My Thoughts on Love & Respect: Part 3 (Sex)

Let’s wrap up my three-part series on the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs (2004). The first part in the series addresses Eggerichs’s general premise and whether he advocates abuse, and the second part addresses the “Crazy Cycle” and his take on gender roles.

Today let’s talk about Eggerichs’s views in the area I usually write about! Sex.

Eggerichs covers sex in marriage primarily in his chapter titled “Sexuality—Appreciate His Desire for Sexual Intimacy,” which appears within the section on the “Energizing Cycle.” This part is dedicated to “principles, techniques, and common sense to help husbands and wives learn how to practice the Love and Respect message on a daily basis” (106).

For what it’s worth, he starts with chapters telling husbands how to meet their wives’ need for love and then goes on to advise wives how to meet their husband’s need for respect. Likewise, that’s where I’ll begin.

To the Husbands

In his chapter on Closeness, Eggerichs advises husbands: “be affectionate and attentive every day, not just on days you want sex. Affection should be an end, not a means” (121). Well, yeah! I’ve talked about this on my blog too:

In the next chapter on Openness, Eggerichs covers the importance of a husband sharing and being transparent with his wife. He finishes that chapter with this advice:

“And one more thing. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, remember that if you are good-willed and open to your wife emotionally, she will feel close to you and open with you sexually. To put it another way, you must not be open to ‘get sex.’ A wife sees through that and is turned off sexually. But when you authentically meet her emotional needs, she’ll be empathetic to your sexual needs” (130).

I’ve done this ministry long enough to know we should not make guarantees like “when you do X, she’ll do Y.” Sometimes a spouse does everything right, and their mate still refuses sex. Sometimes, the refuser has good reasons their spouse is unaware of (e.g., past sexual abuse or pain during intercourse). My point is simply that some situations are more complex.

But overall, I agree with the advice. I’ve talked plenty about how external factors affect a wife’s willingness to engage sexually and ways a husband can pave the way. For example:

To the Wives

Eggerichs begins his chapter telling the story of a wife who delivered an ultimatum to her husband: she would not respond sexually until he met her emotional needs. The wife later became convicted that she needed to be the bigger spouse and attend to his needs first. “She didn’t have that need for sex. It wasn’t within her, but she realized that this was her husband’s need, and the Lord had spoken to her about meeting his need first” (220).

In my copy of the book, I jotted in the margin: “Is this statement about this particular couple or men and women generally?” Because it’s a great idea to be the one who takes the first positive step! As I discussed in the first post of this series, marriage should involve extravagant love, and extravagant love goes above and beyond. (See Sex and Friendship: Are They the Chicken and the Egg in Marriage? and You Go First—The Forgiven Wife.)

As I continued to read, Eggerichs made it clearer that he views sex as the husband’s need and intimacy and affection as the wife’s need: “Sex for him and affection for you is a two-way street. Just as he should minister to your spirit to have access to your body, so, too, you should minister to his body if you want to gain access to his spirit” (220).

Is that true? Does a husband, as he says, have “a need for physical release through sexual intimacy” (221)? Let’s unpack that idea.

First, nobody needs sex in the sense that they will die without it. (Sorry if that’s news to you, but it’s true.) To husbands worried about that statement, I also agree that nobody needs flowers on Valentine’s, weekly dates, or romantic conversation. That said, all of these meet a deep emotional need for intimacy.

God created us for relationship—with Him and each other. So yes, one way of nurturing and expressing that connection in marriage is sex. It gets at our emotional need for intimacy in a physical way.

Second, the longer a higher-drive spouse goes without sex, the more the desire for connection is felt in a physical way. It’s like an itch that begs to be scratched, a hunger that growls to be sated, an overfilled balloon that needs to be released. So yeah, I get the concept of “a need for physical release.”

However, the higher-drive spouse isn’t always the husband. In fact, it’s often not the husband—as in 15-30% of marriages. While that’s still a minority, it’s millions of couples. My higher-drive wife group on Facebook, with nearly 600 members, will testify they feel the itch too!

Third, God cares just as much about her sexuality as He does about his sexuality. The point of 1 Corinthians 7:3-6 is not that your spouse owes you “access to [her] body,” but that mutuality matters. If anything, God starts with the hubby meeting the wife’s sexual needs! “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” God presumes both genders want access to the other’s body, or rather physical intimacy within marriage.

And of course husbands want access to her spirit too. Most husbands enjoy their wives well beyond the bedroom. They just like who their wives are as persons.

The Problem with the Sex Chapter

Eggerichs provides some really good advice interspersed with some statements that had my head shaking as I read. But the real problem with his sex chapter is this: It includes the same erroneous or incomplete teachings that have been perpetuated throughout the Church and marriage resources for most of my life.

Emerson Eggerichs is hardly alone in espousing such ideas as:

  • “…he needs sexual release just as you need emotional release (intimacy)” (222).
  • “Husbands, particularly, can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release” (222).
  • Quoting a mom who chastised her grown daughter for withholding sex in her marriage: “‘Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him soooooo happy!?'” (222).
  • “Men, especially, may smile, but the cold, hard truth is that men are often lured into affairs because they are sexually deprived at home. A man who strays is usually given total blame for his affair, but in many cases he is the victim of temptation that his wife helped bring upon him” (224).
  • “[The wife] cannot comprehend that seeing some well-endowed woman at the office with a plunging neckline would ‘turn him on.'” And later: “Simply put, a man is responsive to what he sees. He needs his wife’s understanding of his struggles” (227).
  • “Do your best to give him the sexual release he needs, even if on some occasions you aren’t ‘in the mood'” (227).

