It is not just that the book Love & Respect contains toxic teachings.
It is also that the book doesn’t handle the Bible properly, twisting passages, prooftexting, and at times even deleting whole words and phrases so the verses appear to suit his thesis.
For the last few years we’ve been sharing about the harmful messages in the book, including in our open letter to Focus on the Family about it. But we know that people still support it.
Yesterday we made a one-sheet synopsis download available (and you can get that here!).
And today we want to switch gears and show you all the problems with the way that Emerson Eggerichs misuses Scripture throughout the book. We hope that pastors may take an honest look at this and reconsider their support of this book. And we hope that everybody can be more informed about the ways that Scripture is often used to justify things that Jesus never said, and never agreed with.
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 How we got here
5:05 Nijay and Joanna join to talk misuse of scripture
6:20 Proof texting
20:20 Misusing scripture
31:30 Deceiving with scripture
49:45 Viewing women through 1 Peter 3 in the context of all scripture
53:40 The Genesis story: insight
1:07:30 Tips for looking for biblical advice
How Emerson Eggerichs Misuses Scripture
We looked at how Eggerichs approaches Scripture. First, two big picture things:
- He uses proof-texting, or picking verses that he can use to back up what he’s saying, rather than looking at the context and the meaning of the passages
- He virtually ignores Jesus’ words and actions.
Then we gave examples of how, in Love & Respect, Eggerichs:
- Edits Scripture passages, removing whole phrases and changing the meaning, so it better supports his thesis
- Quotes pagans authoritatively
- Draws conclusions never intended by the original text
- Paints a patriarchal picture that the Bible does not
We’re grateful that Professor Nijay Gupta could join us
We asked Nijay Gupta, a Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary, to respond to our criticisms of the use of Scripture in Love & Respect, and he gave a great outside perspective as one who hasn’t read the book, isn’t really familiar with Eggerichs, but was just looking at the use of the biblical texts. So grateful for his expertise!
I’ll have Nijay back on the podcast soon to talk about his new book, Tell Her Story: How Women Led, Taught, and Ministered in the Early Church, which you can pre-order now!
Things Mentioned in the Podcast
- Our Patreon! Support us for as little as $5 a month and get access to unfiltered podcasts, while supporting our work counteracting harmful messages of marriage in the evangelical church
- OUR LOVE & RESPECT ONESHEET: Download our new resource
- Nijay Gupta’s upcoming book Tell Her Story. Follow Nijay on Twitter!
- Our post on Baby Bibles distorting the Genesis account
- Our original Love & Respect post, followed by our Open Letter to Focus on the Family, Our look at how Emerson Eggerichs gaslights women in a sermon series, and how he brushes off a case of marital rape.
- Our rubric and scorecard to see why Love & Respect scored 0/48.
Have you heard pastors prooftext before? Did any of this surprise you? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast. I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage. Today is January 19th. And on the third week of January, for the last—this is the fourth year now. I have been looking—taking an in depth look at the book Love and Respect. For those of you who know, our journey to writing The Great Sex Rescue, which is our book based on our survey of 20,000 women to see how certain key evangelical beliefs affect women’s marital and sexual satisfaction—that journey started because I read Love and Respect. I wasn’t planning on working. It was a Friday afternoon in January of 2019. I had a migraine. I was procrastinating. And I was on Twitter, and some people were debating whether they needed respect or love. And they were women. And I thought, “Well, I need respect.” And I had that book upstairs, and I’d never read it. And I thought this is a great way to procrastinate and feel like I’m still working. So I went, and I got the book. And I read the sex chapter. And I immediately started FaceTiming Rebecca and Joanna—Rebecca, my daughter, and Joanna, now my coauthor on The Great Sex Rescue—to talk about some of the horrendous things that were in that chapter. For the next week, we talked about Love and Respect on the blog. And we were inundated by emails from women, who said that that book had enabled abuse in their marriage. We were very concerned. I had been on Focus on the Family several times. And Focus on the Family publishes Love and Respect, so I had a relationship with them. And I thought, “Maybe they just don’t know. They don’t want to hurt people. They would care about this if they knew. Maybe they just don’t know.” And so we prepared an in-depth report on what women had told us, and we sent it in to Focus on the Family. And they ignored us. And we thought, “Well, they can ignore a couple hundred women, but can they ignore several thousand?” And that’s when we did our survey, which became The Great Sex Rescue. Every year since then we have addressed a different aspect of the book in January. And I’ll put a link to some of the things that we talked about on each of our podcasts and everything. But I do like to revisit this because Love and Respect is still the most used marriage study in North American churches. And the main point of the book is that men must give unconditional love and women must give unconditional respect to their husbands. And respect is something which he desperately needs according to the subtitle of the book. The love she most desires, the respect he desperately needs. So she has desires. He has desperate needs. It must be given unconditionally. And he says, “Even if he is drinking and straying, even if he has been physically abusive, even if he has withering rage, so much so that she wants to get away and hide.” And he describes respect with an acronym, CHAIRS. Conquest, hierarchy, authority, listening to his insight, relationship, and sex. All of that must be unconditionally given. This can lead to abuse. It has led to abuse. I have over a thousand stories now from women that we’ve collected, and we haven’t even written them all done who say that this book has been so harmful to them. A lot of people say to me, “But what can I do about it, Sheila? What can I do? And I want to talk to my pastor, but I don’t know what to tell them.” And so we have prepared a one sheet. This is what some of your patron money has gone to is we prepared a one sheet that you can take to your pastor, your small group leader, your marriage minister, your counselor, your women’s ministry leader if they are using Love and Respect as a resource. You can take this one sheet to them which goes over some of the biggest issues in the book and why it’s a problem. And you can download that. We have a link in the podcast notes. It’s available now. Thank you to our patrons, who allowed this to happen. This is some of the things the funding is being used for this year is to make these one sheets. You can join our patron group too for as little as $5 a month. We’ll put that link in there as well. But that is available. And one of the things that is talked about on that one sheet is how Emerson Eggerichs misuses Scripture in the book. And so especially for pastors who are wondering, “What’s wrong with Love and Respect? It’s rooted in Scripture,” I wanted to do this podcast where we actually look at how Emerson Eggerichs in Love and Respect handles Scripture or rather how he mishandles Scripture because I hope, if you can see this, that maybe it might make people think twice and ask, “Is this really a biblical book?” Is something biblical merely because we can proof text things? Or is it biblical because it’s in the image of Christ? That’s an important question to ask. And I want to explore that now with some special guests, so here we go. I am so thrilled to have on the podcast to look at this thorny subject, Nijay Gupta, who is a professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. Hello, Nijay.
Nijay: Hi, Sheila. Thanks for having me on.
Sheila: Well, I’m just so thrilled that you could come. I really appreciate you doing this. And, of course, my intrepid statistician, coauthor for The Great Sex Rescue and the upcoming book, She Deserves Better, Joanna Sawaksky.
Joanna: Hey, everybody.
Sheila: So Joanna, it was you who actually compiled the original spreadsheet of all 230 Scripture references in Love and Respect. And from that, I tried to organize them by problem and pull out some of the worst examples. And so what I would like to do to both of you is I’m going to throw out some of the big picture areas where I think that Emerson Eggerichs is misusing Scripture in Love and Respect, and then I’m hoping that I can get your insight not just on this book but also on how these may be common problems that we see in evangelicalism overall because I don’t think this applies just to Emerson Eggerichs in Love and Respect. I think we see this repeatedly. So, are you all ready?
