Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Love AND Respect

There's a very popular book floating around out there entitled "Love and Respect". The main premise centers around male/female relationships, especially within the context of marriage, and each genders deepest longing or need. In short, women deeply desire to be loved while men's deepest desire is to feel that they are respected.

On it's most basic level, I'm not going to disagree with the intentions, or even the conclusions, of the author. However, I think the book conveys a dangerous mindset: that it is an either/or dilemma.

Women either want to feel that they are cherished above all others or they want to feel respected. Men either want to know that they are held in high honor or feel loved.

I don't know any woman who wants her husband to make her feel loved at the expense of feeling that he respects her as a person. I have never met a man who so desperately needs to feel respected that it's of little importance to him that he know he's loved.

The reason I call it dangerous is because we start to approach God with the same mindset. I'm either going to love God or I'm going to respect Him. I'll either cherish my relationship with the Lord or I'll tremble at His feet. I will live according to Deuteronomy 6:5 ("Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength") or according to Deuteronomy 6:24-25 ("The LORD commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the LORD our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.")

God doesn't want our hearts without our obedience (a Christian life filled with good intentions), and He doesn't want our obedience without our hearts (a Christian life of empty rules and rituals).

God wants both/and.

A devoted Christian life will be one where the depth of the love necessitates the deepest honor, and the true respect for the King of all kings and Lord of all lords enriches even the most sincere love. God merits both our love AND respect.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I, too, will love him and show myself to him.
~John 14:21