There is a dynamic that I often see at work in conversations like the one that went on over at Wendy's blog.
It goes something like this:
Christian women who have dealt with abusive men try to work out how to make sense of their lives and Scripture during or after a bad marriage. This is made difficult especially since the Bible, in particular Ephesians 5, was often used in the abuse. They still love God and want to hold onto Him. But the bad marriage situation made it difficult and even gave some of these women PTSD at any mention of Ephesians 5 due to it being use as a bludgeoning tool against them.
Then the other side of this is:
Christian men who have been chewed up and spit out by abusive wives--
[Cut and pasted from David's comment over at Wendy's concerning his ex-wife]--(argumentativeness, eye-rolling, contrariness, sexual refusal and oft-expressed contempt, obligated to earn her respect [an impossible task], and she was entitled to express her displeasure any time she disagreed )--
Anyway, men like David are looking for solutions in the Scriptures. They find and latch onto 'respect' as some sort of panacea that would have saved their marriage if the little woman would have just wised up and did what she was supposed to. The problem is that there is usually a whole lot more wrong with the situation than just a lack of respect. But somewhere along the way, chewed up and spit out men like David are convinced that all women behave like their ex-wives and feel that it is their mission to let those women know that if they'd just do what they are supposed to, what is commanded in scripture, then there would a whole lot less divorcing going on.
Quote from David: "The negative comments here indicate how foreign that concept [of respect] is to wives"
Is it a foreign concept, David, or has it been so over used and abused to the neglect of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and the Second Greatest Commandment, "love you neighbor (including your wife) as yourself"?
It may have been David's experience that his wife was completely disrespect filled. Heck, from the way he describes her, she could have had a brain or personality disorder or was just plain psycho. But this doesn't entitle him to make such sweeping generalizations about all women and determine that it would all be solved if they would just embrace this 'foreign' concept call respect.
Rather than stating that marriages would be saved if women would just 'respect' or men would just 'love', perhaps it would be better to say:
Hey, guess what? There are abusive people out there, both male and female. And guess what else? There are abused spouses out there trying to make sense of their situation and wanting to use the Bible to do so. So let's not make sweeping generalizations and hand out shallow clichés and just expect everything to be hunky dory because life is far more complicated than that reducing everything down to a couple words that you can find in Ephesians 5.
And, in addition. I'd like to make a book recommendation. The book I am going to suggest runs circles around Eggrichs book. It has more depth in one chapter than Eggrich's whole book, DVD set, and every seminar he ever held.
The book is... wait for it...:
Boundaries in Marriage
I recommend it because it doesn't blame men or women. It calls out bad behavior, no matter which gender engages in it and gives spouses practical ways of dealing with that behavior.
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