Nijay: Let’s do it.
Sheila: Let’s do it. Okay. Number one, proof texting. Proof texting is—we hear that term a lot. And I’m not sure that everyone understands what it means. But basically, what Emerson Eggerichs does throughout the book is he sprinkles in these snippets. They’re not even complete verses usually. Just these snippets of verses like—there’s hundreds of them in this book where they’re in little boxes. And Marshall McLuhan, who is a Canadian—yay. Joanna is also a recent Canadian. But Marshall McLuhan was always a Canadian. And I learned about him in my sociology studies in university. But he had this phrase that he was famous for which is, “The medium is the message.” In other words, the way that you deliver the message can become the message itself. And when you are sprinkling verses throughout the book, even little snippets of verses, what is the message that is being conveyed, guys?
Nijay: I think a lot of it is that you’re making yourself the authority, and you’re just kind of using the Bible. You’re kind of bolstering your ideas with supposed supports from the Bible. That’s the dangerous part. I’ll give you an example. You guys might find this entertaining. So I was reading this book about—I was trying to look for proof texting, so I could kind of showcase the problem. And I found this book about using the Bible to improve your business strategy, if you run a business. And it was taking the story of the woman who was bleeding and she touches Jesus and He says, “The power went out from me.” And this person used that verse as an example of talking about energy leaks in your business. Where is your energy leaks? And it’s completely not even using—not only is it not the point, it’s actually the opposite of Jesus’s point. Anyway, it’s one of those things where you’re not really interested in what the Bible is saying. You’re definitely not looking at a big picture. You’re just picking things out as kind of an easy kind of support for what you want to say. One of the things that I study is historical Jesus research. There’s been this conversation. It’s gone on for hundreds of years. And there’s this guy named Dale Allison. And he came to this conclusion. He’s kind of a bigwig. He’s one of these big name scholars. He came to this conclusion you can turn Jesus into anybody because you can pick and choose which verses you want. Jesus is mean. Jesus is nice. Jesus is friendly. Jesus is—you can make Jesus into anybody because you can just pick and choose these verses. That’s what I think proof texting is. And it’s very dangerous because you can really manipulate people by using the Bible in certain ways.
Sheila: Yeah. And I think the bolstering thing is so important. When you’ve dropped hundreds of verses into a book, and often verses that don’t have anything to do with what you’re talking about, it gives the impression I have biblical support for this, right? I am the expert. So I’m going to read you just a couple. Okay? Here is what he writes. “As God revealed the Love and respect message, I experienced Psalm 119:130. ‘The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding.’” Or another one, “The Crazy Cycle,”—something that he talks about in Love and Respect—“is, indeed, ‘the evil of folly and the foolishness of madness.’ Ecclesiastes 7:25” Or he says, “When counseling couples, I often ask, ‘What causes fights and quarrels among you?’ James 4:1” That one really got to me too. Like seriously? Okay. Why do you need to quote? It’s like saying the sky is blue. And then quoting a Bible verse. No. The sky just is blue. I’m not saying the Bible doesn’t say the sky is blue. But when you throw Bible verses in there where they’re not needed, it gives this message I am speaking—what I am saying is from the Word of God.
Nijay: I try to put myself in the seat of an author like that. I think there’s this spirit of—okay. So if we’re trying to say in his best moments, what’s he trying to do? So I think in his best moments what he’s trying to do is come across as pious, right? This person knows the—I mean this is the idea, right? This person knows the Bible. This person cares about the—I’m really—I do think—from what I know about this book, this person genuinely loves Jesus. They care about the Bible. They care about the people of God. I might be getting—Sheila, let me know. I might be getting ahead of you here. But what I think is often going on here is—as I thought about what we talk about today, one thing came to mind. And that is kind of a methodological saying we use a lot in biblical studies which I’m sure is used elsewhere. If all you have is a hammer, then all you see is nails. And this happens a lot in methodology where if you see something in the Bible and only see it one way—and in this case, it applies to relationships—then it’s easy to force that construct onto everything or everything you can and then eliminate everything else. So as you kind of asked me ahead of time thinking about this book, that was the main thing I thought about. On certain occasions, I think any of us could just agree like you were just doing with God gives me biblical wisdom. Great. We all have that every now and again. The sky is blue. Great. Yes. The problem really becomes not in what he says but often what he leaves out or denies which ends up being too much. That ends up being the problem. So proof texting is really dangerous. We all do it or at least we do it more than we should. I think where it becomes dangerous is—and this happens with lots of authors. They lack a certain humility or—how do I explain this? Because it’s not an academic book. But when you get fact checked by the guild. When I write something, it gets fact checked by the guild, so the publisher knows I’m going to get destroyed if I don’t say things in the right way, right? And a book like this isn’t going to get fact checked by the guild. Now it is, thanks to you guys. But I think that’s one of the challenges is I think it’s okay to be pious. I think proof texting is wrong. But I think what he’s trying to do is right. I don’t think he’s doing it right, but I think what he’s trying to do is right. My bigger problem is he only has a hammer, so everything becomes nails.
Sheila: Mm-hmm. Exactly. And let’s look at—the next point is a reason why I think that happens which is that throughout this book he virtually ignores Jesus. And I find this a lot with Christian authors especially those who are trying to promote a big view of hierarchy, a very stringent view especially of male hierarchy, is that you virtually ignore Jesus. We counted it up. 11% of Scripture references in Love and Respect are from the Gospels. But even that is misleading because only about 7% are actually Jesus’s advice. And among that 7%, often it’s the same verse used over and over again. So let me give you an example because even when he does quote the Gospel often he quotes the Gospel quoting the Old Testament. So he’ll say, “Matthew 19:4 tells us that God made them male and female.” Right? So that’s hearkening back to Genesis. Or he quotes the disciples. In another place, Emerson Eggerichs quotes Matthew 19:10 where he says, “The disciples were saying it’s better not to marry.” So you’re not quoting Jesus. You’re using the Gospels, but you’re not actually quoting Jesus. And I find this very fascinating because there is, I think, a difficulty if you are trying to create a hierarchy book in finding things that Jesus says that actually supports that. And to me, that’s a red flag when people always talk about God or always talk about the Bible, but they don’t talk about Jesus.
Joanna: I mean I just think it’s fascinating because you read the book of Luke. And there’s this huge contrast between how Mary, the uneducated, peasant girl, reacts to the angel and the educated male, Zachariah, reacts so poorly. You’ve got Mary sitting at Jesus’s feet learning from him. I’m named for the Apostle Joanna, who is pretty cool. Christ is constantly surrounded by women. And to sublimate women, you have to ignore the actual work and life of Christ.
Sheila: Yeah. What’s up, Nijay? People quote the epistles all the time, but they so—I often find, especially in evangelical spaces, Jesus’s words get lost.