What comes across in such statements is the notion of a sexually driven husband who, of course, struggles with lust because he’s visually oriented, needs sexual release with his wife to avoid that temptation, and doesn’t really expect her to be that into it. In turn, wives are expected to sexually resistant, but admonished to “take one for the team” by putting out regularly.

We’ve covered some of these ideas in our podcast episodes on Lies Women Believe, Part 1 and Part 2. And more in Myths We Learned from Pop Culture. And wives can learn more about their sex drive with a replay of our recent webinar, while husbands should definitely check out our upcoming webinar on this topic for them.

But a lot of well-meaning Christians have given advice based on an understanding of sexual intimacy that sells both husbands and wives short. Husbands don’t just want a physical release; they want to make love to their wives. Men aren’t destined to lust or watch porn or cheat if they don’t get enough sex. Wives are not without sexual interest simply because their sexuality doesn’t look like a man’s. Women are not without their own sexual temptations and struggles. And, again, plenty of marriages have a wife with more sexual interest than her husband.

The Silver Lining

As you can see, there’s some good advice here from Eggerichs. However, I have concerns about statements like those highlighted above and how they could be misused to push outcomes not in line with God’s design for sex in marriage.

The good news is Eggerichs is trying to address this. He recently did a blog series on sexual intimacy:

There’s a lot I considered quoting from those posts, but here’s just one excerpt:

“This attitude of husbands that took a one-sided position to 1 Corinthians 7 and demanded fulfillment of their male conjugal rights was contrary to Abba Father’s revelation to husbands and wives. One cannot imagine the pain many wives encountered. Or, equally depressing on the other end of the spectrum were those husbands depriving their wives of sexual intimacy.”

Still, many more people will read his book than his blog. So where I come back to is what I said in my last post: It is past time for a new edition of Love & Respect. Eggerichs could clarify his thoughts, use new examples, and include warnings against sexual mistreatment in marriage. He could better explain God’s design for sex in marriage as a mutually satisfying, intimate, loving and respectful relationship.

In a Nutshell

Eggerichs’s advice to husbands is pretty good, and much of what Eggerichs says on sex will resonate with couples who face the situation of a husband desiring more sexual intimacy and a wife reluctant to pursue it. However, his admonitions miss the mark for many couples and don’t capture the fullness and goodness of God’s design. That said, I don’t find Love & Respect to be an outlier among Christian sex advice that I’ve heard most of my life.

Ultimately, we need Christendom at large to gain a better understanding of God’s design for sex in marriage. We’re making progress, but there’s a lot more to be done. Every Christian needs to understand that God made both men and women sexual beings and placed sex within marriage for both husbands and wives to foster and express intimacy.

Every Christian needs to understand that God made both men and women sexual beings and placed sex within marriage for both husbands and wives to foster and express intimacy. @hotholyhumorous Click To Tweet

Eggerichs could further that mission by engaging with Christian women with ministries in this area—me, Chris Taylor, Bonny Burns, Gaye Christmus, Sheila Gregoire, Juli Slattery, Julie Sibert, Ruth Buezis, take your pick—who could share wives’ stories that a male pastor, author, and speaker probably hasn’t heard. Then he could update his book. I suspect a new edition of Love & Respect would be well-received.

A different take: A Review of Love and Respect: How the Book Gets Sex Horribly WrongTo Love Honor & Vacuum

44 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Love & Respect: Part 3 (Sex)

  1. Anonymous

    Well written, logical, balanced….thank you! I appreciate your approach and felt some of the blog posts I read were blown way out of proportion and exaggerated without any real context or understanding of the book as a whole. While I never cared for the book (I did read it) I like that you don’t write him off as a monster who facilitates abuse, but instead pointed out the good aspects, and then pointed out improvements or revisions that can be made. This is writing at its finest. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  2. Jim

    Let’s just say that I appreciated your review of Love and Respect – showing both the good points of the book and parts where the book needs some updating. As in most things in life – including comments from Christian authorities – there are often more areas of grey than there are areas of black and white (1 Corinthians 13:12 – For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.)

    I know I am a sinner and I know how much grace God has had to provide to me (1 Timothy 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.) I appreciate that your writing (as do the writings of Chris Taylor, Bonny Burns, Gaye Christmus, and Julie Sibert) seems to strike the same tone. As a husband who strives to love his wife as Christ loved the church as commanded in Ephesians 5:25 (and as one who knows he will never *quite* attain that goal but never wants to give up striving to attain the impossible) I greatly appreciate your (and many other of the blogger’s you cite) insights. They really do help.

