I must infer from what you have said, as well, that you believe that the book is helpful for troubled or destructive marriages.

I would thus like to draw your attention to how Love & Respect recommends handling a situation in a troubled marriage. The book directs wives who need to confront a husband in sin to a story in the Appendix, where Eggerichs gives lengthy advice on how a wife can influence a workaholic in a respectful, godly way:

To influence him directly, respectfully say, “Your son (daughter, children) needs you at home more. You have a unique influence on him. In certain areas, nobody matters to him as much as you do. It may not appear that way to you, but your positive presence has the power to mold him. I know you are swamped and have little time, but I also know that you want to give him that part of you that no one else can give to him. Thanks.”

After delivering your “we need you at home more” message, don’t repeat it for anywhere from ten to twenty days. Then mention it again, quietly and positively with the general tone of “just a positive reminder because of your importance”….

Quietness shouts loudly.

So Emerson Eggerichs’ instructions on how a woman can deal with a husband’s sin or destructive behaviour is to say 2-3 sentences once, and then be quiet for 10-20 days. I should note that this does not line up with Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 18:15-17.

On pages 274-275 of the book, Eggerichs gives his philosophy of what unconditional love and respect look like with the reward cycle:

“To the world, it may make no sense for a wife to put on respect toward a husband who is harsh and unloving. It makes no sense for a husband to put on love toward a contemptuous, disrespectful woman. But it makes sense to God. These seemingly fruitless efforts matter to God because this is the kind of service he rewards. What is wisdom to God is foolishness to the world (see 1 Corinthians 3:19). One way I like to picture this is that there is a cha-ching! effect in heaven when believers do things the world might call stupid. It’s as though a billion angels are holding a gigantic handle. Each time you do something loving or respectful toward your spouse, the angels pull down on that handle. A secret treasure dumps into a colossal golden bowl and cha-ching! The lead angel exclaims, “He did it again! He put on love toward that disdainful woman!” … “She did it again! She put on respect toward that pathetic man! Okay, everyone, hit it again! Cha-ching!”

Emerson Eggerichs

Love & Respect, Pages 274-275

He is telling a woman married to a harsh and unloving man (a classic description of an abusive husband) that she must respect him (do the things included in the acronym CHAIRS), and when she does, a billion angels celebrate. Even if others warn her that this advice is “stupid”, and even if she instinctively realizes this will only make the situation worse (as it did not for the two women’s stories mentioned above, and for many of my survey respondents), she must disregard that feeling. Rather than confront her husband in his sin, she is to endure his harsh and unloving behaviour (his abuse) as service to God.

This, quite frankly, is terrible and dangerous advice, and goes against the plurality of published marriage advice about enabling bad behaviour and growing intimacy. It also goes directly against the Southern Baptist Convention’s new resolutions about caring well for those in abusive marriages.

More importantly for this conversation, though, it contradicts many, many other authors that you have featured on your radio show. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, for instance, say that this type of advice is bunk. In their books about boundaries, they show how “respect” of the kind Eggerichs instructs is both untenable and unbiblical, and then they instruct people to stop interrupting the Law of Sowing and Reaping so as to allow the offender to bear the consequences for his misdeeds. At the end of the book Boundaries in Marriage, Cloud and Townsend also directly address the theology that is used in Love & Respect and show why this view of submission, which states that a woman must bear with sinful and harsh behaviour, is wrong.

You also feature Leslie Vernick, who explicitly teaches that saying very little to the spouse and expecting change will do nothing but enable the problem to continue. Gary Thomas has also stated that enabling bad behaviour is wrong: if you love someone, you wouldn’t want them to continue in sin. Thus, he argues, it is incumbent upon a wife to do something about that bad behaviour. In his book Lifelong Love, for instance, he talks about a wife throwing out her husband’s porn stash as an act of love. He, too, believes in boundaries, as his recent book When to Walk Away shows. And there are many more guests of yours that I could name (including myself) who have given the healthy message of how to confront a spouse doing something wrong.

You routinely feature guests who teach that the passive female behaviour advocated by Eggerichs isn’t just ineffective; it’s dangerous and can do harm. But then, incongruously, you also say that you stand behind Eggerichs’ core message.

By featuring guests like Vernick, Cloud, Townsend, Thomas, even myself, you prime your audience to think, “Focus on the Family is a safe place. They give advice which actually works.” But then you turn around and heavily promote Love & Respect, which teaches the opposite. Essentially, you’re doing a bait & switch.

You make people think that Focus on the Family is a safe resource by featuring healthy perspectives on your show, but then you market Love & Respect to those same listeners, or offer the book as an incentive for donations. You give your seal of approval to Love & Respect–a seal of approval that you earned through featuring teaching diametrically opposed to Love & Respect.

Examples of What You Are Affiliating with By Endorsing Love & Respect

By endorsing this book, you are implicitly endorsing all of the following views found in Love & Respect.

1. A man has desperate needs; a woman only has desires.

Please note that in the title itself, respect is something that a man “desperately needs”, while love is merely something she “most desires”. From the very start, Eggerichs is framing the man’s needs as being more important than the woman’s.

2. Sex is only for a husband’s physical release.

Love & Respect repeatedly says sex is for a husband’s physical release (p. 250). Eggerichs never gives in his book any other reason for sex–not intimacy; not growing the relationship; not feeling close. It is only about the husband having an orgasm.

3. Women’s sexual pleasure is so unimportant it’s not even worth mentioning.

In the book, he never once talks about how sex should feel good for the woman, too. In fact, he explicitly says that sex doesn’t take very long, so why wouldn’t she do it (p. 252–“Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him sooooo happy!?”)? By endorsing this book, you are saying that you think it’s healthy to write a whole chapter in a marriage book about how a husband needs sex, but never once mention that a woman should feel pleasure as well, or that the husband has any obligation to ensure she does so. You think it’s okay to treat her sexuality as an afterthought, if that.

4. If a physically abusive husband “repents”, he should be allowed back in the house, and it’s now the wife’s job to not react to his anger.

You agree that it’s okay to frame a physically abusive spouse as only needing to “repent” to be let back into the home (p. 278), without a warning about the prevalence of the “love bombing” phenomenon–whereby a husband says all the right things to be allowed to return, but then becomes even more abusive afterwards. You agree that it’s safe and healthy to not warn women that true repentance must be accompanied by the fruits of repentance, and that these fruits must be demonstrated over a long period of time. And you agree that it’s wise counsel to then portray the problems in this relationship as resting on her shoulders, because she must now learn not to react to her abusive spouse’s anger, since to do so is disrespectful.

5. If a man is “drinking or straying”, he should be shown respect, rather than boundaries

You endorse the belief that the cure for any problem in a marriage is for the wife to respect her husband, no matter what he is doing. A man who is committing adultery or who is drinking heavily still needs to be respected (p. 88). And what does the word “respect” mean? On page 68, Eggerichs says that respect our husband in the way we respect a boss. He then elaborates using the CHAIRS acronym. So a wife to a husband who is drinking or straying must still treat him as her boss and presumably abide by all of the CHAIRS elements, including having sex with him; allowing him to make all the decisions; respecting his authority, and so on. You apparently have no problem with this advice being given to a woman married to an adulterous or alcoholic man.

6. If a woman is upset that a man leaves wet towels on the bed, it’s okay if the husband then denies the wife love–and it’s okay if he teaches his sons to ignore their mother’s correction, too.

In one of the worst anecdotes that my readers have repeatedly commented on, Emerson Eggerichs recounts how he leaves wet towels on the bed (among other things), and his wife Sarah would become upset about him for this (pages 242-243). She would ask her husband and her sons to stop doing this, but they did not listen. When she returned after being away for a week, Eggerichs told her that he didn’t miss her, and that he and the boys enjoyed being without her. Thus, by his own definition, he denied her love because she was asking him to not leave wet towels on the bed.

Let’s note, please, that it takes no more effort to put a wet towel on the floor (and only marginally more to hang it up) than to put it on the bed. By putting it on the bed, he is making more work for his wife, who will have to rescue that towel before it necessitates all the bedding being changed or causes the comforter/bedspread to grow mildewy over time. The immaturity in this anecdote is quite astounding, especially as he used it to illustrate how it was Sarah who was being disrespectful, completely ignoring the disrespectful way he was treating her, not least by standing with the boys against their mother. Demanding your wife respect you should not give a man permission to act like a petulant child, or to undermine the authority a mother has over her sons. 

The resolution to this issue was that Emerson could continue to leave wet towels on the bed, and Sarah stopped asking him not to.

By endorsing this book, you are comfortable blaming a wife if she does not cater to her husband’s immaturity and selfishness.

7. Women are more easily deceived, and thus should not listen to their intuition, or the still, small voice in them.

Women can’t trust the messages they hear or believe, because they are so easily deceived (p. 230). Thus, they should trust the husband’s intuition, and not their own. When a woman believes something, she should disregard her opinion in favour of her husband’s perspective, in direct violation of 1 Timothy 2:5; Matthew 6:33; Acts 5:29; the events in Acts 5:1-11; and the events in 1 Samuel 25. It should be noted, as well, that Emerson Eggerichs makes this point by distorting Scripture. He says that Eve was deceived and then took the fruit to Adam (p. 230); Scripture, on the other hand, says that Adam was standing right there with her (Genesis 3:6).

You feel that this description of women is fair and correct, and do not take issue with the misuse of Scripture to support it.

8. A husband can criticize what he does not like about his wife, such as her weight gain, but she must not bring up what she doesn’t like about him–even if her concerns involve sin issues like porn use.

In chapter 19, Eggerichs gives this example of a wife being disrespectful:

For example, on occasion a husband may venture into that dangerous territory known as “Honey, you’re putting on a few pounds.” In truth, it is far more than a few pounds – his wife has let herself go, and he feels it is time to be honest. What he usually gets in return is, “You should love me no matter how I look.” Or he may be told he knows nothing about her eating disorder and that he should be checking on his own potbelly. If the husband is on the trim side (as many men with very overweight wives often are), she will bring up some other log that he needs to get out of his own eye – that time she caught him viewing internet pornography or overindulging in alcohol…The point is, it’s easy for a wife to discount or disparage a husband’s suggestion that she has some problem that needs correcting.”

In this anecdote, the husband is presented as being in the right for wanting his wife to lose weight, and the wife is in the wrong if she brings up his use of pornography (something heavily linked to a husband’s rejection of his wife’s body) or alcohol use.

While it can be debated that one should accept criticism without deflecting blame, the fact that Eggerichs mentions porn use in passing, but then treats it as unimportant, is alarming. If a wife catches a husband using porn, it is generally not a one-time slip-up. Considering that porn is a factor in over 50% of Christian marriages by some stats, it is incumbent on all marriage authors to treat this seriously. He uses this anecdote to show how a wife may need correcting for losing weight, but never mentions how a wife may correct a husband for using porn (except presumably to use the strategy in the appendix, where you may say 2-3 sentences once, but then must stay silent for 10-20 days).

You thus agree with Love & Respect that a husband’s criticism of the wife’s appearance is more important than a wife’s concern over her husband’s porn use.

9. Since women have body image issues that they expect their husbands to understand, then women should understand that husbands will naturally struggle with lust and be tempted towards affairs. To become upset at this is disrespectful.

You agree with Eggerichs that a wife struggling with body image issues is the equivalent to a husband struggling with lust (p. 256). You think it’s reasonable that if a wife wants to be able to talk to her husband about her body image issues, then she must have empathy when he admits that he struggles with picturing other women naked or imagining doing sexual things with them. You think it’s reasonable to expect a wife to listen to a husband explain how he struggles with wanting other women sexually, and that this struggle should not have any more emotional weight on the wife than her struggle with body image has on the husband.

10. If a husband has an affair, the wife is at least partly to blame because she isn’t having enough sex (p. 252-255)

This seems to be a theme in several books Focus on the Family promotes and publishes: If a husband has an affair, figure out the role the wife must have played (for instance, your recent release, How God Used the Other Woman, is based on the author asking herself, “what role did I play in this?”). You seem quite comfortable laying part of the blame for affairs at the innocent spouse’s feet. On your broadcast on November 5, you also stated that the reason that men often turn to porn is because women don’t have sex, ignoring the research on how porn use before marriage affects marriage. This seems to be a perspective that Eggerichs endorses that you also are comfortable spreading, though I must suggest that this is highly problematic and unscriptural.

These are only ten things that I pulled out very quickly from Love & Respect. There are many, many more, and I confined myself to ten for the sake of the length of this email, not because these are the only problematic elements of the book.

If you do not agree with any of these ten, then you should be issuing disclaimers and warnings every time you talk about the book. You do this frequently whenever you have single-parent guests on your show, so it should be no problem to do it with Love & Respect. The fact that you do not issue disclaimers gives your implicit endorsement to these 10 things.

Thus, I ask you to consider two questions:

  1. Where, in any of these 10 things, do you see Jesus?
  2. What do you think your listeners would think about these 10 things? What do you think people outside the church, whom you are trying to reach, would think? If your average person recognizes that these are horrendous, why do you continue to support them?

Examples of Eggerichs’ Dismissal of Women’s Negative Experiences with Love & Respect

We are not the first to raise the issue that the core message of Love & Respect–that message which you say that you support–leads to harm. Eggerichs himself has admitted it multiple times, including in the book itself and on his blog.

1. In Love & Respect, Eggerichs admits that a woman’s husband used the respect message to rage at her.

Before Eggerichs even wrote the book he had women saying, “when you give this message, the men take it to mean that they can treat us horribly.” That should have given him a warning that his message had serious flaws, but he did not heed that warning.

“Now whenever he senses anything that smacks of disrespect, even when it isn’t, it reminds him of our pasts and he gets infuriated. I haven’t seen such rage in awhile… Actually, I regret letting him know what I had learned from you because he used it against me each time… I can take on the criticism – I feel I deserve it – but his rage is withering and makes me want to get away and hide.” (p. 282-283).

2. In this blog post, Eggerichs blames a marital breakdown on a woman’s lack of respect, though he shows the husband pulling away first.

He discusses how people often go to Love & Respect conferences and feel great in their marriages for a few weeks, but then end up divorced anyway. In explaining why this happens, he puts the blame entirely on the woman.

“[H]e doesn’t [keep showing love], she returns to reacting without respect! Then…he reacts without love…she needs to return to what she did at first: putting on respect in the face of un-love.”

So, to sum up:

  1. She shows him respect.
  2. He shows her love.
  3. He stops showing her love, even as she continues showing him respect.
  4. She stops showing him respect, as a result of his unlove.

And who is to blame for this? Her, of course!

Eggerichs lays the blame for the crazy cycle on the wife, despite the fact that the husband erred first. Somehow, according to Eggerichs, the wife’s response to the husband’s behaviour caused the behaviour that she was responding to. I don’t know how he squares that circle.

3. Eggerichs posts an email showing how the Love & Respect Bible study caused the men to become condescending towards their wives–and then blames the wives.

In his post “Not Wrong: Just Different But Valuable”, he quotes a woman reporting this:

“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.”

This woman is explaining how she and her husband had hosted a small group DVD study, and the wives complained that their husbands had become condescending and treated them worse since working through the material.

I will summarize Eggerichs’ reply:

  •  No man has any reason to ignore or dismiss a godly wife. It’s in his best interests to listen to her.
  •  Thus, if a man is ignoring his wife or being condescending, it must be because she is not acting in a godly way.
  •  He then quotes four verses in Proverbs about the problems of nagging wives.
  •  Later in the email, he instructs her to think about what 1 Peter 3:1-2, insinuating that she should be silent and stop complaining.

This is classic gaslighting. A woman writes in saying, “the men are treating the women horribly,” And he replies, “No, they’re actually not. The problem must be with you, and you should be quiet.” And then he weaponizes Scripture against her, using it in a horribly irresponsible and illegitimate way. My husband and I recorded a podcast going over this answer, because it was so egregious.

How does this reply show any respect to women? Do you think it’s appropriate to quote verses about nagging wives to a woman saying that the men are treating their wives in a condescending way? Do you want Focus on the Family to be affiliated with this? I challenge you to read that blog post and show me any way in which Eggerichs does not completely dismiss women’s experiences and tell women that they are responsible for their husbands’ ill-treatment of them. I will assume, by your refusal to distance yourself from this book, that you endorse this message and think this is a fair way to counsel women with legitimate concerns.

4. At Houston First Baptist, Emerson Eggerichs mocked those who are concerned that his teachings can lead to emotional abuse, and claimed that all men are accused of abuse when really they’re just being honorable.

Despite the fact that, statistically speaking, hundreds of women in this audience will be suffering from domestic abuse and emotional abuse, and at least 50 will be married to narcissists, Eggerichs used those worrying about enabling abuse as the butt of condescension and derision. He went on to explain that men are often accused of being abusive when really they are being honorable. Anyone sitting in the congregation will hear the message: If I think my husband is abusive, I’m wrong. The problem is with me. My husband is actually a godly man, and I’m blaming him because I’m the one in the wrong. Again, this is a dangerous, and even evil, message to give. I will let the videos speak for themselves (and you can see the full videos here):

Where We Go From Here

In light of all that I have shared, I hope you understand that this is not something where I think we can “agree to disagree”. When real people are being harmed in the Christian community, it is incumbent upon us to stop that harm. That is your job. That is your calling.

You are refusing to do it, and so others will have to take up the reins. You have consistently refused to distance yourself from this, and so others of us will have to speak even more loudly.

That is a tragedy for the Christian church. I implore you to watch the speeches from the SBC Caring Well conference, and heed their warnings. Ignoring abuse not only allows it to continue, but always, always, always ends up coming back on the organizations who disregarded warnings.

I’m afraid it will do the same to you here. In that same survey where Love & Respect was the most commonly mentioned hurtful resource, many also called out Focus on the Family as being harmful (and you were the fifth most mentioned harmful resource). For every eighteen people who said that you helped them, another 10 said that you hurt them. By not distancing yourself from harmful teaching, you are hurting your listeners.

I also want to speak directly to your staff who will also be reading this letter.

Dear people: I know that you signed on to Focus on the Family to help marriages. I know that so many who work at Focus love Jesus and want to bring His love to families and individuals. And I know that many of you reading this are dismayed, too. You know this is not right. So I urge you to speak up. You did not go to work for Focus on the Family to unintentionally enable abuse. I pray that you will be courageous. God did not give you a Spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Now, to Jim and others in the President’s Office: If your stance has not changed, even after reading all of this, there is no need to craft a reply. It is enough, for me, to know that you have read this and, despite all the evidence of harm that I have included, have chosen to stick by Love & Respect.

However, you need to understand that over the next few years you will be under increasing scrutiny for how your counselors advise abuse victims; for what you say about abuse; and for the resources you support. You will not be able to hide behind doctrinal differences. I cannot urge you strongly enough, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our advocate, to examine yourselves now and do the right thing. If you would like some help with this, I would be glad to be part of that process, and I have many others I can recommend to help you with this too. I do believe that you are committed to the health and welfare of families. I just also believe that you are missing the mark right now, and this is going to become increasingly serious for you.

At the Caring Well conference, J.D. Greear said that, in the past, the Southern Baptist Convention treated warnings from survivors like Tiffany Thigpen, Christa Brown, Jules Woodson, and others as “attacks from adversaries instead of warnings from friends.” I mean this letter as a warning from a friend.

When you are in ministry, a friend is someone who spurs you on towards love and good deeds. That is what I am trying to do now.

I pray that you will realize this soon, while you have time to decide to make a course correction, rather than realize it too late, as the SBC did, and find that course correction being forced upon you.

In Him,

Sheila Gregoire


Note: Since sending this letter in October of 2019, I have received no reply.

UPDATE: Focus on the Family has responded by issuing a public statement in which they present factually inaccuracies about me (things that they KNOW are untrue), and accuse those of feeling the book is harmful of having “nefarious intent”.

Read their full statement here.

Read my statement in response here.

You can respond to Focus on the Family through leaving a review on their Facebook Page, or through their contact page on their website. You can also leave a comment on this post.

If you agree with this letter, and want to add your voice to it, please leave a comment in support of it.

And if you want to say something directly to Focus on the Family, use the comments section to do so. I know they will be reading this.

If you want to be part of a blog that’s trying to change the conversation about marriage & sex in the Christian community, join 46,000 other people on our email list!

Become a part of the movement

Join 40,00 others and let's change the evangelical conversation about sex

[et_pb_co 0=”lumn” type=”4_4″ _builder_version=”3.28″ global_colors_info=”{}” _i=”0″ _address=”5.1.0″ theme_builder_area=”post_content” /]

Related Posts

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

Related Posts

Comments

We welcome your comments and want this to be a place for healthy discussion. Comments that are rude, profane, or abusive will not be allowed. Comments that are unrelated to the current post may be deleted. Comments above 300 words in length are let through at the moderator’s discretion and may be shortened to the first 300 words or deleted. By commenting you are agreeing to the terms outlined in our comment and privacy policy, which you can read in full here!

419 Comments

  1. Abby

    Thank you so much for writing this! It helps so much to have all the information in one place and I will be sharing this in my circles!
    Also, I wanted to pass this on to you – it seems to be a seminary thesis that is on the problems with love and respect. His angle is a bit different (focuses on how the book claims to be Biblical but actually isn’t at all) but I think it’s a very helpful perspective when addressing a Christian community that typically accepts anything as Biblical because it cites Bible verses.
    http://www.hopeforlifeonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/LR_BiblicalOrDeceptive.pdf

    Reply
    • Susanna Vaughan

      Thank you for sharing this! It’s excellent!

      Reply
      • Ann

        Having read this, I am 100% certain my first husband read this book and/or similar ones. I finally got free after ‘putting up and shutting up’ (which ironically was also used to prove the failure of the marriage was my fault) for 17 years. I’m now married to a wonderful caring man who couldn’t be further from the man my husband was. Praise God for His love and mercy.

        Reply
    • Allison

      Thank you for sharing this. 10 years ago, my husband and I led a Live and Respect group, teaching from the book, workbook, and DVD series. After we did this together, my husband had an affair, and over the next 5 years became increasingly physically and verbally abusive. Love and Respect may have been the catalyst, but it certainly wasn’t the only resource that pushed the submissive wife angle, the ever-“forgiving” wife. We are now divorced. It’s been years and while I feel I am mostly recovered, I still have periodic panic attacks – instinctive, involuntary physical responses to a reminder of his abuse. I haven’t been to church in years. I still love Jesus, I still pray, but my mind and heart have a blockage when I think that my childrens’ youth pastor told the court that my husband and I both have problems after my husband beat and strangled one of our children. My trust in my church was in shreds after that moment, although God in His wisdom and love protected my faith. I don’t know what to think about all of this except there is something very wrong within our churches. We lean more on man’s interpretation of scripture than the on scripture itself.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, Allison, that’s so horrendous. I’m so, so sorry. I hope your husband isn’t in a position to hurt the children now. My heart goes out to you. I’m sure that hearing that he is the king of the castle as he’s taught in Love & Respect contributed to this.

        Reply
      • Kimber

        Thank you for writing this. We MUST speak up when people are being hurt by incorrect teachings!

        Reply
    • Janet

      Thank you, Sheila, for this lengthy post. I, too, tried to respect a narcissistic, abusive man. The more I submitted, the more happy he was, and I ended up being alone in a “marriage” for 45 years. He didn’t love ME. He loved himself, and he loved the way I served him. That book, “Love and Respect”, did me great harm. Thankfully, I am now free. Focus on the Family, please listen to Sheila’s warnings.

      Reply
    • Heather

      So glad you wrote this! So disappointed in Focus on the Family for sticking behind this. Thank you for standing up to them. Praying with you that they correct their stance.

      Reply
    • Mark Kieft

      Thank you for doing the hard work of documentation that was needed. I have already posted my support for you and against Love & Respect. Please know that there many pastors out here who are hearing and responding to what you have posted. May God bless all of you and the ministry as well.
      Mark

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thank you, Pastor Mark!

        Reply
      • Matt Nesh

        Unfortunately, their support for Love and Respect is not the only problem with Focus on the Family. The very core of the organization is is built around an unorthodox, hollow mimicry of the Gospel. They are a force of patriarchy, white supremacy, and all manner of sin. May their days as an operating organization be short, for Christ’s sake.

        Reply
    • Becky

      I read the book while separated from my husband. Believe it or not, it actually helped me because I recognized in their writing what my husband was doing. Seeing it in words helped me realize I wasn’t crazy, yes this was actually happening, and I could move forward.

      Reply
      • Lauren S.