Nijay: I have a few reactions to that. One is Paul—now I love Paul, by the way. That’s my main area of study. But Paul can come across very kind of linear like we do. I think Paul thinks like—we think like Paul in many ways. And so the styles of argument and the deductive reasoning and all of that, it comes out in ways that, I think, makes sense to most of us. Jesus is a poet. He’s a riddler, right? He says things in parables, and so it’s hard to fit into a box. And so, Sheila, when you’re talking about what’s up with this, a lot of what I think is going on is when I talk to my students about types of arguments, there are two types of arguments. There’s deductive arguments. And there’s inductive arguments. And someone is writing a book like Love and Respect is writing a deductive argument. They’re saying there is a pattern, and I can show you how that pattern fits everywhere. Now the advantage of deductive argument is it can change the way you look at things. The problem with one is you tend to force it on to everything. And going back to your question, you can’t fit—you can’t often fit any deductive arguments on Jesus because He’s going to do lots of different things. He’s going to defy stereotypes. He’s going to defy constructs. You can just really lock Jesus in to one thing. So I think that’s part of it. I think the other thing, too, is maybe—and I haven’t spent time in this book the way I should have for this interview. But maybe it’s because Jesus—people see Jesus as God, so it’s harder for people to say I’m going to be like Jesus even though that’s kind of a WWJD thing that we used to do, right? But it’s harder for people to say I want to be like Jesus. At the same time, Jesus and Paul are both single. So in some way, they’re kind of misfits for this kind of argument in general. But that is interesting. I wouldn’t have an immediate reason why I would think that Jesus would be left out. But I do think that there are times where Jesus puts Himself in situations that we would think are scandalous. So for example, Joanna was talking about this. There were women that traveled with Jesus. I think that’s often ignored. Luke chapter 8 there’s 3 and perhaps many—at least 3 and perhaps many—women that traveled with Jesus. Presumably, most of them single. Widows or not. Women that used to have demons. So we’re talking about women that maybe had lower respect in society, some of them. Younger women. We don’t know. And so that’s going to create some questions about Jesus is doing. We have Jesus hanging out with women at a well. And as you might know, that’s a place where romance happens in the Old Testament. You expect a betrothal. You, at least, expect intimate conversation, and Jesus does that. And so Jesus gets Him into all kinds of situations that we would think are scandalous or, at least, raise questions. And that’s hard to fit into a neat construct.
Sheila: Yeah. Like Love and Respect. Well, here’s another reason. I got this from a horrible Christian patriarchy book called It’s Good to be a Man by Michael Foster. It sold quite well when it first came out. I hope it’s not still selling well. There was a lot of news articles about it. But it claims to be a Christian patriarchy book. I don’t think there is such a thing as Christian patriarchy, but it’s just patriarchy. And it uses biblical language. But I want to read to you an excerpt explaining why he basically ignores Jesus in the book. And this is what he said, “This is a point lost in modern Christianity, where the focus is almost exclusively on the model of Jesus in the Gospels. But while that model is, of course, perfect, it is not complete. It is a model of God, as the second Adam, humbling Himself to correct the mistakes of the first. It is not yet a model of Him ruling over the world as Adam should have. Jesus did not take up the rule of Adam until after His resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven (Eph.1:20–22). To see how God exercises dominion, therefore, we need to look to the rest of Scripture.” And in the rest of the book, he totally ignores Jesus and just looks at—and so this is the reason why. He says, “No. We don’t need to follow Jesus because God told Adam to have dominion over the earth. That’s what we’re supposed to do. Jesus didn’t have dominion, and so we don’t need to pay attention to Jesus.”
Nijay: That is bizarre. That is bizarre.
Sheila: I know. But this is—
Nijay: I hope he doesn’t have a red letter Bible.
Sheila: Oh yeah. Seriously, we don’t need to pay attention to the words of Christ. But I see this all the time in really male-dominated spaces or from heavily complementarian pastors. And I just want to encourage our listeners. When you’re at church, pay attention to how often your pastor talks about Jesus versus how often he talks about God and the Bible. Because if he’s totally leaving Jesus out, that’s a problem. Okay. So those are the two ways that I think Emerson Eggerichs—big picture ways he approaches Scripture where he uses a lot of proof texting, little phrase here and there that say basically not a lot but just to lend support to say, “Hey, look. I’m biblical.” And then he virtually ignores Jesus. I want to turn now to how he totally misuses Scripture. And we have a lot of examples of that. To get back to the Gospels, one of the things he does is he twists Jesus’s words to fit his agenda. So in the middle of telling women, for instance, why they can’t speak up in their marriage when they have difficulty with their husband, he quotes Jesus in John 16. And he says this, “Ultimately, we must depend on the helper or the Holy Spirit to convict concerning sin.” So he tells women you’re not allowed to speak up because you must rely on the Holy Spirit. So it’s using Jesus’s words to hurt women. Or here’s another example. When he tells women to put up with atrocious things—so to have unconditional respect even if your husband is drinking or straying or has withering rage against you. He says you put up with these things in order to get your reward in Heaven, and so he gives—he says, “Jesus is preparing us to hear, ‘Well done.’ He wants to say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your Master’s happiness.’” So he’s using the words of Jesus, but he’s twisting them to hurt women. That kind of makes me mad.
Joanna: Yeah. Abusive husbands are not a form of hair shirt, right? Which is what the ascetics use to use to make themselves uncomfortable so that they would share in the sufferings of Christ. It’s a very ascetic view of—particularly for women. Men do not have to live in the ascetic manner that women have to, right? Men are to be respected unconditionally by their wives. They are to have the red carpet rolled out in front of them. But women, if they are being abused, if they are suffering, are to bear it as the flagellants did sharing in the wounds of Christ. And that is a dangerous theology.
Nijay: Yeah. I mean with proof texting you could do anything, so you could also make the counterargument Jesus says, “I came to bring a sword, not peace. I came to divide a family.” Oh, He’s okay with—so it’s so easy to use verses the opposite way. Obviously, in these cases, not even using verses that are specifically about marital relationships. And so it is tough because if you don’t know better and you pick up this book and you just take for granted, “This is a pious person. This person loves Jesus. This person maybe went to a Bible college. They’ve been in ministry for so many years,” it is kind of almost like a siren song. You know what I mean? You just take it for granted because it’s sold a bunch of books, and it has a bunch of Bible verses in it. You really need someone to be able to say, “Hey, there’s more in the Bible than this. And this doesn’t tell the whole story.”
Sheila: Yeah. All right. Let’s move on to the next one. Ready? He quotes pagans as if they are right. I love this one. He does this twice. We found two instances for this. The most egregious is in Esther. So in the book of Esther, if you remember, King Xerxes asks Vashti to dance in his—he’s been partying it up with all the nobles in the land for a week. They’re all really drunk, and he asks Vashti to come out and dance. And the Hebrew—some people debate whether the Hebrew says wearing just her crown as opposed to wearing her crown. So he’s basically asking her to get it on for the men in the crowd. And she refuses. And then the pagan administrators in the land tell King Xerxes, “You need to do something about this, or else you’re empowering all of the women not to respect their husbands.” Okay. And that verse where the pagans are saying that this is really dangerous because now all the women are going to feel like they don’t have to respect their husband that is used as a positive thing by Emerson Eggerichs as if the pagans are right. So I’m going to read you a little bit. First of all, he has this Scripture highlighted. He says, “Women virtually ask to be unloved when they ‘look down on their husbands’. Esther 1:17.” He’s quoting a pagan. And I’ll read you the rest of the other part of it. This is actually in a big paragraph. “The male fear of contempt is dramatized in the first chapter of Esther. What was the fear? That wives would start to despise their husbands and defy them. The result? There would be no end to the contempt and anger poured out by wives on their husbands throughout the king’s realm.” And what he’s essentially saying there—and he goes on to talk about how men fear contempt. And so it’s so important that women do not show contempt for their husbands. And yet, he’s rooting this argument in the pagans in the book of Esther.
