by Ed Wheat

This book by Dr. Ed Wheat, M.D. and "certified sex therapist," comes highly recommended by many pastors and church leaders. It is our belief, however, that Love-Life is not Biblical in its approach to the matters of building and maintaining a marriage relationship, in that it relies heavily upon the concepts and teachings of humanistic psychology. Wheat also sells a set of two 90-minute cassette tapes entitled, "Love-Life for Every Married Couple," which contain many of the things found in the Love-Life book. Below are detailed some of our concerns with this book (1980:Zondervan):

-  The book's two primary endorsers, so-called "evangelicals" James C. Dobson and Charles Swindoll, are heavily into the same humanistic teachings as Wheat.

-  Wheat's "B-E-S-T" system (where B=blessing; E=edifying; S=sharing; T=touching) is strikingly similar to Gary Smalley's "psychology of matriarchy," where the end result is frequently the complete manipulation of the husband to the point where he succumbs to the wife's every so-called need. Wheat's prescription for a fulfilled, Biblical marriage seems to be for the husband to pander and grovel in order to win the affections of his wife. (See pp. 177-193 for Wheat's development of B-E-S-T.)

-  Ed Wheat's "edifying" concept (the "E" in "B-E-S-T") is nothing more than a methodology borrowed from humanistic psychology. (In fact, Wheat himself reveals [p. 182] that he borrowed the concept from a psychological methodology called "healing attention.") As is taught in humanistic psychology, Wheat likewise teaches that a husband must satisfy his wife's "need" for self-esteem and self-worth in order to have an effective marriage relationship -- "When we speak of edifying, we are referring to an expanded love expressed in positive ways that enlarges the self-worth of the beloved" (p. 180). (Emphasis added.) The Bible knows nothing of this so-called need, which has been developed and nurtured by our psychological society (i.e., build-up her self-esteem); instead, the Bible knows only of a few physical needs (food, clothing, shelter), and of only one true spiritual need (salvation) (Matt. 6:28-33).

-  Wheat appears to rely upon a Hollywood-defined concept of love (feelings) rather than a Biblical concept (action). "We all need our hurts soothed; we all need sympathy and empathy from the one closest to us. Love should mean a shoulder to cry on" (pp. 101-102). (Emphasis added.) Even in Wheat's chapter on agape love (pp. 118-129), he dwells on the emotional/feelings-oriented at the expense of the action-oriented.

-  More often than not, when Wheat wants to develop a point in his teaching, rather than turning to God's Word for guidance, he instead turns to man's word, i.e., psychology and psychiatry. An example of this would be Wheat's discussion of how to develop a deep friendship with one's spouse (Cha. 9, "Becoming Best Friends"), wherein Wheat draws from psychology in presenting a detailed description of "The Three Phases of Friendship" (pp. 108-117).

-  Wheat has totally bought into the humanistic psychological concept of unconditional love/unconditional acceptance; e.g., "In your own marriage, your partner needs one thing from you above all else: unconditional love! Christian therapists speak of 'the almost unbelievable need for agape.' Psychiatrist Ross Campbell points out that there is no substitute for the incomparable emotional well-being that comes from feeling loved and accepted, completely and unconditionally" (p. 121). (Emphasis added.) (See Paul Brownback, The Danger of Self-Love, pp. 109-116, and Martin & Deidre Bobgan, Prophets of PsychoHeresy II, pp. 91-96 [or pages 65-71 of James Dobson's Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology], for a proper, Biblical analysis of so-called unconditional love/acceptance.)

Wheat goes on to explain (pp. 121-122) that this giving of unconditional love reaps great benefits (so-called): one's self-image will be enhanced, thus allowing one to function better in a marriage, because one's inherent value as a person has been recognized, completely divorced from performance. Here again we see Wheat's almost total reliance on humanistic psychology rather than on the Bible. (Wheat does attempt to give a Biblical example to support his teaching of unconditional love by using the case of Hosea, who according to Wheat, accepted his prostitute wife, Gomer, unconditionally. It would appear to us, however, that Hosea did impose conditions upon his wife before accepting her back into his household [e.g., Hosea 3:3]).

-  In his chapter entitled "How To Save Your Marriage Alone" (as well as in numerous other places throughout the book), Wheat praises so-called Christian psychiatrist, Paul Meier for his contributions in the field of Christian counseling (pp. 203-236). Meier, along with long-time associate Frank Minirth (also quoted extensively by Wheat), are perhaps the "purest" of the Freudian psychologists in the church today, who by cleverly masquerading their discredited Freudianisms as "Christian" have gained widespread acceptability. (See Prophets of PsychoHeresy I, pp. 223-334, for an excellent analysis of Minirth and Meier's Freudian teachings with respect to the unconscious, infantile sexuality, psychic determinism, defense mechanisms, ventilation therapy, birth order, five stages of grief, etc.)

-  Perhaps the most unbiblical advice given by Wheat in the entire book is his counsel to adulterous husbands to not confess their sin to their wives!:

"Unless you are asked, never confess an affair from the past that would come as a shock to your partner. Confession in this case is not virtuous honesty; it is a cruel act that puts the burden and pain on your mate. Keep the knowledge to yourself, confess your wrong to God and rest in His forgiveness" (p. 222). (Emphasis mine.)

(See Jay Adams, From Forgiven To Forgiving, pp. 57-59, for the Biblical view concerning the required extent of the confession of other than "heart sins.")

-  Wheat further demonstrates his psychological leanings through his recommended readings and footnotes:

(a) Henry Brandt, I Want my Marriage to be Better ( "A Christian psychologist explains ...")
(b) Linda Dillow, Creative Counterpart
(c) James Dobson, What Wives Wish Their Husbands Knew About Women
(d) Tim & Beverly LaHaye, The Act of Marriage
(e) Joyce Landorf, Tough and Tender
(f) Frank Minirth, Christian Psychiatry ("A balanced, biblical approach to personal problems")
(g) Frank Minirth & Paul Meier, Happiness is a Choice (psychotheraputic [codependency-recovery] approach to depression and anxiety)
(h) Ingrid Trobisch, The Joy of Being a Woman
(i) Walter Trobisch, I Married You
(j) H. Norman Wright, Communication: Key to Your Marriage (Freudian psychologist)

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 9/99