Men Need Love And Women Need Respect

Some say that the Bible teaches that men need respect while women need love. I heard it again just a few weeks ago, with the speaker relying on this verse.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:33.)

The speaker went further and said this verse is not just about marriage but about all men and women whether married or unmarried: men need respect, women need love. He said it even applies to men in relation to other men. What all men need from each other is respect.

He’s wrong.

He’s not wrong about people needing respect and love. He’s wrong about it being gender or sex specific.

love-and-respect.png

For one thing, using Ephesians 5:33 to teach that all men need respect while all women need love rips the verse from its context. The overall passage starts several sentences earlier with teaching on mutual submission, everyone to everyone, then moves into the sub-context of marriage before discussing other types of relationships. In a marriage, the passage says, the couple is to remember the relationship of Jesus and the church and how they are united. The passage then gives emphatic examples of how Jesus loves his people.

The Bible never says that God loves his people and in return we are not to love God but to respect him. Rather, we are told that the greatest commandment is to love God with all we have. If married couples are to consider their relationship in the context of Jesus loving his people and his people loving him as well, then it is clear that men and women are to love one another.*

The Weight of Bible Authority

Another error in the sermon I heard is that it tries to teach a doctrine – God created men so that they need respect while women were created to need love – from a single verse when that doctrine is itself contradicted by the whole of Scripture.

For example, when it comes to respecting people the Bible teaches this without regard to whether the person to be respected is male or female.

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. (Leviticus 19:32.)

Show proper respect to everyone … . (1 Peter 2:19.)

When it comes to love, this too is for women and men both. After all, in his last night with his friends Jesus told them over dinner:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35.)

There is not one word of how these friends, all of whom were men at that dinner, should respect each other as a sign of their fellowship in Jesus. Rather, it is all about love. This was so important that John, one of the men at dinner that night, decades later reminded his friends – men and women both – of the same.

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. …

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.** If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:11, 16-18.)

The weight of Scripture, then, teaches not that men need respect while women need love but that men and women are to respect one another and love one another. This applies whether you are married or not; it comes in whether you are relating man to man, woman to woman, woman to man and man to woman; it is the norm for Christians whatever the relationship might be. Anyone who teaches that men need respect because they are men and yet women need love because they are women denies the Gospel of Love itself, as expressed in 1 John 3:16.

Love and respect are universally called for from you and universally needed by everyone you meet.

So show the men some love and the women some respect. And vice versa.

Love & Respect

***

*Regarding the instruction for wives to respect their husbands, this is an aspect of their love just as a husband’s love for his wife is an aspect of the submission called for in the passage’s introduction. (See Trevor Sykes’s Wives, “Respect’ Your Husbands for one look at how this instruction would have applied to homes among the churches who would have read Ephesians.)

**The Greek word adelphōn, found 21 times in the New Testament, is translated in the NIV as “brothers and sisters” when called for by the context of the passage (as in 1 John 3, above) while more literal translations (such as the King James and the ESV) read “brothers” or “bretheren” in various places where adelphōn is found. But even if we go with these more literal translations, then John apparently considered men loving each other (as opposed to respecting one another) as of utmost importance.

***

You knew this was coming, right?

***

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34 Responses to Men Need Love And Women Need Respect

  1. Anonymous2 says:

    My guy friends say they want to be adored just as much as women do. I believe them.

  2. There’s a marriage Bible study that has this view as its center. We did it a number of years ago. It wasn’t bad, but we always felt like it was just a bit to simplistic. We always felt that both men and women needed and wanted both love and respect. Of course this is assuming you can really love someone without also respecting them, as they seem pretty connected in my mind.

    • Tim says:

      I don’t know how you separate them either, Jeremy.

      • egleason2014 says:

        There are different levels of respect and different types of love.

        I respect the President because of his position but I don’t have any deep personal affection / love for him, except of the basic “love your neighbor” sort that we should have for all persons because they are persons made in the image of God.

        In that sense, there can be respect w/out an intimate sort of love.

        And every parent knows what it is to love a baby or small child, to cherish them and be willing to do anything to protect them. Again, one respects that person because they are made in the image of God and yet they have no particular role or accomplishments or character development that commands respect.

        So, one can also love deeply where there is but the most basic sort of respect.

        But in a partnership of EQUALS, how can there be a deep and intimate love without respect for the loved one’s character? And how can there be respect without love and appreciation for the uniqueness of who they are?

