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Statement in Response to Focus on the Family’s Statement Regarding Me

January 22, 2020

On January 17, Focus on the Family issued a statement concerning their interactions with me regarding their support and promotion of the book Love & Respect. The statement was problematic in several ways.

1. They impugned my motives and gave factually inaccurate information.

They said, “Despite attempts to clarify this with Mrs. Gregoire via email, she has continued to mischaracterize and selectively excerpt Focus on the Family’s replies to her and her supporters…”

In 2019, I sent five emails to Focus on the Family:

  1. March 14 to Jim Daly
  2. April 2 to Jim Daly
  3. September 26 to Jim Daly and Tammy Masters
  4. October 2 to Jim Daly and Tammy Masters
  5. October 6 to Jim Daly

I then published my October 6 email, with some minor edits to include new information, on January 15, 2020 on the blog as an Open Letter to Focus on the Family and their Employees.

Of those five emails, Focus on the Family only ever cursorily answered the email on October 2, after I threatened to go public with their non-response. They also sent a form letter to any of my readers who wrote in, but never sent that form letter to me. That hardly constitutes “attempts to clarify this with Mrs. Gregoire via email.”

In addition, they accuse me of “selectively excerpting” their replies. On the contrary, I have published them in full in .pdf, with screen shots and with text since the screen shots were hard to read, and I linked to those emails in my open letter. Publishing something in full is not “selectively excerpting”.

2. They do not link to any of my articles, but critique them anyway.

Every time I have critiqued Focus on the Family or Emerson Eggerichs, I have linked to the original blog post, broadcast, or video series so that people can judge for themselves. See, for instance, this podcast analyzing one of Eggerichs’ blog posts where he gaslights women; and this podcast looking at a Focus on the Family broadcast where the Focus hosts say that husbands turn to porn because women don’t give them sex.

It is proper internet etiquette to link to that which you are critiquing, so people can see the full picture and judge for themselves. Even here, I am linking to their statement, though they never link to anything of mine. The fact that Focus on the Family refrains from linking to me shows that they are concerned that if people read what I have said, I may persuade them.

3. They continue to disregard the many critiques I brought up in my Open Letter, focusing instead on two minutiae, which I have since corrected.

(I have included their caveats and quotations in both posts they referenced (but did not link to or name), but these changes really make no difference to the argument I was making. In fact, by showing the caveats, I think I made my case stronger).

4. They are still framing this as a doctrinal issue, rather than addressing what has always been my primary concern: this book is hurting women.

They say that “any book can be misinterpreted, misapplied, and quoted out of context by husbands (or wives) who hold nefarious intent”, inferring that anyone who was harmed by the book must have had nefarious intent. This is terribly insulting to the many abused women who have spoken up, and ignores evidence of what is occurring. In my survey of 22,000 Christian women, many resources were mentioned with very bad harm/help ratios (meaning that large numbers of women said the resources harmed them, in comparison to the numbers who said they helped), including Love & Respect, Every Man’s Battle, I Kissed Dating Good-Bye, Created To Be His Helpmeet, and Focus on the Family. Many resources, however, had virtually perfect help/harm ratios (with many saying that they helped, but virtually no one saying they hurt), including resources like the Boundaries books, Leslie Vernick’s books, or John Gottman’s books and research. Social science research clearly shows that some points of view, if believed, are more likely to lead to negative marital outcomes, so it is hardly surprising that some books do far more harm than others.

Jesus left the 99 to go over the 1. He cares when people are hurting. He calls us to compassion. I see none of that in Focus on the Family’s statement.

I would remind them that Jesus is not impressed with people who willingly blind themselves to the harm being done to others. As Jesus said, many such people will say at the judgment, “‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

I encourage Focus on the Family to care for those who are harmed by this book. Listen to their voices (and many are in the comments in my open letter). Your inaction is showing where your priorities lie, and showing that you are not a safe resource for women or marriage.

For more on this, please read this Open Letter to Focus on the Family, and our Summary Page of issues with Love & Respect

Note: This statement was updated slightly on January 24, to include Focus on the Family’s reference to my readers’ “nefarious intent”.