So, I’m finally getting to a faith topic on my blog after a few weeks, and it stems from an awesome experience my wife and I had the past two days at our church, First Presbyterian in Lakeland.
The church was hosting a video marriage conference called Love & Respect, a program put together by Emerson Eggerichs, a former pastor, and his wife Sarah. They also have a book out by the same title.
I had read part of the book and got good reviews from some friends who had attended previous conferences, so we were pretty excited to finally be going to one ourselves.
The gist of the message, given from an entirely Biblical point of view, is this: Most women desire love first and foremost in the relationship, while most men desire respect. And Emerson does a great job in laying out the Biblical commands that the husband and wife are to follow along those lines.
Obviously, love is constantly preached in the church and our culture when it comes to marriage, but respect is hardly ever addressed. Part of that stems from the crusade against masculinity and fear of male dominance in our culture. I won’t get into countering the whole paternalistic argument here – at least not yet – but suffice it to say that Eggerichs and his wife do a fantastic job of laying out roles and responsibilities.
But back to Love & Respect.
Emerson pulls all of his ideas from scripture that specifically addresses marriage. The centerpiece is Ephesians 5:33 – “Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.”
Again, the respect aspect is going to be the hardest part for most people in our culture to accept, but it’s critical. It’s not meant to feed a man’s ego or to deceive a wife into becoming so submissive that her husband abuses her. If a man used his wife’s respect toward those ends he would clearly be in sin.
But the command for the wife to respect her husband is Biblical. And Emerson has developed what he calls the “Energizing Cycle.” When a wife treats her husband respectfully (appreciating his desire to lead and provide, honoring the fact he would die for her, etc.) he will then in turn treat her in a loving manner, which in turn leads her to give him respect, which he then reciprocates with love, and the cycle keeps going.
There are a ton of nuances that go along with this idea, way more than I can get into here. There are also lots of objections that can be put to rest.
Hopefully this is something that I can keep revisiting on this blog, especially as my wife and I start putting some of these things into practice.
But I encourage all of you to check out the book Love & Respect if you get a chance, or to keep your eye out for more video conferences available in the area. This teaching comes at marriage from a totally different angle than you’re likely used to – though it’s incredibly Biblical.
For more resources and information, visit the Love & Respect web site.
And if any of you have been to one of the conferences or read the book, please share your thoughts below. This teaching really has the chance to save marriages (with God’s help) and can help transform our culture for the better.