Joanna: And I do want to give a caveat, which is that there are plenty of times in the Scriptures where pagans are shown to be righteous. So we’re recording this the day after Epiphany. And we just celebrated the Magi coming to see Christ as an infant, and we know that the Magi were pagan. And so they—perhaps they’re arastrian. But they are not followers of Yehweh. And they are shown to be righteous and to be doing an, obviously, very good thing. But in the case of Esther, these are not pagans who are making good life choices. These are a bunch of nasty carousing dudes, who would really like to see a naked queen. That’s not really sympathetic. This is not an example to which we should aspire to follow as those who claim Christ.
Nijay: Context is really important because, again, you can try to prove all kinds of things. I mean the most—one of the most famous ones is violence. The slaughter of the Canaanites. You can justify violence by using Scripture. You can do all kinds of things by using Scripture. And so I really think, actually Sheila, some of this falls on the publisher. The publisher should be partly responsible for saying, “Hey, this isn’t the best way to use the Bible,” because what you want to do is to be drawing from patterns that you see throughout Scripture. And you also want to take into account some diversity of how things are treated or how they appear. And this just doesn’t seem to do that. That picking and choosing. It’s like when a sermon starts with a topic and then just sort of sprinkles in Bible verses here and there. That’s really the eyes of the author and the views of the author that are being just kind of sprinkled with Bible verses. That seems to be what’s happening here repeatedly.
Sheila: Yep. And interestingly, it repeatedly happens in a way in which men are given authority over women. There’s a pattern to how he keeps doing this. He quotes 1 Samuel 4:9 as well. He says this. “A husband is geared to hear the command.” And then he quotes, “Take charge and fight.” Okay. So he’s talking about how men are ready to go, and they want to fight for their marriage. And husbands are geared to hear this command and to enter into battle. The problem, again, is that if you go back to 1 Samuel 4:9 it’s the Philistines who are saying this. It isn’t the Israelites. What was happening was there was a battle, and the Israelites were going against the Philistines. And the Israelites were saying, “Let’s go get the Ark of the Covenant, and let’s take it into battle with us.” Now that wasn’t a good idea for a whole bunch of other reasons. And the high priest, at the time, wasn’t doing a really good job. And Samuel, the prophet was just a boy at the time. So there they are. They’re bringing the Ark of the Covenant. But the point is the Israelites knew that their victory depended on God even if they were going about it wrong. But the Philistines were talking about, “No. We’re going to fight like men.” And that’s the part that Emerson Eggerichs is quoting. Again, that wasn’t of God. And he’s quoting it positively.
Joanna: That’s just a jeer. Yeah. It’s just a jeer. It’s just, “Hey, come on.” Thumps chest.
Nijay: I don’t know when this was written. But my sense is he just had a concordance, and he’s just looking for a key word like fight. And then he’s just saying this will work, right? I mean that’s the impression.
Sheila: If you’re concerned about how Love and Respect handles Scripture and you want to know more about the problems in Love and Respect, The Great Sex Rescue is a great place to start. The Great Sex Rescue is on sale in the month of January across all platforms for just $1.99 or $2.99 on some. And it is on sale in paperback too. So now is a great time to get it. If you already listened to it on audio or even if you already have the paperback, the eBook is so cheap. And when you have the eBook, you can always look things up like the word Eggerichs or Love and Respect, and you can find all of those references. So take a look for The Great Sex Rescue on sale right now across all platforms.
Nijay: One of my colleagues, Scot McKnight—he talks about Scripture offering two different kinds of things. One is wisdom from above which means there’s certain things in the Bible that are unique to the Bible that you can basically only find in the Bible related to Jesus, salvation history, and then he talks about wisdom from below where the Bible is going to offer a lot of very helpful things that can be found in other cultures as well whether it’s about raising your children or managing your money. What’s interesting is books like these will often be teaching common wisdom about marriage. Whether you agree with this book or not, you can find this advice in other cultures. But when you’re using proof text to support that, it’s not very helpful. I think we’ve been kind of circling that because you don’t really need to prove some of those things, right? You could say—my wife, for example, is a therapist. She’s really into John Gottman stuff on relationships.
Nijay: She’s worked with John Gottman. And a lot of—so she’s actually wanted to create a Christian—there are some Christian guides. But some Christian stuff because Christians want to know that it’s in the Bible. But in reality, a lot of Gottman’s stuff is scientific and cultural, right? And I feel like the stuff that this book is talking, that we’re talking about here, a lot of it could be just culled from personal experience, things like that. But he wants to put in Bible verses in order to give it this higher level of authority and status.
Sheila: Mm-hmm. Exactly. And I understand why someone would want to do that, but there are ways—and we’re going to get to some of them now—where he does this in a really actually deceitful way. It’s actually quite bad. And this is one of the worst ones. Here’s what he says. I’m going to quote what he says. “The Bible teaches unconditional respect.” So he’s talking about how women must respect men. And remember that in Love and Respect Emerson Eggerichs defines respect as—do you remember them all, Joanna?
Sheila: Let’s see. Conquest. You’ll get the H.
Joanna: R is—is it respect?
Sheila: No. It’s CHAIRS. It’s CHAIRS.
Joanna: Oh, authority, intimacy.
Joanna: Insight. Thank you. Yes. Insight.
Sheila: Relationship. And what’s the S?
Joanna: Oh, it’s sex.
Sheila: Yes. So you must give your husband—he needs to feel the need to provide. So conquest, hierarchy, authority. You must listen to his insight over yours. You must give him shoulder to shoulder relationship and sex, and all of this must be unconditional. And he gives several examples in the book even when the husband has been physically abusive, even if he is drinking or straying, even if he has withering rage so that you want to get away and hide. And so he says this. “The Bible teaches unconditional respect.” And he now quotes 1 Peter 2:17-18. And here is how he quotes it, “Show proper respect to everyone, not only to those who are good and considerate but harsh.” And he goes on to say, “This means that women must give unconditional respect to harsh husbands. I want to read to you what 1 Peter 2:17 and 18 actually says. “Show proper respect to everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Slaves, in reverent fear of God, submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate but also to those who are harsh.”
Joanna: It’s reverse Bible mad libs.
Sheila: Yeah. He combined two different verses, and he completely ripped out the first part of it. So while the first verse, verse 17, is addressed to everyone, the second verse is not.
Sheila: And he completely took out the beginning. He combined two things that do not—are not supposed to go together.
Nijay: Yeah. If I were a second reader on this book going to publication, I mean that’s duplicitous. You know what I mean? I mean that’s deceiving. Yeah. That’s just plain wrong. I mean if you want to make an argument and say, “If it’s true for slaves, it should be,” then you’ve got to make that argument which I don’t think should can be made. But he should make that argument. Or to say that wives were treated just like slaves in the ancient world, okay. It’s crazy. And I could argue against that, but at least he would be making the argument. But that’s a misuse of Scripture for sure. I mean in so many cases it’s like, “Okay. This is what the person believes. They went to a seminary, and they were taught this.” But in this case, that’s just trying to squeeze this square peg into a circle hole. That’s not possible.
Sheila: Yep. And the only way it works is if he thinks wives actually are slaves which makes sense.
Nijay: I mean just the word conquest itself seems really terrifying. Yes.
