Love & Respect Equates Theory with Scripture
Does Love & Respect weight the author's theory equally with scripture? Let's take a closer look:
In chapter one, the author lays out “The Secret Hidden in Ephesians 5:33” (p. 14).
“Paul is clearly saying that wives need love and husbands need respect…As I will show throughout this book, the Love and Respect Connection is the key to any problem in a marriage. This is not just a nice little theory to which I added a few Bible verses.” (p. 15)
First, the author says that this Love and Respect Connection is the key to any problem in a marriage and is not just a theory to which he added Bible verses. He states in the introduction that this message on Love and Respect was God’s revelation to him and that these “essential truths…will never change — not any more than God Changes.” He tells the readers definitively that “The Love and Respect connection is clearly within Scripture” (p. 16). Pastors and counselors recommend the book as Biblical, and the description of the book states that it teaches husbands and wives (by means of the Love and Respect Connection) how to deal with conflict “Biblically.”
The result of understanding the Love and Respect Connection as “not just a nice little theory”, but as the clear revelation of God means that it is absolute truth and should not be questioned. It means it will have “everything to do with the kind of marriage you will have” (p. 15).
But if you take a closer look at his language, and also dig around in the endnotes, it becomes evident that Eggerich’s “Love & Respect Connection” is indeed only a theory and not an essential truth that will never change.
He refers to “my theory” twice on page 16, and another time on page 19. He says on page 17 that it is his experience as a counselor which confirms the truth to him that the wife primarily needs to feel love and the husband primarily needs to feel respect. Nowhere else in the book does he use any other scripture to back up the idea of the Love and Respect Connection. It is based only on his theory and his experience. Hidden in the endnotes in the back of the book is his admission that the Love & Respect Connection is his theory of Ephesians 5:33 and not actually the theology of it (p. 319).
This blurring of the lines between theology and theory does two things. First, it leads the reader to believe that what they are reading is unchangeable Biblical truth and must be followed unquestioningly.
Second, it increases the appetite of the reader to excitedly devour the contents of the book. Although it is presented as unchanging truth, it is simultaneously presented as a revolutionary secret. “This is the key that I have been missing;” “You connected all the dots for me;” and “You’re onto something huge here;” are all quotes that are used on the back of the book and as advertising material on retailer websites.
If something is unchanging, Biblical truth then it is not a secret, revolutionary idea. But if it is only a theory, then it is wrong to claim that it is unchanging, Biblical truth.
Let me be clear. Ephesians 5:33 as it stands is unchanging, Biblical truth.
But Eggerich’s “discovery” (p. 4) of “The Love and Respect Connection” is only his theory of how Ephesians 5:33 should be applied and not the unchanging revelation of God which he leads the reader to believe in the introduction.
The Love And Respect Connection, in a nutshell, is that love is a woman’s deepest need and respect is a man’s deepest need, and that when each partner meets this deepest need of their spouse, marital conflict will cease.
This one-size-fits-all formula is the theory which I am challenging. Although I have no objection whatsoever to an author presenting their theory, I do have a problem with someone writing an entire book that leads people to believe their theory is the unchanging word of God. The Ephesian husbands were commanded to love their wives and the Ephesian wives were commanded to respect their husbands, and that is all that one can unequivocally state from Ephesians 5:33. Nowhere does it say that this is because a man's deepest need is respect and a woman's is love, and nowhere in Love & Respect does the author attempt to prove this concept from any other portion of Scripture either. That is because it is only a theory, and not something on which every couple can hang their hat.
Theories can help people — when they know that they are theories and may or may not work for them.
But theories can also hurt people when they believe they are absolute truth and must be followed.
How many tender-hearted people with very complex issues within their marriage have endured years of unnecessary conflict because they chose to be obedient to what they were led to believe was God's unchanging truth and the key to any marriage problem?