        Astonishing. Neither my husband nor I have read this book, but now I am so grateful that we didn’t. I had heard mention of it in a few circles, but a few of the comments about it sort of rubbed me the wrong way. Now I see why.
        I wonder has FOF’s advocacy of this book has come since they ousted their founder, Dr. James Dobson? I also wonder what is your opinion of Dobson’s book “Love Must Be Tough.” It’s been quite a while since I read it, but it seemed to strongly advocate for a spouse (but particularly wives) to stand up to their partners and confront them in their sin, even if it meant locking one out of the house.
        I must say, this makes me rethink some of my beliefs about Focus, especially given their staunch silence on this topic. I am now much more hesitant to use their resources for my own family.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’ve been very disheartened by their response, or lack thereof. I do think that Dobson’s book was much better than Love & Respect, although he didn’t come out firmly enough that you can divorce if you’ve been abused. But it’s interesting how even that book empowered women more than Love & Respect does. Focus has done several other questionable things lately, and I think you’re right to question it.

          Reply
    • Kacey

      Interesting to see how the underlying principles of the book aren’t based on the Bible at all, but principles of secular psychology.

      Reply
      • D

        I don’t know if my dad ever read this book, but it 100% sounds like how he used to treat my mom. He was always right. She was always wrong. He always sought to control her, manipulate the Bible to get what he wanted, lie about her to others, put on a fake act that he has “changed” to get her to trust him again, etc. She was never allowed to disagree or correct him in any way because that was “disrespectful.” Watching their marriage did so much damage to me and it affected my ability to trust my own husband (who is an amazing man and not at all like my father). I’m finally understanding that and able to explain my struggles to my husband. Thank you for the work you are doing here and in your books.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          You’re so welcome, D! I’m sorry for the example you had. And I’m sorry that all too many in the church portray it as normal and good.

          Reply
  2. Kim

    You have received no reply for months!? I really have no words, rereading those awful quotes from Love and Respect has my heart racing and blood boiling again.
    Focus on the Family, do you realize what your silence says to all of us? Noted.

    Reply
    • Karen

      Kim,
      I agree with you. I just finished reading it and am noticing that my heart rate is fast and I really would love to punch something. The part about not trusting women’s instincts is spot on – I was taught that repeatedly growing up and only now at 30 years old, and with the help of a great therapist, am I starting to realize that I can trust myself and my own values, desires, wants, etc. If I still owned this book, I’d probably use it in my fire pit.
      Sheila – I think it might be interesting if you also analyzed some of FOTF’s articles about motherhood. I’ve read only 1-2 that my mom suggested and had to stop. It made me feel horrible. Their messages are basically condoning going (further perhaps) into post-partum depression/anxiety for the sake of raising children and keeping a house. *shudder* Thank for your endless work on supporting women especially through writing all these articles/blogs, etc.

      Reply
  3. Sarah

    In my marriage, many of the love and respect values were preached to me over the years any time I sought help. This deepened and perpetuated a cycle of abuse in which my husband was never allowed to be confronted, and I was continually squashed. It took a divorce attorney to tell me I had been in the victim of domestic violence. Meanwhile my ex continued so far in his sexual deviance that he was busted for watching pornography at work and now says he is bisexual.
    Yesterday after sharing another of sheila’s articles, an old friend reached out to me and shared her story. I won’t share it for her, but suffice it to say that the church’s teaching, based on Love and Respect, lay the blame for his egregiously bad behavior at her feet.
    The church is losing people over this. Yes to affirming marriage. No to affirming abuse and narcissism. Yes to biblical boundaries and conflict resolution. No to encouraging abusers.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Sarah. I’m so sorry that your church treated you that way. So sorry. And I’m so sorry for your friend, too. I do believe the tide is turning, though. If we can all speak up and reject this teaching, and leave churches that perpetuate it, and stop giving money to organizations that promote it, then new organizations will be formed. We actually are the majority of those who call themselves Christians. We don’t need to be afraid anymore.

      Reply
      • Jo

        I just want to add another voice of support. I really value Focus on the Family’s ministry but their endorsement of this book and similar teaching breaks my heart. It wounds me deeply but I pray for blinders to be lifted especially as they are a valued service and voice for Christians. May Jesus guide each one of us and give us love and boldness to speak truth. Thank you Shelia and company for standing in truth with fierce love and determination.

        Reply
      • Charissa

        Thank you so much for writing this! I read Love and Respect with my former fiancé when I was younger, and we were working through some issues. He was struggling with a serious mental illness, refusing treatment, and treating me more and more poorly as our engagement progressed. This book had the effect of gaslighting me so terribly – making both of us believe any issues we were having were primarily my fault for not respecting his decisions. Also, he began interpreting my disagreement about anything as disrespect as well, saying that I was challenging his biblical mandate to lead. Two weeks before the wedding I called it off – best and bravest decision I’ve ever made. Afterwards I went to counseling to work through what I would now consider spiritual abuse that resulted from this book, which weaponized my faith against me in the relationship, using the Bible to suggest I should continually submit to a man who was harming me. I’m now married to a wonderful man who has never treated me as less than his equal – who listens to me, respects my boundaries and believes I am also worthy of HIS respect. The best relationship decisions of my life required defying all of the messages I received from this book. I have no doubt that the marriage I was getting ready for based on the principles of this book would have crushed my very soul. So grateful that you are speaking up about the damaging messages it holds!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, I’m so glad that you had the discernment to say no and walk away! That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing your story!

          Reply
    • Becky

      I publicly repent for my part in bringing a Love and Respect study to my former church 12 years ago, and I am so deeply sorry for the damage that may have caused to my friends. L&R definitely perpetuated destructive patterns in my marriage. Now that my husband and I are egalitarians — treating each other as equals — we are creating a healthy culture in our marriage.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thank you, Becky. I hope people realize that it’s this serious–we need people to publicly repent. As I have done before, I will do it again: I publicly repent of recommending Love & Respect from the stage at marriage conferences when I hadn’t even read it (I believed the hype that it was good). I publicly repent of quoting Eggerichs in some of my posts and in my book without having read the whole book. It was irresponsible and wrong, and I am doing my best to make up for it now.

        Reply
    • libl

      In my case, it wasn’t that the Church affirmed the abuse, or put blame on me, but rather that they did nothing in his field. They never confronted him. They never offered resources.
      I know a woman who was crying out for help because of verbal abuse and her small group leader told her, “we don’t talk bad about our husbands in this group. It isn’t for husband-bashing.”

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, that’s such a common cop-out: Don’t speak badly about your spouse. Well, how are you supposed to get help, then? Isn’t that what small groups are for?

        Reply
        • Krista

          They have *definitely* not pulled back on this. I got the following promotion in an email on Dec. 19.
          “Dr. Emerson Eggerichs’ pioneering work in the field of family relationships has helped millions of people better understand the biblical “respect and love” dynamic between male and female. That balance can be transformational for a marriage — but it also applies between parents and children of the opposite sex.
           Dr. Eggerichs has applied and expanded these principles in his book Mother and Son: The Respect Effect. For moms, the first step is to adjust your vocabulary to emphasize how much you value your son even when you’re trying to encourage a behavioral adjustment. Dr. Eggerichs shows you how to do that — and much more — in Mother and Son; we’d be happy to send you a copy for a donation of any amount.”
          Um…..no way.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Thank you for sharing that! That’s so interesting, and I’ll file that away.

  4. AspenP

    👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 Sharing!

    Reply
  5. Tiffany

    I am so grateful you are calling out their toxic teachings. I know so many people who have left the church because of their teachings. Thank you for your strong conviction in calling them out.
    From my experience, FOTF is a slow acting poison that kills women’s self-worth, and kills marriages. They take the focus and worship off God and put it on the husband. It is such a relief to see any of their teachings being called out for what they are – toxic.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’ve always thought the name “Focus on the Family” was off. Our focus should only and ever be on Jesus.

      Reply
      • nylse

        Me too. That’s why I eventually stopped listening.
        PS – as a black woman I never felt represented in most of the things that were being said.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m so sorry, Nylse. I hate that Christianity seems so “white”. It’s not even true, historically or on a worldwide scale.

          Reply
      • Lori DeHart

        Sheila,
        Thank you for all that you do for me and for anyone who reads what you’re writing. I used to drink the poison of Love and Respect among other similar books. What a difficult maze to get through while trying to live life well for Jesus- thinking that putting up with sin and being sweet and quiet and as sexual as possible would SOMEDAY turn the marriage around. So much pain endured in my marriage and such confusion as I battled between horrible advice and good advice. Thankful to be past those 20 years of hell and on to a much more balanced marriage for almost 3 years-to the same man remarkably-now that I can see truth more clearly. I’m no longer in church because of too many crazy teachings yet I’m still a believer. Thank you for supporting and fighting for the truth.

        Reply
      • chrissy

        This information makes me sick to my stomach. Growing up in the church, this mentality has been preached in so many different forms and is a hard attitude to shake. It would be helpful if you provided a list of resources for men, woman and couples that would provide a more balance viewpoint. Along with resources to help couples and women and men heal and change their mindsets. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m working on that, Chrissy! Many have asked for it. I’m hoping to do that soon!

          Reply
    • Lois

      Well said! 👏👏👏👏

      Reply
  6. Jimmy Farley

    Agreed 15 years ago and sad all my pastor friends promoted it and led marriage groups and preached sermons on it. Lord have mercy.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Where was the discernment? How could a book THIS BAD be so embraced by pastors and by organizations like Focus on the Family? Did nobody see? My husband read it and was horrified. Me, too. How could they not have seen?

      Reply
      • Gail

        Excellent analysis and conclusions!!! I wholeheartedly agree. So many of Love and Respect sat wrong with me and now I can see more clearly why.

        Reply
      • G S

        They couldn’t see because the men were in charge and wouldn’t listen to the women……and it sounded good to them! (She’s supposed to respect me, give me sex when I want it, and not address any of my faults….well, maybe but only every 10-20 days and even then I can ignore it.) Also, there were verses. He used scripture so it had to be good advice!

        Reply
      • Alicia

        There was a group of young couples that my husband and I got together with for a while and we went through the Love and Respect study.
        While we were going through it, I felt like all I had to do was to respect my husband more and then he would love me the way that I desired. I’m the high sex drive, needs quality time, romantic spouse while my husband doesn’t seem to care about any of those things.
        The more I worked at respecting him, the more I felt taken advantage of.
        Now my husband is an amazing man, not abusive in any way, just struggles with sin and selfishness. Our marriage hasn’t been easy, but we are both fighting for it.
        We both realized that we needed to change perspective, and that the bible study wasn’t helpful for us in any way, shape or form.
        This post put to words what I felt, but was unable to find a way to say.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I’m glad, Alicia.

          Reply
      • Dianne Goulet

        How could it be embraced so widely by pastors? I believe that it’s due in large part to the trend, in churches today, of pastors preaching series based on popular ‘Christian’ books rather than on the Word of God. Many who are preaching are not rightly dividing the Word or have been taught very selective and faulty exegesis, which then ill-equips them to search the Scriptures for themselves to know whether what is proclaimed, taught, or advocated is true.
        [have personally observed/heard, in visiting several churches planted in several different states by one large organization; multiple sermon series based on popular Christian books rather than on the Word; pastors proclaiming hopelessness from the pulpit (“You can never be delivered from a spirit of fear”), and pastors proclaiming downright heresy–to include that one book of the Bible was not divinely inspired and the author chose what to put in it at his own discretion, and that “Jesus doesn’t take sin all that seriously because He loves you.”]
        More and more churches are not proclaiming the living and active Word which has the ability to penetrate to the precise root of every issue, to convict of sin, and to renew the mind; instead, they preach the reconstituted words of men who selectively quote Scripture out of context to further an agenda that looks more and more like culture. The love of God is proclaimed without ever referencing the holiness of God. The way to salvation is taught only as “believe”, never including “repent”. “Difficult” passages of Scripture that correct, rebuke, or exhort are seldom addressed from the pulpit.
        Until we get back to preaching and teaching ALL of God’s Word, in context, rightly divided; until we get back to proclaiming the Gospel simply, in the power of the Holy Spirit; is it any wonder that hearts are not changed and that there is no fruit of repentance??
        “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4

        Reply
      • Lindsay

        I haven’t read the book but just the few excepts above and I ask myself the same questions. It’s scary that there’s 3k reviews on Amazon for this book. Where is people’s discernment!? My heart breaks for these women and I hope this is the year where we see more people speaking out against this kind of teaching.

        Reply
  7. Gretchen Baskerville

    Focus on the Family seems to be out of touch with the issue of abuse in marriages. The examples from the _Love and Respect_ book, which they promote and defend, make it evident their advice can be reduced to “Put up and shut up, wives.”
    I do interviews, and have listened to several stories about the _Love and Respect_ book. Women told me it made their marriages worse, not better. It made their husbands feel entitled to having all their whims and desires met without regard to reasonability. In the worst interview, a husband beat his wife on the head with that book because a fly landed on his dinner, and somehow that was her fault and evidence of her disrespect.
    And Focus on the Family’s online articles on divorce and children are not trustworthy. Sure, they quote some top family scholars, but none of those scholars agree with Focus on the Family’s conclusion that all divorce leaves children with devastating lifelong problems. Quite the opposite.
    Those same scholars say that in cases of very high-distress marriages, it is much better for children if you leave instead of staying, as much as ten times better for the wellbeing of your child.
    I hope Focus on the Family wakes up and realizes that they are hurting their listeners and readers. While their message may appeal to their donors, it harms the people they hoped to help.

    Reply
    • Nathalie

      I appreciate you speaking out. I’ve been warning people about Love and Respect and Focus on the Family for years too. The silence is so frustrating. I’m increasingly disappointed by the organizations that claim to represent Jesus continuing to harm people in Jesus’ name. It’s abhorrent, and I know Jesus is not pleased. There will be no, “Well done, good and faithful servant” for those who have enabled abuse.

      Reply
  8. Ina

    This was extremely well written. You speak truth with such grace and I’m appalled by the lack of response…
    I had continued listening do their podcast even after your first mention of all this last year because I often find that while not always agreeing Daly, that I often appreciate their guests. I think now the time has come to unsubscribe though. It may be all bathwater and no baby.

    Reply
    • Bonnie

      So I’m sure I’m going to get ripped up about my disagreement on this topic but here I go anyway. My husband and I did the love and respect video series and we thought it was wonderful. It saved our marriage. In the beginning of the series he strongly states that in marriages that include abuse, mental illness, and addictions, more help needs to be solicited from you pastor or professional counseling. He says this program is for “mostly” healthy couples that are good willed towards each other. He states this over and over again in the videos. He also heads a strong warning about using any of the principals in a non loving, non Christian, self fulfilling way. He warns that you will have to answer to God for the evil you do and if you use teachings in a manipulative way. He also states that no one should be a doormat to their spouse. I can totally see how a spouse gets walked over and treated worse because they are the only ones doing their part with the program. But even most of the posts I see from above mention an abusive, addiction state, or manipulative spouse. Neither my husband nor I felt at any point in the program that it was more of the woman’s responsibility to fix things more than the man. I feel deeply for those that are involved in damaging relationships and that these principles have been used to hurt them more so than heal them. If you or your relationship falls into the above category please reach out for Christian professional help as these problems don’t involve a good willed spouse.

      Reply
      • Rebecca Lindenbach

        Bonnie, just because someone’s marriage is helped does not make it not a harmful resource. MANY many women shared their thalidomide medication with pregnant friends because their babies were not born with physical deformities, but it did impact their friends’ babies.
        I’m glad that he states those things in the videos, but if he does so then it is even MORE incumbent on him to revise his book to make it safe for people in abusive marriages. If he knows better and refuses to do what is necessary to protect the vulnerable, that is incredibly concerning.
        The majority of the people who read his book do not watch his video series. So he needs to cut off the poison at the source, not simply apply a bandaid by creating extra materials that may or may not be seen by his book readers (and btw, I am an author. It is very doable and quite easy to revise a manuscript and re-publish it).
        As well, his book literally has an example of a man who goes after his wife with a knife and after he repents he is allowed right back at home and the solution is that she learns how not to “provoke” him by being respectful instead. Not sure how a marriage can get worse than coming at your spouse with a knife, but Eggerichs uses them as an example in his book implying that he believes marriages that are in that situation can be helped by his materials.

        Reply
  9. Nathan

    Very powerful message and letter, Sheila. Most of it’s been discussed, so I won’t go over it again.
    The one new thing I saw was them dismissing your concerns as “doctrinal differences”. That’s intellectually dishonest and not at all an accurate analysis of what you’re saying.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Rae

      Thank you for sharing your wisdom, Sheila. My husband and I no longer use this book when we counsel couples as there are much better resources that do not harm women. Keep speaking truth to oppression and mysogeny. Christ is always on the side of the marginalized.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thank you, Jennifer!

        Reply
  10. Tim

    All of this is so well thought out and well said. Nicely done. I hope you reach their hearts and minds.

    Reply
  11. Denna McGrew

    I am deeply disappointed in Focus on the Family and agree with Sheila’s assertion that more and more scrutiny will come to this ministry in the future. I pray that the leadership will examine their own SIN in support of these messages to women in Love and Respect and repent of the deeds undertaken which have harmed so many families.

    Reply
  12. Brenda

    Wow. I’m really disappointed in Focus on the Family!! I admit our church did a small group study of Love and Respect. We mainly watched the videos. I missed a few lessons. I didn’t see anything inherently wrong with it at first. But after looking closely I realize it IS all about getting women to Respect no matter what and only mentioning men should love their wives only if they are worthy.
    Jesus says to love others AS yourself. Love your wife AS Christ loves the Church. Love comes first. Those are COMMANDS. In a godly marriage where love comes first, respect will naturally follow. Demanding respect without love is undoubtedly an exceptional environment for abuse to flourish. Thank you so much for being brave and speaking up on this, Shelia. I’m in your corner and covering you in prayer!

    Reply
  13. Mrs. B.

    Dear Sheila, I feel such joy reading your letter and knowing that there are warriors for Christ out there such as yourself who are standing up for the abused and downtrodden. Thank you for your courage and persistence.
    I am praying that, despite the unencouraging delay in their response to your letter, somehow, with God’s perfect timing, this arrow will hit its mark. May the Lord’s light SHINE over this situation and make the truth unmistakably clear to the people at Focus at the Family. Jesus, come.
    And what I see as the truth, is that not only does the advice in Love & Respect blatantly contradict the teachings of other Chrisitian teachers they endorse, but it especially contradicts the message of Dr. Dobson’s classic, Love Must Be Tough, which is an excellent book – a book with the message, “Your husband will not respect you until you respect yourself!” It’s all about getting some backbone, which is a message I BADLY needed to hear during the years I was being abused. I am so glad I read Dr. Dobson’s book and not Love & Respect!

    Reply
    • Gretchen Baskerville

      Yes, I remember when Dobson’s _Love Must Be Tough_ came out. It was a breath of fresh air. It told abused spouses to draw a line in the sand and not just capitulate to bad behavior. I sent it to several people.

      Reply
    • Diane Eberly

      I started reading love and respect but never finished it! I fully agree with you on how everything is always the wife’s fault!! My husband was into porn which let to getting caught with a prostitute setup (thanking God that the police were there and things didn’t go farther) which led to someone telling me I wasn’t giving my husband enough which made me madder and more with drawn from my husband because I wasn’t getting the love I needed from him!! I’m hoping to come to one of your conferences sometime!! I love all your posts!!

      Reply
  14. Nathan

    > > They take the focus and worship off God and put it on the husband.
    Tiffany, this is an excellent nutshell analysis of that book and the attitude that goes with it.
    > > How could a book THIS BAD be so embraced by pastors and by organizations like Focus on the Family?
    I don’t get it, either. The same can be said for that “98 ways in which a wife sins against her husband”. It would be laughable, if so many people didn’t believe it.

    Reply
  15. Christie L

    did read the book in my first marriage, went to churches that preached along these lines, went to pastoral counseling that was the same, and all it did was keep my in that marriage an additional 9 years where I was placed in TONS of debt (financial abuse is real), and endured years of stress, misery, emotional and psychological abuse. We would’ve eventually have been teetering on the brink of bring HOMELESS (with 5 kids!) if I hadn’t of finally gotten REAL degreed professional counseling and fled that marriage to a diagnosed Narcissist taking the kids with me. It hurts my heart so much that good counseling could’ve brought about a better outcome for me a whole decade earlier! And those women in such situations today are very much in my mind and heart. They are hurting REAL people with their teaching. I can’t take it lightly because I have been there.

    Reply
    • Beth

      I have a family member in a highly abusive relationship and it revolves around his ability to gaslight her and say everything is her fault and she’s not remembering things (or that he forgets to do what he says because he has ADHD). He financially abuses her and emotionally and psychologically. Fuming angry at her and spat on her and came very close to hitting her. She’s still with him and has a toddler now too. I’ve learned so much about domestic violence through the journey and what keeps the victim there. It’s the belief they can change the abuser or that they need to understand them better and forgive and accommodate the abuser. So heartbreaking. I am encouraged whenever I read a testimony of a survivor and believe she will escape her rationalozations one day. She won’t listen to me anymore.

      Reply
  16. Jane Eyre

    Good grief those are some awful teachings.
    My first dating relationship was emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. Ironically, no matter how much I tried to be kind and respectful, hoping to model good behaviour, he just became worse.
    There are times in my young marriage (brutal, brutal pregnancy) when I have been… rough to be around. My husband is very patient with me, and I do my absolute best to thank him for his patience and love by being a better wife.
    You can’t just tell one party to keep being better. The other party eventually has to meet that good-faith effort with effort of their own. And either party can be the one to grit teeth and try to break the vicious cycle – nothing in the Bible says it has to be the person with the ovaries.
    And don’t get me started on a man allowing his child to disrespect his wife and that child’s mother. Double-you Tee Eff.
    And body image issues? So if we don’t look like supermodels at age 50 and after a few kids, he gets to lust after hot young things? I thought that some of the benefit of marriage was that you’re not 25 forever, and a man commits to loving your body, even if marred by age and childbirth, just as much as he did on your wedding day. Seems like the Bible has things to say about that.
    Sorry, ranting.

    Reply
    • Sharon Letchford

      I’d call that a worrhy rant!
      I’m so disgusted with that book and the way it devalues women and idolises men.
      While I appreciate that this article draws a distinction between highlighting abuse and doctrine , L&R IS the inevitable result of a doctrine that elevates one type of person over another.

      Reply
  17. April Knight

    I support this letter!! Thank you for speaking the words, Sheila. I used to be a writer. But the stress of my marriage took away my voice. I’ve had to disconnect from who I am so much that I have found it difficult to say many things I know in my heart but can’t get out of it. The feelings just won’t translate anymore. It’s slowly getting better, and I have moments that it feels like my voice is working again, but it’s a long road. You’ve taken what I couldn’t communicate and put it into beautiful words. I’m praying that this finally hits home.

    Reply
    • Misty S.

      April… I so relate to this. I used to blog on family and homeschool, but the worse my marriage got the harder it became to write. I used to teach at church and when my husband’s affair became public I felt like such a failure and fraud. Through his actions my ministry was taken from me. That was years ago, and while I’m healthy and happy now and in a new wonderful marriage, I’m still struggling to find my footing in ministry and writing. I feel the pull to start again but I don’t have the right words yet. BUT I know at the right time God will bring it forth. He will for you too!

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        He really will! And I think He’ll use an army of divorced women who have found freedom as a big part of that. No more marginalization!

        Reply
        • Patty

          Sheila,
          Thank you for your brave attempt at breaking a horrible and vicious cycle of abuse that is promoted and even endorsed by many in ministry. The use of such scripture as Ephesians 5:21-24 to put the wife in “her place” is so wrong. The fact is there are 3 verses directed to the wife followed by 8 long verses of instructions to the husband. The habit of taking nuggets of text and ignoring the body of the message in which the text is contained is extremely damaging and, sadly, extremely prevalent!
          The number of people hurt by “church” is so heartbreaking, and that is why my husband (we are both divorced) and I have such a passion for working with the “done”, those who have left the traditional church and are done with it because they do not see Jesus there!
          As a woman, a Christian, and a survivor of an abusive marriage, I applaud you for standing up to the WRONG of this narcissistic book!
          Thank you Sheila! Would love to do coffee sometime.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’d love to do coffee, too, sometime Patty! And I’m glad that you’re ministering to the Dones. They’re on my heart, too.