Sheila: Okay. Here’s another example of how he misuses passages. And here’s where he makes conclusion that the text doesn’t support and where the text isn’t even intended for that. I know we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I want to give a longer one here because this is—this one I find really interesting. And it’s how he handles 1 Corinthians 7. So if you recall, 1 Corinthians 7 is a whole bunch of Paul’s thoughts on what—how we should handle marriage, whether you should get married, whether you shouldn’t get married, what people should do if they are married, what people should do if they’re single, et cetera. And I’ll read to you what Emerson Eggerichs says, “A scripture passage I often reference regarding goodwill in marriage is 1 Corinthians 7:33-34. Paul assumes that married couples in Corinth have goodwill towards each other. He points out than an unmarried man has more time for doing the Lord’s work, but that a married man ‘is concerned about… how he may please his wife’ (v. 33). Paul goes on to say that it s the same for a wife who ‘is concerned about… how she may please her husband’ (v. 34). A good-willed husband does not try to displease his wife but to please her, as Paul clearly states in 1 Corinthians 7:33. I always urge a wife, who is feeling unloved, to be slow in asserting that her husband is unloving or does not want to love her. That is impugning an evil motive upon her husband, which is too drastic a judgment. True. A husband may not be as loving as he ought to be, but he is not consciously, willfully, and habitually trying to be unloving and displeasing. During those moments when a husband displeases a wife or a wife displeases her husband, it helps to keep Scriptures in mind. ‘The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak’ (Matthew 26:41), and ‘Indeed there is not a righteous man, or woman, on earth who continually does good and who never sins’ (Ecclesiastes 7:20).” Okay. Here’s my issue. 1 Corinthians 7:33 does say that a man is concerned about how he may please his wife, and he says this is why the unmarried should stay unmarried because “an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s work. But a married man is concerned about how he may please his wife.”
Sheila: That’s what Paul is saying. Eggerichs is using that statement to say that men are concerned about pleasing their wives. And so, wife, if you think your husband isn’t concerned about pleasing, you’re wrong because the Bible says that men are concerned about how to please their wives.
Nijay: Yeah. It’s just an overgeneralization. I mean it almost seems like—yeah. He’s taking this to mean there are no exceptions to that, right? There are verses in the Bible that say, “No one does good.” You know what I mean? Does that mean no one has ever done gone in the history of the world? No. There are times when the Bible is using generalizations, right? I mean it just—to me, I understand how these books become popular. But it’s like shouldn’t we use some common sense and say, “Sometimes people are mean. Sometimes people are jerks”?
Joanna: I think that in Emerson Eggerichs—and I apologize for engaging in some rather blatant psychoanalyzing of a man who I have never met. But we know from his own writing that his father attempted to strangle his mother. Which as far as evidence of not being a person of good will, attempted murder is pretty high in showing that you’re not actually a person of good will, right? This reads like an apologetic for his father. Whether or not it is or not, we can’t, obviously, say. But I have a lot of pity for someone who has undergone such incredible trauma and such intense domestic violence. And yet, these words are dangerous for women who are in the same position that Emerson Eggerich’s mother was in. And we must ensure that our empathy is with the victim. And I agree with you, Nijay, that the publishers need to be more cognizant of the impact of the words that they are allowing to be put out into the world.
Sheila: And speaking of publishers, this book is published by Focus on the Family and by Thomas Nelson if anyone is interested. So if you give money to Focus on the Family, you can call them and you can ask why they published a book that so misused Scripture. But getting back to 1 Corinthians 7, I think what is so interesting about this is it’s like he focuses on a phrase that was not the reason Paul wrote that verse. Paul’s whole point here was about whether you should get married, if you’re unmarried. He was talking about, “Okay. Look. How are we supposed to think of marriage in this context of understanding that we are called to spread the kingdom of God? And we’re all in this together. And the kingdom of God needs to be spread, and we’re all believers. And how can we best accomplish that?” And he’s getting all these questions about marriage. And so you know what? If you’re not married yet and you’re able to be totally sold out for Jesus, go do that because once you’re married you have other things to be concerned about. That’s what he’s saying. And yet, Eggerichs uses this for a completely different reason. And he does this repeatedly throughout the book, and he does this in his blog post. He often quotes this. He often insists that men are good willed and that 1 Corinthians 7:33 shows you that men are good willed. That’s not—that wasn’t the purpose of that passage. And here is another one. This one he uses even more. And that’s 1 Peter 3. If you remember 1 Peter 3, the beginning of it, it’s directed to women who were married to men who were not Christian. And that’s where he talks about—well, I’ll read you what Emerson Eggerichs says. “Another writer of Scripture chimes in with Paul on this matter of respect for husbands. The Apostle Peter wrote to wives that if any husbands were disobedient to God’s Word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives as they observe your chase and respectful behavior, 1 Peter 3:1-2. Peter is definitely talking about unconditional respect. The husbands he mentions are either carnal Christians or unbelievers who are disobedient to the Word that is to Jesus Christ. God is not please with a man like this. And such a man does not deserve his wife’s respect. But Peter is not calling on wives to feel respect. He is commanding them to show respectful behavior. This is not about the husband deserving respect. It’s about the wife being willing to treat her husband respectfully without conditions.” And in context and as he goes on throughout the book, he is saying, “Don’t bring up issues. You cannot criticize. You cannot talk to your husband about things that you are upset about.” In fact, in the book the only example in which you can do this is to say 2 to 3 sentences every 10 to 20 days. Other than that, you can’t—you’re not supposed to bring up these things where your husband might be wrong because you have to listen to his insight. You have to be under his authority. You have to give him hierarchy. The issue is that’s not what Peter was talking about here.
Sheila: And this frames his entire book is that you must win him without words. And he uses that without words thing over and over again to say, “Wives, you can’t talk about these things. You must win him without words. So if he is treating you badly, you just must have a chaste and gentle and quiet, et cetera.” What’s your take on that one, Nijay?
Nijay: You can use so many other verses. You can go to Romans 10. It talks about, “How will anyone know unless the word is spoken to them?” You could just play this back and forth badminton with one off verses. 1 Peter and the pastoral epistles and other places—I know you’re not talking about the household codes. But I’ve been doing a lot of work on the household codes recently. And—
Sheila: By which you mean Ephesians 5? Internal (cross talk) for everyone.
Nijay: Yeah. Ephesians 5, Colossians 3. 1 Peter has one. It’s in the pastoral epistles. And these are these places that say, “Women submit. Slaves submit.” And there’s a lot of discussion in scholarship about to what degree are we meant to take that on as a construct for our lives today because every time someone says, “Oh, the Bible says wives, submit to your husbands,’ then do we also have to say, ‘Slaves, submit to your masters?’” Oh, no. No. No. No. No. No. That’s wrong. Slavery is wrong. But this part is okay. No. How do we get to slavery was wrong? That actually came from culture. It was the biblical argument that were trying to support slavery. The more biblical arguments were pro slavery. And the abolition movement in the British—in Britain and the U.S. And it was cultural arguments about the quality of humanity that were pro abolition. And so once we start to enshrine the household code with this, “This is the way God has intended it for all times,” then we also are creating justification for slavery. And so we kind of have to handle it delicately, kind of like doing surgery. You don’t want to nick an artery, right? You kind of have to say, “What of this is actually from God? And what was trying to change things within its own culture?” And so the household code came from Aristotelian conception of the integrity and order of the family.
Sheila: So that’s Aristotle. Sorry. Aristotle’s conceptions.