    Thank you, and Pax,

    Reply
  3. John

    Your comments are thought-provoking. I realize that no two people will probably see eye-to-eye on any subject. So, I don’t think anyone should feel upset if you and Eggerich don’t totally agree. You both have good things to say. I think, though, that when he talks about men’s need for sex, he is referring to a genuine physiological need. Our bodies don’t stop producing sperm and seminal fluid just because we aren’t having sex. The physical pressure does indeed build until it finds a way to release. Few women understand this and appreciate the problems this creates in men. (Is there a physiological equivalent for women?) Couple this physical need (and I would have to agree with Eggerich here that there is a real definable need) with the hormones that drive us, and there is the potential for serious trouble. So when wives believe their husbands don’t need sex, they leave it to their husbands to find another way to relieve the physiological pressure, either through masturbation, nocturnal emissions, or affairs, none of which strengthen their marriage. On this point, I would have to agree with Eggerich.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Yep, I understand what you’re saying, but I’d quibble with this wording: “So when wives believe their husbands don’t need sex, they leave it to their husbands…” Women are defined as the responsible party in that whole sentence, and I think more of the responsibility needs to land on the husband. Perhaps more like: “When wives believe their husbands don’t need sex, husbands may pursue another way…” See what I mean?

      (Oh, and I think men tend to downplay how difficult it is for many women to not fall prey to sexual temptation themselves.)

      Reply
  4. Doug

    In the end, I’m left with the impression that Eggerichs addresses some of the technical aspects of love and respect well, but fails to account for the mojo a man must develop in order to fully arouse the latent fire in his woman. His description of love seems to lack the passion women really want. As one writer said, “Women are not looking just for love in a marriage; they are primarily looking for lust. A woman wants to be wanted, needs to be needed, desires to be desired.” For Christian men especially, they need to see real mojo in action. They need to read romance or at least study it in movies. Thanks for the review!

    Reply
    1. Goldtop

      I would also add that wives can smell desperation and the odor is not arousing.

      When we approach sex as a need that we can’t live without, what’s provided is often of very low quality. If we routinely take it, then the quality diminishes a little each time we engage in sex.

      When we reach the point that we believe that lousy sex is worse than not having sex, we may see things improve.

      Reply
  5. P21

    Overall, I want to say thank you for a job well done. But as happily married man of a couple decades and pastor I would agree with Dr. E on the list of bullet point things you seem to disagree with:
    “…he needs sexual release just as you need emotional release (intimacy)” (222).
    “Husbands, particularly, can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release” (222).
    Quoting a mom who chastised her grown daughter for withholding sex in her marriage: “‘Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him soooooo happy!?’” (222).
    “Men, especially, may smile, but the cold, hard truth is that men are often lured into affairs because they are sexually deprived at home. A man who strays is usually given total blame for his affair, but in many cases he is the victim of temptation that his wife helped bring upon him” (224).
    “[The wife] cannot comprehend that seeing some well-endowed woman at the office with a plunging neckline would ‘turn him on.’” And later: “Simply put, a man is responsive to what he sees. He needs his wife’s understanding of his struggles” (227).
    “Do your best to give him the sexual release he needs, even if on some occasions you aren’t ‘in the mood’” (227).

    I think you’d find the majority of christians would also agree with Dr E on these things.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Sir, as a pastor, I beg you to think about what I’m saying here: Statements like those and the impressions they leave (which I addressed right after those points) have alienated female congregants and disregarded how their sexuality works. It’s an incomplete picture. For example, take the last one: “Do you best to give him the sexual release he needs, even if on some occasions you aren’t ‘in the mood.'” How is that motivating to a wife to believe she’s being used as a real-life tool for her husband to get “release,” rather than him wanting to connect with her intimately? How does it help to just tell her to schlep into the bedroom when she’s not in the mood, rather than teaching her how to awaken her desire (as mine and other blogs, and Ruth Buezis’s Awaken Love course, do)? How does it reflect Christ-like love to petition for pity sex? There’s a much better way to convey God’s design for sex in marriage.

      Reply
      1. P21

        Maam, If you’ll allow me to speak frankly for a second I will say that I prefer unity but since it seems we are in the business these days of tearing down good men, or at least their theology in this case, and picking teams I will do so and state my reasons why.

        First, I visit marriage blogs simply because if you can tell me what a people believes about sex/marriage, money and their children I can tell you their spiritual health. Marriage blogs are one very accurate thermometer for the spiritual health of those around me.

        Second, I find the average marriage blogger to have so much baggage perhaps even more so than the average reader of marriage blogs it makes it difficult to take them serious let alone trust them as a teacher. Christian marriage blogs are the same phase as christian rock bands in the 70’s in that we are so early you can gain an audience simply by showing up. It leads to an heir of authority that is neither given by God or fitting of their knowledge they possess but they must know what they are talking about right, I mean they are the 1st or 3rd highest rated christian marriage blogger, right?

        Third, I find the average christian marriage blogger reader so desperate they will try anything and listen to anything for a fix. The answers are in the Bible but they are far harder answers to the questions than most are willing to accept (that is in there also). Which is why instead of asking selfish people to become less selfish, heaven forbid sacrificially unselfish & giving like our Creator and Savior, we tell them to become more selfish. Awaken yourself we say! Get the good stuff for you also! You’re missing out! Our Creator says die to self but we teach get yours. Our Creator says love, give long past it hurting, take up your cross, keep your promise, submit. But we instead call that pity. You want to really awaken? Give everything over to Him completely and love others, most especially your spouse with everything you have. But that is too hard of an answer for most and like the rich young man most will walk away because whatever they are holding onto it is more important to them than just following His Word which would truly awaken love.

