This week’s To Love, Honor and Vacuum podcast is going to tell two different stories.

It’s a bit of a different one today, and it’s really worth listening to, because it lets you in on some of the biggest stuff that’s been going on behind the scenes here on the blog since January (and it’s got repercussions for our next big project, too!)

If you don’t have time, though, you can peruse below. And I’ve got the extras that I promised in the podcast below as well.

But first, here’s the podcast:


Main Segment: I Was Naive. Really Naive.

In the podcast, Joanna joins me and we tell the story about how shocked we were when we read the book Love & Respect in January–and how that led to the week long publication of posts showing that the book was dangerous, because it created a power differential in marriage, and it portrayed sex as only being about a husband’s physical release

That’s not the point of the story we’re telling, but it’s the background you need to understand. You’ve likely heard all that, and you likely remember those posts, but if not, they’re here:


That series sent hundreds of comments our way, on Facebook, on the blog, and through emails, the vast majority from women saying, “finally! Thank you! Someone’s saying it, because this book really hurt my marriage.” 

The comments were heartbreaking. Joanna and I decided that we should write up a report, looking at the themes in the comments, codifying them, and giving examples of each type. Joanna has a background in statistical analysis, and so she prepared an in-depth report.

We then sent that report to Focus on the Family, whose trademark is on the book. They endorse it; they sell it. We thought they would want to know that it had caused so much harm, and that they would care. 

Now, please understand: I have a good relationship with Focus on the Family. I’ve been on the radio show three times; I’ve been at their headquarters on another occasion to film video; I know Jim Daly and the producers.

Sheila on Focus on the Family

Keith and I recording a segment about 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage with Jim Daly and John Fuller

Sheila taping at Focus on the Family

Me after taping an episode on To Love, Honor and Vacuum (the book)

Taping a video series at the Focus on the Family headquarters

Taping a video series at the Focus on the Family headquarters

They know me. I truly thought they’d be interested. I sent the email to the highest levels, and I had trackers on the emails (I sent several follow ups), and I know they were opened several times.

But I haven’t heard a thing.

Not a peep.

When I prepared the report, I put it up on the website, and also wrote a sample letter that people could send to their churches. 

Concerned about these books?

Since posting these reviews of Love and Respect, many people have asked me how they can share their concerns with their churches and community.

We created a report of the hundreds of comments we received (including good and bad reviews) which is available to download together with a sample letter to send to churches.

You can download both and send them to whoever you think needs to read them here:

Many readers have also written in to Focus on the Family, and they have received responses (they’ve sent them to me). Basically, Focus is standing behind the book, saying that it’s not meant for those in destructive marriages (despite the fact that Emerson Eggerichs refers to respecting your husband even when he’s been “drinking or straying”, and that he includes anecdotes of physically abusive marriages and marriages with affairs, saying that respect cured both things. If affairs, physical abuse, and alcoholism do not constitute destructive marriages, I don’t know what does). They also ignored all the issues around how the book handled sex.

I said in the podcast that I’m just flabbergasted. I don’t know how to process all this, because I honestly thought they’d care. (I know I’ve said that several times, but it’s true). Focus on the Family is under new leadership since the book came out; I thought that they cared about abuse and about women, but clearly I was wrong. I feel like Beth Moore did when she wrote this tweet recently: 

When I looked into it more, I realized that Focus on the Family had also published articles promoting the Eternal Subordination of the Son heresy–the one that says that there is hierarchy in the Trinity, and that Jesus is always subordinate to the Father, which is a heresy that was revived, after being repudiated in the 300s, just 20 years ago to find a more biblical basis for the subordination of women. 

Here’s the article on submission featuring the heresy and promoting Eggerichs’ work in Love & Respect about a woman’s subordination, and here’s an explanation of the problems with it

So I’m just sad. Naive. And sad.

Happily, some churches are getting it! 

One woman wrote to me just yesterday about an information packet she sent her church about Love & Respect after they used it as a teaching tool, along with her concerns and my posts, and the church pulled the book! 


After reviewing the Love and Respect materials again, considering your comments, as well as looking at some other evaluations of the material, we have reached the following conclusions.  We agree with your concerns that the material is unbalanced and does not reflect the teaching on marriage relationships we want to promote. Therefore we are withdrawing it from our recommended resources.

Millennial Marriage: It’s Not Cool for Men to Say They Wish They Could be Harassed Like Women

I’m not sure if you all saw it, but on Monday, on my post about husbands ogling women at the beach, Rebecca and I got into an interesting back and forth with commenter Jason, who said that he wished he could get sexual attention from strange women, and was jealous that women get all of this attention. He started with this, and it went downhill from there:

This all sounds so sad to me because: do women even like men? Why don’t women have trouble with lust? It isn’t cool what women go through, but it’s also not cool that we as guys aren’t considered sexual beings in general? I would trade places with a woman, even a harassed woman, in a New York minute.

We proceeded to tell him that saying that he wished he could be harassed was offensive, and showed that he had no understanding of what women go through. But he doubled down. He’s not the only one who has done this, though. We had similar commenters making similar sentiments on my posts about not being a stumbling block and talking about men’s sexual needs in a healthy way.

So Connor, Rebecca and I are replying and discussing it today!

That’s it for the podcast. I’d love to hear what you think. I’m still dumbfounded. I hope that the church will one day make more of an effort to care about the well-being of BOTH men and women, and to stop promoting doctrines of marriage that objectify women and make them vulnerable.

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