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True Love or Manipulation? A Critique of the Best-Selling Book Love & Respect

True Love Scripture Art

True love. What is it? How do we define it?

Is there a difference between what the world says love is and what Scripture says?

First Corinthians 13, arguably the most well-known definition of love in the Bible, gives us a straightforward list of what love–real love–looks like. And right in the middle of this list, we are told that one of the earmarks of true love is that it is “not self-seeking.”

Would it surprise you then to learn that one of the most popular and best-selling books on love in the church today spends a great amount of time instructing husbands and wives how to “get what you want” from your spouse? While such an idea is common among “needologists,” psychologists, life-coaches, and the world, it is antithetical to God, His Word, and, ironically, to true love and respect.

Simply put: “giving” in order to get something is manipulation.

“Yes, but,” some will say … “it works.”

But how, exactly, does it “work”?

Consider the following scenario …

If Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a poor relationship and adopt, for example, the “give-to-get” principle, then, yes, this “giving” will seem to improve their dire situation. Is that a success?

Absolutely not. They are actually worse off. Now they have little or no motivation to go after what God is trying to change—their hearts.

The true condition of our hearts is usually revealed best in marriage and conflict.

Yet, instead of dealing with the real problems of the heart, Love & Respect perverts the sin, selfishness, and weaknesses of our hearts into “not getting the feelings you want” or “not getting your love tank filled.” What could be further from the truth?

As a result, and just like unaddressed cancer, problems can only get worse.

Our standard, as Christians, should always be the Bible. If something violates or conflicts with God’s clear and precise design (Scripture), then it is not just wrong–it also does not truly “work,” no matter how good it makes someone feel (temporarily) or how it improves someone’s behavior (temporarily).

In reality, Mr. and Mrs. Smith will be increasingly blinded to the actual problems in their lives and relationships. They will most likely feel better for awhile but, over time, they will grow away from the truth and reality of their greatest problems and, therefore, the solutions.

And having a serious problem is not the worst thing in life.

Rather, the worst place to be is in a grave situation, while erroneously believing that the problem has been resolved.

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  1. So sad . I knew just a few minutes into the conference that something was not right . Don’t tell me that I am a good hearted woman that loves unconditionally naturally . That is what I want to be but my Bible tells me that I am not. My life , my thoughts everything that I am says “No, I am not ” . However I found that my husband and myself were the only ones that voiced our concerns .

  2. The first time I was introduced to this book was back in 2004. I read the first 50 pages, and shelved it. Two months later I tapped into reading it again, and threw it in the trash can. A couple of years later my husband and I finally went to counseling with another counselor. It was also suggested by this counselor. I finally read the book, but the whole time I struggled with the concepts of how things were presented, I found Biblical conflicts, etc. I tried to bring it to our counselor’s attention but I was silenced. I am now questioning several things.