  18. Nathan

    I wonder if the reason that so many people embrace this book and its teachings is just long term conditioning, especially if you grow up in a church that teaches that wives must always submit to husbands, and that the husband is the unquestioned lord and master of the family.
    That’s obviously an easy lure for men, but women are likely to believe it also, if they’ve been taught that from day 1 by people in authority (parents, pastors, etc.). Once such an attitude is ingrained, it may be difficult to overcome.
    I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again, as it bears repeating.
    I wasn’t raised in that belief, nor was Mrs. Nathan (her mother is strong and independent), but what if she was? What if she came into the marriage, telling me that her belief was that I (as husband) was in charge of everything at all times. I make all decisions, everything always revolves around me, my thoughts, needs, wants and feelings are always first on the list, and in fact, are the only things on the list. I AM the list, in other words, and she exists only to serve me.
    To be completely honest, I’d probably be on board with it, and why not? I’m the lord and master. I’m in charge, and everything is always about me.
    But, over time, I would be unfulfilled and unhappy. I don’t want an employee or a maid. I want an equal partner, and I wouldn’t be in favor of such a relationship for very long.
    On the other hand, what we BOTH had been taught that from childhood? I might not be able to see how bad it is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan, and I love that you brought this point up–this isn’t good teaching for EITHER gender. It’s really dangerous.

      Reply
    • Ashley

      Oh my goodness, so well written. For a while I was listening to the FOF podcast, but I stopped quite a while ago. I just can’t do it with some of these messages that they promote.

      Reply
    • Meghan

      Your attitude sounds similar to my husband’s! I made a comment further down about how I came into our marriage thinking he had to be in charge, but he wanted an equal partner. Bless his parents who modeled a healthy marriage and raised a good son.

      Reply
      • Bethany

        My husband had an unsteady childhood, seeing his mother treated badly. He had vowed to be a good husband, and I came from a “perfect Christian pedigree” background. (Homeschooled, big family, original parents. Ect) but as I had spent my teenage years reading my parents marriage books, I had a twisted view of marriage. I don’t think I ever read their copy of love and respect. Because I liked the books that had more content about the sexual side of marriage. ( I had been abused and unsure if marriage was an option.)
        Anyway, he treated me like a queen and I took 1yr to learn my own worth as a human being. So ironically he’s an excellent husband, Because he saw incredibly horrible examples.
        Also I completely agree that FOF has some explaining to do!

        Reply
    • K

      Nathan, I grew up being taught philosophies similar to Love and Respect (though not that book in particular). They became strongly ingrained, and I went into marriage with the idea that I was basically to be my husband’s slave and conform to whatever he wanted. Although he grew up in the same church that I did, he had a totally different view–that he wanted a wife who was his equal, an idea that he got, ironically, from an episode of a science fiction show–and always pushed back against my trying to submit (put myself under/below him). I didn’t know what to do with that, because it was against everything I thought would make a good marriage. We had a rough first decade of marriage (also affected by some rather intense depression on my part). Now in our eleventh year, I’ve been seeing more and more how awful those teachings are and am more and more convinced that God saved me from a horrendous marriage by bringing the man who became my husband and me together, because I would have been a perfect target for an abusive man.

      Reply
  19. Tami

    Yes yes and yes. There are so many “Christian” books that promote this. I hate it and feel like when I bring it up people are shocked that I don’t agree with the authors. It seems to always be the woman’s fault a man does anything wrong and her responsibility to make him behave properly… or she should pretend the improper behavior doesn’t exist. I have been affected by this teaching and so have many of my friends. As we poured out ourselves to our husbands they loved it but it didn’t cause the response in them that the books promised. Therefore it didn’t solve any of the problems, it just made the husband feel better about them! I have a friend who is not only now divorced but has walked away from her church and faith after being told her husband’s intense porn addiction was due to her not being sexy enough for him and needing to give herself more even when the level of inappropriate behavior she was allowing should have made anyone gasp. To be honest reading this is the first time I’ve seen someone agree with me and it’s quite freeing! Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Tami, you’re not alone. There are so many Christians out there who see this problem. If we all speak up and stop supporting ministries that hurt women, healthy organizations would form in their wake.

      Reply
  20. Faye

    Wonderfully respectfully done. Of course their firstborn response, whether they share it with you or not, is denial. “This isn’t really a problem…”
    Hopefully they will move to acceptance and action.
    Sheila, in your list of marriage books that advocate leaving abusive marriages, you left out “Love Must Be Tough” by none other than JAMES DOBSON.

    Reply
  21. Tory

    Louder for the people in the back! I hope you allow my comment to go through despite my language— Sheila, you are truly bad-ass! Teaching unconditional submission aka for wives to become doormats in the name of respecting their husbands is not only unbiblical, but over time will cause husbands to lose their love for their wives. Because you can’t love someone whom you don’t respect.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so true! I even talked about that in my original book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum. When you act like a doormat, husbands don’t respect you. When they don’t respect you, then you become a tool to use, not a person to have an intimate relationship with. It’s toxic.

      Reply
  22. Holly Massie

    Thank you for this Sheila. Well put.
    I was given Love & Respect years ago by well meaning folks and wanted to chuck it at someone’s head within just a few chapters! While I know many folks who say there’s nothing wrong with it, glean from it, etc., I also know many who have been truly hurt. The whole premise of the book is written on a faulty reading of Eph. and Genesis and what it means for men and women. Telling women that everything wrong in their marriage – from minor to major issues – is their fault and that the men have no responsibility is hogwash, arrogant,unchristlike, and unbiblical. There are those who will say that that’s not what the book says but that’s what is repeated throughout! (and his book about sons needing respect from their mothers?! PLEASE)
    I hope that Focus on the Family will take the time to respond, to seriously consider the concerns of thousands of readers and not just default to the we offer a variety of resources trope. Yes that is true and valid BUT when this many women (and men) offer concern then you must at least consider it not just say try something else. God is on the move when it comes to women and marriages in the church and they would do well to pay attention.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      “God is on the move when it comes to women and marriages in the church and they would do well to pay attention.” Yep!

      Reply
    • Nathan

      It’s a curious and hypocritical attitude in that book. Men are fully in charge of everything all the time, but anytime anything goes wrong, it’s always the woman’s fault.
      Again, it would be laughable if so many didn’t believe it, and if so many haven’t been hurt by it.

      Reply
  23. Nathan

    > > being told her husband’s intense porn addiction was due to her not being sexy enough
    That’s so sad and heartbreaking to be told that, especially since it’s not at all an accurate depiction of porn use. Yes, there are some men who turn to porn after their wives lose interest in sex, but that group is BY FAR the minority, and even then the issue isn’t a lack of sex appeal.
    But it’s an easy trap to fall into. Before I started looking into porn use and came here (for various reasons), I always just assumed that porn was used by single men or married men whose wives had lost interest in sex.
    I now know that the vast majority or porn users do NOT fall into this category, but at first, when I would read stories from women upset at their husbands porn use, my first reaction was “well, if you had sex with him once in a while, maybe he wouldn’t NEED to look at porn in the first place (or have an affair, etc.)”. Thanks to this website, and others, although this one is my favorite, I now know how wrong my belief was.

    Reply
    • Recovering from betrayal

      The pastor who spiritually and emotionally abused me for a decade told me that my husbands porn issue was my fault for not being more available to him. Because of the mantras that I grew up under (legalism, focus on the family, dobson, etc) I didn’t argue! It has taken lots of therapy to undo the damage that was done to me.

      Reply
  24. Rachel

    Thanks so much for all your work on this Sheila.
    Focus on the Family is a microcosm of the thinking that has blinded many in the church. I believe FOF has not responded to you because they value marriages that don’t end in legal dissolution rather than the true health of the marriage, because looking at marriage through the lens of true health is overwhelming and requires much deeper work. Instead they take select verses to inform their thinking on marriage instead of seeking the whole heart of the Gospel and God’s ongoing work to redeem His creation.
    At the core of this issue is pride and fear. They’ve hardened their hearts against clear messages of truth because they believe they know truth and any other message is dismissed as “of the world.” Pride keeps them clinging to their beliefs/doctrine , and because they’ve substituted their doctrine for God, they fear letting go and trusting His real truth. In what I think is an earnest desire to honor God, they’ve missed His heart completely.
    I’m writing this out trying to understand them and myself. I used to think like they do. I lived in that pride and that fear. I can testify it’s a poor substitute for trusting God. I’m thankful He yanked my eyes open, but it was only because I’d tried every single other thing, including unconditional respect for my harsh, abusive, controlling husband. When I was out of options, I surrendered and put my whole life in His hands, screaming out in the agony of being so so very wrong for so so long. But He was gracious and kind, and is restoring the shattered pieces of my heart one tiny bit at a time.
    FOF, from a sister, please wake up and see what’s going on. It’s overwhelming for us, but it’s not for our God. He will walk you through if you surrender what you thought and trust Him to show you what is real.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Truly gracious, Rachel. Thank you.

      Reply
    • Amy

      Thank you Rachel, “they value marriages that don’t end in legal dissolution rather than the true health of the marriage.”
      FOTF and those like them seem to value the institution over the individual. Jesus didn’t come to save institutions, he came to save individuals. Jesus renounced the institutions, he loved the individuals.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Exactly! I have a post on just that here.

        Reply
  25. Maria

    Thank you Sheila for standing up for all of us! I’m so grateful for your teachings and desire to follow Jesus and lead others to Him.
    Focus on the Family, your silence lets me know that you really don’t care about me as a woman, and that you view me as inferior. I will not be reading anything endorsed by you, and will publicly share anything that further exposes your hypocrisy unless one day you make some serious changes to your stance. I hope you will be convicted of the harm you have done and continue to do and repent of it.

    Reply
  26. Kathi

    Brava, Sheila, brava! Very well stated.
    Your first point, intent vs results stood out strong. I find this happens a lot when questioning words of a well-liked author or pastor. “You misunderstood his intent. He didn’t really mean that.” If the person didn’t really “mean it” then they are not a good communicator and need to adjust the message.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Kathi.

      Reply
  27. Amy

    Yikes!! I haven’t read this book and I certainly never will now. As a marriage blogger and a Christian, I also certainly will never be recommending this book to my readers. Sounds like Focus on the Family needs to take a closer look at what’s actually in this apalling book

    Reply
  28. Susanna Vaughan

    Thank you for sharing this. I’ve completely withdrawn my support for Focus on the Family after watching how they have dug in the heels on this matter. I believe marriag should be protected, not destroyed.

    Reply
  29. Rachel Davis

    My husband and I agree with this author’s review of Love and Respect.

    Reply
  30. Lori Watson

    This book was also harmful to me during the narcissistic discard/abandonment by my then husband of 28 years (who’d been a full time pastor for over 20 of those years). I can’t go into detail at the moment but this book was part of me accepting the blame for everything and allowing things to get to the point where the kids and I were left homeless. Friends took us in and we were spared living on the street, but this message to continue to respect an abusive man and follow his lead played a large role in my trusting him despite continual deception and horrific treatment. I’m disgusted that I bought into these lies and didn’t better protect myself and my children.

    Reply
  31. Halee

    In college I participated in the psychology and Christian counseling program at a small Christian school. I had recently married and was given the book Love and Respect from a beloved family member. During the Marriage and Family course I was instructed to read a book on marriage for a report and use it for counseling a marriage. I chose Love and Respect, because it was free and available to me. I couldn’t even finish it. I began it, and found it to be so terrible, binary, and unhelpful that I stopped reading and included in my report my conclusion to start over with another book for those reasons.
    Because I stopped reading, and also likely because of my youth I missed so many of the even more harmful parts of this book. I am both shocked and grateful.
    I am saddened that Focus on the Family continues to deflect from the issues at hand, I can only hope and pray that FOTF will see the error and repent making a way to help families, including victims better.
    There are so many GREAT resources out there for families, even if we conceded that this was an “okay” resource; why would we waste our time on the “just okay-potentially harmful”?
    You can do better.

    Reply
  32. Phil

    So here is a simple reason that I believe is why people are deceived by books like love and respect. Its CHRISTIAN. When we walk into a church we assume we are walking into a good christian environment and we will get the correct message. I believe the same is true for christian books. People assume since its christian it must be the right message. This is a tuff chore to take on but I for one am glad this has been brought to light. I originally had no clue and I commend the battle to get the message right. Christian or not.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Phil. Your graciousness and humility and willingness to listen in this whole last year has truly been an example of Christ-likeness. I pray that Focus on the Family will follow your example and LISTEN.

      Reply
  33. Amy

    Thank you Sheila for your research! I am in support of this. As I read this, the thought that Focus on the Family has a contract with the Love & Respect machine kept crossing my mind. It makes me wonder what they stand to lose financially if they part ways with Emerson and his evil teachings.
    I was in an abusive marriage for seven years and specifically remember calling the Focus on the Family helpline. At the time, I didn’t even know my situation could be defined as “abusive.” I only knew that my marriage was confusing and hurting me. In retrospect, the Focus on the Family helpline not only wasn’t helpful, it was potentially very dangerous because the person on the other end of the line didn’t recognize the situation I was in. If they couldn’t help me, they should have at least been able to refer me to someone who could, like the National DV hotline.
    If you are in a domestic violence situation, please, please, please stay far away from Focus on the Family. They are not equipped to help you and will only add to your abuse. If you have a friend or family member in an abusive relationship, Focus on the Family is not the place to get help. Contact your local (many times secular) domestic violence center.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I completely second this! I have heard horror stories of the counselors from Focus on the Family US. I have heard great stuff about Focus on the Family Canada, actually, but terrible stuff about Focus in the US.

      Reply
      • DL

        I agree with this open letter and hope for appropriate action by Focus on the Family. Three years ago, my husband acted out sexually during a period of anger and disappointment toward God about his career. When he repentantly confessed his unfaithfulness to me, the first words I said were, “I forgive you.” The second words I said were, “This is not my fault.”
        Why did I say that? Because before I was even married, I had read and absorbed teaching from Love and Respect and other books/teachers that taught I was universally responsible for my for my husband’s behavior.
        Thankfully, by the time my husband broke my trust and his vows to me, I had learned what the Bible actually says about sin, personal responsibility, leadership, and marriage. Still, I had to state aloud (for myself–my husband would never dream of blaming me for his choices) that it was not my fault to override the faint echoes of the false teachings I had absorbed in the past.
        My husband responded wonderfully to setting boundaries and making a plan for rebuilding trust that included counseling and accountability, and we are doing well. I shudder to think how different things might be had my husband learned and embraced such unbiblical teachings and if I had not learned to reject them.

        Reply
  34. sheep

    Wow, just wow. That was so well written. Thank you.
    Coming from the prospective of a man that was abused, I would like to add that all of those dangerous teachings about women showing respect in the book, work the same in reverse when a man is showing unconditional love to an abusive woman. He teaches that if you show unconditional love to your wife, she is naturally going to show you unconditional respect. That is soooo not true! I know, because I tried really hard for a really long time. It didn’t encourage respect in her. All it did was enable her to become more abusive. It encouraged her to continue sleeping with other men.
    I read the book, and followed it! The thing that kept going through the back of my mind was “I would really like to be shown love, but I guess I don’t need that because I’m supposed to need respect” Sure I would have loved to be respected, but frankly, I was craving love! And I got neither!
    One of the worst things this book did, was to give me HOPE. Hope is awful when it is misplaced or misdirected. I had absolutely not business having hope. There was NO reason for me to have hope and all it did was allow her to continue in sin and me to continue to be abused, falling deeper into depression and just wishing I were dead so that I could be delivered from being required to love a wife that didn’t care about me enough to bother loving or hating me…

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true, Sheep. Toxic teaching is toxic teaching, whether it’s for the man or the woman. I’m sorry that this hurt you. I hope you’re got better resources now.

      Reply
    • Blessed Wife

      I’m SO sorry for what you went through, Sheep!
      I know several other men who could have written your post. You are 100% right! Pouring love (or respect) into an ungrateful, abusive narcissist will not turn them into a good person! It will not cause them to wake up one day and go, “Oh, s/he is so good to me! What am I doing?! They deserve my respect/love/appreciation so much! That’s it- I’m dumping my BF/GF, putting filters on the computer, getting some counseling for my abusiveness and addiction, and I’m going to start loving this person like I should!”
      I’m very glad you are on a healing path now!

      Reply
  35. Nathan

    Phil made a good point above. Many of us see a label on something and assume that it’s good, just because it SAYS “Christian” on it.
    A pastor once mocked this, by acting out a comedy wherein somebody said “Sure I’m a good Christian! I go to church every Sunday, I sing really loud, I pray really hard and I wave my bible around a lot!” That doesn’t mean that you have a pure heart, though.
    You can slap a label on something that says ANYTHING, but that doesn’t make it what it seems. It happens in politics, too, but I avoid that here.

    Reply
    • Lydia purple

      That’s why the Bible tells us to test everything, not just assume things are godly because they sound Christian or spiritual. The worst is that so many „Christian“ resources for families teach to accept and obey authority without questioning. It’s a dangerous to be raised in this thinking.
      I would even go as far and say that healthy and godly authority will encourage you to question and test their teaching and check it out for yourself. if they tell you it is disrespectful or ungodly to question them it is idolatry as they put themselves as being infallible, which only God is.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, exactly! It’s like Paul praising the Bereans in Acts 17 for checking out what he was saying.

        Reply
        • Allison

          Im totally blown away about what Ive read. Im a book worm myself but have not come across the book as yet,but your comments will definately deter me. My husband is a Pastor and i assist him in his ministry and we will never agree to such advise as given in this book. I am totally appalled. God warns in His Word there will be false prophets , teachings and doctrines. Family in Christ please refrain from reading books that lead you astray from the Word of God. Your BEST resourse for any problem is the BIBLE. GOD ALWAYS GIVES THE BEST ADVISE.
          Lets continually pray for each other and ask God for wisdom and discernment when we read books other than the Bible.
          Your sister in Christ
          Allison

          Reply
  36. Nathan

    Very true, sheep. Love and respect MUST be mutual, otherwise it won’t work. I’m sorry that this happened to you, but hopefully you’re on the way to healing.

    Reply
    • sheep

      Thanks Nathan,
      Oh yes, I have done a ton of healing and I’m doing good. I’m happily divorced now. It isn’t what I wanted, but it is for the best!

      Reply
  37. Katie F.

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I think this letter is gracious yet direct. You addressed major issues in a loving way. This book is dangerous. It was harmful to my marriage and I wasn’t even in an abusive marriage. It caused problems when none existed previously. My former husband and I read it proactively as newlyweds and it led us down destructive paths I don’t believe we would have walked down otherwise. This book is horrible.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Katie. That’s an important point I want to make as well. It can also take perfectly healthy marriages and turn them toxic because it enforces this strange gender hierarchy that we were never meant to have, where husbands matter but wives really don’t. So two people who may have been communicating well before and treating each other well before may turn toxic because they believe they need a different dynamic.

      Reply
  38. Meghan

    By the grace of God I am married to a kind and loving man. He values my insight and we make all big decisions together. He also makes sure I enjoy sex too. When confronted with sin, he fesses up and we pray together and work together to find solutions to prevent it from happening again.
    We read Love and Respect waaaaaaay back when we first got married. There were some helpful points, but honestly I got so frustrated with him because he didn’t act like I’d been taught a husband should – take the lead, be decisive, steer the family, be in charge, etc. Now that we’re further along in our marriage I’m actually glad he doesn’t fit that mold! He wanted a partner, not a minion, and that’s what he got…eventually. 🙂

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s wonderful, Meghan! Partners. That’s what God intended.

      Reply
  39. Maria

    My daughter’s narcissistic boyfriend gave her this book about a decade ago trying to manipulate her to please him. She got increasingly frustrated and upset and insecure. I finally read a little bit of it and reassured her she was not crazy- the book was nonsense. Shortly after she regained her confidence and broke up with him. We threw the book out! I’m so glad you are addressing this and that you have the platform to do so. This was extremely toxic to my daughter.

    Reply
  40. Allison

    I am so grateful that you will no longer be writing about this book.
    We can blame literature all we want for things that aren’t right in our lives, but there is such a thing as free speech.
    Just because you disagree or it may be harmful to a lot of people doesn’t mean you should try to silence it.
    My encouragement to you today is to focus on breathing life and hope and encouragement into marriages. That is your beautiful gift from God. That is your strength. Not criticizing other authors you disagree with, but in spending your time building up the body of Christ with the truth God has imparted to you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Allison, if people are being hurt, we must say something. That is a biblical imperative. Our God is a god who fights for justice. It is not a matter of free speech (I certainly do not think the book should be censored). I think that people should stop recommending and endorsing the book, and should listen to those who are hurt by it.
      When Christians do not speak up against evil, bad things happen.

      Reply
      • Tina

        There is so much I want to say as someone who put my best effort into following Love and Respect marriage advice.
        Let me start out with a comment for Focus on the Family. If you think this comes down to a doctrinal difference that Is appalling. Are you now supporting a doctrine of abuse as something that will benefit families? Be sure to put that front and center on your website so people will not be fooled thinking you’re actually in alignment with the Bible.
        God hates oppression and there is so much in this book that feeds that. It is so damaging and I will never support you financially again if you’re still recommending this resource.
        My husband and I read the book, watched the videos years ago and he became more abusive after that. Instead of me being allowed to follow scripture where it says “speak the truth in love” to him I was literally forbidden to confront my husband and speak about anything that made him feel disrespected. If I brought up His regular sin against me or our family that was disrespectful. After all love and respect had told us the right way to do this was to just mention something one time to him and then just live things out in front of him. I did that for decades and my husband became more caught in sin. I grieve deeply over what our marriage taught our kids. My husband actually believes and told me wives don’t need respect, they just needed love. More lies he came to believe from this book. I was disrespected significantly and regularly but to try to tell him that was just me “getting on the crazy cycle”.
        My blood boils when I rewatch clips of the author minimizing abuse in a marriage. He convinced my husband that it was honorable to refuse to talk about our issues. Actually stonewalling is a form of emotional abuse. Why would you support a book that encourages that Focus on the Family?
        The Love and respect book feeds an unhealthy husbands pride and desire to control his wife even while it knocks women down to a place where they are brainwashed into stepping out of alignment with Gods word in order to show respect to someone who is often sitting in a position of control and oppression.
        I guarantee mine is not the only marriage that was further hurt if not destroyed by this book.
        We are preparing for divorce now. Not because I want that, but because decades of him thinking he deserved respect no matter what he did has literally ruined him. He is far from the Lord, hiding a porn addiction and has convinced himself he has been an honorable husband. It is beyond sad.
        I appreciate with all of my heart that you’ve brought this to the church’s attention, Shelia. Your letter to Focus was so good!! Thank you for speaking up for all of us who are trying to heal from the deep hurt of destructive marriages.
        We really do need to do better as the church. and if we are in a ministry to families we had better give advice that isn’t going to destroy them. Hope you can hear that Focus.

        Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Allison, if you were a health blogger and someone who had a TON of influence was recommending you start eating cow dung as it has many probiotic qualities, your good advice to your audience will only go so far if your followers are still listening to the other blogger and eating cow dung.
      This book is the marriage advice equivalent of eating cow dung. It is toxic, it causes harm, and it makes marriages ill.
      This idea of “just because it harms people doesn’t mean we need to talk about it” shows a complete lack of compassion for the people it is hurting. When Jesus saw systems and people oppressing others he didn’t just say “Move on, let them do their thing.” He rebuked them, he called them out harshly, and in one case he actually pulled out a whip of cords and drove them out.
      Being “nice” doesn’t always work to help those who are suffering. Our call will always be foremost to those who are being abused, downtrodden, and mistreated. That is true religion–to help the orphans and widows in our midst. That includes people being abused by teachings that are wearing the name of Christ. The fact that these organizations have the audacity to heap this toxic garbage on marriages in the name of Christ makes me physically nauseous.
      So yes, we’re done. But it’s not because we’re done fighting. It’s because we’ve fought, we’ve done everything we can despite naysayers who are more focused on placating people than bringing forth God’s kingdom on earth, and now it’s time to shake the dust off our feet in good conscience knowing that if these people who proclaim Christ’s name still choose to work against his beloved children, that is on their heads, not ours.

      Reply
      • Maria

        I have a feeling you’re not completely done. You won’t truly be finished until the battle is won. The battle needs your voice your platform. Keep speaking in this as much as needed and as the Spirit leads you!!!

        Reply
      • Lauren

        Thank you for putting into words what I could not. This book was recommended by many Christan friends over the years and I did my heels in and refused to read it… Until a few months ago. At first I was like, okay, maybe I can get behind this… But then I to had many of the concerns you voiced here. The part about the wife needing to lose some weight and his parenthetical comment about how the husband is often trim was the last straw for me. While that is not the case in my situation, that’s completely insulting and ridiculous to judge the woman but like you said the man is not subject to the same judgment. I’m so happy I found your resources… Much healthier and positive approaches.