        Which makes me wonder whether those who tie love and respect to sex differences are asking women to give husbands a distant role based respect and husband’s to give wives an indulgent and protective love that is more akin to what one gives a vulnerable child? Instead of the rich, multi-faceted love and respect that exists between partners who know each other deeply, help each other in areas of weakness, and encourage each other in areas of strength.

        • Tim says:

          “Which makes me wonder whether those who tie love and respect to sex differences are asking women to give husbands a distant role based respect and husband’s to give wives an indulgent and protective love that is more akin to what one gives a vulnerable child?”

          I’ve wondered the exact same thing, but never been able to articulate it as well as you just did. They really don’t see men and women as equals when the practical reality of their teaching is that they want women to be coddled and men to be looked up to.

  3. I have to wonder what the person’s agenda is in insisting on this respect-love classification. It certainly seems like he’s using the verse to fit the agenda rather than looking at the whole passage to see how it can help us live together as spouses and as Christians in general.

    • Adriana says:

      ShaZAM! Jeannie, I think you nailed it.

    • Tim says:

      It was agenda driven, Jeannie. Taking the verse to mean that men and women are so different that the men need respect in a marriage more than love, and vice versa for women, was part of his male leadership in the home theme overall.

  4. Angie says:

    Great post. Loving behavior is respectful and respectful behavior is loving.

  5. keriwyattkent says:

    This is a heresy made popular by Dr. Emmerson Eggerich’s perpetual best-seller, Love & Respect. He’s strongly complementarian–he basically says women need love, men need respect. Although, in an interesting move, he wrote a spin off book called Love & Respect in the Family: The Respect Parents Desire, the Love Children Need. So apparently, women need love, unless they have kids, and then they need their kids to respect them. And men need respect, unless they are children, and then they need love. (Do boys outgrow that? Really?) Seems like that contradicts his thesis. Here’s a helpful critique of his book: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sarahoverthemoon/2013/11/complementarianism-scam-love-and-respect/
    What’s interesting to me is so many pastors use this book as the lens through which they view and interpret Scripture.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for the link, Keri. Eggerich conflates his view of cultural norms (which are themselves suspect) with what the Bible teaches, and when he’s done the cultural norms end up dictating how he interprets the biblical record.

  6. LorenHaas says:

    Looking back, the “Love and Respect” series my former church presented was one of the best things that ever happened in our marriage;
    Showed us that we needed to find another church.
    One in which both husbands and wives are encouraged to show each other love and respect. Fortunately we did and our love and respect is on another level.

  7. jocelyne says:

    Excellent again. So appreciate hearing this.

  8. Sarah says:

    I like to tease my husband. So when he says, “I love you!” I sometimes tell him, “I respect you!” in response. He does not appreciate it. Why not???

    Because he wants to hear that I love and cherish him the way he loves and cherishes me. Not rocket science.

  9. Pastor Bob says:

    One commentary had within its covers -years ago that this was written not as a guide, but more of a balancing point, since men were respecting their wives and women were loving their husbands,

    Reversing this -eh?

  10. Bill M says:

    Thanks Tim, I’ll add “Love and Respect” to the many phrases I’ve often heard but have never bothered to question before. I love to be loved, and now that I think of it, it is illegitimate for someone to suggest I prefer respect more that love, especially when it come to being around the woman I’ve shared life with for 40 years.

  11. Thank you! I remember my pastor preaching around those two words several years ago, and it seemed impossible to me to be able to split the two up like that. If I love someone, I will respect them, and if they love me, they will respect me, too.

    • Tim says:

      Precisely, Typo. They are inextricably joined.

      • Phil says:

        Back to the original text, why would the Apostle Paul specifically instruct husbands to love their wives and wives to respect their husbsnds rather than telling them both to love and respect each other?

        • Fiona Carroll says:

          Because in those days no one had any respect for women . Women had to respect their husbands by doing as they were told.

        • Tim says:

          From what I understand, it was not expected that husbands actually love their wives. Telling them to do so would have been a radical departure from Grec0-Roman cultural norms.

  12. Pingback: The Secret To Love, And How To Do It Right | Tim's Blog – Just One Train Wreck After Another

  13. Fiona Carroll says:

    It’s a bit like having a dog. Most people would say they love their dogs but few would say they respect their dogs. They expect their dogs to respect them and do as they are told.

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