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Are We Blowing Smoke About Love and Respect? [Video]

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In the military, smoke screening is a tactic to disguise one’s intentions and activities by spraying smoke. The smoke acts as a ploy to prevent others from knowing one’s real purpose and condition. But smoke screening can happen in relationships too.

Perhaps nothing exposes our human imperfections as much as marriage. And when a spouse points out an imperfection in their mate, what might that person do?

Overt vs Covert

We blow smoke in order to cover up what we don’t want to deal with.

This often happens when couples first hear about the Love & Respect principles, and God’s command in Ephesians 5:33. We may become convicted of failures we don’t want to face. We all fall short because none of us is perfect. But instead of beginning the work of making godly and wise adjustments, we come up with excuses.

These excuses provide us with a smoke covering to conceal the real truth -  which in the long run God reveals to help, not hurt us.

God convicts but He does not shame.

Sadly, instead of welcoming this gentle conviction as an opportunity to trust and obey God more deeply, we often silence the still small voice of God’s loving whisper, “Make an adjustment here."

Few overtly admit, “I decided to distrust and disobey God’s command in Ephesians 5:33. I want to be hostile and contemptuous.”

Instead, we act covertly. After being convicted of wrongdoing we disguise our unwillingness to trust and follow. We create cunning statements to cover up our real condition.

Do you relate to any of these smokescreens in your marriage?

  • “There you go again, my gender is always to blame!”

He complains, “Sure enough, another marriage conference that makes the husband at fault for the marriage problems.”

Or she protests, “See, the wife is always guilty. Blame the woman!”

Objecting to the Love & Respect marriage conference this way enables a person to hide personal faults and guilt. This diverts the attention of the listener from the person’s true condition to the supposed bias from the conference.

Ultimately, this statement serves as an excuse not to do what Christ calls the person to do.

  • “You have no idea who I live with!”

I often hear from a husband, "Over the years I've tried to love that woman but nobody can love her.”

Or, a wife says, "Everyone knows that respect must be earned. He doesn't deserve my respect. He needs to be more loving, like me.”

Making this claim about the rotten nature of a spouse takes the attention off the central issue: God calls us to be loving and respectful regardless of a spouse’s irregularities.

God calls the husband to be a loving man independent of his wife’s lovability or respectfulness.

God calls a wife to be a respectful human being apart from her husband earning and deserving respect, or being a loving person like her.

Bottom line, one’s spouse cannot prevent us from obeying God. Suggesting otherwise is a smokescreen.

What did Jesus do?

Jesus called them “excuses.”

As Jesus taught on the hillsides and in cities, He communicated truth to people about Himself and about them. Calling people to change course and follow Him, he noticed “reasons” surfacing about why they could not follow Him.

"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, 'I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.'  Another one said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.' Another one said, 'I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come’” (Luke 14:18-20).

In other words, they smoke screened.

Let’s stop blowing smoke.

A husband wrote to me, "During the conference I was tempted to speak to you and say 'you don't understand what it’s like…let me explain, how can I be expected to endure this?…'  However, your final session broke my heart and brought me back to the Savior's heart. I realized that I had been living as a martyr, making excuses for my part... distrusting the Lord and His hope for the future… Through your message the Lord breathed new life into me and has given me a new joy and freedom to love.”

How encouraging when looking at our imperfections, making no excuses, and bringing them before the Lord of Love, God responds.

I say trust this fellow’s testimony. He’s not blowing smoke.


Emerson Eggerichs, Ph.D.
Author, Speaker, Pastor

Questions to Consider

  1. If any of the examples of smoke screening resonate with you, why is it in your best interest to resist this defense mechanism?
  2. What fear will you have to overcome in order to stop smoke screening?
  3. Are you willing to submit to the Lord’s loving redirection so you can experience God’s best in your marriage?