        You were fairer than your colleagues, but in at least one instance that is not saying much, but I give credit where credit is due and you were gracious in your descent. But since we seem to be picking teams I will state unequivocally if I must pick I’m going with Dr E.

        And to answer another poster, “WHY ARE SO MANY MEN COMMENTING?” It is simply because there are so very, very few teachers in a feminized western world church today that give a fair and balanced (not even a masculine) voice to the subject and when they do they are ripped to shreds. So men comment as you a tearing down someone who has had their back.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          I vacillated on approving this comment, but decided to go ahead and let it come through. I feel no need to answer the specifics (I’ve made my case many times over on this blog), but I will answer a couple of charges:

          First, I don’t know your background or training, so it may well be more than mine. But I speak as someone who did have a lot of baggage and was redeemed by Christ, which is basically the same story many disciples who have spoken about Christ and His healing for life. In my case, I speak to healing in the marriage bed. My personal story fuels my ministry. HOWEVER, I received a bachelor’s degree in history, mostly church history, from a Christian university, earned a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Houston, and have done extensive Bible study on my own to inform my views. People can disagree with me all they want, but I’m not a hack in this area.

          Second, it’s so interesting that when I say something to defend men, some component of women say I’m being unfair to women, and when I say something to defend women, some component of men say I’m being unfair to men. Actually, I’m on men’s “side” quite a lot (see What I Truly Believe About Men. Putting it frankly, I want husbands to get all the sex they want and God wants them to have! I’m just telling men that how sex is spoken about matters a lot in whether their wives will engage or work toward improving their sex life. I’d think most men would want that information.

          Reply
          1. Jim

            J – suffice it to say that P21 does NOT speak for all men who read your blog. Of course, I might just be one of those “average christian marriage blogger reader so desperate they will try anything and listen to anything for a fix” but I don’t think what I have read on your site contradicts what is within the Bible. In fact, I believe (taking allowances for human error of course 🙂 ) that your blog posts follow the teachings of the Bible. I struggle to think of one instance where you have written something that I could characterize as “instead of asking selfish people to become less selfish, heaven forbid sacrificially unselfish & giving like our Creator and Savior, we tell them to become more selfish.” If I had to characterize your writing into one pithy statement it wouldn’t read “be selfish” – instead my characterization would be that you encourage all of us to love our spouses with an extravagant love.

            I also do not believe your series of three posts on this subject was an exercise in “tearing down good men, or at least their theology.” You appeared to be reading Eggerichs’s “Love and Respect” with an eye towards grace, looking to see where you agreed and where you thought Eggerichs’s writing might benefit from being updated. While I haven’t seen the videos you mention in your blog, assuming your characterization of what is in the video’s is correct, then Mr. Eggerichs might agree with you that – at points – his writing could stand some revision (as one who writes – a lot – in his chosen profession, I know nothing I write is ever so perfect that it couldn’t be improved).

            Maybe I am not nuanced enough to understand P21’s argument, but for me it is simple – I am called to love and respect my wife. Hopefully she will love and respect me, but my love and respect of her is NOT conditioned on receiving love and respect back. It makes it easier if I do receive such love and respect in return, but lack of the same does not negate my responsibilities. Neither your blog posts nor Mr. Eggerichs’s book seem to contradict this (though I can see where some could use his writings in ways that would seem to put all of the burden on the wives, a position I believe Mr. Eggerich clearly opposes). Do I succeed in doing this in all instances? I’d love to say yes, but honesty compels me to admit that I fail far more often than I would like.

            Hence the reason I like reading blogs such as yours – while written from the perspective of a woman (heh -there I am showing my grasp of the blindingly obvious 🙂 ) I don’t feel that your blog denigrates men. Yes, you hold us to a high standard (that which is put forth in the Bible) – but you do the same for women. And yes, sometimes the shoe does bind when it is on the other foot (for some reason we all seem to be able to see the speck in our spouse’s eye much more clearly than we can see the log in our own eye . . )

            So please do continue to write your blog – THIS particular man appreciates what you do.

            Pax

          2. J Post author

            Wow, thank you. I appreciate that, especially since I feel like I do champion men a lot. Y’all are pretty awesome, as a group, and I thank God for creating the male species. I’m a big fan, especially since I have a fantastic husband and two wonderful sons.

            Also, with what I write, I’ve helped some of you guys get more sex, so there’s that. 😉

      2. Goldtop

        Men have to reach the point, that they willingly lay down their desire and take the manly route to pray to meet their wives need for no sex, as long as the pattern of refusal isn’t ongoing. Then they have to be willing to confront the situation (and this is absolutely possible).

        Men absolutely have to reach the point where they truly own reality that pity sex is worse than no sex. Why would a mature man want to be sexual with someone not sexually interested in them? That is the difficult journey I took. When I finally (mostly) agree with the statement that a loving man would not push for sex with someone that isn’t interested in him and that a mature and well-adjusted man would not be willing to have sex with an unwilling and unenthusiastic partner, real growth can happen in the marriage. And as me we must be willing to weather the initial pressure to cave in to the lowest common denominator.

