Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review: Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect

This book is essentially a Christian version of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." It's central hypothesis is that men and women see the world differently and have different needs and that because of this misunderstanding often causes problems in marriage. (In this way it is also a bit like the five love languages stuff) The solution according to Eggerichs is that men need to love their wives, and women need to respect their husbands... whether or not they feel they deserve it at that moment in time. Eggerichs helpfully diagnoses the "crazy cycle" which is a vicious circle where withholding love or respect from your spouse causes your spouse to withhold the love or respect that you desire which causes you to withhold even more, etc, etc. This book is very practically focused and I have to say the advice is pretty good. A lot of people would benefit from reading this and I will definitely use some of this material in my own ministry. but I do have some significant issues with this book.
  1. it is too long and rambling, it needs to be half the length and have a much tighter structure
  2. Eggerichs never actually defines what exactly he means by love and respect he just takes it as a given, although we do get some clarity from his examples of what constitutes love and respect, these words have a wide potential range of meaning and it needed clarifying
  3. Eggerichs spends far too much time promoting his ministry and conferences, which is annoying
  4. Eggerichs overdoes how unique and original his teaching is, which is annoying
  5. this book is hopelessly stuck in middle America and it would have benefited from being based broader culturally, this limits its usefulness in other contexts
  6. the use of scripture in this book is appalling, proof texting, paraphrasing and downright inaccuracy abound, although none of his conclusions are 'unbiblical' as such, he behaves as if the scripture were written directly to address middle class 21st C American marital problems, this made it hard for me to recommend
In giving my final score to Love and Respect I need to take into account the final section, which I nearly didn't reach. This redeemed the book from one I couldn't really recommend to one I feel I can, with qualification. This contains some really good and truly Christian (rather than just pragmatic) teaching, but even that is still rather slap dash and would have benefited from a more theologically critical editing. Overall, some good practical advice, but with significant shortcomings.

[This book review was done under the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers Program, go to http://brb.thomasnelson.com/ for details.]


  1. I agree with most of your conclusions I have read most of the book, however your point 6 is not very clear, can you rephrase or go into more detail as your explanation is not clear. Despite the authors ramblings on his originality, you would think he discovered love and respect the book has several useful points.

  2. Hi Anonymous, thanks for you comment. Point six is simply that this book uses scripture really badly. In the book he claims to have spent 30 hours a week doing bible study while he was a pastor, there was no evidence of that sort of thoroughness in this book. If you are interested in how you make such a judgement, I would recommend you take the time to read a book like "Reading the Bible for all it's worth" - Fee, or "Grasping God's Word" -Duvall and Hays, as good introductions to the issues.

  3. You could also take a look at my posts on hermeneutics, see the index at the bottom of the page...

  4. The author of this book uses Ephesians 5:33 to help the reader understand a marriage relationship. This was refreshing to me because as a Christian woman I use God's Word as final authority, so seeing this dynamic in the Bible was key for me. This book not only uses the Bible to show what a godly marriage should look like, but it also gives practical tools. Not all of these will come in handy at this point in my life as I'm not married yet, but I believe it would be of great use to those who are married.