        Reply
        • Denise

          Lauren, I agree with your comment about the women losing weight. This is another theme you see with Christian writers similar to Eggerichs. The woman better not let herself go, but you never see any similar admonishments to men about any aspect of their appearance.
          There are obese men just like there are obese women. For the Christian marriage writers(both men and women) that like to chastise women for their appearance, why don’t they ever point out that men become vulnerable to heart disease at an earlier age, so weight loss is and urgent issue for them.

          Reply
      • Allison

        Rebecca,
        The truth of it is, marriages are as varied as the people who are in them. Not any one marriage is perfect. Each marriage relationship is unique. And each marriage develops new dimensions over the years.
        Sheila has written and spoken a lot about the places in her own marriage where she struggled the most. Her journey resonates with some women, and they are able to find healing and learn how to thrive in areas where she has seen breakthrough for herself.
        As I read the book Love & Respect, I actually found many things that resonated in my own life – of course, I would never have read it if not for this blog because I hadn’t heard of it prior… But I have always known how men feel loved when they are respected. Respect is synonymous with being loved for a man. And in my experience, a man will literally move heaven and earth for a woman when he knows how respected he is by her!
        Of course, women also need to be respected. Of course, a man who beats his wife should not be allowed to stay in the family home until he has learned the tools to handle his anger in healthy ways – or better yet, deal with the deeper cause of the anger!
        But advice in the book L&R such as to voice a concern to your husband and then wait a few weeks before addressing it again actually sounds very wise to me. Give your spouse a chance to meditate on it and allow them to observe in daily life why you feel how you do. The Scripture Sheila cited in Matthew doesn’t actually say to deal with the whole problem in 24 hours… Something like a parenting style or choice might not change overnight!
        And Scripture is clear about how a believer can win their unbelieving spouse over to Christ by the way they respond. Jesus Himself showed so much humility and kindness in the face of being mistreated. So the ideas in this book aren’t necessarily the most horrible things in the world. Of course, your background influences how you interpret an author’s words. The way I received the book sounds like maybe a little different from how you received it.
        But I don’t blindly follow any one author. I take good ideas from people and leave the ones behind that I feel God isn’t asking me to follow.
        A health blogger (since you tried to draw a parallel there) has to consider the audience. A person with anemia needs to consume different foods than a person who is a diabetic. The advice you give to a person who is overweight is far different than the advice you should give to a person who is underweight!
        But I just feel that Sheila’s strength is in pouring good things into marriages and highlighting marriages that are getting some things right.
        I heard that bank tellers spend a whole lot of time with real money… So much time in fact, that they recognize counterfeit bills immediately. They are just so familiar with the real thing that they recognize right away when it’s not. And I just believe that the more Christian bloggers who can encourage healthy marriages the best they can and give people tools for dealing with life in a positive way the better!

        Reply
        • Amy

          Allison – one big issue I have with most “Christian “ marriage books is that the authors don’t understand abuse dynamics. Many times, abused women don’t know that their situation is abuse, they just know that they are confused and hurt by their husband. So, they turn to marriage books. The marriage books must get abuse issues right. It is obvious from your post that you do not understand abuse dynamics (abuse is NOT caused by anger, it is caused by a lust for power and control.) For those of us who have experienced abuse, this is not and “agree to disagree” issue, there literally are women’s lives at stake here. If the lives of these abused women matter (and I think they do), exposing harmful content is absolutely critical to protect these vulnerable women.

          Reply
          • Allison

            Amy,
            I believe you must have mis-read what I typed. I actually didn’t write that anger is what causes abuse… I suggested actually going deeper to deal with what is actually causing the anger.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Allison, many who abuse are not angry. They are controlling, manipulative, and wanting power. I suggest that you read up on abuse.

        • Denise

          No Allison, not all men will move mountains when his wife is doing everything possible to respect her husband. This is a myth/misunderstanding promoted by Eggerichs.

          Reply
          • Allison

            (Editor’s note) Allison, you aren’t saying anything new and are simply stating the same opinion again and again and consistently refusing to have compassion for the people who are hurting.
            You have only commented a handful of times on this blog, and those comments have been to (1) support a pastor who sexually abused a child in his care, (2) endorse a book that blames a wife for her husband’s affair, and (3) chastise us for calling out Eggerich’s book Love and Respect because, in your words, you ” don’t believe that this man’s book is the cause of anyone’s marriage problems” despite literally hundreds of people saying otherwise. To you, your opinion is more valid than hundreds of abused people crying out in pain. This has been a thread with your comments on the posts where you, again, support a sex offender and a book that tells women it’s their fault if their husbands have sex with someone else.
            There are many people who disagree with us on the blog, but they are also active members of the community on the whole, and so we encourage their debate even if we consistently butt heads with us on the same topic. You, however, simply lurk on the blog, not engaging with our other posts, but waiting for us to try to stand up for the abused and then try to shut us down when we do so. This has become a pattern with you, and we suggest you simply leave the blog if you are only interested in dissuading us from standing up for God’s children. We will never stop doing so.
            We will leave your original comments up as you stated your opinion respectfully and politely. But this conversation is now over as you have said your piece and now simply continue to repeat it.
            Thank you
            The To Love, Honor and Vacuum Team.

    • Kim

      To me one of the major themes of the book is silencing women, so I find irony in your statement about silencing the book/author. Sheila has respectfully engaged in a conversation with people who will not offer her the same respect and common courtesy of even responding. I agree about Sheila’s gifts! I found so much encouragement, life and hope in these posts ab L&R because finallyyyy someone will stand up for the truth and provide clarity in this insanity. I do think Sheila focuses mostly on positive topics, but there are times when a series like this is needed.

      Reply
      • Allison

        Kim,
        It IS sort of ironic, isn’t it? 🙂
        We want to give voice to the voiceless, but it’s also easy to find ourselves trying to silence people who believe differently than we do.

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          Allison, either you fundamentally misunderstand Kim’s comment pointing out your own irony (and that’s why you also seem to misunderstand that we are saying PEOPLE ARE HURTING and you continue to just come back with “But what about being nice to the person causing all this hurt?”), or you’re just being passive aggressive (which is likely something you learned from Eggerich’s book).
          I know what you are saying about needing more healthy advice out there. We publish hundreds of blog posts a year–HUNDREDS. Fewer than 20 in the last year have been pointing out issues with FotF, L&R, etc.
          So don’t come with arguments about how we need more positivity. That’s what we do. But again and again our good advice doesn’t work because organizations like FotF continue to support harmful books like L&R.
          Like you yourself said–health bloggers need to consider the audience. Well, Eggerichs needs to consider his audience. There are women being ABUSED reading his book and it makes it work because he gives examples of abuse and praises women for staying and “respecting” (I put that in quotations because I don’t believe he advocates true respect but instead enabling man-children). He is going against the very principles you believe he should be following when it comes to being an author.
          If you choose to continue to support Eggerichs, that is on you. And after reading the comments of people who he hurt, and reading all the arguments about how he is harmful WHEN THERE ARE OTHER BOOKS THAT DO NOT CAUSE THIS HARM, if you still support and recommend him the abuse, marital discord, and hurt that his books cause is also on your head.
          Let us not live in a fairytale land where we do not have responsibility for our actions. Supporting this kind of poison will continue to kill marriages, and you will be partially responsible because you knew better but you continued to lead people into the lion’s den anyway.

          Reply
          • Jess

            Yes and amen. Thank you Rebecca. I love you and I wish I lived in Canada because I think we would be great friends. 😀

          • Kim

            Rebecca,
            Thank you! I really had to bite my tongue and try to give the benefit of the doubt on that irony comment… and the other ones like isn’t that funny!? One of my goals this year is to respond vs react because I can get feisty about injustice, manipulation and standing up for the oppressed.
            I won’t comment any further on this as I think the responses on this particular thread are amazing and your team as a whole dealt with what’s really going on here. Wow! Biting my tongue again!
            But I will say this:
            “But I just feel that Sheila’s strength is in pouring good things into marriages and highlighting marriages that are getting some things right.“ Yes, AND Sheila (Rebecca, the team)’s strength is standing up for Truth at a crucial time for the church, and standing in the gap for the oppressed, the abused, the weary, HURTING, and down-trodden. Like Jesus did. Honestly I wouldn’t be reading this blog if you didn’t. You all have changed my life TLHAV team! You try to see every angle (so rare) through the lens of Jesus and Truth and you CARE. That matters and means so much. For all the people who are wrestling over Eggerich’s intent vs. his message, I find it IRONIC 😉 that the intent and message of this blog is crystal clear!

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            Thank you, Kim. 🙂 We definitely understand your heart to fight against injustice. It feels very lonely at times, but we warrior women always seem to find each other and it is so encouraging. 🙂

    • bunkababy

      A part of our service and love to each other is to warn, admonish and build up. Discernment must not be kept under a bushel. Darkness can be hidden and wrapped up in a teeny tiny bit of truth.
      How is loving your brother and sister in Christ enough to warn them and teaching them to be discerning in what they read not uplifting to marriage??

      Reply
    • Jess

      Allison, there are 101 comments on this post at the time I am writing this and all of them except yours are agreeing and thanking Sheila for bringing this to light. That has to tell you that not only is she free to write these responses and critiques of this book but that it’s necessary. People are hurting. People are hungry for the truth and for the love of Jesus. And we have a duty as Christians and as people in general to stand for truth and love. It’s not just that Sheila disagrees with his opinion, it’s that his teachings are completely unbiblical, hateful, and harmful. We don’t all have a platform, but thank God for those like Sheila who do and who use that platform to speak truth and help bring healing those who are hurting from false teaching.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Thank you, Jess.

        Reply
      • Allison

        Jess,
        You make an excellent point… It’s always a little weird to be the one person saying something different. 🙂
        I think it can be very easy to mistakenly spend more time reading other people’s words about how to live for God instead of actually reading His Word to us for ourselves. When we do that, we can easily jump on bandwagons in crazy support either for or against a book that is simply the ideas of one imperfect human being.
        Sheila herself has been very honest about brokenness in her own marriage – great intentions all along the way, but it doesn’t sound like it was always the happiest or healthiest.
        And I’m pointing out that the precious time and words that we are given by God are better spent on things that are building people up.

        Reply
        • Kim

          Hey Alison, thanks for your response to me and others and for that humor ab the irony. 😉 I really get where you are coming from about using this precious time on earth to speak words that build others up! The power of positivity is real and we need more of it. (Sheila definitely leans more towards this as a whole for sure.) Another irony ha! Is coming from such a negative, legalistic, worm theology environment, I actually see Sheila’s call out as positive in light of it all.
          I get your example ab counterfeit; that was really great! I’m really glad you posted and offered your perspective.
          What I see is that so many women especially in conservative Christian circles (and I am one) have this block on seeing truth from counterfeit because of the brainwashing by men. Imagine as a banker if your boss consistently told you that’s real, but that’s counterfeit, when it wasn’t! And there was no discussion allowed. You would feel so confused, especially if you researched and figured out the truth. But my boss said…?. And he’s the boss so…? (Many of us have been trained to think that men are some kind of mediator bw us and God – they have a higher more holy spirituality as the head of the household and as pastors and elders, and their word is God’s word.) If you didn’t grow up in that environment or haven’t experienced it in marriage, then I can understand why this all seems a little over the top.
          So in these environments even if these women read something that is amazing and encouraging, if it doesn’t line up exactly with what they’ve been taught their whole life, they are TAUGHT to dismiss it. Not encouraged to explore, question or think for themselves and compare it to scripture (even if these pastors preach sermons on the Bereans).
          If I had read Sheila’s posts 15 years ago I probably would have found them too liberal! Too *gasp* worldly sounding! Talking ab sex so bluntly and honestly oh my goodness (one example)! Laughing because I appreciate this so much now. But – Who is going to build up these women who are desperate and seeking truth and real help, when the only people they have been taught to trust are the very ones who are hurting and oppressing them? When they have been taught that anything outside of their little bubble is anti-truth. Does that make sense!? I’m honestly asking….. Bc doesn’t that block, that mask have to be taken off first for so many to see what you’re talking about? To see the truth vs. counterfeit.
          I think Sheila built up a lot of hurting oppressed women (and men) today with her final post here! So if building a lot of people up first by staking a claim on the truth and calling out the counterfeit (on a BEST selling Christian marriage book) before moving back into a more positive message here is what needs to happen to allow the following, uplifting messages to take root, I wholeheartedly applaud it.
          This is a safe space, even to go against the grain, so I hope you don’t feel attacked, Allison! I am going to take your words to heart ab reading more of His Word this week. Thank you.
          I see there are two Kim’s commenting – I’ll go by Kim P from now on. Wouldn’t want the other to get flack for my passion on these subjects. Lol

          Reply
          • Kim

            Sorry I misspelled your name there at the start! Just a typo… my phone keeps me humble

          • Jenn

            Allison,
            I get what you are saying and I want to add that if it were not for people like Shiela sharing truth about what abuse looks like in marriage, I would not be standing on this side of my grave. Sometimes building up is pointing out the severe harm that is being done and validating the captive so they can break free and live as God intended instead of a shell of a person, or worse, dead. Jesus himself spoke out against false teaching and “ear-tickling”, so I believe that what is happening here is not only appropriate but a necessary part of Sheila’s ministry in building others up. Often times, it is necessary to deconstruct before you can build up.

        • Jess

          Allison,
          I’m not sure what Sheila’s own marriage has to do with any of this. Her whole point is that everyone comes from a varied background and that’s why authors and other people with a platform need to be careful about what they write because everyone reads it through a different lens. That’s why you can’t say it’s ok that some of his teaching is harmful because you can just throw that out. Be discerning, be wise, see what the bible says for yourself. Yes, that is potentially good advice but when women have been brainwashed by false teaching and abuse and an author is perpetuating that message, someone else needs to step in and help those women see the truth. They may not be as discerning or wise as you.
          And this message Sheila is giving against this book IS building people up. Just look at the comments. This book and teachings are harming women and wrecking marriages. And Sheila is so familiar with the truth of Jesus and of Scripture that she is calling out the counterfeit to help those who may not have had the chance to have seen the truth for themselves yet.
          I sincerely hope that you can see the good that she is doing and the light that she is shining. If you can say the book is ok as long as you just take the good and throw out the bad, then you are completely missing how extremely harmful the book is.
          Real women are being pushed to stay in abusive marriages in the name of “Christianity”. Please, please understand that. Real women are hurting. Real women are in danger. And this book tells these women to stay and “respect” their husbands or else they are not godly women.
          Yes, we should build each other up, but we also should hold each other accountable. That is what Sheila is doing. That is what the Bible tells us to do. And that is what is right.

          Reply
          • Allison

            Jess,
            I know! Weird, huh?! I think since I typed my comment from my phone, I pressed submit before completing that paragraph about her marriage! 🙂
            My point was simply that people’s backgrounds and experiences and breakthrough all influence how they approach trying to help others.
            I just don’t feel like this particular marriage book is the cause of abusive marriages. But I definitely believe that we in the church should not be teaching to blindly follow any one person – published author or otherwise.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Allison–you don’t “feel” like this book causes abuse–and so you’re willing to ignore the voices of the hundreds of women who told us that it did? So you’re saying that they’re lying, then. Or, worse perhaps, you believe they are telling the truth but simply do not care.
            This calloused, hardening of your heart that you have done after reading these comments is the opposite of the sacrificial compassion we are to have for the suffering, the lost, the abused in our midst.
            I am so glad I serve a Jesus who does not treat the hurting with the callous disregard you show.

        • Shell

          Allison, all I can say is thank God for Sheila, Rebecca and the team who care about us women who have been abused. You may have the luxury of burying your head in the sand, but thank God there are strong women out there willing to stand up for the victims and the voiceless.
          Maybe try to pretend you are the one in pain Allison, and someone became an advocate for you? Or is it too hard for you to step into others pain hence why you seem unable to recognise people actually are hurting?

          Reply
          • Matilda

            Amen Shell! I Totally agree.
            Thank you Shelia & team. I am learning so much! And each day in lockdown I go on my walk & I am listening to all your podcasts from the start.
            I have emailed the links to all my female friends & family. I probably should send it to my brother too!
            I am also praying that God uses your ministry to set many women & men free. It’s so exciting to see God setting his people free & preparing us for the harvest of broken people that are coming our way.

    • Robyn Scott

      So I’ve had this on my mind but not wanted to speak up. But just as Sheila has been able to speak up against L & R, don’t we all have the same right?
      I too am glad that the discussion part is closing out about L & R, NOT the fighting for families against L & R though, I agree the fight should continue.
      From what I know of L &R only from this blog’s references, I disagree with the book. I also agree with this blog that these “Christian” teachings are not ok and that many people have been hurt! I don’t disagree at all with the reaching out and the letter and the fighting for women and families negatively affected.
      Totally just a blog reader and listeners perspective, I have to say every time L & R comes up in the podcast I am thinking “again? How long will this go on?” It does seem like a fixation – I think the point has been made – just my review as a blog listener. I only mention it, as we all who ask for reviews need to know how people feel and think and are affected etc. No harm intended. I do feel often though that anytime someone has a comment that doesn’t totally agree with what’s being said on the blog/podcast, its not taken well and I feel bad for some of the people’s comments called out on the podcast.
      And can we define “toxic” please?
      It was stated in a podcast prior to Christmas that the term is used too often and a definition was given for “toxic” in reference to people, but I have seen it used a lot especially related to L & R. I’m not saying I don’t think L & R is toxic, but if we’re going to be told in one instance it has a particular meaning then hear it used frequently where it doesn’t fit that definition..I get confused as someone who really is trying to hear it all out and utilize the information. It actually is a little hurtful to me…but that’s a different conversation.
      Love the blog and podcast, I do enjoy a lot of it and it’s been so useful and helpful for myself and my husband. Sometimes it’s just difficult on some topics; which I’m ok with, not everything will be our cup of tea. Just my review, please don’t crucify me and I look forward to a new year and new topics.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Hi Robyn,
        In the podcast before Christmas, I said that “toxic” was about abuse, and when something harmed people. I use the word very deliberately here. Love and Respect is a toxic book, for all the reasons given in this letter. All you have to do is read the women’s comments who are here to see how this book has been used to enable abuse and to promote abusive teachings. That is the very definition of toxic, in my opinion.
        Thanks for your kind words about my blog, and about my books that you left on another thread. I appreciate it!

        Reply
      • Kim P

        Robyn,
        I find your comment well-rounded and appreciate the respectful way you wrote it. That took courage to post. I hope you feel your opinion is welcomed here, even if you disagree with some things. I have seen dissenting comments here in the past
        that were welcomed and discussed in a healthy way, only the ones who took it too far got a little heated. I have also seen Christian blogs where any dissent is deleted, or the conversations heat up quickly and people are shut down and blasted with bible verses that are taken out of context.. I find this thread here more like a plea to understand. Lots of pleas. And then a response to the lack of compassion for the hurting, which echos the original messages of this series.
        I hop on and off the blog (just my particular way of reading blogs) and when I came back and saw more posts ab L&R I thought – ok wow what is going on, something new must have been uncovered, this is important! And that is what happened. And for those of us who have been abused by our family, spouse or church – we really needed this. Just like the early church needed the same message repeated over and over in a slightly different way because the message was SO crucial and so contrary to what they thought following God was about. I think Sheila and Rebecca and the team would have preferred to be done with this a long time ago, but women kept emailing them with new information, such as EE’s blog post and the video from SBC! To leave it in the dust for fear of being redundant or annoying was a choice, and I find their choice to continue on courageous. Lots of courage going on here!
        The theme with many men in authority in the church/ministries is to double down and then stonewall when questioned or confronted, especiallyyyy from a woman. (See Beth Moore’s open letter to these types and how many responded! I saw one really thoughtful humble response at the time.) It’s a tactic that works really well when women just give up and shut up. (Liiiike the L&R book). I’m betting it’s frustrating to have to keep hammering the point home when you see a better simpler way. A way where men are just humble and repent. Jesus’ way, really. And I find it noteworthy the number of women, including Sheila who publicly or privately (in their circles) repented of promoting this book!
        I’m really not fawning all over this blog or its author’s…… I definitely see the cult mentality in the blog world; I just think so many of us have been starved of real truth and help for so long, we flock here. And we find it a safe place, and we are drawn to people who stand up for Truth and admit when they have been wrong. Some people are more peaceful and positive in their nature and prefer none of this calling out. I love those kinds of people, so needed!, and I also applaud the feisty ones who will stand against abuse and toxicity in the church. We are all needed and important. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Robyn!

        Reply
  41. bunkababy

    As good and well written it will do very little to sway anyone in Focus on the Family. ty are deeply embedded in the Dominionism Theology and one of the focuses within that is masculinity.
    It is a deeply political mindset that won’t be won over because it is steeped in power, control, and false religion.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You may very well be right. But it’s still important to speak up–and what I do hope will happen is that people will stop supporting Focus, and that Focus employees will recognize the toxicity and leave. The power that Focus on the Family has to shape Christian opinion is very fragile. It’s only based on its donor base and it’s listenership. If people tune out, they will lose power.

      Reply
      • bunkababy

        I sent you an email regarding it’s broader deeper roots and a link. I am no conspiracy theorist at all but I think if you dig the proof is there. It is far bigger than that. It might reach individuals on a person to person basis , but that is better than none I guess.

        Reply
    • Matilda

      I grieve over the women who may never come to know Jesus because of the toxic & sexist interpretations of the Bible. I think of the women I work with in my secular job who would never put up with this kind of ‘women must always & only submit’ they would never & the result is they spend eternity in hell. But when you know Jesus as the great emancipator of women, the creator of marriage, sex & the clitoris! Then we can share that Jesus with them and they will be saved! The Church must be free, it must understand the Father’s purposes and Word. We have the answers, the love, and the healing the world is crying out for.

      Reply
  42. Stacey Friesen

    I stand with you, Sheila. I read this book in a time when we were struggling, and it felt like salt in a wound. I’m going to forward this blog post to my pastor, who so far has supported it.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Stacey!

      Reply
  43. Jenny N

    Focus on the Family is a business. Businesses have bills to be paid – mortgages, utilities, payroll, etc. They are “in bed” with Emerson Eggerichs and his Love and Respect franchise. They financially benefit from each other. Emerson Eggerichs helps FOTF keep their “lights on” and FOTF helps Emerson Eggerichs maintain his lifestyle and keep his business running. They don’t care that people are being abused because of the book Love and Respect. It’s all about the money.
    I bought this book way back in 2005, just after it came out. Long story short. Anytime I would bring something up, I would be told I was being “disrespectful”. The husband loved this book so much, he gave it to one of his best friends as part of his wedding present (I hope the wife tossed it in the garbage!). I gave and gave and loved and loved and respected and respected, but it was never enough! I was never enough! In the end I was blamed for his “need” to go outside of our marriage for all his many, many emotional and probably physical affairs. I was told I didn’t RESPECT him, because I didn’t trust him. Well, who trusts a pathological liar and serial cheater? NOT ME!
    I haven’t listened to or read anything from FOTF in years. In their credit, that’s where I found Leslie Vernick, Townsend/Cloud and a few other great resources. But I can’t stand with a business that supports abuse. I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for 20 years and I won’t stand anywhere near abusive people or companies.

    Reply
  44. Nathan

    > > We can blame literature all we want for things that aren’t right in our lives,
    > > but there is such a thing as free speech.
    > > Just because you disagree or it may be harmful to a lot of people doesn’t
    > > mean you should try to silence it.
    I usually don’t touch things like this on this site (I have other fire breathing sites for that) but…
    What you say is true, but I don’t recall Sheila EVER advocating that ANYBODY be legally prevented by law from buying books like this, reading them or speaking about them.
    THEY can publish all THEY want, and WE can analyze and/or criticize all WE want.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yep!

      Reply
    • Laura Grace

      Yes, for goodness sake, I wish people who try to spout off about free speech would work out that “freedom of speech” means the government can’t persecute or prosecute you for saying what you want (with some exceptions). It doesn’t mean people can’t CRITICIZE you for saying what you want.
      Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences for saying stupid, dangerous, or harmful things.

      Reply
  45. Nathan

    > > will do very little to sway anyone in Focus on the Family. They are deeply embedded in the Dominionism Theology
    It’s probably true that the inner circle may never abandon this belief, but if we can reach the base of Christians and help them to realize how toxic it is, the idea will have minimal power. So they can still pound the drum of “only the husband matters, all is the fault of the wife”, but it will have very little effect, and fewer people will be harmed.