        Ironically, when we pursue sex as a need, we tend to get really lousy sex. Hard. Pass.

        Playing the guitar is more fun and satisfying than crappy sex.

        Reply
    2. MSU

      Just a few contrasting thoughts to the bullet points you say most Christians would agree with. I would say many men – not necessarily Christian might agree out of selfishness, not out of love. If they truly loved their wives they would seek to make sex (even if they know she doesn’t crave it or enjoy it) an experience she looks forward to with anticipation. What husband wouldn’t love that?

      Anyhow back to the points you restated…
      These points as J mentioned, can lead to so many interpretations. And I agree may would feel alienated by them. Instead of help, these would only blame and bring about guilt not healing.

      Ok, here it goes. I’ll re-list each point and my take on it.

      “…he needs sexual release just as you need emotional release (intimacy)” (222).
      Actually, many times (as J mentioned) the woman needs more “sexual release” than the man. Even if you were to agree with this one (say in the marriage the man has a higher drive) there is still a problem in making a generalization (which brakes one of the top ten rules of writing “Thou shalt not make any generalizations” – the whole list is plagued with generalizations really, so I won’t bring it up again).

      “Husbands, particularly, can come under satanic attack when deprived of sexual release” (222).
      Husbands and wives can come under attack (temptation) at any moment, especially if a person has baggage they haven’t dealt with, temptation is always around the corner no matter how available sex is to them at home. Plus, attack is not necessarily tacked on to sexual sins. We are all tempted according to our own lusts and desires (James 1:14) that can be sexual sins, yes, but it could be drinking, abuse, etc. Also what makes this of single men? Are they constantly under attack because the Bible teaches us to remain chaste until marriage?

      Quoting a mom who chastised her grown daughter for withholding sex in her marriage: “‘Why would you deprive him of something that takes such a short amount of time and makes him soooooo happy!?’” (222).
      This one is so sad. If sex is indeed short and makes him soooooo happy, then yes sex is only for him. No wonder that girl does not want to give it. She has no say in it and no enjoyment of the beautiful act that God intended to bring two into one-fleshedness. In this marriage the man might be deprived of sex when she withholds, but the girl is always deprived of sex, intimacy, love (the one thing Dr. E reminds husbands is their duty to their wives) whether she gives the sex or not.

      “Men, especially, may smile, but the cold, hard truth is that men are often lured into affairs because they are sexually deprived at home. A man who strays is usually given total blame for his affair, but in many cases he is the victim of temptation that his wife helped bring upon him” (224).
      Maybe a wife of a man who strays has something to do with him straying – maybe she is abusive herself, or absolutely indifferent to him, or whatever. Ok, she might have played a part in pushing him away, but she was not the one who followed after temptation, he was therefore he has the full blame. He might be a victim of abuse or neglect, yes. But he is no victim of his sin, he is the sole actor of the sinful behavior. He needs to recognize that if he is to ever be healed and forgiven.
      Now here is another scenario, suppose there is a husband and wife who are about to have their first child. The wife goes into labor and she tears terribly bad needing surgery that gets her on an 8 week ban from sex. Suppose she then has further complications which extend the ban a further 4 weeks. Here is a case in which the husband is definitely deprived of sex. What if he goes and cheats? Who do we blame? The wife for getting pregnant? The wife for tearing? The baby for being too big and tearing his mommy? The doctor for not preventing the tear or making a better suture that could heal faster? We can’t blame anyone but him. Where was his self-control? He is no victim.

      “[The wife] cannot comprehend that seeing some well-endowed woman at the office with a plunging neckline would ‘turn him on.’” And later: “Simply put, a man is responsive to what he sees. He needs his wife’s understanding of his struggles” (227).
      Actually, we can comprehend. And I do comprehend. There are women far more beautiful than I ever will be. We get that, and we know you know that too. So we do know a “prettier” woman can catch your eye. That is not the problem. It becomes a problem when we see you look at another woman and “go with it.” If someone catches your eye you have a choice (once again a self control issue – need I quote Galatians?) you can decide to look away (if you’re alone, look at a menu, the phone, the floor is a great choice too), look back at your wife or children who are with you, or you choose to dwell on it Let the look become a stare; let the stare become lust; let lust become your reality – aka you get turned on. Yes, I understand how it can be a struggle to look away, but it is not impossible. Staring and being turned on are not inevitable, especially for a man who is a Christian and relies on the Spirit to aid him in his weaknesses. We understand what it is to be tempted, but if there is a pattern of behavior we will be turned against being understanding as we will se you are not actively trying to fight the temptation/urge/lust.

      “Do your best to give him the sexual release he needs, even if on some occasions you aren’t ‘in the mood’” (227).
      Once again, this one could be a lot better with changed wording. Encouraging the wife to seek help if she is never in the mood. Maybe there is vaginismus or past baggage. Maybe she was never taught God created us as sexual as well, so we can enjoy it. There are so many caveats to this one statement. And as mentioned before encouraging the husband to love his wife by finding what helps her be in the mood. How can I help my wife like sex with me as much as I do like having sex with her? How can I show her I care for her needs and want her to be satisfied too? Then it’s not about release but truly about loving and respecting each other in the true sense that 1 Corinthians 7:3-6 intends. That’s a nice challenge! Help her become the happiest and most fulfilled wife too (sexually and not).

