Ephesians | love {& respect}

Ephesians | love {& respect} March 16, 2023

love {& respect}

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5.33, ESV)

Wesley Adams writes in the Full Life Bible Commentary, “5:33 summarizes the entire passage: The husband ‘must love his wife,’ and ‘the wife must respect her husband.’”[1]

Thomas Nelson publishes Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, the Respect He Desperately Needs, by Emerson Eggerichs.[2]

Love and Respect has been transforming marriages ever since 2004 based on this simple concept in Ephesians 5.

we live in a culture infatuated with love stories

Our culture elevates the need for love more than the need for respect or honor. We need to approach these ideas from a Biblical perspective.

The late, great Psychologist Carl Rogers has a theory for counseling, and part of that theory is to give people “unconditional positive regard.” When people are treated with value just because of who they are, they begin to see themselves in new ways, and they do better in counseling.
Unconditional. Positive. Regard.

Emerson says we understand unconditional love for the woman, but do we know what unconditional respect is for the man?

I imagine it’s like unconditional positive regard. It’s a catalyst.

Unconditional respect is something Emerson has brought to the table. He’s right. Paul is talking about unconditional respect.

But there’s something deeper as well.

have you ever felt like you’re running in circles?

Most of the time, we are hardwired to think in terms of cause and effect. We want to trace a problem, or a success, back to its root causes. This is evidence of a linear mindset.

We apply linear thinking to our marriages when we’re troubleshooting:
A + B = C

A. Someone starts something

+ B. compounded by the reaction of the spouse

= C. causes an argument

We think we have it figured out, but is it EVER really so simple?

consider these lines pastors and marriage counselors often hear

“‘You know, if you’d be a little more submissive, I’d be a little more loving!’ claims the husband and, of course, she retorts, ‘Well, if you’d be a little more loving I might consider being more submissive.'”[3]

This is NOT cause and effect. It sounds like they’re running in circles.

Love and respect don’t build on each other. They support each other. This is NOT a linear mindset. It’s more like circular causality. It’s a cycle. This is a cycle that spins, for better or for worse.

If a husband does not feel respected by his wife, it is sometimes difficult for him to show her the love she needs.

If a wife does not feel loved by her husband, it’s sometimes difficult for her to show him the respect he needs.

Do you see the cycle? However, we’re called to love and respect each other by Scripture. Therefore, regardless of what my spouse does, I obey God.

let’s start with love, agape

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself . . . However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5.25, 28, 33)

Love is used 6 times here, it’s the verbal form of agape. We think of agape as the love of God. The New Testament associates agape with God.

We also think of agape as unconditional love, but this is NOT a clear definition.

Our problem is when we speak about unconditional love, it is usually in the context of me as a receiver of the agape. Sometimes we start to expect agape from God. We may even have a sense of entitlement. “I’m entitled to God’s agape because it is unconditional.” When we think this way, we are treading on thin ice.

to understand agape, we must think in terms of the doer and NOT the receiver

Agape is better understood as committed and even sacrificial love. I’m not just made to be a receiver of the agape, I’m a doerI’m called to be a conduit of agape for everyone around me.

In marriage, I agapao (verb) my wife with an agape that is constant in good times and bad, available with or without the feelings, sacrificial to the point of valuing her life above mine, and committed to seeing her as God sees her.

this is a snapshot of the agape of Christ

Agape is less about unconditional love that I receive and more about a committed, self-sacrificial love that I offer freely.

This is Jesus Christ’s agape that calls us out of sin. Agape changes marriages.

Agape starts a Godly cycle of love and honor in the home.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph 5.33)


pic credit: Hannah Busing | girl wearing floral dress reading bible alone in grass | 04.13.22 | unsplash

For more from this series visit the Archives | Select a Category | Family

  1. Wesley Adams, Ephesians, in the Full Life Bible Commentary: An International Commentary for Spirit-Filled Christians, eds. French L. Arrington and Roger Stronstad (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), 1075.
  2. Emerson Eggerichs, Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs (Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family / Thomas Nelson, 2004).
  3. Vernell Ingle, The Truth About The Family: Biblical Patterns And Principles (Joplin, MO: Messenger Publishing House, 2005), 70-71.

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