    Reply
  46. Becky

    I stand with you completely on this, Sheila.
    To FotF: It’s heartbreaking that you’ve dug in your heels on this to the point where you’re disregarding the many, many statements that this book and this message is harming real people. This is not a doctrinal difference, this is a wedge that is driving people away from faith. I’ve had issues with teachings I’ve found in your resources before about my role in my sons’ lives, simply because I’m a woman. If you’re going to continue to support patriarchy over people by your silence on this issue, I cannot in good conscience come to you for true Biblical teaching.

    Reply
  47. Linda

    In their communication to you, FOTF played the complementarian card. This was a tactical mistake on their part and points out my main disagreement and what I believe is the great theological flaw with the book. The husband in a marriage is the Christ figure. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Ephesians 5:25 Eggerichs turns this around and has the wife making the sacrifices and leading by example. A complementarian who takes a minute to think about the message of the book should be able to see this clearly.

    Reply
  48. Christy

    Focus on the Family was never high on my list, but after this open letter, they have fallen wayyyyy down on my list of” sound doctrine.” They had given me very terrible advice at a very vulnerable stage in my marriage, and in my healing from childhood sexual abuse. Luckily i followed my gut and ignored their advice, but it did not come without damage to my soul.
    In your survey, i forgot to add them as one of the most damaging ministries to my list.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s okay! A lot of people did mention them. 🙂

      Reply
  49. K

    Thank you for speaking truth and grace to focus on the family. I was raised on their resources- both good and bad and am still sorting thru the subtle ways negative messages like eggerichs harmed me. My children will not be raised on FOTF resources. We will not be supporting them in any way because of issues such as you have raised.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That sounds very wise.

      Reply
  50. Natalie

    That last line:
    “ Note: Since sending this letter in October of 2019, I have received no reply.”
    WOW! Just…. wow!!! That truly, deeply breaks my heart. 😢 Like, DEEPLY!!!! It definitely shows me FotF’s true colors. I was raised on them. Heck, I remember listening to those Dr. Dobson tapes when I was like 8 discussing marriage, sex, puberty and growing up (& laughing with my brother at how Dr. Dobson pronounces “poo-berty”). I trusted them completely. Now everything I read from them I second guess. Maybe that’s for the best in the long run. The only real truth in this world you can trust anyway is the Word of God.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Caldwell

      One thing to keep in mind is that Focus is no longer Dr Dobson. In fact, he has moved on/was pushed out because he did not agree with the direction Jim Daly was taking Focus.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        And yet, in many ways, Dobson may have been better. At least he wrote Love Must Be Tough which encouraged women to set boundaries and not put up with adultery and abuse.

        Reply
        • Recovering

          But he wrote child raising books that were horrible- at least they were the basis of the authoritarian garbage that my parents learned from him. I was parented according to Dobson and it’s taken a lot of therapy to undo the damage.
          It’s my way or the highway, cold, make them obey you or they won’t obey god garbage. I threw away all the Dobson books I owned but I wish I had them back to burn them. It would have been more therapeutic.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yep. He focused on controlling outward behaviour and enforcing obedience rather than growing character, and they are two very different things. And sadly, even THAT may have been better than what they’re preaching today.

  51. Wild Honey

    Focus on the Family, I have STOPPED buying and reading Christian marriage books because of messages like those in Love and Respect.
    I read Love and Respect years ago because so many women from church kept praising it. I was disturbed by Mr. Eggerichs’ frequent use of “harsh” to describe a husband’s regrettable but common actions towards his wife. Then when I read his statement that women can’t understand a husband’s “wandering eye” because women do not experience lust, I realized that Mr. Eggerichs does not understand women.
    These messages have not rung true with my observations of marriages among my family, friends, and church community. These messages have not rung true in my own marriage.
    Focus on the Family, I have received more help from SECULAR marriage books, like those of Dr. John Gottman, than I have from Love and Respect and several other Christian marriage resources I could name.
    It wasn’t until I saw a comment Sheila left on another blog that I thought, “Hey, is there really a Christian author out there with actually helpful marriage advice?”
    Now, just three months later, guess how many products I’ve bought from her? Four (five if you include Rebecca’s book). Because the advice rings true, is saturated with Jesus, and has actually produced good fruit in my marriage and parenting! [Thank you, ladies, from the bottom of my heart.]
    And I’ve also started sharing my concerns from reading Love and Respect whenever I hear that book or other products of Eggerichs brought up. Or when we come across advice similar to his in Sunday school classes, moms’ groups, and Bible studies. It felt awkward at first but has gotten easier the more I do it, and I suspect this will come true for others, too.
    Focus on the Family, there is an audience out there of people who want Jesus and truth. Is that what people are going to get by reading Love and Respect?
    Or are they going to read it, be repulsed or even harmed, and stop reading the other things you recommend, as well?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love this so much! Thank you!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      By the way, interestingly, John Gottman was the most HELPFUL resource that was named in my survey (well, I came in first, but we’re really taking me out of the running because so many of my blog readers commented). But he had an incredible ratio of help:hurt. I think it was 48:1, unlike Eggerichs 10:15, or Focus on the Family’s 18:10. In fact, all the secular resources mentioned scored better than most of the Christian ones. The Christian ones that scored well were the Boundaries books, Leslie Vernick’s books, Natalie from Flying Free, and a few others (I’m going by memory). But so many “Christian” resources scored as very harmful. Church, we must do better.

      Reply
      • Laura Grace

        Gottman is AMAZING. I recommend their stuff all the time. It’s not only wise and sensible, it’s research- and evidence-based!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yep! That’s why I’m so excited about sharing our data from our survey, once it’s analyzed. Let’s talk data, not just doctrine. Sometimes the data will show what doctrine is correct, too!

          Reply
      • Lisa

        And another shameful thing that Eggerichs’ editors let slide– Eggerichs claims, early in his book (I think chapter 1 but it might not be) that the research of Gottman backs up his love and respect theory! It doesn’t! At all! Gottman’s research and books are NOTHING like L&R! It utterly shameful to name drop a highly respected researcher and his work and claim it supports your book full of opinions. If you read even one of Gottman’s books you’ll see that it does NOT support Eggerichs’ book or his gender-based theory.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          And Gottman specifically repudiates Eggerichs in one of his chapters, too, saying that a husband-led marriage has an 81% failure rate. He talks specifically about religious groups that put the husband in charge, and how dangerous that has been shown to be.

          Reply
  52. Marla Pfeiffer

    When I was 19, my boyfriend at the time used this book to abuse me. It wasn’t long before anything I did that he didn’t like was “disrespectful.” For example, trying out young adults groups at churches was “disrespectful” because I might have met new men. It was wonderful to see your posts on this book, Sheila

    Reply
  53. LLong

    Thank you, Sheila, for speaking up. Love and Respect and many other books that promote the same teaching (abuse of women, patriarchy, power and control) should be burned. They do so much damages.
    I am thanking the Lord that I have a good and kind husband (and we function more like egalitarians) because I could very well have been in that boat as the churches that we were part of affirm the “Lord of the Castle” teaching. I have seen too many women be put “in their place” and suffer under such ungodly teachings.
    On a side note, growing up in an abusive family is extremely detrimental on the children long term. My sisters and I had major problems all of our lives that we are just now dealing with (45-53 yo). I ran away (and praise God, He protected me, but it could have been bad), my next sister became an alcoholic (she is sober now) and attempted suicide twice, my baby sister is a “happy” enabler as to not rock the boat. It is unhealthy for children to grow up in power and control/entitlement/abusive families. Please, set boundaries and confront the unhealthy behavior, if not for you, for tour children and the next generations.
    And this is for Focus on the Family:
    Shame on you for finding excuses in defending and promoting HORRIBLE books that place the blame on women, and for not having the decency to respond to the latest letter from Sheila.

    Reply
  54. Misty S.

    I didn’t read all the comments, but I’ve been following this whole series of events closely. I used to think Focus on the Family was awesome. I’ve always been passionate about my family, doing the best I could to take care of them and be everything they needed me to be.
    I never read Love & Respect but the teaching in the church (and we were part of several over the years) was very prevalent. I tired to treat my ex-husband with respect even in the face of his 17 years of porn addiction, in the face of being told that he had the final say in every decision (which lead to years of lonely misery when he took me overseas for ministry when I didn’t want to go). I never openly confronted him about his porn use. I never told anyone because “love covers a multitude of sins,” so to be Christ-like I had to hide his sin. I stayed silent and felt shame because it was my job to keep him happy so he wouldn’t need that stuff and I failed.
    It all ended with him having a year long affair and us splitting up, and even then I was so desperate to put the family back together that I listened as he told me all the ways his affair was my fault. I then had a huge wake-up call. I started speaking with a christian counselor. He told me, “Misty it may not be God’s will to save this marriage, it may be His will to deliver you from it.” It spent days pondering that statement. Then I filed for divorce. God has done so much healing in my heart since then. I grew to be happy and confident in who He created me to be. I learned that I am more than capable of making all my own decisions and supporting myself on own. I committed to God that I would NEVER AGAIN take responsibility for some else’s choices and sin.
    And after all that God brought a wonder man into my life. I’m married now to someone who loves, values, and treasures me. He prefers real life with me far beyond what any screen could offer him. He also says I’m smarted than he is so he trusts my judgement more than his own.
    I guess my encouragement for anyone out there struggling in the face of this harmful message would be this:
    “My friend are you valuable to God. His will for you is not for you to be physically and emotionally crushed under any man’s boot. His will for you is to be whole and complete in Him. Your journey will look different than mine, but I hope and pray you end up in the same place…healthy and loved by your Heavenly Father and the people in your life.”

    Reply
  55. Nathan

    It wasn’t long before anything I did that he didn’t like was “disrespectful.”
    That’s one of the problems with teachings like this. Somebody will say “Oh, no, I’m not trying to control you, I just don’t want you to do things that are disrespectful”. That sounds fine, until (by some huge coincidence) EVERYTHING that he doesn’t like becomes disrespectful.

    Reply
  56. Nathan

    Misty, I’m sorry that you endured that, but I’m glad that you found somebody to help you realize what was going on and happy that you found somebody good to be with.
    > > he told me all the ways his affair was my fault
    In general, this is a huge red flag.

    Reply
  57. Bethany

    I found this blog, because I was googling my sexual questions as a newly wed. I had read and reread the Christian marriagebooks, and had very little actual practical knowledge about sex. My husband didn’t know much more than me. I was going to boldly go to the secular internet to learn about sex and sexuality. About 15 Google searches in, I decided to see if a Christian sex blog actually existed. Sooooo glad I did! I found a treasure trove of knowledge. And I don’t know, but shortly after giving your “31 days” book to my sister, she started the process of getting getting help for her abusive husband. Before she thought she was the problem. So you might’ve saved her life.
    Thanks for writing actually educational marriage material.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, Bethany, thank you for letting me know! I’m so glad that even reading 31 Days to Great Sex set her free.

      Reply
  58. Nathan

    This thread has already generated more comments than any in a long time.
    That’s a good thing. The best way to combat bad ideas is with good ideas.
    For me, it isn’t about the source (FOF, Eggerich) so much as the ideas. Sadly, these aren’t the only ones who agree with this. There are many issues, but I see the two worst as…
    1. The husband is the absolute and unquestioned king of the family. Everything (including sex) is always and only about him, and the feelings, needs, etc. of the wife mean nothing.
    2. If there are any problems in the marriage, it’s the fault of the wife for not being loving or sacrificing enough.
    These aren’t the only two, but they’re the most toxic. Although “husbands can complain about wives, but not the other way around” is a close third.

    Reply
  59. Laura

    🔥🔥🔥🔥 Go Sheila!!
    I’ll have to come back later to read all the comments. I just wanted to leave some encouragement for the moment. 😊

    Reply
    • Katie

      I’m late to party but I do want to weigh in. My husband & I did some research on Eggerichs last summer after Sheila & Keith’s podcast on his blog post came out & what we learned literally sickened us. So I’m going to come out & say it – I have great respect for Sheila’s continued insistence that the issue here isn’t attacking a person but a teaching – however, I think in this instance, a person needs to be stopped. A person who is using his theology degree & the following he’s developed as narcissistic power. His teachings do NOT promote Jesus. It’s not just this book. His blog is full of posts that degrade women, to the point of laying the blame for disrespectful, disobedience teenage sons at the mother’s feet. Just like all marital issues in L&R are the wofe’s fault; there’s an entire section of blog posts that claim that if boys aren’t behaving, it’s not that their mother should hold them accountable, she should respect them as they are & not expect so much out of them. However, when my husband emailed them asking about a section for girl dads, he was basically told that there was no need for such a section to be addressed. Good dads love their daughters, if daughters don’t feel loved that’s their issue & their father shouldn’t have to change. What?!? How can they possibly claim anything but narcissism?

      Reply
  60. Arwen

    Two words, Sheila, YOU’RE AMAZING!
    I bought the L&R book around the same time i discovered your blog and never read through the whole book because something just didn’t sit well within my soul. Thankfully it wasn’t long before you started addressing the book’s errors and could articulate much better than i could have the problems with it. Notice that still small voice told me this book was toxic. I guess Eggerich doesn’t want women to listen to that voice because he knows it will be through women his toxic book will be exposed. Very convenient for him.
    I adore your bluntness, your strength by which you tackle issues, and most of all thank you for not playing “nice” to placate, overly sensitive or passive aggressive people.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Arwen!

      Reply
  61. Sarah K

    Well done! I hope and pray that Focus on the Family will choose a better path. I am one that was harmed by L&R but I did not get the opportunity to be part of your survey. You can add me to the “harmed” column. It made me think that I was the problem. I wasn’t loving enough, forgiving enough, respectful enough….all. my. fault. that a man would choose abuse over love. All my fault that I was raped, sexually assaulted, lied to, stolen from. All my fault. No more. I am divorced now and healthier than ever.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Sarah, I’m so sorry. I’m glad that you’re in a healthy place now!

      Reply
  62. Active Mom

    Sheila,
    Thank you! Thank you for being willing to put yourself out there and take on what you knew would be a massive fight. You gave a voice to those of us who were raised in the church but were being harmed by these teachings and or leaving the church because of them. Thank you for being willing to say that just because it’s been taught that way for a while doesn’t make it biblical. Thank you for standing up for women as well as our sons and daughters.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for that encouragement!

      Reply
  63. Laurie

    I read L&R when it first came out. I was young, still newly married, and I wanted to be the “good, obedient, Christian wife”, that was and is still encouraged in many churches. Sadly, this kind of teaching reduces marriage, and perhaps Christianity, to a formula. Do this, stay in your gender ordained box, and all will be well. What lies. I wish that I had read words like yours 25 years ago, Sheila. This is what the church needs to hear. This is what our kids need to be taught.

    Reply
  64. Erin

    I agree with the ten conclusions drawn by Sheila. I hope Focus on the Family will change course and help reflect the light of Christ to form marriages the way God intended them to be, not the imbalanced way L&R teaches.

    Reply
  65. Kristen

    I am a single twenty-something with a complicated relationship with the church. Though I do not profess to be a practicing Christian currently, there are times when I consider returning. However, I cannot abide toxic and/or legalistic teaching. And as for the view of marriage presented in Love & Respect? If that’s what a Christian marriage looks like, count me out.
    Sheila, I know I’ve said this before, but your blog is one of the few remaining things in my life that keeps me remotely tethered to the faith of my upbringing. You and your crew give me hope that I might return to it one day.
    Focus on the Family, you should be ashamed. If Eggerichs’ view of marriage is what you truly endorse, then let me tell you that it’s not a pretty picture, and it certainly does not show the ideal of Christian marriage in a good light. I’d rather be single for the rest of my life than to enter the kind of marriage that you endorse by continual promotion of Love & Respect. And I do NOT say that carelessly. If you wish to have any type of positive witness in contemporary society, you are doing it wrong!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Kristen, that’s honestly the best compliment you can give me, and I’ll make sure the rest of my team sees this, too. That’s our prayer–that we can point people to Christ. And I know that so many have wanted to abandon faith and the church because of stuff like this. I’m trying to talk (and shout!) as loud as I can so that people like you can see that this is not the only view out there. In fact, according to my survey, this view is the MINORITY. I do think that if people who had a Jesus-centered view rather than a husband-centered, power-centered view spoke up, stopped supporting churches that support stuff like this, and filled the pews of churches that honestly follow Christ, we’d change the church. And then people like you wouldn’t feel pushed out.

      Reply
  66. Lorraine

    This is heartbreaking. This type of advice is so common place which has made it so dangerous. So many people and churches blindly trust Focus on the Family that they wouldn’t even question a resource that came with their recommendation. I hope they can correct this mistake.

    Reply
  67. Nathan

    > > I cannot abide toxic and/or legalistic teaching.
    Jesus didn’t like those all that much, either.
    > > this view is the MINORITY.
    True, but sadly, they’re a very LOUD minority with “official” credentials

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The only reason they have the “official” credentials is because people listen. If we stop listening, they’ll lose market share (sorry to talk like it’s a business, but in a way it is). And then the voices of those who are trying to build healthy marriages by pointing people towards intimacy and authenticity and love rather than hierarchy and power will win out.

      Reply
      • Homesweettrailer

        This is spot on. It IS a business and it’s said that we vote with our dollars. (Hello, even Walmart is carrying organic food now). It almost makes me wish I was supporting FotF so that I could un-support them.

        Reply
  68. Laura Lathrop

    Thank you for this well-reasoned attempt to reach the ears and hearts of the Focus on the Family organization. I have difficulty expressing how horrified I feel reading the thoughts of Eggerichs expressed in this book and other materials, especially from the perspective of an understanding of the dynamics of domestic abuse. Fortunately, I don’t have to express those feelings here, because you have said all that needs to be said. I hope Focus pays close and prayerful attention to this, and removes Love and Respect from all its lists of recommended resources.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Laura!

      Reply
  69. Amber Trimble

    Sheila, thank you for writing this and for speaking up! It saddens me that FOTF supports and encourages such harmful and unChrist-like work as Love & Respect. It makes me even more upset that they have not seen the errors of their support and they continue to stand by this book. The many, many marriages and women who have been hurt by this book and message should be enough to make them change. Given their reactions to your letters, I can’t, in good conscience, support FOTF. I will continue to support you, Sheila, as a voice for women and marriages! Thank you for being an instrument of God and loving as He loved.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Amber!

      Reply
      • Alexandra

        Great amazing job, Sheila! 👏👏👏
        I am so grateful for you taking a stand for the truth. Thank you, sweet lady!
        I purchased the Love&Respect book at a marriage conference, in a time when I was trying to navigate godly ways of how to deal with my husband’s porn addiction.
        I got the idea that if I respected him more (which I was already doing I guess) he would be loving enough twoards me to quit his addiction. Unfortunately that never happened, but it took me many years to find the courage to get a divorce and get out of the abusive relationship I was in.
        I pray that these harmful teachings would cease.

        Reply
  70. Amy

    Wholeheartedly agree! “Respect” that enables sin is not actually respect at all! Years of “respect” did not motivate my husband to seek help for pornography addiction. Setting firm boundaries did.

    Reply
  71. Kelly

    I have no words. Focus on the Family – the blood is on your hands.

    Reply
  72. Kim

    Shame on you, Focus on the Family!! This is totally AGAINST the very family you claim to protect. What a travesty of power. Sounds like money beats out all vestiges of truth. I know many of you truly DO love Jesus and there is NO way you can do that and support this book which distorts God’s Word into horrible lies. Man up and walk away from the Eggerichs.

    Reply
  73. Bevy

    I see that Dr. James Dobson had this man on Family Talk also.
    This looks like a perfectly horrible book.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  74. Kristina

    I have listened to Focus broadcasts for many years, but am unable to any longer, because of their continued support for this abusive unbiblical teaching. I am really questioning their whole ministry right now, because of their continued marketing of this terrible book, WHEN THEY KNOW BETTER. You’re right in your claim that it the SBC all over again. They are treating their friends as adversaries, The church will come under increased scrutiny over this issue in the years to come, and it would be so much better if these misguided ministries would just self-correct now! You will answer to the Lord one day, not to whatever bureaucratic marketing decision has contracted you to promote a false teacher like Eggerichs, when YOU KNOW it is systemically harming marriages and families that you profess to want to see succeed!

    Reply
  75. Mary

    Thank you for speaking up — as a result of Love and Respect, the multi-faceted abuse perpetrated against me by my ex was further compounded with spiritual abuse, damaging my view of God, marriage, and myself. Fighting hard to save my marriage under these circumstances nearly cost my life and the life of my child.
    Sadly, I wish my story was the only one — but it’s not. I personally have many friends subject to abuse as a result of Love and Respect. Absolutely heartbreaking.

    Reply
    • Kim P

      Mary,
      My heart goes out to you. Natalie Hoffman’s blog and book might be of interest to you as she too was spiritually abused and wrecked by her church (formerly led by John Piper) when she dared to leave her abusive husband. When the abuse is compounded like this – it leaves a woman feeling like there is no hope.. What you’ve experienced sounds horrific – your life and the life of your child were put on the altar of man’s agenda. Your actual LIFE – why isn’t this enough to put the fear of God into men!? Why isn’t this enough to wake people up!? I honestly think a lot of people are in denial ab what is really going on. I hope you are able to find the True God as you heal, Bc he does not condone this abuse, He is a loving Father and He absolutely unconditionally loves you and your child.

      Reply
      • Amy

        Kim P – I’m a domestic violence survivor and I love Natalie Hoffman’s ministry. I’ve read and shared her book and listen to her podcast. She has great guests and is frank and honest about abuse issues. I highly recommend!

        Reply
  76. Angela C

    I read this book years ago when I was young in my faith, and didn’t recognize the ways scripture was twisted. Thankfully my husband loves and respects me well, so I don’t believe it harmed my marriage. I wonder if it subtly affected my relationship with God, as this book’s teachings make God seem less loving than he is, especially towards women. I had forgotten some of the awful teachings in that book! I do remember things not sitting right, but figured I was wrong, as I was immature in my faith and didn’t know the Bible well yet.

    Reply
  77. J.B.

    The quotes from this book are appalling. Can’t believe so many , including Focus on the Family! are endorsing it! This man sounds just like the men I know who had abused their wives. Ridiculous they are connecting the abusive type behaviors with a healthy marriage!

    Reply
  78. anon

    This is so excellent. I read this book just before a huge disaster, and its influence could have ruined my marriage since I responded in the love & respect way. Looking back, it was the worst possible way to handle it. Thank you for sharing hard truths and speaking up!

    Reply
  79. Jamie Adams

    I am currently going through a divorce after five years of marriage. One of the books recommended to us was Love & Respect and it never sat right with me but I couldn’t put my finger on why and anytime I tried to bring it up to other Christians, I would be told I just wasn’t being submissive! I’ve only read Boundaries but my therapist based most of her marriage advice off of Boundaries in Marriage. Our marriage slowly deteriorated the more I put the advice into action because he would get angrier, lash out more, and accuse me more frequently of not being a good Christian. When he finally agreed to go to therapy with me, he left after only a month or so because he didn’t like what she was saying because he felt it agreed with me too often! He wanted to be right more than he wanted to stay married. Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting into words why all the advice I received from the Christian community not only didn’t work but actually was enabling and ultimately destructive.

    Reply
  80. Teresa Marshall

    From my own experience in an emotionally abusive marriage, I told my friends I regretted reading the book as I felt my husband was using it to beat me up about respect. I also would not recommend this book because of the author’s view of sex. Many of us have been brainwashed by the church to believe we should give our husband’s sex no matter what. Because it is so important for them! I am angry at the brainwashing I endured at the hands of the modern Christian church about sex and marriage! I thank God for Leslie Vernick who helped me to see that the people in the marriage are more important than the institution of marriage.

    Reply
  81. Bre

    Part 1
    SO grateful to your truth and you standing up for what is right, Sheila! Even though I’m just a happily single college student, this has been one of the few places where I have found people that, while we do think differently in some areas, they understand and agree on the major stuff. To your (or someones) point about the silent majority seeming bigger because they are louder and better-connected, I think part of the issue is that they mix some sound stuff in with the junk and will loudly decry anyone who questions the bad part as “unchristian” and “worldly”. Something that I’ve realized is that, not only is this type of ideology promoting a home where the husband is God and gets whatever he wants, it’s deeply infantilizing to/of women. Calling women “easily deceived” is a clearly unbiblical lie that conditions them to not listen to the Holy Spirit/God…but what about the obsession with men making all the decisions and women not being able to confront sinful or problematic behaviors? Why would women need men to make all the decisions unless they are incapable of logic, common sense, good choices, and deep thinking? No one may say it out loud, but the only way that women can *need* men to hold all the power and decide/do everything important is if the women themselves are (forgive my language) stupid and unable to take care of themselves. Otherwise why would God need to place men in the position of essentially being their guardians? This is why, despite being being a romantic at heart, I don’t really want to get married anymore, even though I kinda also do. At this point, I just can’t deal with the thought of having to open myself up to how many “Christians” would treat me. Even if I do find a lovely man who puts Jesus first and is egalitarian; supports women serving in all areas of the church; is pro-life; and sees me as a total equal, with my mental health and disabilities, I CAN NOT cope with the reality that, where ever I go, there will be people reminding me that he is my ‘benevolent head” and that I “have to submit” and “let him lead” and all that stuff which I know IS NOT what God actually said, intended, or wants!