      I leave these comments as food for thought not to incite any arguments. This is just my point of view. Feel free to disagree with me; I won’t be offended. May God bless you.

      Reply
    3. Mark

      Pastor 21,

      Maybe I’m reading your comment wrong, but from what you are saying, if a wife isn’t feeling well, or not desiring or in the mood to be intimate every time her husband desires it, she is partially the reason, he strays?

      I myself would think, if he strays that he may not actually love his wife anyway. On top of that it would be difficult for a wife to be intimate or enjoy intimacy if her husband didn’t love her. It would be difficult for me to be intimate with my own wife, if she didn’t love me.

      Are you partially saying this, because the pressure to release becomes so unbearable that if she isn’t in the mood, she’s suppose to do take care of his intimate “issue”.

      Is making love really about the man’s release?

      What if as a husband, you weren’t in the mood 24-7 and she needed a regular “release” and you simple weren’t “up” to it, and didn’t even touch her and then she strays, is it your fault?

      Pastor, there more to intimacy than a man’s selfish intimate release.

      By the amount of divorces (even in churches) we have a love problem within marriages.

      In fact I know couples are being guided into marriages, simply because that are practicing pre-marital intimacy who don’t love each other, but instead are together initially for the “release”, those relationships typically end up in divorce.

      Even if a husband’s intensity to release can build up to be extremely strong and unbearable if he loves and respects his wife, he could find relief while taking a shower, instead of straying and then suggesting she is the reason he strayed in the first place.

      Hinting that a wife is the blame for his straying, because he isn’t experiencing enough releases, is [problematic] preaching.

      Reply
    4. Bill

      Agree completely! My wife and I took Dr. E’s live course several years ago, and nothing I have ever heard or read spoke to me and my heart as strongly as what Dr. E said. I enjoy reading your material, but Dr. E knows men. I humbly suggest you spend less time bashing his work and more time reflecting on what he has to say about men’s innermost desires. I say this with much respect for what you teach.

      Reply
      1. J Post author

        “Dr. E knows men”…except he doesn’t represent all men. I’ve asked a fair number of them if certain statements reflect how they feel and heard back that they don’t. Yes, the respect thing is a big deal, and I supported that idea in this series. But I’m not “bashing his work” to suggest that some statements are problematic. Moreover, it’s not just wives who need to understand men, but men who also need to understand wives. So if certain statements comes across as highly offensive to women, wouldn’t husbands want to know that and adjust their explanations accordingly? Believe me, I don’t want to offend men (whom I generally think are pretty awesome), and I often advise wives to consider HOW they say something their husbands, because that matters.

        Reply
  6. Ceaser

    “Second, it’s so interesting that when I say something to defend men, some component of women say I’m being unfair to women, and when I say something to defend women, some component of men say I’m being unfair to men. Actually, I’m on men’s “side” quite a lot (see What I Truly Believe About Men. Putting it frankly, I want husbands to get all the sex they want and God wants them to have! I’m just telling men that how sex is spoken about matters a lot in whether their wives will engage or work toward improving their sex life. I’d think most men would want that information.”

    Most men I know have heard this for a few decades from the female teachers and then the females and they have are seeing through it. They saw what it did to their dads and they have experienced it themselves. They can also look around and see the results. They are not good and they have not benefited anyone, let alone men in the bedroom or out. There was a reason things were the way they were for centuries and millennia. Because it worked and because they chose a biblical interpretation closer to Love & Respect author rather than the one being taught by all the females. All female teachers and most females have lost credibility to me and with so many men. The Overatin window has reached peak and is moving back at a quickening pace to what was a few decades ago just considered common sense but is now considered outdated or even abusive. Don’t get me wrong, those true christian feminists are doubling down which is what all SJW’s do but in Christendom we are indeed choosing sides. But He told us that believing in Him would turn mother against daughter, etc.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      “Most men I know have heard this for a few decades from the female teachers and then the females and they have are seeing through it. They saw what it did to their dads and they have experienced it themselves.” Their dads? Their dads didn’t hear what we’re talking about. Resources like mine and others were not prevalent decades ago. And I refuse to “choose sides,” unless the side I’m choosing is our Lord (“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” – Matthew 12:30), who wants us to understand His desire for:
      • Unity between husband and wife (That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. – Genesis 2:24)
      • Sexual intimacy according to His design (“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.” Song of Songs 7:10 – notice it says desire for me, not just sex)
      • Others to know us by our love for one another (“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:35)

      As a fellow Christian, I long for us to stop arguing with each other, especially along gender lines, and make sharing the Gospel our focus.

      Reply
  7. Active mom

    Great finish to this series. I almost didn’t comment because I knew what was going to come out in the comments with this topic. It is nice to know that a portion of our church population is always consistent. I laughed a little when you did the post asking wives why they weren’t commenting and then I read the comments on this post. However, since I commented on the first 2 I thought I should on this one as well. I thought you did a good job on this last segment. My biggest takeaway from your reviews as well as some of the angry commentators is that we have gotten into trouble as a church community for taking customs, cultural norms, passed down thoughts and habits as biblical. The things people seem to be the most upset about you critiquing isn’t the portions on actual scripture. But, rather how it was interpreted and slanted to fit a certain point of view. I always appreciate how well you try and articulate that men and women are different but we don’t all fit into certain boxes. We are equally important in the eyes of God and the Bible only reinforces that.
    I think you did a great job being objective. Thank you for the work that you do.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      Thanks so much! Fairness is a huge thing to me, and while I’m sure I don’t always get it right, I definitely try to be fair. Someday God will let me know where I messed up and all the places Jesus washed over. 😉 Blessings!