Nijay: Yeah. That’s Aristotle and Plato. And what comes from Aristotle is this idea of male superiority, superiority of masters over slaves. Christians, whether we like it or not, took that on and decided they were going to try to work within it to change relationships. The question for us then is do we continue with that. And we decided no on slavery, right? We made a clear decision on that. But then on parents and children, we said, “Yeah. Okay. Children should respect parents.” So then it’s not a foregone conclusion what we do with wives then. We actually have to think through what exactly is being called for here. I just wanted to say that because it matters to me what kind of text we’re in in Scripture to know whether there is a direct application from Scripture. So for example, just an obvious one, Jesus says, “If your right hand sins, cut it off and throw it out.” And 99.9% of Christians are going to know that’s hyperbole.
Nijay: Poor one or two people out there that don’t know that. But the rest of us know that. So we have to take into account what kind of text we’re looking at to know exactly, right? And we all naturally do that because Paul said, “Most of us should not be married.” And yet, most of us are married. And so we kind of inherently understand—so one of my biggest concerns with this book is just this kind of not sensing what kind of text you’re reading. And you’ve pointed out several times with who is talking. Is this a narrative? Is it a good story or a bad story? Right? Is the character virtuous? Can the same thing be found in multiple places? This author is almost operating with the opposite where it doesn’t matter if it’s anywhere else as long as it’s here and said then it’s true. And that’s just not the best way to use the Bible. The best way to use the Bible is to really respect who the writer is and what the writer is trying to communicate.
Sheila: Mm-hmm. And that’s what I want to get into. This passage in 1 Peter 3 is really important that we understand who it was written to. It was written in Roman times when the church was exploding with all these new converts. And in very many cases, you would have female converts where the husbands weren’t converted yet. And this was a pagan society where husbands had absolute authority over their wives to the extent that you could kill them, and they wouldn’t be prosecuted. Okay? So Peter is talking to a situation where the woman has been converted and has become a follower of Jesus. And the husband hasn’t. And he is saying, “Look. Win him without words.” He’s saying, “Just don’t preach at him. Just don’t preach that he has to convert. Just be a changed person, and your husband is going to see it.” That’s what he’s talking about. He is not talking about 2023 western world where a husband is doing something that is hurting you and you want to talk to your husband about it. And yet, that is how Emerson Eggerichs is using this passage to say win him without words. I’ll go on. Here is another thing he said. It’s about the same passage in a different part of his book. “What Peter is saying is that your quiet and gentle spirit will melt your man’s heart. If you’re in a conflict and you remain respectful and quiet as you distance yourself a bit instead of preaching, lecturing, or criticizing, what will he do? Well, it depends. If your quietness is the right kind of quietness, respectful, and dignified, not pouty and sour, he will move toward you. He will want to comfort for you and take care of you. In essence, he will want to show you love. For the good willed husband, the wife’s quiet respectful behavior will act as a magnet.” But, again, that’s not what this passage is talking about. And he uses it that way over and over again. Joanna, you’ve read this whole book. What’s your take on Eggerichs and 1 Peter 3?
Joanna: Well, I just don’t think that he follows his own advice because he talks about how his wife is upset that he and his sons are leaving candy wrappers on the floor. And apparently, she’s mentioned this. But my understanding is, as far as I can recall, is that she’s also cleaning up the wrappers. And then she goes away for a weekend and comes back and says, “Did you miss me?” And he says, “No,” because he could, with impunity, leave candy wrappers on the floor.
Sheila: And wet towels on the bed.
Joanna: And wet towels on the bed. Yes. Mildew is of no consequence. When people don’t speak up, what happens is that they continue to be victimized. My background, really, is in public health. And my concern in all of this is—speaking at it more from a health promotion perspective, right? So whose health is being promoted? Whose health is being disregarded? Because typically with a health promotion approach, you try to make sure that everybody’s health is being promoted quite literally, right? So we talk a lot about harm reduction, making sure that everyone is treated with dignity. This is in a very secular discipline. None of my training is at Christian universities. And yet, I read this, and I think there’s no dignity of the person here for women. There’s lots of it for men. But even then, it isn’t dignified to take advantage of someone else. It isn’t good. Christ says that we’ll have life and have it abundantly. And this just doesn’t read like the abundant life to me, as far as I can tell.
Nijay: One of my reactions to this and other parts of the book as well is there are some prominent counter examples that he doesn’t entertain. So for example, if you look at the patriarchs from the Old Testament, the wives talk back. It was pretty normal. And it’s not treated as a bad thing. So Sarah. Sarah, on many occasions, kind of talks back to Abraham, and I’ll come back to that in a moment. But even Jesus. Jesus wasn’t married. But women talk back to Jesus on a number of occasions, and He’s not only okay with it but He kind of rolls with it. We can talk about the wedding at Cana. “Hey, it’s not my hour.” And she’s like, “Just do as I,”—“Okay. Fine.” He seems to be fine with that. And then Mary and Martha with the death of Lazarus, “Where were you Jesus?” And He doesn’t say, “Woman, don’t talk to me that way.” He actually gets into a theological discussion with her. And then the Phoenician woman, and they have this kind of playful critique. He has these conversations. He never rebukes a woman for being sassy or in His face. To come back to the Sarah story, this is interesting. I just came across this again. And it kind of struck me. Paul is talking to the Galatians, and he wants the Galatians—these Galatians Christians to stop listening to false teachers. And he actually quotes from the Old Testament, and he says, “Cast out the slave woman and her child,” meaning get rid of these false teachers. He’s actually quoting Sarah’s sassy words to Abraham about getting rid of Hagar. So Abraham is the boss, right? In the family. He’s the patriarch. He’s in charge. And if he wants to sleep with Hagar, that’s his legal cultural prerogative, right? And Sarah is saying, “I can’t handle it anymore. Get rid of her.” So she’s being sassy, right? Paul is quoting this as the very words of God to the Galatians to get rid of the false teachers. So he’s not only condoning sass, but he’s using it as an argument against false teachers. It’s fascinating. So there’s great counter examples where women are kind of—what’s interesting is we don’t see one paradigm of relationships. I guess that would be my conclusion after reading this book which I didn’t read. But that would be my conclusion is there are so many different forms of relationships that they don’t really fit into one type. That’s my problem with a deductive approach like this is you have Jesus with all these different relationships. You have all these different relationships in the Old Testament. And then you have the problem of someone like Paul or Peter writing about relationships under the Roman Empire where they’re actually trying not to change things on purpose as early Christianity is getting off the ground, right?
Nijay: And writers like this guy, they’re just not taking any of that into consideration.
Sheila: Yeah. Exactly. Okay. I want to end—this is the last passage I want to look at. And that’s how he handles the Genesis story. And I’ll read you what he says, and then I want to read you the application because it’s the application that really gets to me. So he talks about—and this is in the chapter on insight. How we need to listen to our husband’s insight, not our own insight, and he goes on to talk about how Eve was the one who was deceived and how he doesn’t believe that women have women’s intuition anymore. We really need to listen to men’s intuition because that’s the one that God has put in authority and hierarchy over us. First of all, this is just a little thing. He does right this. “Eve ate some of the fruit. Then Adam came up, or perhaps she went and found him.”
Joanna: Not in the text.
Nijay: He was there.
