I'll continue my review of Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. In Part One: The Crazy Cycle, Eggerichs lays out his theory for why couples have problems. Men must give their wives "unconditional love," and wives must give their husbands "unconditional respect." He derives this from Ephesians 5:33. The interesting thing to me is that he implies all of Christianity has missed this connection until he wrote about it. For example, Eggerichs calls the connection between a husband's love and wife's respect a "secret." He also says that, "Many books on marriage stress the need for husbands to love wives, but the unique feature about this book is the concept of wives showing unconditional respect toward husbands." "I have concluded that those of us in the church, who believe we have the Truth, are not using the whole truth. A crucial part of God's Word has been completely ignored or perhaps simply gone unnoticed when it has been there all the time right under our noses!" I find such statements either ignorant of the vast work being done in the area of applied theology, or just plain arrogant. Spousal roles have been under our noses, yet missed all this time? Does he expect us to believe that?
Are we to believe no one in the church is preaching that wives should respect their husbands in all circumstances? The entire biblical counseling movement and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood are two examples of vocal proponents of biblical love and respect. Even the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention has this statement in their confession of faith, "The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation" (Italics are mine). Is the love and respect "secret" really that secret? The largest protestant denomination in the country made it a part of their confession of faith years ago. When books are built on hype, rather than substance, I can't help lose a bit of respect for them.
As I come to the end of Part One: The Crazy Cycle, I question if Dr. Eggerichs takes seriously the depravity of man in this section. His chief rationale for the "Crazy Cycle" seems to be that "the woman looks at the world through pink sunglasses that color all she sees. The man, however, looks at the world through blue sunglasses that color all he sees. Men and women can look at precisely the same situation and see life much differently. Inevitably, their pink and blue lenses cause their interpretation of things to be at odds to some degree." Eggerichs sees that men and women each speak in code that must be broken by the other.
I think the Bible has a more developed sense of marriage problems than just bridging interpretive gaps with better communication techniques. James helps us see the true problem. "What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:1-3). James concludes this section by calling for humility before God. As Dr. Eggerichs surveys the marital landscape, I don't see this message at the forefront of his radar screen. That's why I think Part Two: The Energizing Cycle falls somewhat flat.
Part Two: The Energizing Cycle is Dr. Eggerichs's attempt to prescribe a remedy to the problem he mis-diagnosed in Part One. He counsels men to keep in mind the acronym "C-O-U-P-L-E." C=Closeness, O=Openness, U=Understanding, P=Peacemaking, L=Loyalty, and E=Esteem. Husbands should relate to their wives on the basis of these six things. Eggerichs promises us that "C-O-U-P-L-E is based on foundational biblical passages related to husbands in marriage. You cannot go wrong trusting and obeying God's revelation." His promise is refreshing. The problem is that as I worked through the chapters covering the husband's role, I saw very little Scripture. I saw a whole lot of conventional wisdom.
In his counsel to women, Eggerichs uses the acronym "C-H-A-I-R-S." C=Conquest, H=Heirarchy, A=Authority, I=Insight, R=Relationship, S=Sexuality. He does a better job of actually deriving these from the Bible. I do appreciate his stand against the encroachment of feminism on the family. He takes a strong stand for the biblical roles of husbands and wives without apology. That is refreshing. He doesn't water down the tough commands of Scripture in any of the texts he uses, which displays a respect for the Bible. My problem is that he just doesn't use enough. In addition, he doesn't lay out the biblical purpose for marriage (right away, at least), so it appears that God and the Bible are really just the best tools available to ensure couples have a more comfortable marriage.
Almost everything he advises is just old fashioned behavioral therapy. No gospel. No freedom. Just more lists of things to do and don't do. Dr. Phil or Dr. Laura or any other pop-psych doctor wouldn't disagree with what Dr. Eggerichs suggests. If you're looking for lots of anecdotes in the form of letters of appreciation, this book's for you. If you're looking for solid biblical teaching that you can base your marriage on, look elsewhere.
Don't get me wrong. Dr Eggerichs does give lots of sound advice that probably could help a couple get along better. But that doesn't make it fully biblical. In other words, I can apply some of the things he taught because it's just common sense. But I can't shape an entire worldview of marriage on what is taught. There's just not enough biblical exposition. I'll finish my review tomorrow with what I believe is the strongest part of the book - Part Three: The Rewarded Cycle.