      Reply
  8. e2

    There’s been some discussion about a man’s biological need for regular sexual release and a woman’s response with passionless “pity sex.” Let me offer a slightly different perspective. When my wife responds to my need for a release, I don’t view it as “pity sex,” but as “Agape sex,” sex that she provides because she knows I have a hormonal need that she may not share at the time.

    The eminent Greek authority, William Barclay in “New Testament Words”, distinguishes Agape from Phileo by noting that Phileo is primarily a warm emotional love, a love we feel because of some attractive quality in the beloved. He says we don’t necessarily choose Phileo; it often comes to us unbidden. Being emotional, Phileo is responsive and, therefore, to some extent, conditional. If my beloved exhibits behaviors that I find unattractive, it will be harder for me to continue to feel the warm love of Phileo.

    However, Agape, according to Barclay, is the love of the will, a love that seeks the best in the beloved without regard to how one feels. It is the love that took Jesus to the cross all they while his emotions screamed, “Father, let this cup pass from me.” Because, Agape is a primarily a choice rather than a feeling, it can also be more unconditional. I can choose to show Agape to my wife and seek her best good no matter how I may feel at the time. And, I am commanded by God to do so. (I recognize that New Testament usage of Phileo and Agape isn’t always so neat and consistent, with some writers seemingly using the words interchangeably, but that is to be expected with language; writers don’t always consult dictionaries when they write. I think, however, that Barclay captures the essence of the two words, and he certainly knew more about Greek than I could ever hope to.)

    Of course, in the best scenario, Phileo and Agape (along with the lustful and passionate Eros) will work together and be simultaneously present motivating husbands and wives to feel loving (Phileo) and passionate (Eros), while also acting lovingly (Agape), but that isn’t always possible. The passions and emotions of Eros and Phileo will ebb and flow, fade and peak, while the choice of Agape can be constant.

    So, now my wife and I are in our sixties and she freely admits that her lustful libido is weak; she has told me that she could go the rest of her life without sex and not miss it. But, she also knows that I still need regular sexual release. So, she never lets me go too long without making herself available to me, not out of a sense of pity, nor out of marital obligation, but out of a sense of pure Agape love, a love that says she wants to meet my legitimate need even though, at the time, she doesn’t share my need or erotic desire. As much as I can, I still ensure that she enjoys a wonderful climax even though, most of the time, she says she could do without it.

    Rather than complaining that our sex life isn’t the same as it was thirty years ago with lustful passion, I am truly grateful and filled with responsive Phileo love knowing that my wife is willing to choose Agape love and meet my need for release. I see no “pity” in that kind of sex.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I think we’re talking about two different things, e2. Agape love does prioritize a spouse’s emotional needs, and in that vein, a spouse can offer sexual activity to satisfy that need. But it’s a voluntary, loving act. Too often, however, wives in particular are told that a husband has emotional needs and they just need to offer their bodies up for what essentially comes down to “pity sex.” The Bible, however, tells us that wives are to enjoy the act as well. That means that she isn’t just his tool to reach orgasm, but rather should be a fully engaged participant in the marriage bed. Does she have to want or enjoy it as much as he does? No. But it shouldn’t be a guilt-induced experience.

      Reply
  9. Melanie

    It’s so interesting to hear this perspective on the sex chapter. I read, “Love and Respect” years ago, early in our marriage and loved it. But I don’t even remember the chapter on sex and frankly at the time, I probably wouldn’t have known any better but to agree with it. I think there was a lot of good in the book, but I am glad there is dialogue happening about married sex now, because there is a widespread need there.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    To quote Goldtop “Men have to reach the point, that they willingly lay down their desire and take the manly route to pray to meet their wives need for no sex”…

    I totally agree here. Men are often too focused on their needs, especially sexual ones.

    Reply
  11. Goltop

    Don’t misread my point. The reason for no sex is very important also. There are inumerable men (myself included) who are in relationship to relationally complacent and neglectful spouses. There are many men who are yoked to refusing spouses unwilling to pursue growth.

    My point is that there are often legitimate reasons that a wife needs to refrain and men need to learn to not take these personally.

    I in no way condone nor support refusing and gatekeeping spouses who do chronic damage to their marriages.

    Reply
  12. Ashley

    Well done, J. Who would have thought the idea that sex should be mutual in a Christian marriage would be so offensive to some? It’s sad.

    Reply
    1. M

      Ashley articulated my husband’s and my thoughts exactly. Thankfully, not all spouses are threatened by the idea of mutual respect, love, and humility.