Sheila: Not in the text. He was there. So he actually just simply plain talks about the Genesis story wrong. So in Scripture, Eve and Adam are together. I had a great post that was inspired by Joanna awhile ago on how baby Bibles handle the Genesis story because in most baby Bibles you will see Eve alone with the serpent even though Scripture clearly says that Eve and Adam were both there. So I will point to that in the podcast notes where you can take a look at that and how your baby Bible stands up to that. But he goes on to talk about this scenario of Eve and the serpent, and here is his interpretation. “Apparently, Even concluded that she knew far more about what was best for her and her husband, and she influenced him to follow her lead. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and was cursed.” And this is how Eggerichs sets up this chapter is that it is wrong for men to listen to the voices of their wives because this is why Adam was cursed was because he listened to the voice of his wife.
Sheila: So let’s deal with that for a minute, and then I’ll read how he gives an application for this. Okay. So the Bible does say—in the Genesis story when God is talking to Adam, He does say, “Because you listened to the voice of your wife,” but the context of that is Adam wasn’t in trouble for listening to Eve. Adam was in trouble for listening to Eve and eating the fruit.
Sheila: Like it wasn’t the listening to Eve that was the problem. It was the fact that he listened when Eve was telling him or was suggesting that he do something bad.
Nijay: And it could be that he wanted to please her or something. There could be something behind that. But it’s not her voice that’s the problem. In fact, whenever people point to 1 Timothy or 1 Corinthians that talk about Eve being in trouble then I point them to Romans 5 where it’s actually Adam who is to blame. So Scripture blames them both, I think, pretty fairly. But I don’t want to get off topic. You can tell me if I’ve gone too far. I got into this argument once which—on social media which happens. With a friend where he was basically making the argument that women never say anything important in Scripture and nothing Gospel central that’s essential. And so that put me on kind of a hunt for what’s the most important. And that took me to Luke 1. Mary’s—
Sheila: I was about to say. What about the Magnificat?
Nijay: And so here you have this massively long song or speech by a woman that, in many ways, is kind of like a narrator giving you kind of the story before the story happens. And there is a book that I read called The Jewish Teachers of Jesus. And one of the big ideas of the book, which shouldn’t be that surprising but was kind of novel to me, was everything that Jesus taught essentially He learned from His teachers which I just never thought about that before because I thought He was God. Right? He just came up with it. But it makes sense because it’s so similar to other wisdom teachings that are in Jewish tradition. Anyway, as I wrote this book which we may talk about on another occasion, Tell Her Story, which is coming out in March, one of the things that really struck me was with Joseph out of the picture pretty early in Jesus’s life—especially His formative years, His teenage years—who was—and what’s interesting is Jesus isn’t traveling with a male relative which I think would have been the norm at the time. That He would have an uncle or a grandparent or an older cousin that would be like His mentor or like a proxy father, kind of a father figure. He doesn’t. It’s just Mary. So it’s interesting if you think about who would have had the highest formative influence on Torah, on Jesus even during His ministry? It would be His mother. I mean there is no other figure that’s named that would make more sense. So what’s interesting when people say, “Oh, can we let women be teachers or preachers,” one of the first things I say is, “What a risk God was taking in putting His only Son into the hands of Mary, if that were true?” If that were actually true that women are—like you were saying about Eve—too gullible, easily deceived, simple minded, whatever, what a strange and even wrong move to place the most precious Being in the world into the hands of Mary not just for His infant years, right? But for basically His whole life. I mean she’s there right at the end, right? She’s one of the only people there at the end. This is one of those counter arguments to this weird argument about Eve that God does—actually gives us the biggest trump card of all to place Jesus into the hands of a woman for basically His whole life.
Sheila: Amen. All right. Well, I want to read to you the application that Emerson Eggerichs now makes after claiming that men should not listen to the voices of their wives, and women should not insist that men listen to their voices. But women should submit to the voice of your husband and not become defensive. Here is an example that he gives. “For example, on occasion, the 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 knowing about her eating disorder and that he should be checking on his own pot belly. 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 truth is it’s very easy for a wife to discount or disparage a husband’s suggestion that she has some problem that needs correcting. Even if he is gentle and diplomatic in suggesting that she needs to make a correction to avoid hurting herself or others, he is quickly silenced. She is offended, wounded, and angered by his assessment. He is accused of being without understanding and compassion. He has no right to speak. And he will often wind up being shown contempt.” So okay. First of all, I just looked this up. Joanna, you will like this. I checked out the stats because he seems to have this thing that often it’s thin husbands who have overweight wives. So here is the data on overweight men versus overweight women. If we divide people into overweight and people who are obese and people who are severely obese, 34% of men are overweight, 43% are obese, 7% are severely obese. Among women, it’s 27%, 41%, 11%. So it’s really virtually the same.
Sheila: If anything, women have a bit of an edge.
Nijay: I would have assumed the opposite. Yeah. Speaking for overweight, I can claim that there are many people like me.
Sheila: So he wants to go say to her, “Hey, you’re putting on a few pounds.” And Emerson Eggerichs says she basically not allowed to say, “You are just as big. You’re using porn. And you’re an alcoholic.” Any of those things she can’t say because she’s supposed to listen to his insight, not hers. Joanna, your take?
Joanna: Oh, I mean—so first of all, I just want to say that this is really fat shaming and deeply and profoundly inappropriate. There would be a lot of descriptions and discussions in a counseling environment, right? About how do you have discussions about concerns that you have as a spouse for your spouse, right? Be that you’re concerned about their health and how they’re treating their body. You’re concerned about their Internet habits. Be that pornography or overusing video games or wasting time online that should be spent caring for the children or something like that, right? There are ways to bring these up in a healthy way. But it is not appropriate to assume that the only correct response to, “This is an issue that I am seeing,” is, “Okay. Fine,” if it’s the woman, right? And she’s not allowed to say, “Hey, but there’s this other stuff that’s going on that’s relevant to this conversation.” It can be problematic, of course, to say, “Yeah. But there’s this other,”—there is a—the particular dynamics of any given couple is up to that couple to figure out. And also if they are seeking help from a licensed therapist, that would be for them to work out in the office. But this whole thing is so bizarre. And even the way that he phrases it that it’s a few pounds, but actually it’s a ton of weight. And he’s thin. And she’s—it’s just—he’s making it out to be that this woman is just not a reliable narrator, if that makes sense? And that the husband is doing everything perfectly and being so demure, and he’s understating the case. He’s laying it on so, so, so thick. And the only person who can be seen sympathetically, if you’re taking Eggerich’s words at face value, is the husband. And, again, that’s not real life.