    Reply
    • Bre

      Part 2
      I’m a high-functioning Autistic woman who was heavily bullied by my peers and discriminated against by my teachers and “counselors” throughout my childhood. My single mother was my advocate and reminded me every day that I was beautiful, kind, and smart and that I WOULD go to college and succeed. It wasn’t easy, but I was accepted into the AVID college prep program. I took a few honors and AP classes. I got my first job and was an officer in two community clubs during my senior year of high school. I was labeled “special needs” but, unlike the majority of Autistic kids across the spectrum, I was completely mainstreamed and just got a few speech and counseling services. I got into my top choice college, would have graduated HS with honors if not for a pesky C on a Spanish final, and received the Senior award for excellence in the community technical center “college” program for my work in the Childcare and Elementary Careers Class and volunteer work in the Head Start program. I moved out to attend a 4-year university, am living on my own in the doors, holding a job, involved in my church, and very happy, despite my mental health struggles. In fact, I’m seen as a success story and a happy novelty by the special need’s community that my mom works with because even high-functioning Autistics typically don’t/ can’t do the “normal” post-grad life. At the risk of sounding like a “soft and whiny millennial”, I am deeply offended, disgusted, and insulted by the implication that I must check my intelligence, giftings, common-sense, and wisdom at the door as soon as I marry and that my value, giftings and callings, and worth in the eyes of God are either taken away or decreased as soon as I’m hitched. I’m sorry, but I spent my elementary years being bullied, so I don’t have any desire to deal with religious bullying disguised in pretty, “spiritual” language; that isn’t what God intended. I know I’m young and angry, and maybe, as things start changing in the church as God does a Holy Housecleaning, I’ll feel safer and interested in marriage again, but right now, learning about how deep and WRONG lots of prevalent “biblical” teaching is, it’s turned me off of marriage and made me a bit angry.
      I know that my reaction is weird for someone who; while some of their church does buy into a soft-core version of some of these things; has a healthy church environment, has never been abused or mistreated by the church in anyway, or has ever been married. But, while I struggle to explain my pain, fear, and rage. I KNOW for a fact that it’s because of my disabilities and anxiety and isn’t totally unwarranted. What does that say about this kind of teaching, that it can be a trigger for people with abilities, mental health issues? I shudder to think how it would look to new Christians who have suffered through diverse, rape, or abuse, accept Jesus, start coming to church, and then hear messages like this”

      Reply
      • Bre

        Sorry! Please don’t be upset! It’s just, I’ve been going through a lot of pain as I’m trying to come to my own understand of God and stuff in this area, and it makes me feel angry and helpless and I don’t feel ready to share my feelings with anyone else in real life yet. This is one of the places where, despite age differences, I know I won’t be attacked or looked down on and can vent and see a healthy perspective. Thank you for doing what you do.

        Reply
        • Lindsey

          Oh Bre, I am so sorry for the things that you’ve suffered in life – but I know that God has used that suffering to mold you in to the accomplished, compassionate person that you are now. I understand your concern with regards to marriage. Iris difficult to know who someone really is, and even if you do – people change.
          My husband and I married as complementarians, but last year we both became egalitarian. Our social circle/family are all complementarians (in doctrine more than practice) still. However, I don’t mind what they say, my husband is my beloved best friend, and he and I can discuss how sad it is that they don’t recognize how toxic the theology is. Our marriage can witness to them.
          I read a quote once that said something like: the happier you are with your choices, the less you will care about whether or not other people are.” Obviously, that can be used in a bad or toxic way – but it helped me (a people pleaser) to step in to my own self confidence a bit more.
          Blessings to you.

          Reply
          • Bre

            Thank you so much 💜. Your reply really helped. My issue is I just get really overwhelmed and too focused on the “big picture” and the negative stuff. I’m just a very nervous and scared person in general some areas. I’m trying to change and be better at calming myself and taking stuff to God, but it’s a process. I just tend to feel overwhelmed by the negative stuff and the people who have hearts and clearly have no desire to change. Funny you mention egalitarianism…I wholly identify with that stance because I was reading everything I could get my hands on on this topic over the summer. That’s how I found Sheila, because a woman linked a post on….modesty? Legalism? That’s what helped me, because I realized that God’s will isn’t going to contradict natural reality and isn’t going to require jumps through weird hoops to make sense; the actual data on sex and marriages cleared things up for me. I guess the pain and anger has now hit. But I’m trying to figure out what God wants me to do about it, if anything for the moment. But anyway, thank you for your kindness; it really did help calm and comfort me.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Bre, you’re angry because of injustice. You don’t have to have experienced that injustice in a personal way to be angry; you’re just righteously angry. Many people who weren’t slaves fought for the repeal of slavery because they were righteously angry. In many ways, you’re carrying the imago dei here and being an image bearer of Christ when you are angry about the very things He is. Don’t despair!
        And keep fighting. It is millennials, I believe, who will change the church. It is millennials who will bring us away from power, prestige, and money and back to the feet of Jesus and serving one another and loving one another. Do not despise your youth. Do not despise the fact that you are still single. God is raising up in you a prophetic voice; keep speaking. Keep praying. And please know that not all people believe as Eggerichs does. They really don’t. Most Christians honestly and humbly follow Jesus. Find people like that, and you will be in a good place!

        Reply
        • Bre

          Sheila,
          THANK YOU!
          It’s just hard when I read different stuff on Christian news websites where they say that people in the church need to stop saying that they think that they can learn from the younger generations because the older one is the one that is mature and needs to guide them to righteousness because they are trying to rebuild the church to suit their unbiblical desires. It’s like people seriously have the heads down in the sand! It’s like you said way up this thread, the loudest voices are the ones that manage to get themselves in the spotlight and accepted.
          I’m trying to hold onto that hope, despite my pessimism and fear, because I can see some some things slowly changing in multiple ways and the church/Christians have had issues and gotten stuff wrong literally since the New testament and Jesus’s church is still standing! Most of Pauls letters are him going off on different churches for allowing sin, discrimination, selfishness, and false teaching to creep in, after all!
          And I really do appreciate your kindness; it made me feel…I guess the “warm fuzzy” feeling…to be told that I’m angry at injustice. I’ve never really thought of myself as being that kind of person, but it’s really good to hear, because isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing as Christians? Being on fire for Jesus and passionate about the spreading of the Gospel and the ending of injustice? Thanks you so much for being you and doing what you are doing to shine the light of Jesus into the junk and help people find healing💜

          Reply
    • Charlotte Schneider

      Sheila, THANK YOU. This letter is so well-written and articulate. It is shocking and shameful that they have not responded. I am in full support of your position and I stand with you!
      A couple years ago, Focus on the Family was a big encouragement to me during a dark time in my life, even though I did not agree with much of their teaching. However, since you have brought their purposeful, stubborn refusal to acknowledge or distance themselves from such erroneous teaching, I have removed them from my life entirely. I cannot and will not stand by any organization that ignores or promotes the abuse of women. Having grown up in an extremely conservative, patriarchal church, I’ve seen enough abuse, disrespect, and gaslighting of women to sicken me for a lifetime. I’m so excited for your upcoming books, and will gladly speak up with you to “set the captives free”.

      Reply
  82. Karen

    This evening I was thinking about what it would take or when we would start to see people openly calling out and calling in to question the sorts of institutions that guard harmful ideas, then I opened up your blog. Great letter, and thank you!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Let’s keep it going! Keep sharing! People need to see it, and then maybe more will see.

      Reply
  83. Nicole C. Keller

    I was raised under my mother and around many, many women who are staunch “Love & Respect” advocates, since they love the praise they get from others, who view them as “perfect” women. It ruined my life.
    I have determined to be a woman who upholds truth and love. God hates fakes and He hates when His so-called “believers” lie about what “He” said. I pray God will bring swift and heavy judgement on every person – men and women alike – who are in support of this book, fully aware of it’s destructive influence.
    As Jesus taught, if you lead an unsuspecting “little one” astray, it would be BETTER for a millstone to be hung around your lying neck, and be drowned!

    Reply
  84. Chelsea

    Thank you, thank you. For so long, the concepts in this book didn’t sit well with me and more than one time I was told it was because it was my sinful nature as a woman rebelling against the “Godly” message. Thank you for dissecting this and calling it out for what it really is. FOTF: I pray you’ll listen.

    Reply
  85. Denise

    Thank you Sheila for the work that went into this post. I feel the response by Focus on the Family shows their true colors….not an organization I have respect for.
    I agree with most of the commenters here. I also feel the book is very one dimensional…there are other elements besides simply respecting your husband that go into a healthy marriage.
    Bad marriage teaching is often hearing the wrong message over and over. In smaller ways I feel the book repeats harmful messages I have heard elsewhere. I don’t know Eggerichs or his wife. However reading the book you get the impression that Eggerichs simply refuses to do the smallest things(not be a slob) simply to make her life easier or just to make her happy. How weary she must feel.
    While he doesn’t directly say so he makes his wife sound selfish for being frustrated about the sloppiness of Eggerichs and his son. Women are often shamed in bad marriage teachings for having their own needs and wants.

    Reply
  86. E

    Thank you so much for sharing! Our words have influence and it’s important for authors and organizations to be aware and accountable!

    Reply
  87. Pamela

    FOTF: Wake up! And fess up. It’s not too late. Yet.
    Sheila: Thank you for your ministry. May the Lord continue to bless you and make his face shine upon you and give you peace.

    Reply
  88. Chris

    I am really starting to reassess the whole institution of marriage. A lot of the comments above contain the “i am so much happier since i divorced line”. Even this blog has a post called “Why I am against divorce but pro-remarriage. Sheila, you know I love you but there is a fair amount of semantics gymnastics that go into having that make sense. And think of the wording “till death do us part” like who really believes that anymore? Now its “till death do us part” or “until he sees porn” or until she “doesn’t respect me Love&Respect style”. I have been in a sexless marriage for over 8 years now i think. Some might consider that abusive. I don’t think it is for one main reason: it trivializes real abuse and i think the word “abuse” gets thrown around too much. I made a vow before God. And I plan on honoring it. That said, as a part of my reassement, I am not sure that I would recommend marriage to young people. I think that marriage is not for everyone and that a lot of people are misled as to what it really is. Its largely sacrificial love. Again look at the words “till death” Thats a warning people! And then we actually ask the bride and groom “do you take this person to be your spouse” most people probably don’t know that christianity is the only faith that asks both participants this question. So what does this have to do with our old buddy Emmerson? Well too many people go into marriage expecting it to be one thing, turns out to be something else, so they go looking for advice and find this trash. If only we told the truth to young people upfront about marriage, we would have fewer marriages but they would be happier.

    Reply
    • Amy

      Chris – I was in an abusive marriage where I was raped, emotionally beat down, and was to the point of considering suicide. I gutted it out as long as I could going the “respect him” and “you made a vow” route. I met my now ex-husband at church where we both served in children’s ministry. It took years after marrying him to realize that what he presented himself as was just a façade. The church is finally waking up to the reality that we have some very entitled men out there who are quite willing to use their wives as objects to fulfill their selfish, bent desires. The wife isn’t sinning by putting a stop to it; the husband is sinning by engaging in that behavior in the first place. If a divorce is what it takes to stop the husband from abusing his wife, then a divorce needs to happen. The problem is that we have too many people who divorce for frivolous reasons and it muddies the water for those of us who really do need a divorce to help protect us from an evil man.

      Reply
      • Nathan

        Amy, I’m so sorry that this happened to you, but I hope that you’re in a place of healing right now, and like you, I hope that we’re finally (if slowly) waking up to this.

        Reply
    • Lisa

      I agree with you that, especially in Evangelical circles, young people are raised up assuming that they will get married. It’s almost a scandal if someone doesn’t want to get married. A 30-year-old who is not married and not engaged to be married has to CONSTANTLY fight off well-meaning attempts to set them up on dates. Marriage is not the goal of the Christian life. It’s okay to be single. Some people are happier that way. I have 5 children. One has stated repeatedly that he will never get married. I always tell him, “Okay.” But others try to give him a sly smile and say, “you’ll change your mind some day!” Maybe he will, maybe he won’t. Either way is okay. I’m really fed up with the doctrine of marriage for all.

      Reply
    • Matilda

      I think maturity has a lot to do with it. There are rare examples of young people having enough maturity to get married young, but the majority of people aren’t mature enough and should wait. You are never too old to marry, but you are often to young too.
      I know fertility is a factor for women, but again, maybe we put way to much emphasis on having children…not everybody should.

      Reply
  89. Kris Mays

    I commend you for your bravery and I am with you. THANK YOU for standing up for women and victims.

    Reply
  90. KellyK

    Thank you Sheila for speaking out on this! I read Love and Respect. Thought..hmmm, ok. So all I have to do is give my husband sex? That’s it? What about my needs? Yeah, this book is toxic and it needs to be pointed out to the world!
    It’s a shame FOTF & Dr. Eggrich doesn’t see this as problematic.

    Reply
    • Leslie

      Dr. Emerson Eggerichs conflates coddling with respect.

      Reply
  91. Heather

    Sheila, thank you again for standing up for what is right and for speaking out when it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening or responding. I appreciate all you have done for my marriage and the marriages of your audience.

    Reply
  92. Ash

    I love how your blog assists me in having great conversations with my kids. If your readers pass on to our children how these books and ways of thinking are wrong, that alone will have a huge blessing on future marriages. God is using you!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      That is so true, Ash. We don’t need to have a huge platform to make a difference. If all of us simply try to spare our family members, friends, and church communities from this harmful teaching and recommend safe options instead, think about the hundreds of marriages that could be saved so much trouble and heartache.

      Reply
  93. Nathan

    > > Dr. Emerson Eggerichs conflates coddling with respect.
    A very good point. Respect doesn’t mean just let your spouse do whatever they want with no boundaries.

    Reply
  94. Michelle

    This is the main idea that has been spread in many churches. This idea that women have no voice and aren’t meant to be heard is the main reason I no longer read Christian materials or go to church. It’s honestly sad how many women believe this stuff. I hope your article will open up their eyes.

    Reply
  95. Nathan

    I wonder if a lot of this has its roots in the misinterpretation of “original sin” with Adam and Eve. While translations are a bit different, the essence of the story is that the serpent talked Eve into eating the fruit, then she gave some to Adam, and he ate it, too. When God called them out on it, Adam said that Eve gave her the fruit and he ate it, and Eve said that the serpent tricked her.
    Over time, though, some people tell it as if Eve used her “wicked womanly wiles” to trick Adam into eating it. From there came the idea that all women were forever cursed from the taint of original sin. The woman was always the wicked temptress, and the man was always the innocent (and closer to God) victim of her evil nature.
    Hopefully we can get over this wrong and harmful mindset.

    Reply
  96. Nathan

    As an aside, our church doesn’t promote this book, and that’s a good thing.

    Reply
  97. Nathan

    > > This idea that women have no voice and aren’t meant to be heard
    Part of that may stem from where Paul said that women are to be silent in church. Some sources, however, believe that Paul was speaking to one church in particular where many women would yell, interrupt, overtalk others, etc.

    Reply
  98. Nathan

    > > but it’s also easy to find ourselves trying to silence people who believe differently than we do.
    This is the second time on this thread that you’ve hinted that the people who run this website (mainly Sheila and Rebecca) are trying to prevent people like Eggerich from saying what he wants to say.
    I’ve been on this site for almost a year, and at no time have I ever seen anybody (host or poster) call for legal means to stop anybody from writing, speaking or publishing anything they want.
    Saying that the “Love and Respect” book is abusive and dangerous is NOT the same as saying “Eggerich should not be allowed to write or publish books”. He can write all the garbage he wants, we can respond with analysis and criticism, and so on.
    The best way to fight bad ideas is with good ideas, and that’s what this site does. This site does NOT try to shut down people they disagree with.
    This will be my last comment on this particular topic, since I’m getting dangerously close to political-style commentary, and that’s not the reason I come here. I have other websites where I can beat people over the head. Figuratively speaking, of course.

    Reply
  99. Kay

    Thank you for your teaching. I came to Christ later in life and was eager to do things the “right” way. I looked to resources such as “Love and Respect” to teach me how to be the perfect Christian wife. When I recoiled from messages about submission and silence I assumed it was my fleshly, sinful nature that needed subduing. I realize now it was the Holy Spirit in me that was recoiling from unbiblical teaching. Thank you for teaching me that I have the Holy Spirit in me just as much as any so-called Christian writer. My husband recently told me that if I hadn’t taken such a direct, assertive, take-no-prisoners approach to his drinking early in our marriage that he would most certainly have ended up unemployed, in jail, estranged from our children, etc. And I had always thought I had mishandled the situation because I hadn’t been more of a doormat. It turns out if I had followed Eggerich’s advice my husband would’ve been lost to alcoholism and our family would’ve been destroyed. Instead, my husband is now an amazing (and sober) husband and father. Please keep doing what you’re doing. It makes a difference.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, Kay! That’s just what we were trying to say this week, too, in our article about confronting your spouse is not a sin. Sometimes it’s just what needs to happen! I’m glad you learned that.

      Reply
    • Kim P

      Kay thank you for sharing that part of your story. I can relate in more ways than one! What you wrote confirms things that have been stirring in my heart for a long time, including the reassurance that I too have the Holy Spirit to begin with! Thankful to have come across your comment.

      Reply
      • Kay

        It seems like it should be obvious to us, but for some reason it’s easy to forget! Especially when faced with people I think of as more “mature Christians”. I’m an intelligent woman with multiple degrees, and yet I’m so quick to doubt myself in Biblical matters. Perhaps because I didn’t grow up in the Church, I still feel like a bit of an outsider. Praying that we both grow in confidence!

        Reply
  100. Kdlj

    Thank you! Thank you for raising your voice and asking questions and rallying people!
    -Hate that book!
    (Really hate most Christian marriage books)
    -hate Focus in the family
    As both book & organization are extremely harmful!
    I’ve been hurt by both!

    Reply
  101. Retha Faurie

    Bravo, Sheila, for this intelligent, caring piece of work. May God mightily use this to put an end to the abuse.
    I give you my respect (although a certain writer would say that, as a woman, you do not have a big need for it.)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Retha! 🙂

      Reply
  102. Amanda

    Sheila, thank you for being a voice for many. I am absolutely appalled that you have not received a response. It’s truly disgusting.
    I got married when I was 23 and divorced not even a year and a half later. It still haunts me and I know there’s still healing that needs to take place. I have now been happily married for almost ten years and I so wish to help be a strong voice for women in abusive situations and help them find their worth in Christ. My ex husband was a master manipulator, was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive and absolutely crushed my sense of worth. It took a lot of courage to leave and it was incredibly difficult. His family didn’t say a single word to me and I was instantly cut out.
    While I made peace with them not knowing the extent of what their son did to me, I still find it difficult at times making peace with feeling unheard by people I did reach out to and most of all dismissed and like I had done something wrong and that his actions were my fault. In particular– the church I had grown up in. After separating and moving into my own apartment, my pastor’s wife said she wished to visit and made an excuse that she wanted to bring throw pillows for a donated sofa- I knew something was up. During this visit she made it quite known that it was disappointing we were separated and steps should be taken to reunite. I told her of the abuse and that the police had been involved. She didn’t ask if I was ok, if I needed anything, didn’t say anything of support. I felt numb and like I was a horrible person and sat and listened while she prayed for him. And that was that. Later, her husband told my parents, who continued to attend the church, that my ex husband had “deceived us all” but nobody ever reached out to me. I felt like a used outcast and a “bad girl”. Those words and lack there of certainly did a number on my heart and made me question so much.
    I went on and completed my second and third degrees following my divorce (my ex husband told me I would never survive on my own and didn’t want me pursuing more education) and married a wonderful man. We have two precious miracle children. We are part of a wonderful church and I feel like it has healthy outlooks for marriage. Women are listened to and part of the flock.
    I have made it my mission to have a different future, to grow in grace and offer support and encouragement to others. To dig through the layers of crap that suffocate Truth. To believe I am not a failure and was not “disrespectful”. That it was a good thing to no longer be married to my ex husband. That “respect” did not mean continuing catering to his every wish, continue being hurt physically because “he knew best and I didn’t know what reality was”, to just essentially be silenced. To know that this was not solely my fault, to believe that I do have a sound mind and can see reality for what it is–not accepting abuse! The dynamics between spouses that “Love and Respect” teaches is NOT OK by any means and Christians involved in promoting this message will only cause absolute detriment.
    Thank you for being brave and confronting this. I have always admired your writing- it certainly has helped me over the years as I rediscovered what marriage is supposed to be.
    With love, Amanda

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much for sharing your story, Amanda! I’m so glad you got free, and your story of your church’s desertion of you is so, so tragic and makes me tear up. The burdens we are placing on abused women! The way that we shame them, because we believe the Love & Respect view of marriage rather than the Jesus view of marriage–a Saviour who cares deeply for each of His beloved. Thank you so much.

      Reply
  103. Mina

    Great job! Agreed whole-heartedly.

    Reply
  104. Lea

    Can I just say…I feel like it would be a lot easier to love a terrible/mean person than to respect them. Love is much less rational I guess? You can love a person and still put up walls and boundaries, but how could you possibly respect someone who utterly fails to do anything worthy of respect???

    Reply
  105. Nathan

    Lea, that’s one of many key points that Eggerichs seems to have missed. You can love somebody, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be their doormat and just accept everything that they do.
    Of course, to make it worse, he seems to feel that only women have to do this, while men can point out her flaws all day long!

    Reply
  106. S

    Thank you so much for sharing all that you have about this book and the damaging teachings like it. This message to get out there! It’s harmful and it’s wrong for the church to approve of spousal abuse.
    I lost respect for Focus on the Family years ago when listening to James Dobson tell mothers of teenage sons that for them to grow into strong men, we as their moms have to step aside from any role of authority. They will be emasculated if we lead them in any way. (Seriously??)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, dear. Did he really say that? The devaluing of women is just ridiculous, and, quite frankly, unChristian. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but ALL of the commands about kids obeying is to their PARENTS, not just their fathers. Sheesh.

      Reply
      • S

        Yes, he really said that. I can’t remember the exact words (it was over ten years ago) but that was the message – loud and clear. The sad thing is, now that my oldest boy is a teenager, I find those words sometimes creeping into my mind, making me doubt my parenting. Yes, Bible teaches children to obey their PARENTS. So true!
        The devaluing of women needs to stop! Jesus himself honored and appreciated women. I’m always amazed at HIS interactions with women. That speaks volumes.
        (And I apologize for my typos in my first comment. I was so incensed I couldn’t proofread two paragraphs!)

        Reply
    • Matilda

      Even Jesus did what Mary told him to do before his time, making water into wine at the wedding! God obeyed a Woman’s authority!

      Reply
  107. Amber

    Sheila,
    Thank you for your boldness to confront such a big and well-known organization as Focus on the Family. While I have enjoyed their broadcasts, I have to agree with you on your analysis (not criticisms) of Love and Respect. It’s been several years since I read it as a young 20-something but seeing the video clips you posted were astounding as to how dismissive he is towards women! And his definition of “walking away” as honorable when others will call it abusive is very much minimizing what real abuse is. I watched my mom put up with my step-dad’s verbal, emotional and financial abuse and have suffered the consequences of it so I appreciate you standing up against gaslighting such as this, especially when he is supposed to be a man of God but he is vastly misusing scripture.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Amber! I hope your mom gets help. That’s so sad. And, yes, those video clips were abominable.

      Reply
  108. Sue

    38 years ago “Eddie” as he was known then did my marriage counseling. Everything you need to know about him is summed up by two facts … he made me go before the whole board of elders and describe my “sin” (I was pregnant before we married) … and he told my parents the content of our counseling conversations without permission or request …. I’m still married to the same man, and we’ve made a good life together …. but only by the grace of God. I put up with great disrespect for years that I should have recognized and put a halt to. I have often grieved for sarah who is a truly beautiful but “minimized” woman!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      I’m so glad your marriage story is one of restoration and building something beautiful out of ashes. I’m so sorry you went through that–and I’m glad that you are in a better place now with your husband.