      Reply
  13. Suzanne Van Pelt

    I strongly disagree with what Eggerichs said about sex. From the beginning of my marriage, I didn’t want to have sex because it hurt. My husband told me that I didn’t have authority over my body, according to I Corinthians 7, and I wasn’t allowed to tell him no. I thought I was being an obedient wife by submitting to him. After a couple decades of marriage, I learned that by giving him sex, I damaged myself emotionally, physically and spiritually. Because of this experience, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t care about his sexual needs anymore. If God wants his needs fulfilled, then He’s going to have to heal my body and heal our relationship. Otherwise, I’m done.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      It sounds to me like your husband didn’t need Eggerichs. He already misused Scripture to convince you of something God never said. The context of 1 Corinthians 7:3-5 was that spouses were withholding sex from one another, as a show of being more spiritual somehow, and Paul reassures them that sex is a gift to be mutually determined within marriage. It isn’t just the husband who has needs or authority of his wife’s body; the wife has it over her husband as well. In fact, God starts by telling the hubby to meet her needs! So if a husband is ignoring the sexual needs of his wife—which includes being treated tenderly, given adequate foreplay, having her pleasure and orgasm prioritized—then he’s not following God’s prescription for sex in marriage.

      I’m so sorry that this has all been used against you, Suzanne. But God isn’t against you. He is for you.

      Reply
      1. Suzanne Van Pelt

        God may be for me personally, but He’s not for my sex life. He doesn’t care whether I enjoy sex or not. Your experience tells you that He cares but mine tells me He doesn’t. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          You are presuming that if God cared, He would intervene in a particular way, and there’s not biblical support for that perspective. Because this world is broken and others have free will, sometimes we will experience bad things, but that doesn’t mean God does not care. As a loving Father, anything that hurts His child, He cares about.

          Reply
  14. Denise

    Hey, I want to thank you for doing this series. Struggling to find a home in Christianity these days. Men that would say you or any other are tearing down good men by questioning a book make it even harder. As a person who grew up in a Christian culture of women are less than and has tried hard to escape it, these gendered notions supported by men like Eggerichs do nothing to edify me. Maybe it is time to step away from some of these blogs for a while.
    I really don’t think many corners of Christianity really want to hear what women like me have to say, once I thought I could have a voice when I left Catholicism, but it hasn’t really turned out to be so.
    I appreciate your discussion of biblical vs. cultural notions of gender.
    I myself think we can do a lot by just being kind to each other rather than concentrating on men’s sins and women’s sins.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I’m saddened with Church itself makes people struggle. Just please remember that our home in Christianity is always CHRIST Himself. Our Lord is our refuge, our strength, our mediator, our savior. And He loved women, with a deep, abiding love.

      Reply
  15. Goldtop

    The church must have its internal critics. The idea that criticism is equivalent to condemnation is so destructive and does great harm because it eliminates the free interchange of ideas and is not indicative of the humility necessary to Christian growth.

    Ironically, I suspect Mr. Eggrichs is more open to honest critique than some of my fellow men commenting here.

    Also ironically, some of the men who are reacting negatively here are stifling the growth necessary for both women and men that could strengthen marriages and increase mutual sexual satisfaction in their homes.

    Reply
  16. Pingback: A Loveliness of Links ~ July 2019 | The Forgiven Wife

  17. Not given

    If I never complement my wife, don’t listen to her about her day and issues she faces at work. Just use her body and dont seek to date her, to woo her, to lavish love on her, am I setting her up to be tempted? The answer is yes I have. Would it be her sin, of course, but I have certainly so ned against her by not loving her as I should.

    As someone who frequents marriage blogs looking for something. Someone who has read many books, tried to implement all the ideas, prayed with my spouse, for my spouse, for my libido to go away, you name it I’ve done it.

    I’m also someone who recoils from the physical touch of a acquaintance because I feel the spark of what if…. I desperately desire to be desirable. I’ve been told to leave and go find someone who can make me happy when all I desire is joy with my bride.

    If I fall it would be my sin and mine alone. Have I been placed in a vulnerable place by my spouse, indeed I have.

    Thank you for some balance to this crazy argument.

    Reply
  18. Mark

    Is Vacuuming Foreplay???? haha,, Probably yes for many couples.

    I can say mutually washing the dishes or helping one another folding queen sized sheets is also a form of mental foreplay that stimulates the mind for both my wife and I,

    Stimulating the mind is like “brain sex” or what we call “making love to each other’s mind” kind of partially fits in to your “Mindful during Sex” post.

    Reply
  19. Anthony Innerd

    I skim read Part 1 and not 2 or 3 but my initial thoughts as word, that are spoken, words that are read who are they meant for and hard to grasp all what they mean.
    I read a quote from a well known Christian writer C S Lewis with regard to what I struggled most of my life with – giving and receiving love and Lewis helped in my own Christian journey – he said not all correct word sequence or exact – “that we cannot not not be loved, as if we did then that would suggest that God is not love and how can we do that?”
    Feel that is nearest have read on what love is with regard to unconditional love that is His perfect love and if we are in that then we are not alone even though our loved ones may not meet all our needs and at times very struggling in seasons of life.

    Reply
  20. Keith

    Wow! This comments section is certainly revealing! Given the bombardment that men and traditional values have suffered by the media and elements of our culture I can understand the preoccupation expressed by some. But I feel you’ve done a wonderful job of communicating in a gracious, balanced and respectful way. Keep up the great work!

    Reply

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