Nijay: It’s cartoonish. That was the word that came to my mind. It feels—well, one of the challenges I have with a book like this is it basically enshrines life in American in the 1950s or 1960s. So it’s taking a particular view of life, right? All these examples, everything he’s saying, I’m thinking, “This isn’t going to work around the world. This is going to work in America in—maybe even a particular part of American in the 1960s.” And I call it a Leave it to Beaver theology, right? It’s trying to enshrine that as what’s biblical, but it’s not going far enough back to the biblical world. And even then that’s not always, I think, what we’re supposed to do. A lot of this—I don’t want to scare your listeners off. But a lot of this is what we call hermeneutics. Hermeneutics is our philosophy of interpretation. So you have Scripture. But we also read the truth of the world through tradition, reason, and experience. This is not my idea. These ideas go back hundreds and hundreds of years. But the idea that the Bible doesn’t have all the answers to all our questions, right? And so we want to use truth from the Bible, but we also use reason. And by reason, we’re talking about things like psychology, sociology. But I feel like the ideal reader of this book is suspicious of counseling or at least secular counseling. Or they wouldn’t like the fact, Sheila, that you just used some sort of scientific statistic because that’s going to question the Bible or question a pastor that cares a lot about the Bible. So this is kind of an issue of how we educate our churches to say, “We can’t be afraid of science. We can’t be afraid of statistics and studies.” We live in a culture right now where people are trying to divide religion and science. So it makes the job of a therapist that much harder. I mean all the things that you’ve read so far just send off these warning lights of abuse and gas lighting, right? And I mean it sounds so cult like. It comes across as a cult to me. At the same time, I grew up in that form of evangelicalism. And so on one sense, I abhor it because I know how manipulative it can be. On the other hand, I know it because I grew up in it, and it doesn’t shock me even though it disturbs me. It doesn’t shock me because I know it. And I know the people reading the book, the vast majority of them, just want to follow Jesus.
Nijay: So what really bothers me is if I saw someone in a book store holding the book I probably wouldn’t bat it out of their hand. I would hold back the temptation. But I want to say there are other books too. I would want them to not be afraid of other books that are more methodologically thoughtful but that won’t be as neat and tidy. A book, like this, is attractive because it’s tidy, right? It establishes a very clear acronym, whatever that was. Whereas if I were to write a book and I wouldn’t say I could write the best book on marriage—but if I were to write a book, it wouldn’t be neat and tidy. What it would do is say there are these ten virtues that all people should have. Try to apply those to your marriage. Some of that we get from the Bible. Some of that should be common wisdom. And that just probably wouldn’t sell in the millions.
Sheila: Yeah. I want to build on what you said about how people are just looking for what they think is biblical advice. And I think they really are. They just want to follow Jesus. One of the reasons I wanted to do this podcast was I wanted to show you that just because people use Bible verses doesn’t mean they’re following Jesus. It doesn’t mean they have the heart of Jesus. And so when we’re trying to understand what the Bible is really saying, we can’t just pick a verse. We need to look at the character of Christ because when we see Christ we have seen the Father. Christ shows us who God is, what He is like. And so if we’re reading something from Scripture which doesn’t match up with Christ that’s a sign that our interpretation of Scripture is off because we should be looking at all of Scripture through the lens of Jesus. We need to look at the purpose for each passage. And instead of sprinkling hundreds of half verses throughout a book, let’s get back to really delving into the heart of Christ because I think when we do that it will be impossible to write a book which is so formulaic and which is so focused on men being in charge and will instead look more at the heart of Jesus about what it means to love God and to love our neighbor. And our neighbor includes our spouse. So I want to thank you both for joining me on this journey as we look into the use of Scripture.
Sheila: Nijay Gupta is going to be joining us again in a couple of months to talk about his newest book, Tell Her Story. Do you want to tell us just—give us just a brief synopsis of that book?
Nijay: Yeah. I mean my elevator pitch is we sit around saying, “What can women do or not do,” and when we actually read the Bible, women were everywhere doing everything. That’s my pitch. So I actually go through many of the named women in the New Testament that we know were actually helping to lead churches. Some of the women that we don’t often talk about like Nimphah or Euodia or Syntyche. Who are these women? And I talk about women—many of us don’t even know about like Damaris. So basically, I say we have these verses that we turn to in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians to say women can’t. And my book is all about the women that did.
Sheila: And that’s—I’m sure we’ll get into this when I have you back on the podcast. But that’s actually a really important part about how you interpret Scripture. If Paul really meant that women should stay silent in church in 1 Corinthians 14, then why 3 chapters earlier was he talking about women could speak in church? Why was he talking about actual women in his life who taught men like Priscilla? We need to have a broader vision of interpretation where we’re not just looking at a verse, but we’re saying, “Okay. If Paul wrote this, but then in his life he did the exact opposite, then we must be reading this wrong.”
Nijay: That’s right. That’s what the book is about.
Sheila: Yeah. So it’s just an important way of interpreting. And that’s something which it doesn’t really look like Emerson Eggerichs did as he approached the Bible. And that’s too bad because, as we showed in The Great Sex Rescue, his book did a lot of harm. And I hope that as we learn this we can speak up. And so thank you all for listening. Thank you for joining us, Nijay and Joanna. And we will talk again in a couple months about your new book, Tell Her Story.
Nijay: Thanks. Bye.
Sheila: I am so glad that Nijay Gupta could join us and Joanna, of course. And thank you to Joanna for making the original spreadsheet. Please take a look at the podcast notes. We have a link to that one sheet that you can download now and show to your pastor or small group leader about what the problems in Love and Respect are. I also wrote a post yesterday which documented the difference misuses of Scripture that we went into. And so take a look for that link as well. And you can see some of the things we brought up in today’s podcast, but I only scratched the surface in today’s podcast. Seriously. You could take a look at every single Scripture reference, just about, and find a problem with the way he used it because his whole approach to Scripture is not to see things through the lens of Christ but instead to find proof texts for his own views. And it is problematic. And so there is a longer post going over even more examples than what we mention now, so find those links. And remember, The Great Sex Rescue, which is a great antidote to Love and Respect, is on sale this month on eBook throughout all platforms. It’s on for, I think, $2.99 or $1.99 on some platforms. And on Amazon, it’s $5.00 off. So take a look. It’s a great time to get The Great Sex Rescue. And maybe one day in January I won’t have to do this anymore. I already have plans for January 2024. But you know what? Let’s pray together that I don’t even have to do it because Love and Respect is no longer the most used marriage study in North American churches because churches have woken up. So will you join me and pray for that? Because you know what, church? We do deserve better. Thanks very much for joining me. And I’ll see you again on another Bare Marriage podcast.
Other Posts about the Issues in Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
Must Read Overall Synopsis:
- Download our One-Sheet Summary of the Problems with Love & Respect
- Our Rubric and Scorecard Outlining Why Love & Respect Scored 0/48 on Healthy Sexuality
- An Outline of How Emerson Eggerichs Misuses Scripture in Love & Respect
- I’m Passing the Torch on Love & Respect. 10 Ways You Can Pick it Up
Basic Issues with Love & Respect:
- A Review of Love and Respect: How the Book Gets Sex Horribly Wrong
- Love and Respect: Why Unconditional Respect Can’t Work
- The Ultimate Flaw in the Book Love and Respect: Jesus Isn’t at the Center
- Is It Okay if Christian Marriage Books are Just a Little Bit Harmful?
Problems with How Emerson Eggerichs Handles Abuse:
- Dissecting a Sermon Series where Emerson Eggerichs Gaslights Abuse Victims
- Love & Respect is Being Used by the BDSM Community to Convince Wives to Submit to Domination
- How Emerson Eggerichs Misses Examples of Marital Rape
Podcasts Discussing these Issues:
- Why Unconditional Respect Isn't a Thing (and how the verse the book is based on, and the survey data the book is based on, don't hold water).
- An Example from Eggerichs' blog of Eggerichs Gaslighting Women (we work through line by line)
- Dissecting Eggerichs' Love & Respect Sermons at Houston's First Baptist Church, with His Dismissal of Abuse
- How Emerson Eggerichs Ignores Marital Rape, plus our interview with The Woman Crying in the Shower
- How Emerson Eggerichs Misuses Scripture in Love & Respect
- Our Love & Respect Wrap Up