      Reply
      • Sue

        Thank you. It has taken a long time to realize the damage that advice and “help” caused. I appreciate so much that the environment is changing and I can still love Jesus but recognize that some pastors aren’t sharing the good news in a healthy way!

        Reply
  109. Adam

    I will be forever grateful to my wife for being my equal, standing up to me, calling me to a higher standard of love, and showing me her pain. It was through seeing the pain I caused her that I was able to change. My wife and I won this book at our marriage preparation class. Fortunately, we never read it. It only stayed on our book self until my wife decided to organize and threw it away! LOL I’m grateful to her. My wife has full permission to challenge me on my sin. I was involved in pornography before our marriage. I was raised in the purity culture. I was so mentally abused by it I began to see men as the only viable and safe relational option. I came to believe that my sexuality was dangerous to women. The worst part was in my heart I really wanted to love and follow Jesus, so I believed the purity message. So much pain…. But God was with me in my confusion and I met my wife. However, I brought pornography into our marriage. I knew it was wrong and Jesus kept working on my heart not with guilt but always with a question. “Is this how you want to live this rest of your life? I’m here. I gave you such a beautiful wife and family.” One day I answered and said no. I found a Christian counselor that specializes in sexual problems/addiction. I told my wife everything. Oh, was it painful! For both of us. But I am free now for about 5 years. I cannot imagine my wife offering the kind of respect discussed in this book nor would I want her to. My marriage to her calls me to a higher standard and I am a better man for it. Very rarely does a day go by that I do not thank her and God for my freedom from pornography. It was like living under an awful spell or living in a mental prison that no one else could see. That the author would take pornography use lightly is awful for both the men and women reading this book. Also, I’m wondering if the kind of respect discussed in this book causes men to be increasingly abusive because on a subconscious level, they resent their wives for not changeling them and calling them to a higher standard. Attention ALL WOMEN everywhere. You do not have to put up with abuse and addiction and I can guarantee you Jesus is not asking you to. Be willing to confront and leave. There is a chance he will become the man you want and need when challenged. These are not easy things to do I’m sure, but he loves and cares for you and your soul first and then the marriage.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      What an amazing comment, Adam! Thank you. I love how you’ve pointed out that there is a higher standard–that marriage should make us better people. Exactly! I’m so glad that happened for you, and that you’ve emerged from under legalism and found the real Jesus. I’m glad that you have a great counselor, too.

      Reply
  110. Sarah

    Thank you for writing these and detailing everything in one place. I don’t have time to read much on the blog but have listened to your podcast all year about this and have been heartbroken. I plan on saving this page Incase I ever go to a church that wants to use Love and Respect as teaching.
    I feel torn right now with focus on the family and their support for this. If they believe these things it makes me not want to use their other resources. I’ve used their book series on teaching little ones about sex and they’ve so far been helpful and I work at a CPC who uses their pregnancy and abortion resources. If they don’t change their stance, does anyone have suggestions for other resources I can use, at least for my boys?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      We’ve got a great course on talking to your boys about puberty, called The Whole Story!

      Reply
  111. Micah

    I received this book along with other awful and damaging “Christian” marriage books for my wedding as a gift. I learned right away how much I hated it. I love how you have dissected the deep message of abuse and neglect in this book. I am so disturbed by the fact that Focus on the Family endorses this book and this author. Of course I am appalled by many of the parenting and marriage resources Focus on the Family promotes and supports.
    The underlying message of this book that I got from it, is that women should be happy with condescending “love” from their superior spouse. We should NOT expect men to have any SELF CONTROL. Zero. “Men will be men”. No matter how they behave, we should strip naked on demand, serve them, and give them unearned respect.
    Thank you for bringing up this topics and breaking down these damaging books.

    Reply
  112. Sandy Beach

    One characteristic of abusive systems is that they refuse to even acknowledge receiving communication from those who question, appeal or warn. I see it over and over with abusers and abusive systems.
    Nothing is quite as contemptuous and invalidating than pretending you and your voice are not heard. Every domestic abuse victim understands how ignoring is a powerful tool of control. We also see it in the SBC, Willow Creek and other situations where inconvenient people are simply ignored. Failing to respond to you reveals so much about Focus!
    Ironically, I bet more women access Focus materials than men even though so much of the material is not in the best interest of a woman’s emotional, mental, spiritual or physical health.
    Thanks for speaking truth even though it is not in your best interests career-wise maybe. But your integrity is intact which is no small thing!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I definitely think it is more women than men, Sandy. And if those women see this article, and hear about this, and realize that Focus is not safe, then many will be spared. So that’s my goal: even if Focus doesn’t listen, listeners will understand the danger they really pose as they stand behind and promote things like this.

      Reply
  113. Rebecca

    I had to stop reading. It was disgusting to hear this man’s teaching. After seeing him on the video I was most definitely offended. Emotional abuse is nothing to take lightly. I received counseling off and on before deciding to divorce my husband. I reached out to Focus on the Family for advice on a few occasions. One time I was told that my husband’s behavior would not change , and that I would have to take action. I was not told to be passive. I believe I first heard of Leslie Vernick, through FOTF. It was her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage that God used to bring some clarity to my situation. The Boundaries books have also been very helpful to me. I am saddened that FOTF has not responded. I talked with a counselor from FOTF just yesterday. I have listened for years and highly respected them, thinking of them as a trusted friend. After reading this I don’t know what to think. I am seeking truth for myself and my 2 children. If anyone reads my comment please pray we find healing and a community of people who love God and will love us. I feel so conflicted in my faith . Thanks:)

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Rebecca, I’m so glad you’re reaching out to others for help. Some have certainly found Focus on the Family a helpful resource, but many have also been told to return to abusive husbands, and so it really depends on what counselor you get. I’ll pray that you find a good church which is the real body of Christ which can come alongside you.

      Reply
  114. Heather

    The L&R program dehumanized me as a woman. It taught me, in effect, to be a voiceless slave to my husband, to sacrifice myself to him completely. To ignore my intuition and discernment of the possibility that real evil was present. It taught me that it was primarily the responsibility of the wife to achieve a happy marriage by practicing unconditional respect. Any problems in the marriage could be corrected by repenting of my selfishness or lack of respect/appreciation for him. I prayed for hours begging God to show me where I was failing and fasted weekly. I took 100% responsibility for my failings as well as his. This is not biblical.
    My “Christian” marriage was highly covertly abusive, incredibly difficult to describe. My now ex-husband’s behaviours indicate sociopathy. These individuals are rampant within church settings as emotional and spiritual abuse are given tacit approval by leaders, and flourish because of teachings such as the L&R program. Our pastor highly recommended the book, which I already had, and lent us the video series. Ex husband loved it.
    The cruelty I experienced in this marriage took a severe toll on my health. In 11 years I was diagnosed with 10 different illnesses. None have resolved. My doctor had no answers for the deterioration. I became so ill I could no longer work. I’ve been on disability ever since. I developed C-PTSD. This occurs when under the abusive domination of someone you believe is more powerful than you, are dependent upon, and can’t escape. My situation exactly.
    I see a trauma therapist but can no longer afford $270 /week so progress is slow. I have no benefits since I can’t work. I don’t attend church. It’s too triggering to hear marriage sermons or abusive pastors like John Piper and John MacArthur quoted. I try and picture a loving God, in my mind and see the ex husband’s face, smirking, enjoying my suffering. Very few people understand the devastation wives like me have experienced. We are misunderstood or disbelieved and isolated. We lose our health, faith, friends, hope.
    Tell me again FOTF and EE how wonderful a resource this is. Tell me that this is Jesus.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Heather, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You’re right–the body keeps score. And you’re suffering tremendously. May they listen to you.

      Reply
      • Heather

        Thank you. And for being a powerful voice for those of us who have no real platform.

        Reply
    • Nathan

      Heather, I’m so sorry this has all happened to you. I’m praying for you.
      You’re right. A wife being a voiceless slave and having everything the husband does be her fault is NOT following Jesus. Hopefully, more and more will realize this and speak out against it.

      Reply
      • Heather

        Thank you Nathan. I really appreciate that you let me know.

        Reply
  115. Marna

    O Sheila, thank you from the bottom of my heart for fighting this fight.
    I’m from Europe and this book is not very know here as far as I know, but boy does this way of thinking live among a lot of people!
    Me as well has thought a lot of these stuff and was stuck in to a marriage for 4 years because of it.
    I get sick to read that some one would promote this as healthy!
    It breaks you, make you feel worthless and leave you lifeless …. How can anyone say this is healthy for ANYBODY? good or bad marriage stay away from this stuff!
    I’m divorced from this man, I desided that if I have to be an outcast well fine but I need to get out or I would be (litterly) dead and so would be our daughter.
    I’m now married to a Lovely Chrianstian golden Man who treats me like I’m a treasure and who loves me like he loves himself And whom I love accordingly… I’m still going through a lot of stuff getting over my past.. an thought biblical counseling and reading almost every thing I can from you I’m getting better and better…..
    But boy when you get a man that Loves and Honer the Lord and wants to live according to His will…Who wants you as a partner who respects you and take you for your worth….. Marriage can be wonderful! Hard work nonetheless but wonderful!
    God bless you Sheila for this fight! I will be praying that you reach more and more people!
    Focus on the Family…. Hear the sound of reason…. Repent. Or you will be juged accordingly.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Marna. I’m so sorry for what you went through, but I’m so glad you’re in a better place now, and so is your daughter.

      Reply
  116. C

    Our Bible study group did this book several years ago. We went into not knowing anything about it other than it was a popular marriage book. We were so excited. We ended up horrified by what we read. Eggerichs spends the whole book playing the victim and encouraging all men to follow suit. I am married to a believer who truly loves me (and I, him) and we have always communicated well. But he grew up with a passive aggressive mother who is the eternal victim. It has always been a struggle for him to not follow in her footsteps. Not only did this book give him permission for this behavior but it tried to teach him this is how he *should* be. And, as for me, until I realized I was reading lies, all this book did was make me feel bad about myself, like there was something inherently wrong with me. It did not spur me on to change or to good deeds, like godly conviction does. It just felt like a “you’ll never be a good wife” anchor. Praise God for the Holy Spirit, who spoke loud and clear that this message was flat out wrong. This book could have done some serious damage. You don’t have to be in an abusive situation for this book to be harmful.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Wow, C, that’s powerful. I’m so glad you and your husband listened to the Holy Spirit’s guidance on this.

      Reply
  117. Melissa W

    I’ve debated commenting because I have never read the book or been a supporter of Focus on the Family or a consumer of their products. I was raised to think for myself and that there was nothing wrong with questioning an author, pastor, etc. So, with that said, I knew this book was wrong without turning a page. The subtitle itself tells you everything you need to know about what the contents will be as it labels respect as a “need” and love as a “want/desire”. You can see where this is already going as needs are non-negotiable (food, water, shelter, etc) and desires are not necessary (size of your house, type of car you drive, eating out at restaurants). So when the subtitle labeled respect as a non-negotiable need and love an an unnecessary desire I could see how un-biblical even that line of thinking was so I passed on reading it. The author, not the Bible, is labeling respect as a need…huge red flag if you ask me. It’s already set up to tell women that what they want doesn’t really matter just by the use of the terminology he associates with each. However, if you read the Bible at all Jesus never even talks about respect but talks about love constantly. Love the Lord your God, love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemies. Even verses like “faith, hope love but the greatest is love”. As this series has run on your blog and I have seen some of the actual content, my assumptions about the book were confirmed. I am so thankful that I was raised to examine and test everything for myself and that questioning those who seem to be talking authoritatively about the Bible was encouraged. Shame on you Focus on the Family for promoting this toxic teaching and keep up the good work Sheila!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Melissa. Yes, indeed, the subtitle itself should have told Focus on the Family that this is a dangerously slanted resource. But people have not shown discernment, and it has revealed itself in a big way.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      When I first saw the subtitle I assumed the author just had a bad editor. That it slipped by without anyone really noticing what it said. Then I read the book. The subtitle is there because he MEANS it. Mean need respect.

      Reply
  118. Carla Eble

    You are too kind. This is not only bad teaching, but it is evil. The first commandment tells us to have no god above Yahweh. This teaching promotes idolatry by placing the husband in the place of God. It contradicts Christs’ teaching to submit mutually in love and replaces it with Lucifers’, “Non servium.” They are building up the wrong kingdom and have much to answer for both to the women that are ground under the wheel, and for the pride it inflames in men. It is a very heavy millstone about their necks.

    Reply
  119. Autumn

    I haven’t supported them or used them as resource for a long time but this just solidified my decision to never look to FOTF or recommend them as a resource for marriages, family, or children. Their silence and continuing to back L&R clearly shows the stance they have and apparently profit from a toxic book sales matters more than the harm this has and will continue to cause.
    I have read your books and blog Sheila for awhile now and never commented before but following the letter and this series I felt so compelled to speak up. Thank you for being a healthy and safe resource for both women, men, and marriages and thank you for speaking up about how toxic this book and teaching is!!
    I am thankful to be in a healthy and equal marriage with a husband who BOTH loves and respects me as a human being, as his wife, and cares about my needs/feelings as his partner for life…..and yet I do wish I could go back in time and yank L & R out of my hands before I read it as a newlywed 6 yrs ago it would have saved us so much heartache and the book did an immense amounts of damage to my faith as a daughter of Christ. This is all coming from a healthy and non abusive marriage as well so I can’t even begin to imagine how dangerous it would be in an abusive or even borderline unhealthy marriage.
    After going through premarital counseling with a pastor who had similar views to EE and said that every decision in marriage was up to my husband if he wanted my advice or not he made the final say regardless. Needless to say that and other messages didn’t sit well with us and we left that church shortly after our wedding and thankfully have found a new church who does not believe in that twisted and one sided view of marriage.
    My husband never read L &R with me and he grew up with a very egalitarian view on marriage but me wanting to better our marriage blindly followed along with a recommendation from FOTF’s site for L & R thinking it would help some minor communication and expectation issues we were having.
    Instead this book along with a few other Christian marriage books of similar views lead me to a point of crisis in my faith and falling away from Jesus. It caused so much anger and frustration towards God and even hardening in my heart towards my husband. It made me feel like because I was a women I was just an after thought to God and didn’t matter as much as a man. I also felt like I was sinning if I called my husband out in love on something selfish he did or if I didn’t agree with how he handled things based on the teachings in the book. It actually made our communication much worse because I started with holding my feelings from my husband since that was pointed out to be nagging. I could not understand how I could continue to follow a God who apparently valued women so little that every problem in marriage seemed to point back to it being my fault as a wife cause I wasn’t respecting my husband and that my needs didn’t matter as much as my husbands. I’m so thankful my husband through all this inner turmoil I was having continued to probe wanting to know what was going on in my heart and why I was withdrawing.
    It has taken a long time, many open discussions with my husband, lots or prayer and researching to make me finally realize that this toxic view of marriage presented in that book and others was NOT at all what God designed marriage to be, what he wanted for me as his daughter who he loves so much and cares for no less than any man, and not in any way shape or form what my husband wanted in our marriage either! I am so thankful for finding your books and blog they have been a changing point for me in my faith and a healthy source of positive advice in our marriage. Both my husband and I love listening to the podcasts.
    Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Autumn, thank you for leaving your story! And thank you for showing how the book can take an otherwise healthy marriage and make it worse–and especially for showing how the book can make people question God and question their faith. That really is one of the saddest parts. I pray that Focus will listen; and if they do not, then I pray that more will see how damaging this is, and will abandon them accordingly so that they lose influence.

      Reply
  120. Emma

    Dear Focus on the Family,
    Many others have shared their story, of how materials you have recommended have hurt them. And so I must ask: if this is the view of marriage you believe Christianity should be teaching, is it any wonder Christianity seems to be losing the cultural war in the US? We tell ourselves that it’s because we refuse to compromise, that we stand up for what is right in a culture that hates Truth. And, perhaps, that does play a part. But amid our desperation to be a stone of righteousness, we must make certain that what we are fighting for is actually WORTHY of being fought for; that we are fighting for Christ, not Christian Culture. Ideas that misuse the Bible to tear-down a human’s value based on their gender are NOT worth fighting for, and are ironic as we insist that every human is valuable as we fight against abortion.
    Focus on the Family, you do not speak for me. Not as you are. So please, please, I beg of you: consider these stories that are being told. Consider the concerned emails you are receiving. Take them to the Lord in humility and honesty. Your witness WILL be strengthened by it.
    Please, don’t compromise Christianity by clinging to beliefs that Jesus never intended us to carry in the first place. Please, don’t give your listeners/readers “burdens too great to bear” in the name of Jesus.
    Jesus came to set us free; not to give us greater captivity. And that is what books like Love & Respect offer: captivity.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Amen, Emma! Thank you. And thank you for pointing us back to Jesus and the cross. There is no point in fighting a culture war if we aren’t actually fighting for Jesus. And what they are doing is adding things that Jesus never condoned. He is our one mediator; He is our saviour–both for women and for men. Get the gospel right, Focus on the Family!

      Reply
    • wifeofasexaddict

      Hear, hear, Emma!

      Reply
  121. Alicia

    I wholeheartedly agree with Sheila on her stances with the Love and Respect book!!! Its teachings are not all biblical and Focus on the Family should immediately review what all has been brought to attention about WHY they should step back and review this harmful book!!! It says a lot about Focus on the Family if they continue to ignore this.
    If I could, I would ask them, “where is your ‘focus’ if it’s not focusing on the ‘family’ and acknowledging how this is NOT godly advice?” Is their focus on saving face? Not upsetting this male author?
    It’s all so upsetting…
    I will NOT continue to support them if they continue to ignore this extremely important issue!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Alicia.

      Reply
  122. Jen

    I was recommended this book by a friend when I confided to her about my husband’s pornography addiction. I went to Amazon to read the reviews and decided against it. I am so thankful I did not buy it.
    Thank you for everything you are doing on this blog. I’m amazed at how God is using you. I discovered your blog late one night when I was desperately seeking help about my husband’s addiction. God knew what he was doing when He led me to your blog. Thank you Sheila!
    I 100% stand with you. Thank you for saying everything I thought about this book – just by reading the reviews.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so glad God brought you here, Jen! So glad. Thank you.

      Reply
  123. KJ

    Oh, my gosh! I started the Love and Respect as a self help study with my husband. After the initial review using the workbook I expressed my sincere dislike of authors understanding of women. He insisted we started it and we should carry on. We dutifully sat down for appx 4 Sunday afternoons; as my insides twisted further each week I protested.
    It solidified my assumptions of narcissistic abuse and last Match I moved out- threw the book directly in the trash and filed for divorce. The book is trash and may a church recommending it take notice. Christ died on the cross for our salvation and allow us to live in freedom. ALL SINS- ALL PEOPLE.
    Pray for the authors soul, he is not seeking Christ in my opinion.
    Thank you for your public rebuke.

    Reply
  124. Anna

    Sheila, you are amazing. Speaking that truth is so important.
    Feet of Jesus, there.
    I live in the UK and hadn’t heard of the book… I’m am shocked and disgusted by the content that you quote. Cannot believe that book is being recommend as healthy for marriages!!! God’s blessings on you and your team in your work and efforts for the cause.
    I pray you will all know him close with you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Anna.

      Reply
  125. C R

    I picked up this book several months ago at Goodwill because I have seen it suggested in Christian circles quite often.. After the introduction my husband and I decided it was not Biblical and put it away, never to be opened again.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      You’ve got great discernment!

      Reply
  126. Marie Moisant

    We stand with Shiela firmly. Thank you all for the light you are in this dark time! It is so sad to see so many people just stick their head in the sand while fear keeps them from the truth about the harm in L&R. Keep praying. Things are moving toward the light in many many hearts.

    Reply
  127. Andrea Andrews

    Thank you for writing this.
    The mindset of abuse (not just physical but emotional, sexual, financial, and spiritual) being the woman’s fault and she needs to just submit more or respect her husband more, is prevalent in the church, not just this book.
    We can and MUST do better.

    Reply
  128. Karla Wren

    Thank you for being brave and taking on this issue. My children and I have also been harmed by his message and other messages like this. While I still love Jesus, I no longer participate in any organized religion near me and do not subscribe to Focus on the family, even though it was a major resource for much of my early marriage and child raising. I follow very few Christian leaders anymore, choosing more inspirational and moral teachers, and choosing to use my own interpretation of the Bible and moral instincts to live my life and raise my children. I think your message that focus on the family has a responsibility to provide helpful versus harmful resources is spot on. Beyond just sharing your message, what can I do to help?

    Reply
  129. Mamak

    I read this book when I was struggling to know how to confront my husband about our life and how it was going and I read it and changed my whole way of thinking. I stopped “nagging” and I became a doormat for him. It drove me deeper into my dark mental health struggles cause no matter how much “respect” I gave him, he never responded with more love, just more taking advantage of. Our relationship is a bit of a mess and I am always fearful of bringing up things that need to be addressed and my mental health always makes me second guess myself. I feel broken and brain washed. Sheila’s arguments help me understand that these ideas come a lot from what I have read in this book almost 9 years ago.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Mamak, my heart hurts for you. I’m so sorry. Jesus never meant for that burden to be placed on you. Jesus cares about you, and He wants your husband looking more like Christ, too, not enabled to be even more selfish. Please read our iron sharpening iron series about how to confront your spouse. It’s okay to speak up. It can actually be the godliest thing you can do!

      Reply
  130. Sheree

    Sheila, thank you. So greatly appreciate the time you’ve taken to compile all of this information and post. Standing with you in solidarity. I will NEVER resort to or refer any resource (s) from focus on the family. Praying our words don’t fall into the abyss & Jesus is glorified. Thanks again for all you do.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Sheree. Praying with you!

      Reply
  131. Nathan

    > > no matter how much “respect” I gave him, he never responded with more love, just more taking advantage of.
    This seems to be a common pattern. “Respect” (the L&R kind) only enables bad behavior and makes it worse.
    Praying for all who have been hurt by this

    Reply
  132. Nathan

    There used to be a concept called “Tough Love”. It was usually centered around parents of troubled kids, but then again I have to admit that many men act like kids.
    The idea was basically “I love you, but I’m not going to enable or tolerate your bad behavior”.
    L&R acts like “respect” is “do whatever you want, and I’ll never say anything because it must be my fault”. Not good.

    Reply
  133. Bethany

    Thank you, Sheila, for speaking up for the vulnerable and the abused (wives) and speaking truth into the mess propagated by L&R.

    Reply
  134. Leah

    We went for marriage counseling at a local Baptist church and the only advice she gave after listening to our story was for us to read this book. Needless to say, we sought help elsewhere soon after. It sickens me to think of how many troubled marriages are just dismissed. How weakly the church provides for her own. In the last decade I have come to trust Focus on the Family less and less.

    Reply
  135. Loriann

    I agree with you Sheila. Thanks for writing this. We will be suspending our monthly support of FOTF.

    Reply
  136. George VanWoudenberg

    I am very thankful to you Sheila, for the tremendous amount of work you have done by honestly and objectively critiquing the “Love & Respect” book. I really appreciate your frank and poignant facts that you put forward in explaining the to your readers the danger and toxicity of the overall message this book espouses as being the will of God – how wrong!
    I am a Christian man, and although my wife and I too have had to work through issues in our 43 blessed years of marriage, I am thankful that we were never introduced to this book as a help for dealing with issues. I am going to check our church library to see if it has this book on the shelves If it does, there will be a discussion with our church library committee – for sure!
    I appreciate the work you do, and I have read some of your books. Kudos!
    I encourage you to continue to search the scriptures so that the beautiful gift (God’s gift) of marriage and sexuality within the covenant of marriage may more and more be understood and practiced and enjoyed by all who benefit from the work your team is doing. God Bless.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much, George. I appreciate that very much!

      Reply
  137. Kate

    Whoa. I took my husband to marriage counselling at our church several years ago, and this book and an affiliated counsellor were what we used. I admitted to feeling sexual assaulted (not having my “no” listened to, painful things continued, having my head forcefully held, etc) and was reprimanded by the counsellor. The message that respect and sex must be neverending from me, or fidelity an/or the end of the marriage would be entirely my fault was loud and clear. I submitted written concerns to the church, but received no response. As far as I know, the same man and the same curriculum are still being used. Thank you for voicing these concerns – I thought I was alone in my shame and indignation, and in my inability to see God’s plan in this “love and respect”.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Kate, that’s awful. What you’re describing is marital rape. It really matters. I’m so sorry.

