In my first post after my undeclared sabbatical, I spoke about how one influential blogger has apparently decided that men are pretty much second class citizens in Christian marriage, anymore. In reading her posts attacking Emerson Eggerichs’ Love & Respect, you are faced with the undeniable fact that Madame DeFarge** embraces the teaching that husbands owe their wives “unconditional love” (after all, LYWACLTC™, don’t you know?). Readers of this blog will recall that in past posts, I have debunked the idea of unconditional love, but, hey, it’s a major tenet of today’s Church, almost approaching the status of accepted orthodoxy.
Be that as it may, in one of my Bad Teaching posts, I did demonstrate that the command for husbands to love their wives was accompanied by the command for wives to respect their husbands (this can be found in Eph. 5.33). I pointed out that due to parallel construction, either love and respect are both unconditional or neither is unconditional, that it isn’t a mix ‘n’ match set. It’s just not kosher to say that the husband has to love his wife unconditionally, whereas wives only have to respect their husbands conditionally. Nope. T’aint fair, t’aint biblical.
But this is exactly what Madame DeFarge argues on her blog. In fact, when one commenter said that while a husband’s love should be unconditional but it was alright to require a wife’s respect to be earned, Mme. DeFarge replies “Totally agree!” While Mme. DeFarge says that she is a new convert, her history shows that she has been undermining respect for husbands for several years. After all, three years ago, she wrote a post for her followers asking if they respected their husbands TOO MUCH.
“Respect Is So Yesterday!”
Although I am approaching 70, you don’t have to have a long memory to remember when respect was NOT a dirty word. It wasn’t that long ago that there were two books that were popular in Christian bookstores (even making the New York Times Bestsellers lists, I believe) for helping Christian marriages. First there was the men’s devotional, The Love Dare, written as a spin-off of the movie Fireproof, which challenged husbands to become more Christ-like in their relationships with their wives.
A couple of years later, Nina Roesner wrote The Respect Dare and created an on-line community and ministry around the idea that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. It seems that she and her readers have not felt the need to excise Eph. 5.33 from their Bibles.
I first heard of Roesner’s book and ministry six years ago through a fellow Christian blogger who decided to read and take the Respect Dare. Chris Taylor, of Forgiven Wife, shared with her audience that she had purchased The Respect Dare and was going to work through the 40-day devotional. She explained her reason for doing so:
I have always been very disrespectful toward my husband, and that is the real thing I want to change. I want to create a space in which my husband can grow as a man and know that I value and respect him as a man.
So the idea of wives respecting husbands was not, until recent events, a topic of scorn. There were respected (oh that word!) authors, men and women, writing about the need for love and respect in Christian marriages. Ah, good times.
Not Spouses, But Accountants?
Fast forward six years, and we now have Madame DeFarge and her following shouting “A la barricades” as they go after ministries and churches that won’t join them in their denunciation of Love & Respect.
As I noted in previous posts, the Church has become a feminized organization and I have documented the Church’s institutional denigration of men and masculinity; Madame DeFarge has upped the ante on men-bashing in Christian marriage and given full throat to those Christian women and beta males who want to lash men for being men.
The watchword in all of the postings by Madame DeFarge and in the comments from her devoted choir is earned, with the chant rising from all corners of the internet “Respect must be earned! Respect must be earned!” Over and over, Mme. DeFarge and her followers announce that they cannot, will not, respect a husband who hasn’t earned it.
As I was reading Madame DeFarge’s posts and emails where she lets slip her dogs of war onto Emerson Eggerichs, Focus on the Family, and husbands in general, one question arises in my mind that I find troubling in her entire crusade. Please pardon my French, folks, but
When in Hades did wives transmogrify from spouses into paymasters?
In order for someone to earn respect, there has to be someone else keeping tabs, totting up brownie points in order to determine when the candidate achieves his Respect Badge, right? After all, aren’t we told in Rom. 4:4, “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due”? For someone to earn a wage (in this case, respect), isn’t there a boss or foreman making sure that the worker stays on task, and that he earns his wage?
And then I realized just what Madame DeFarge was doing with her “Earn Respect” campaign. Although completely unintentional, she has been setting marriage relations back decades. As I thought about what I was witnessing in Mme. DeFarge’s undertakings, I remembered something that I had come across before, that some wives took it upon themselves to decide when their husbands had earned the privilege of having sex. Had the guy done enough choreplay to merit a roll in the sack? Had he been nice enough or obsequious enough to receive sexual favors, or not?
In essence, marriage was again being turned into emotional hostage-taking, a system of relationship transactions; “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” Husbands and wives are to no longer be seen as lovers, but instead as business associates involved in marital commerce, with respect as the currency that keeps the goods flowing. (Hmm, now I am wondering about the idea of making daily/weekly deposits in Love Banks…)
I’m sorry, but to my way of thinking Madame DeFarge and her followers are reducing the Christian concepts of love and respect to business transactions, making Christian marriage merely a sanctified prostitute-and-john affair.
Wives, are you making your husband earn something from you? Are you seeing yourself as the person in your marriage who holds the marital pursestrings? Husbands, to you, as well, are you holding affection hostage against your wives? I’m sorry, but that isn’t Christian and it isn’t godly. And according to the Bible, your putting a stumbling block between your and your spouse means that you are putting a stumbling block between you and God. I’ll have more to say about that in my next post.
** Since my blogging hero, Paul Byerly of Generous Husband, acted like a Christian should and didn’t give the name of the attacking blogger, I am following suit. However, I find it cumbersome to be constantly referring to She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and so I am going to refer to her by the name of a character from literature whom she seems, to me, to resemble. To those of you who recognize the character Madame DeFarge, yes, I do believe that the name is an apt appellation for her.
Disclaimer: I am not a counselor, doctor, or pastor. For that matter, Wife says I don’t play well with others. My advice and comments come from my concern for hurting Christian husbands and wives. Someone once said to me, “Church shouldn’t hurt”, and I believe the same thing goes for marriage. I’m going to call ‘em as I see ‘em, but please, don’t take my word as gospel. Yes, read what I say, pray about what I say, but do your own “due diligence.”