Sunday, March 15, 2009

Love and Respect 6

With respect to the pairing of love and respect in Eph. 5:33,

    however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. RSV
I have tried to represent several of the things that Eggerichs say about this and assess whether or not they are true.

First, the Greek word phobeomai , found in Eph. 5:33 maps poorly onto the English word "respect." In the Tyndale and Coverdale translations the word was "fear." This was changed to "reverence" and finally "respect," while phobeomai, when used with reference to God, is still translated as "fear." So a certain part of the sense of the chapter has been watered down.

We might consider whether wives were in a position where they were to phobeomai "fear" their husbands. Perhaps they were in a relationship not completely different from that of the slave to the slave owner.

On the other hand, I would like to continue exploring further the semantic range of phobeomai. It is used in the commandments in Lev. 19:3
    Ye shall fear (phobeomai) every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Lev. 19:3

    Honour (timao) thy father and thy mother Ex. 20:12

    Children, obey (hupakouo) your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Eph. 6:1

    Honour (timao) thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; Eph. 6:2
Here we see a continuum from "obey" to "fear" to "honour" within the relationship of children and parents. But let's look a little further and see how the word "honor" timao is used.
    For although they knew God, they did not honor (timao( him as God or give thanks to him, Romans 1:21

    but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. Romans 2:10

    Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10

    But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 1 Cor. 12:23

    Honor widows who are truly widows. 1 Tim. 5:3

    Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, 1 Tim. 6:1

    Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:17

    Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7
I hope this is clear. Honor is owed to everyone. The husband must honor his wife and the wife must honor her husband.

I see two choices for the interpretation of Eph. 5:33. "Respect" (phobeomai) could nean that a wife must "obey" or "fear" her husband because he has power over her. If this is the case, then the wife is no better than a child or a slave. The relationship is not reciprocal and according to John Gottman, the person who is not respected, in this case the wife, is demeaned and deprived of dignity.

The second choice is that "respect" phobeomai is roughly equivalent to "honor" timao. If this is the case, then the husband must honor his wife according to the scriptures. "Honor" is something which is reciprocal within the adult church members. Widows especially must be honored.

When Eggerichs writes,
    Interestingly enough, scientific research confirms that love and respect are the foundation of a successful marriage
this rings true. But when Eggerichs then says,
    Gottman's findings confirm what has already been in Scripture for some two thousand years. Chapter 5 of Ephesians is considered by many to be the most significant treatise on marriage in the New Testament. Paul concludes these statements on marriage by getting gender specific in verse 33. He reveals commands from the very heart of God as he tells the husband he must love his wife unconditionally and the wife must respect her husband, whether or not her husband comes across as loving. page 35-36
Eggerichs is being academically dishonest. One of the things I feel very strongly when I read something dishonest, is that I feel personally disrespected.

I firmly believe that women should be invited into reciprocal relations with men. Unfortunately only men can facilitate this.


Gem said...

Well Done, Suzanne!

Sadly, I think a whole lot of pew warming men have been misled to believe that they are entitled to "unconditional respect" when they don't dish any out. I did a study on "honor" and the Hebrew term means "give weight to their impact- whether positive or negative". It does not mean to massage their fragile ego with flattery and egg shell walking, or to lie about their failings. Biblical "Honor" is truthful, honest.

I loved Joel Davisson's review of L & R because of his honesty and his call for husbandly accountability to the wife God gave him to HELP him grow in CHRISTlikeness:

QUOTE from here: The premise is that my greatest need as a man is to have unconditional respect from my wife. I do not believe that for a second. My greatest need as a man, (I believe), is for me to learn what it means to lay my life down for my wife and love her as Christ loves the church.

I do not want my wife to feel like she is supposed to "respect" me simply because I am her husband or because the bible tells her to respect me. Yes, every man would like to feel respect - but does a Christlike man want his wife to respect him just because he is a male whom she is married to? No. A real man wants to live a life that is worthy of respect and wants to be respected because of the life that he lives.

In marriage, this means that I only want to be respected IF I am successfully meeting my wife's needs by loving her as Christ loves the church and GAVE himself for her. Jesus gave his very life for his "bride" and we respond and offer respect to him IN RESPONSE to the sacrifice he made. Jesus did not say, "If you will respect me, then I will die for you." He just died, with only the HOPE that we would respond to him.

Anonymous said...

If I am not mistaken, to honor means to be honest about who someone is... same root word - honor - honesty. It is what I tell my clients who do not want to speak ill of their abusive parent when they say to speak the truth is dishonoring. On the contrary, it is honoring to be truthful about who or what someone is. To be untruthful is to be dishonest, and dishonesty is not honoring.

Patty Newbold said...

Suzanne, what a delight to discover your fascinating and intelligent blog thanks to your link to my review of Love & Respect!

I wanted to tell you the story of how a gender-difference-bashing feminist like me came to buy into Eggerichs' reported gender difference. It's a long story, so I posted it on my blog instead of clogging your comments.

Patty Newbold said...

Looks like that address got cut off. Here's a shorter one: