I’m reading a book. I don’t like the book. At. All.
It was recommended to me by someone I respect and have known for many, many years. And so I read it. I’m not finished the book and so, although I’ve read almost all of it, I cannot say it’s all bad – just the parts I’ve read.
The book is written by an author who, in other books, proclaims his faith as Christian. He seems to be in great demand and writes books prolifically. I often hear his books or his name bantered about in Christian circles as if he is really something. As a matter of fact – I like some of his writing, too. I recommended one of his books in the resource section of Married Mom, Solo Parent.
However, I’m beginning to wonder about the blatant trust people put in the information they read in books and in podcasts, sermons or videos just because someone (once upon a time) says he’s Christian.
The book is called Love Busters by Willard F. Harley, Jr. It’s something like an ‘addendum’ to another book he wrote called His Needs, Her Needs. That book is worth the read. Love Busters on the other hand is not.
I’ve read almost all the way through the book and have found no mention of his faith, the power we have in God or through the Holy Spirit, any reference to anything biblical, or even biblical principles.
The entire book is based on humanistic thinking – with brainstorming and enthusiastic agreement we can conquer anything. Anything positive comes from my effort and my spouses agreement with that.
He goes so far as to say sacrificial love is not a good thing in marriage, especially if you let it become a habit. “If your sacrifice becomes a habit, eventually… you will no longer be in love with your spouse.” (pg. 37) He also says, “Sacrifice on the part of either spouse for the sake of the other means that someone is being uncaring.” (pg. 95) He continues in that section to say that the only time a “sacrifice” should be considered is when your “taker” or selfishness is an active part of that arrangement. Really? Is that really what the Bible would endorse?
The Bible says “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV) Christ’s giving up of himself for the church is a clear example of sacrifice. That means… there has to be sacrificial love in marriage for it to reflect the love of Christ for the Church. (I won’t even go into how the whole book of Hosea teaches sacrificial love!)
Harley also says wisdom comes from learning to “calm down” using “relaxation techniques”, and from practicing effective “anger management training”. (Pg. 108-109) Since when do relaxation techniques, including the use of bio-feedback devices, produce wisdom? It’s true that it is wise to calm down and choose to relax instead of reacting in anger. I get that. But calming down and relaxing does not PRODUCE wisdom. I can’t believe people are falling for this kind of teaching! Am I the only person who sees this is bogus?
The Bible says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10, NIV) I didn’t see relaxation techniques in there, did you?
I really, really don’t like his definition of abuse. It starts out just fine: “A deliberate effort of one spouse to cause the other to be unhappy.” (pg. 32) On one hand it sounds good, right? But what if what is best for you makes you unhappy? Is that abuse? I don’t think so. According to Harley’s definition of abuse, any time my husband makes a choice that he knows I would not be “enthusiastically in agreement with” it’s abuse. Quite frankly, that gives me a lot of power to call “abuse” when in fact it’s a minor disagreement, my husband making decisions on my behalf in my best interest, or simply a misunderstanding of the facts.
And any woman who has truly been in an abusive relationship will understand: it takes a lot more than quick thinking and sharp intelligence to get out of or change that situation. Yet, what does Harley say? “It means overriding your instincts with your intelligence. And if you achieve that objective, you will have overcome abuse.” (pg. 42)
I could give you many, many more examples – some even more powerful – demonstrating how Harley has veered from teaching biblical principles. There is nothing “Christian” about his book except that he is making an attempt, however weak, to save marriages and restore intimacy. That is what he says his goal is.
But my frustration is really not so much with Harley’s book, believe it or not. I have no reason to doubt his intentions for writing are good. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and neither do I think it should be sold in Christian venues, but Harley has every right to express his opinions.
My frustration lies with those who DO recommend it, and those who read it with no filter, accepting every word as gospel truth.
Why are we as a culture so quick to accept every printed word as truth? Since when do we trust culture, accolades and famous names more than the filter provided by the Word of God?
As Christians we are called to take every thought captive and guard against worldly philosophies: “The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.” (2 Corinthians 10:5-6, MSG)
Ladies, Friends, Moms, Wives, Christians – don’t become lax in your thinking and believing! Be sure you are using the Word of God as your filter and standard for everything.
What about you?
- If someone recommends a book, and you read it, do you feel pressure to believe it or agree with it or put it into practice?
- Are you familiar enough with what the Bible says to have confidence in filtering true from false in the media around you?