      Reply
      • Kendra

        I did not see the harm in this book when I first read it. I actually felt like it helped me in some ways. However, I may have read into it what I wanted to believe the author was saying. Because surely this highly recommended book was not teach anything contrary to God’s word. My initial ignorance. I’m a dont throw the baby out with the bath water kind of thinker. I did this book in a women’s bible study. Not one of those women spoke up about any harm it was doing to them despite being asked many times what their thoughts were. Now that I think about it this could be the reason many of them didn’t even finish reading it. If it’s not the bible there is always room for error we will not be perfect until Christ returns. I just wished more people felt bold enough to speak up before this book and other like it reached millions and set thousands on an awful path. I know alot of us depend on our leaders to direct us, but again none of us have arrived. We need to challenge our leadership when we see things don’t line up with God’s word. Thank you Sheila for this. I only wished my sisters in christ had spoken up. Based on the overwhelming evidence that this book did alot of harm I can only imagine that it hurt at least one of them. The question that alot of pastors face or should I say are not willing to face is how do you come back from something like this? Do you take all the books back, do you offer replacement? How do face the music so to speak? I’m thinking the apostle Paul could help us with that!

        Reply
  138. Leigh

    Thank you Sheila! for speaking out clearly against the harmful resources promoted in the name of “christianity” that are anything but the love, freedom and work of Jesus. Although this book wasn’t one that had been read here (although it did make its way onto the shelf), many, many others along the same vein had been, by me and kept me stuck, trying to please him and “do the right thing in God’s eyes” by these false teachings. (He never read anything, he came by his entitled views all by himself, and what he picked up through the grapevine.)
    FOTF could do much good for families, and show the true nature of Christ, by standing up against these harmful teachings, and truly helping victims of abuse in the home, instead of enabling abusive men and blame shaming victims/ women for everything under the sun.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Leigh!

      Reply
  139. unmowngrass

    I always try to read things with balance, and never to ascribe to malice what is better explained by ignorance. So from that perspective, I can see that there could potentially be some distance between a man who is “harsh and unloving” (but has a good heart underneath — perhaps after a period of abnormal stress, for example), and a man who moves that step further to take a sadistic pleasure in actually slowly destroying his wife. Not much distance, necessarily, but certainly some. In at least some cases. (And that Eggerichs MAY have been ignorant of the latter.)
    That being said, I couldn’t even watch that video clip all the way through, all 3 minutes of it, because it gave me the heebie-jeebies. That untellable sense of “Get away from this!! QUICK!!” That might be God speaking through the Holy Spirit but might just be my own brain and gut instinct, and for these purposes it doesn’t really matter which. The video gave me the heebie-jeebies, and I had to stop watching it.
    I am surprised that this is so, ahem, bent, towards Focus on the Family, rather than directed to asking Eggerichs to withdraw the book itself — because surely it’s not the only place promoting it? — but I don’t really know anything about Focus on the Family as an organisation (nor do I particularly care about finding out, honestly — I have enough going on in my life), so… whatever.
    I am not married, have no plans to get married and am in fact, solidly single for the foreseeable future, so I really don’t see myself needing a marriage support book at all, any time soon. (Yes, I know that I’m not really the target audience for Sheila’s blog either. But I’ve been reading for a long time, from when the above was not true.) If, however, things change and I do need a marriage support book in the future at all… well, there are a lot of other resources out there. I don’t think Love & Respect will be making it to the top of the list for a long, long time. Probably never.
    I can vouch for Sheila. I have been reading this blog for a long time, so have a good feel for where her heart is with this ministry, and how important a truly Godly, compassionate perspective is in her mission to reach those hurting in their marriages and relationships. (Specifically where she gets most of her traffic, so I understand, which means that she is saying things that hurting people want to click on rather than skip over, which I think is important to note.) Of course I don’t agree with every single thing she ever said, and in fact can often be one of the dissenting voices in the crowd, as we tease out the minutiae in the way we all live our lives under God’s care, but, listen to me: I CAN vouch for her heart. And if I ever did need a recommendation for a marriage support book, even leaving aside her own resources, Sheila is the first person I would ask.
    I don’t really know how a resource that people read and then think about with their own minds and pray about themselves under the loving guidance of the Holy Spirit, can then be overtly blamed for causing direct harm in someone’s life.
    However, I would like to conclude by saying that my heart does go out to people suffering in their relationships — to women particularly, who need to be supported by other women like me. Especially to all those dear little lambs who have acted on bad advice in good faith and then accidentally made things worse. To those sweethearts:
    God bless you.
    God SEES you.
    We all love you.
    Amen. <3

    Reply
  140. wifeofasexaddict

    Dear Focus on the Family,
    I have refrained from commenting thus far because I have not read Love and Respect. When I first encountered it, I had other reasons, unrelated to its content, to not read it. That said, I think I have something to add to this discussion.
    I think the reason so many people undiscerningly think L&R is a good book is because much of the information has already been “out there” for decades. I grew up listening to Focus on the Family’s radio broadcast. Things like “men are visually stimulated”; “women must be modest”; “women must remain attractive and have lots of sex to keep their husbands from straying”; “men want sex much more than women”; “all men will be tempted by porn” were messages I learned from Dr. Dobson and his broadcast. Submission of wives, having a good and quiet and humble spirit. Men must be the “spiritual leader in the home”. And many others. I now recognize all of these as false, unbiblical and toxic teachings.
    These things led me to believe that I needed to be a wife to be godly, and to marry very young, ignoring some red flags about my husband. I put a good share of the responsibility for my believing that on the books and radio show from FOTF. And this was a decade or two before Love and Respect was written. As you can see from my moniker, I married a sex addict. You share in the blame for that.
    Shame on you for ignoring the voices of hundreds of women who say they have suffered as a direct result of this book. Shame on you for calling it just a doctrinal difference. Shame on you for saying that wasn’t Eggerichs’ intent so we should all just ignore those men who misused a good teaching to abuse their wives. You need to take a good hard look at all of Sheila’s data. And then you need to take a good hard look in the mirror and ask Holy Spirit to show where you have been wrong and what you need to repent of.
    Sincerely,
    Wife of a sex addict

    Reply
  141. JK

    It has been many years since I have listened to Focus on the Family. I found, overall, that their teachings and suggestions are not real solutions to problems, but generalized, feel-good ideas that don’t work in the trenches of life. Their ministry serves to bring forward, not deep, hard, soul searching Christianity, but simply American Christian Culture (which is greatly in error). I simply couldn’t stomach them anymore.

    Reply
  142. Michelle

    Heather I am so sorry to hear about what you have gone through. I very much relate. The first time my husband put his hands around my throat my pastor told me I needed to stay with him because, “God hates Divorce” and “at least he didn’t hit you.” and I love God, I wanted to desperately to be a good Christian I listened…and for 30 years suffered physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse until I finally escaped 2 years ago. Even reading this article is giving me anxiety because of the message from the book I am hearing, “The wife is responsible for the husband’s happiness” and apparently the husband can’t really control himself and isn’t required to, he is expected to abuse, stray, behave like a child, say mean things, drink, watch porn etc…and the wife can ‘fix’ him by being respectful. The author gleefully admits telling his wife he didn’t miss her? Oh Lord God please protect his wife, I cannot imagine what she lives with. My bible says, “Love others as you love yourself.” which implies you must love yourself. Loving yourself involves knowing and respecting your own needs, desires, inclinations, and giftings. Loving yourself means removing yourself from situations and people that degrade and disrespect you. Loving yourself means acknowledging you are NOT responsible for anyone else’s happiness, and you certainly do not need to accept abuse. Be well Heather, God does LOVE you so so much. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. Praying for you!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Beautiful, Michelle! I’m so, so sorry about how the church treated you. So sorry. I hope that the Lord is returning blessing to you now!

      Reply
  143. Anon

    When I read Love & Respect, I was struck by how demeaning, patronizing and belittling it was toward women. Watching the video clip in this post, I’m now struck by the fact that he is also demeaning, patronizing and belittling men – A man can’t have a disagreement with his wife without becoming fearful?!! A man who has a heated disagreement has to choose between being ‘volatile’ or walking away to ‘protect the relationship’? SERIOUSLY?!!!! Who are these wimps?
    I was raised by a father who was perfectly capable of having disagreements, heated or otherwise, without becoming fearful or needing to run away. The men in our church who I would describe as mature had the same ability. And one of the things that attracted me to my fiance was seeing the grace and humility with which he responded to disagreements in church meetings (when some of the remarks aimed at him were very disrespectful!) while still standing firmly for what he knew to be right. And he is just the same when we disagree about something.
    Eggerichs’ way of loading all the blame and responsibility onto women is extremely offensive. But equally offensive is his way of treating men as pathetic children who are incapable of controlling themselves unless they have their every whim pandered to by their wives. Maybe I’m in a minority, but I know a number of Christian men who can and do manage to behave much better than that. I can’t go back and recheck L&R to see if it’s message is equally patronizing to men, since I shredded it after my first read, but if it is, I’m surprised that any man would endorse it!
    He talks a lot in his book about men needing respect, but doesn’t seem to give them much himself, judging by this video clip!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      AMEN, Anon! Exactly. I know so many emotionally healthy men, but they are entirely absent from the Love & Respect framework. Both my husband and my son-in-law were really offended at how Eggerichs treated men, too. You’re totally right, and thank you for bringing that up too. Should we not also expect that men can be emotionally healthy? Rebecca was talking about this in the podcast, too, and about how the Love & Respect team couldn’t believe that her husband was willing to take correction from her without falling apart.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      One of the things that helped me stopped being so angry at the damage done by this book and feeling compassion for the author is re-reading the section about his own childhood. It explains a LOT. He grew up in an emotionally abusive home and was sent to military boarding school for high school. If anyone isn’t familiar with military school, it can be traumatizing. The author is undoubtedly emotionally stunted and terrified of his own emotions, except the emotion of anger.
      Yes, his book paints men as these helpless children in adult bodies who need to be babied by their wives– yet they are the natural leaders and should have the final say.
      He also states that no man will sit at a little table in a coffee shop and discuss his feelings. That’s exactly what my husband does with his best friend! (Who is also a man.) It seems like Eggerichs has looked at himself and other men in his same situation (childhood trauma, emotionally stunted), and decided, “this is what a real man is.” While many people have a history of trauma and are emotionally stunted, we all have the potential to heal and grow. Calling a lack of growth “being a man” is really sad.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        It really is. Gottman has a lot to say about this, too, in his book. We need to stop calling emotionally unhealthy behaviour “masculine.”

        Reply
  144. Heron

    Amen, Sheila! My husband and I were FLOORED by the warped, twisted, utterly un-Christlike teachings in Love & Respect.
    The author’s anecdotes are SO bizarre and biased (most overweight wives are married to slim men LOL; it’s okay to tell your wife you don’t like her asking you to throw your candy wrappers away, but she can’t mention your porn addiction; etc.) we laughed—it just sounds like the rantings of a grumpy, bitter old neighbor—then grew sober, stunned that these ideas could be promoted.
    WHERE IS JESUS IN THESE TEACHINGS? Nowhere. Unconditional subservience (under the false euphemism “respect”) to any individual, man or woman, is NOT healthy.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Heron. I was flabbergasted by the anecdotes, too–like, how does anyone think this is normal? Or healthy? It really was bizarre. That’s why I don’t understand how it became so popular.

      Reply
    • Lisa

      I also was *almost* laughing (I couldn’t actually laugh because I could tell what his wife was suffering by being married to him) too! She cannot ask him to pick up his wet towels nor could she ask her own SONS to pick up candy wrappers. But he can go ahead and point out that she could stand to lose a few pounds. And no, she cannot bring up the “one” time she caught him looking at porn. (Let’s be real, if he got caught one time, it almost certainly happened more than once.) I do agree that taking care of our health (including weight) is important. However, looking at porn is adultery. Yes, a spouse can bring it up! So outrageous! I’m flabbergasted that so many people think it’s no only okay but good! I have to wonder about his eyesight. I know many couples where one is overweight and one is not. And it’s a mixed bag. I also know more couples where both are overweight. I looked up national statistics on obesity and it’s pretty much dead even, split between male and female. But, according to Eggerichs, it’s pretty much all the women. Bizarre that all this flew right past his editors.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I think in the Christian world we’re conditioned to be anti-woman, and so people don’t even find it strange. It’s just tragic.

        Reply
  145. Jennifer

    I completely agree. Come on church, we can do so much better when it comes to supporting marriages.

    Reply
  146. Rebekah

    Thank You for standing up for what is right! God Bless you. Don’t listen to the devil trying to beat you down from your stance!

    Reply
  147. Lami

    Dear Focus on the family,
    I hope you will listen to the real stories of women who have been hurt by Love and Respect ideas. This is not even about complementarianism – although it should make you wonder when the doctrines you espouse hurt people rather than bring healing and freedom.
    It reminds me of Jesus telling the Pharisees you have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.
    Focus on the family, I hope you all will repent and let the Spirit lead us to embrace women as equal heirs partners in marriage. You all couldn’t possibly embrace Love and Respect if you saw women as equals.
    I hope you can borrow a leaf from Joshua Harris of Why I kissed dating goodbye – it’s not just intention that matters, effect does even more.
    Men and Women need respect. Period.
    To anyone looking: a better marriage resource is What Did You Expect- Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp.

    Reply
  148. Jenny S.

    Thank you Shelia. Because of your alarm I have not given or reccommended this book. I thought twice about giving it to my daughter. I am obviously in the minority of women who this book helped. It’s been years since I read it. I believe it helped me because I was the problem. I was not loving or respecting my husband but he was loving me. He is a very good man who was not living in sin and I was. I needed the message and it steered us on a good path. That said I never followed the ideas to a T. I moved on to better books and advice (one being your blog which I found about the same time). Thank you for speaking up.

    Reply
  149. Andrew

    Hi Sheila,
    Thank you for speaking against this teaching in such clear and specific ways. I have been reading your blog for a couple years now and my wife and I have benefited a lot, especially from the ideas in your libido course. We have been happily married for 13 years, but sex has always been a difficult part of our relationship. I think this was because of two falsehoods. 1) neither of us really understood her libido (since she rarely spontaneously wants sex and I often do, we thought for 10 years that she just doesn’t want sex much, but it is so liberating to understand that she responds with desire AFTER feeling taken care of and rested, feeling romanced, and sometimes still doesn’t desire sex until we get going…but then she really desires it!). 2) She came into our marriage having internalized some of the toxic idea that sex is something the wife does for her husband rather than something for mutual enjoyment and intimacy. It was so frustrating to both of us that “she didn’t want sex much” and I didn’t want sex if it was just something she was doing for me. I felt starved for real sexual intimacy, and she felt like a failure as a wife for not desiring sex. But how can she desire real sexual connection as long as her idea of sex is the one portrayed in L&R where it’s only for the man? This is so toxic to healthy marriages to teach that healthy men would even want their wives to be “respecting” them like this or the other ways you mentioned in your post. Thank you for your positive teaching as well as speaking against this toxic teaching!

    Reply
  150. Jan

    So very disheartened by Focus on the Family for their support of this book. Also for not responding in any way to the concerns that have been clearly presented.
    Administration and staff of Focus on the Family please stand up for correct biblical teaching and do no more harm to marriages by your support of this book.

    Reply
  151. Ken

    I agree and stand with you Sheila. I read Love & Respect several years ago and it did not sit right with me. I remember feeling that I love my wife too much to treat her the way that Eggerich suggests. I also didn’t want her to follow his definitions and examples of respecting your husband.
    The idea that it’s a wife’s fault if the husband has an affair is ridiculous. Self control is a fruit of the spirit and God gave us all free will to make our own choices.
    It’s unfortunate that the book has become so widely distributed. When I first read Love & Respect all you could really do is voice your concerns with your life group and hope that other readers were mature enough not to use the book as a weapon.
    Thank you for allowing your platform to be a voice for all those who have been harmed by this book and for suggesting other positive resources. Also congrats on your new book contracts. I look forward to seeing what God has put on your heart to share.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Ken. I really appreciate that!

      Reply
  152. Gerry Blumberg

    Thank you for the thorough and very informative letter. I had not heard or read any discussion on this book in years so this was new to me. I have now completely changed my opinion of this book. Instead of saying it is the best book on marriage I have read, I will warn about the potential problems and ideas presented. In this day and age, women and wives must stand up for. themselves, especially when abused and mistreated. We are. not doormats.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Gerry!

      Reply
  153. Kristina

    I totally agree with you on this one, Sheila, and lost a lot of faith in FOTF a while ago. This is just one more thing, unfortunately.

    Reply
  154. Amy

    Thank you so much for your work. It matters to women who are suffering under devastating abuse, especially by men who profess to be believers in Jesus. I just finalized my divorce after 21 years of working so hard to please and help my husband and raise our children. I always knew something was “different” about our marriage and he was not like my friends’ husbands, but I now know how well he used deception, gaslighting, and emotional abuse to control me and our kids. He professes to be a believer but there is no repentance after multiple affairs, secret bank accounts, physical abuse of our children (that I didn’t find out until I told my kids it wasn’t our job to keep his secrets anymore and they told me). His abuse started slow at the beginning but the last 5 years brought me to almost a mental breakdown. When you think someone loves you, you don’t imagine that they are using abusive tactics to isolate you and break down your entire sense of self. I’ve now been in therapy for 18 months, and am slowly recovering from the trauma. Our kids are still incredibly damaged. But God rescued us. I would have never gotten divorced without God’s unmistakeable intervention. I would have just kept “trying” to respect and please my husband while my kids and I disintegrated emotionally. I am so thankful for your work and others’ as well who are helping the Church recognize these wolves in sheep’s clothing that are damaging God’s beloved and the testimony of the Church.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Amy, I’m so glad you’re in a safe place now, and i’m so sorry that you endured that kind of betrayal. I’m also sorry that the Christian world made you think you should endure it. Jesus is not like that; and Jesus, I believe, is on the move!

      Reply
  155. Sarah

    I agree wholeheartedly with you Sheila. We received this as a wedding gift 10.5 years ago, laughed for the first 15 pages about the nonsense of his premise. After it sat in our shelf for 2 years collecting dust, I threw it away. Your concise analysis of his damaging stances Are very much appreciated. I will point anyone i can to your letter that i can. You are correct in your summation, this is NOT Jesus. Keep writing!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Sarah!

      Reply
  156. Sherri Johnson

    Sheila, our home marriage group had a discussion on the topic of love and respect last night, and my husband and I happened to mention our problems with this book. Thank you for taking the time to clearly articulate what so many see. Many Scriptures about marriage are taken out of the context in which they’re written, thus swinging the pendulum too far to the right or left. May our gracious Lord teach us, that we may reflect Him to a world so desperately in need of a Savior! These misrepresentations are NOT bringing others into the Kingdom.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I’m so glad churches are actually talking about this! I hope your home group took it well and engaged with your arguments.

      Reply
  157. Maddys girl

    Thank you Sheila for speaking up about this issue! Focus on the Family and their teachings were instrumental in keeping me in bondage in a marriage to a narcissist for 33 years! I tried all of their advice, which my pastor at the time 100% agreed with. I’ll never understand why people, in the church and out, don’t want to see that some people are controlling and demanding simply because they have an evil intent to dominate another human being, and that it gives them a “kick” or “thrill” to dehumanize another person. When I tried to implement the advice of these Pharisees, my ex husband got meaner and meaner because my being nicer and unwilling to engage in the constant battles he desired (it was like a sport to him) wasn’t giving him what he really wanted…me in a heap of hysterical crying while apologizing for whatever I must have done to deserve another brutal verbal assault just to make it stop. He bullied, neglected, humiliated me for over three decades because he could, and these kinds of teachings gave him carte blanche to do so. When God brought people into my life towards the end who enlightened and cared for me and I began to resist the gas lighting and reality twisting more fervently (gently in love), his response was to pull out all the stops in attempt to further intimidate back into our old “dance” by sexually assaulting me. That’s when I left him, and the way things fell into place for my escape was nothing short of God’s intervention to save my life and sanity. To FOTF and other oppressive Pharisees I’d just like to say divorce is NOT the unforgivable sin!!! and you know it. And to those who have suffered so greatly at the hands of someone you loved and trusted, you are loved and you are precious. God bless.

    Reply
  158. Pam

    These books are on our dressers. My husband and I have been married nearly 10 years. He is 100% behind these books. He’s also 100% verbally and emotionally abusive to me and our daughters, not so much his sons tho. This articulates everything I felt as we went through this study at his insistence. I am so thankful this was shared with me, I feel like it’s not just me, that I’m not crazy to think it’s crazy that I should bow down to my husband In acceptance and just lay naked waiting for him as he finishes watching his porn so that he can then do whatever he desires to me without care for my boundaries even in the area of sex. I am relieved and feel validated with this message.

    Reply
    • Lisa

      I am so glad you have these resources. You are not crazy. You have good discernment and you also have the Holy Spirit. I hope you can find true, legitimate help to be safe. Please keep reaching out to people who want to help you, not keep you in an abusive relationship.

      Reply
  159. Angela

    Sheila,
    Thank you for UNVEILING the TRUTH. HE is THE TRUTH. And HE sets people free! You continuously unveil truth, and I really appreciate that. Also, as we continue to unveil truth, the works or darkness will be exposed. I am thankful for you, and your team. May the Lord bless each and every one of you. I pray His favor upon you and the Blood of Jesus over you and your families. <3

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Angela! I do feel as if God is exposing the works of darkness. It is exciting to watch!

      Reply
  160. Tanni Braughton

    Wow! What a great article. I recently told the women’s bible study that i attend that i have a problem with the submission message or rather how it is used by some to damage women. I was married for 37 years. I did all of the things a godly woman is supposed to do, pray, fast, cater to his every whim, encourage our sons to treat him with respect even when he treated us with emotional abuse. I have been told by countless people that if I get my life in order he will get his life in order. How many times i prayed for God to change me so that he would change. It got to the point that i would go to sleep wondering if he was going to kill me…yet i stayed because that is what good women does, love unconditionally. I remember when i finally got free and was doing an order of protection. The prosecuting attorney asked me if i was afraid of him i told him i was but also i was concerned for his welfare and wanted to make sure he would be okay. He said ” lady you need help” he encouraged me to look up Stockholm Syndrome. He encouraged me to worry about my safety and not his. What he said changed my life. I have not talked to my ex- husband since. Although i pretty sure i have PTSD i am doing pretty well. Thank you for bringing to light damaging teachings like this one. I have been asking the Lord to help me not feel like all of those years were not waisted and if i could help one person maybe i won’t feel so used. In the meantime i am helping heal one person, myself! Blessings to you as you do Gods work.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Tanni, I’m so glad that attorney helped you, and so sorry the church didn’t! Thank you for sharing your story. I pray that you will continue to heal.

      Reply
  161. Hannah

    One of the most insulting and ridiculous over-arching themes/messages from these ‘women should be seen and not heard’ kind of “christians” is: ‘well, since you’re a woman you can’t trust your judgement and you just need to do whatever we tell you.’ They may as well pat us on the head afterwards because it’s just about that patronizing. I don’t appreciate being made to feel like I’m of less importance or intelligence than a man simply because I won’t let him walk all over me.
    It’s obscene and unBiblical.
    Thank you, Sheila, on behalf of all women in broken marriages with husbands that had so many problems, and we wives were told to ‘just fix yourself’ – THANK YOU for championing us and for fighting against abusive and sexist rhetoric. To me you are a heroine of the church, a voice for the voiceless. We must look out for each other – thank you for using your voice and platform to protect and to lovingly and justly point out injustices and danger. Because of women like you, and Beth Moore and Diane Langberg and Christine Caine, we are stronger women who listen to CHRIST above all else, not men. We are able to identify the wolves in sheep’s clothing. I’ll never be able to thank you enough💜🥰 Prayers for God to bless you richly, and all your loved ones, as you fight this good fight every day🙏🏽💙

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Hannah!

      Reply
  162. Jessica

    Thank you for your work in confronting these SERIOUS issues that have real, profound, devastating effects on thousands of women & families. Many of the teachings in this book are helping to perpetuate cycles of abuse and toxic marriages.

    Reply
  163. Lisa Manske

    Shelia, thank you so much for putting in the time and effort to articulate this so clearly. Whether or not Focus on the Family makes any changes at all, I’m so glad this information it available in such an organized and accessible way. I am truly disgusted by their response. It is one thing to disagree. They have the right to agree with everthing Eggerichs wrote and stands for and to disagree with all of your points. But to blatantly misrepresent you and your communication is nothing but disgusting.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s my feeling, too!