Saturday, March 14, 2009

Love and Respect 2

Some significant questions have arisen in relation to Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. This topic first came up when John Hobbins mentioned it here, and here. I understand it's a popular book, but otherwise I would not have heard of it.

First, this book includes some gender specific communication advice derived in part from the work of Deborah Tannen and John Gottman. I respect the notion that men and women are different and communicate in different ways. I resist the extremes of this position and the many ways it is manipulated. For example, I agree with Gottman's statement, cited by Eggerichs on page 60,
    "The more wives complain and criticize, the more husbands withdraw and stonewall."
However, I consider the following to be untenable. It was hard for me to keep reading after this. Eggerichs writes,
    I've asked any number of businessmen, "Do you want your associates to love you or respect you?" They all laugh and say, "I could care less if they love me, but respect me? Absolutely!" Right or wrong, men interpret their world through the respect grid, and a wife's softened tone and facial expressions can do more for her marriage than she can imagine. (page 65)
    Clearly, Eggerichs would not get a different answer if he asked a group of businesswomen the same question. But he pretends that he would. Either Eggerichs is not aware that businesswomen exist, or he does not care to be evenhanded in his portrayal of men and women.

    My last post discusses in more detail how Eggerichs misinterprets Gottman's work to support his notion that men need respect and women need love.

    Now I want to respond to two questions. The first one is whether the Bible actually says that men need respect and women need love, or whether it says that wives should "fear their husbands. Gem writes,

      Ephesians 5:33 is not telling wives to respect/reverence their husbands. It is telling wives to phobeo/FEAR their husbands.
    The second question is whether the subordination of women movement among Christians is not actually a part of a wider cultural phenomenon reflected in groups like MGTOW - Men Going Their Own Way. Janet writes,

      Google the terms "MGTOW" and "eggerich" in one search and see for yourself. Click around and you'll be disgusted at what you find.
    (Yes, Janet, I was.) My thesis will be, first, that the notion that men need respect and women need love is NOT based on scripture at all. Second, I suggest that the resurgence in the subordination of women teaching is part of a wider cultural reactionary movement in response to the equality that women have achieved.

    In order to respond adequately to Gem's question, it will require a fair bit of analysis of the Greek terms which are translated into English as "respect." I want to be clear that I personally do not consider the use of these terms to be the foundation for marriage counselling in the way that Eggerichs does. My purpose is to demonstrate that the paradigm Eggerichs writes about in Love and Respect cannot be supported by scripture. If scripture is his foundation, he needs to start over. I think this will prove to be an interesting discussion.

    1 comment:

    Wayne Leman said...

    Clearly, Eggerichs would not get a different answer if he asked a group of businesswomen the same question.

    I think so, also, Suzanne. So much depends on what context questions are asked in, how they are asked, etc. So much of evangelical claims about differences among women and men are based on anecdotes and personal opinions, not solid scientific research.