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Parenting
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Your Children May Be More Ready for the Love and Respect Message Than You Think

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Who is the Love and Respect message for?

In a vacuum, I suppose it would be easy to say that the Love & Respect book, the Love & Respect Marriage Conference, and even the scripture it’s all based on—Ephesians 5:33—are intended for married couples. And this would not necessarily be wrong. For the above passage does read, after all, “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

As well, there is no doubt that the overwhelming vast majority of Love & Respect conference attendees, book readers, and small group participants are married, or at the very least engaged to be married.

So the Love and Respect message must be intended for married couples, right?

Well, thankfully one mom felt there was something about the Love and Respect message her unmarried, college-aged daughter might relate to and benefit from even now—well before marital conflict disrupts her future marriage, before the exciting honeymoon period of a young and madly in love couple, and even long before she was engaged and planning out a wedding.

Hear what the mom had to say upon introducing her daughter to Love and Respect:

I wanted to tell you about how it reached my daughter who is 21 and in a secular college. I spent the weekend with her at her school and we had a lot of time to talk. She was asking me a lot of questions about men and male/female relationships and I told her about the love and respect concept. . . . When she came home for spring break, along with catching up on homework, on her to-do list was watching the Love and Respect videos. Which she did. Not only did she but her 17-year-old twin brother and sister watched them with her. By the way they think you are "really funny." I had been trying to get my 17-year-old daughter to watch them, as she has a really close "friend" that is a boy and she is also frequently asking me questions about men and relationships. My college age daughter said after viewing the videos that makes so much sense and explains so many things, as did her sister. About a week later during one of our phone conversations she said, "I have been telling all my friends about the Crazy Cycle, and they are really interested—guys as well as the girls. I asked her, “Are they really that interested?” She said, "Mom, we are a bunch of college students interested in the opposite sex and we don't have a clue about relationships! Of course they are interested.” She said she might borrow the videos and have a few movie nights open to whoever wants to come. . . . Thank you, Emerson, for all your work and commitment to marriage and getting the message out!! I am so excited to think about the prospect of those videos reaching a bunch of kids at a secular college!!

I absolutely love this daughter’s response to her mom: “We are a bunch of college students interested in the opposite sex and we don’t have a clue about relationships!” Any parent of a teenager should give a hearty “Amen!” to this daughter’s confession!

The funny thing is, I think the apostle Paul, who wrote the letter to the Ephesian church, would completely agree. In fact, that is why I believe he intended for the unmarried to hear these precious words from God on marriage. Because at the beginning of his letter, Paul makes clear who it is he is addressing. And some may be surprised to learn that he doesn’t say, “To the married adults in Ephesus. Instead, he says, “To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ.” He’s writing to the church as a whole!

Who makes up your church? Only married people? Only singles? Only children? Of course not. The makeup of the church in Ephesus would’ve looked a lot like your church. Multigenerational. Singles. Married. Children. New believers. Older believers. All across the board. And that’s who Paul is writing to!

Consider other well-known sections of his letter:

2:1—“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked . . .”

2:8—“For by grace you have been saved through faith.”

4:1—“I therefore . . . urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called . . .”

4:25—“Let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor . . .”

6:11—“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.”

Would any of us argue that Paul is only talking to married couples here? Should children not speak the truth with their neighbors? Do singles not have a need to put on the armor of God? Of course not. To suggest such a thing would be laughable. For these and the rest of his letter, Paul is addressing the entire church.

Therefore, should not Paul’s words in chapter 5 concerning the marital relationship—what I like to call God’s last word to the church on marriage—be a message for all to hear and learn, even teenagers? Absolutely!

The first relationship God ever established on earth was that of husband and wife. Then He told them, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Even on day one on earth, Adam and Eve were learning God’s plan for marriage, to be passed down to their yet-to-be-born children. Because God was entrusting them to pass along to their children His instructions concerning the first relationship He ever established.

As are we still today! The Love and Respect message, based on Ephesians 5:33, is a message for all of God’s children, not as a response to being married but in preparation for it. And as any parent whose children have grown up and left the home already would tell you, don’t lose this moment! Teach your children about Love and Respect and God’s instructions on marriage. Because if you don’t, who will?

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

Questions to Consider

When did you first really begin to learn about Ephesians 5:33 and God’s command to love and respect? Do you wish you had begun learning it sooner? Why or why not?

Why should the Love and Respect message be learned more in preparation for marriage rather than waiting until conflict arises within the marriage?

What benefits do you believe there would be in exposing your high school and college-aged kids to the Love and Respect message?

Where are the young people in your realm of influence learning about the opposite sex? How could you begin to start teaching them the truths found in Scripture?