FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Understanding Redemptive Love

with Jimmy and Karen Evans | January 8, 2008
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On the broadcast today, MarriageToday Founders Jimmy and Karen Evans, authors of the book Our Secret Paradise, talk with Dennis Rainey about the problems they had early in their marriage and tell how their marriage began to change when they began to see each other through God's eyes.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • On the broadcast today, MarriageToday Founders Jimmy and Karen Evans, authors of the book Our Secret Paradise, talk with Dennis Rainey about the problems they had early in their marriage and tell how their marriage began to change when they began to see each other through God's eyes.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

On the broadcast today, MarriageToday Founders Jimmy and Karen Evans, authors of the book Our Secret Paradise, talk with Dennis Rainey about the problems they had early in their marriage and tell how their marriage began to change when they began to see each other through God’s eyes.

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Understanding Redemptive Love

With Jimmy and Karen Evans
January 08, 2008
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Jimmy: Most marriage counseling is a person that's doing the wrong thing, justifying what they're doing based on the wrong thing their spouse is doing – "Well, I know I threw the pan at him, but you can't believe what he said to me before I did" and "Well, I know that I hadn't been home for several days, but every time I walk in she starts yelling." 

 Someone is doing the wrong thing and, you know, the old saying, "When you fight fire with fire, you're going to get a bigger fire."  But the Bible says that we have been called to the same example of Jesus that when He suffered, He uttered no threats. 

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, January 8th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  When there's conflict in marriage the question is not who started it but what can I do to resolve it.  Stay tuned.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, we have guests who are with us who grew up in Amarillo, and I've always wanted to find out from the people who live in Amarillo, if they really do go to the Big Texan steak place?

Dennis: Oh, you know, hey, really – good question, Bob.

Bob: I'm just wondering if Jimmy Evans …

Dennis: Yesterday you said you had a great way to introduce our guest.  I'm sorry, Bob, I really like that one.  It's not as good as the Holy Spirit.

Bob: Jimmy and his wife, Karen, are back with us.  You both grew up in Amarillo, right?

Karen: Mm-hm.

Jimmy: Exactly.

Bob: Did you ever eat the 72-ounce free Big Texan or did you even try?

Jimmy: We have been out there, but I had a friend once in high school that ate the 72-ounce steak, and you have to eat and all the trimmings in an hour.

Bob: Salad and the baked potato and the whole thing, right.

Jimmy: Everything, and I had a friend who ate it, but there are people who ate that weekly, and then they made a limit that you can only do it one time, because there are people that could do it on a regular basis.

Bob: Oh, my goodness.

Dennis: But locally, there in Amarillo, how do the locals …

Jimmy: We don't eat out there.

Dennis: I know they don't eat out there, but is it kind of humorous about all of us tourists to slide by Amarillo and guys who have big eyes think they can handle it, huh?

Karen: Well, it's a good lesson, though, because [inaudible] you go to, you should talk to the locals about where to eat.  Don't read the advertisements.

Jimmy: It's a wonderful place, but the 72-ounce steak, people don't realize how big that is.

Bob: That's five pounds of meat.

Jimmy: That's a lot of meat.

Dennis: See, what they do is they put a 12-pound baked potato with hit.


Jimmy: Yeah, and if you don't eat the whole thing, you've got to pay for it.  They're wonderful people.

Dennis: Well, this broadcast is not about the Amarillo steak house that Bob's talking about.  Jimmy and Karen Evans live in Dallas, Texas.  They've been married since 1973; have two adult married children who have graced them with three grandchildren.  They give leadership to "Marriage Today," which is a great television program.  I've watched your program many times, and they've written numerous books, but this most recent one, "Our Secret Paradise," and earlier we found out that your marriage did not start as a paradise.  It started in great need of redemption.

 And one of the things I found interesting about your book that I really liked was that you talked a lot about redemption, and I like that because I think all of us, as human beings, not only need redemption from God to obviously bring us into right standing with Him, but our relationships desperately need redemption because you admitted it earlier – you didn't know how to love.  I don't think any of us know how to love but, really, your message talking about Christ in marriages is one that talks about how God redeems broken people.

Jimmy: Right and, you know, everyone is messed up, and this is one of the things we talk about in the book.  People get married, and we got married with expectations that will be happily ever after, and then you get married and what you realize is you married someone who is messed up.  We're all messed up. 

 We have ignorance concerning the opposite sex, we have quirks in our personality, we all have hurts from our past, and the only way that we're going to be able to succeed in marriage is through redemptive love.  Ephesians 4 says, you know, be angry, don't sin, don't let the sun go down on your anger, you'll give a place to the devil.  The word devil there is the Greek word, "diablos," it's slander.

 Whenever you're having a problem in your marriage – of course, the devil hates marriage, and he's always working against you to accuse each other – but what he wants to do is plant that seed, "You married the wrong person."  There is – your soulmate is out there on the Internet surfing right now looking for you and you have to marry her or him and all he does is accuse.

 Rather than us having the mentality that says, "Any person that I would ever marry is going to be imperfect, and I'm going to have to use redemptive love," and I am imperfect, and I need redemptive love.

Bob: Do you remember in the '70s, the song that was on the radio that said, "It's sad to belong to someone else when the right one comes along?"

Jimmy: Oh, I'll tell you.

Bob: I mean, that's the mindset of a lot of folks.

Dennis: Yeah, and I have to ask both of you – I'm going to ask you, Karen, and, Jimmy, I'm going to come to you in a second with it – in the midst of this lack of having a soulmate, were you ever attracted to anyone else?  Did you ever fantasize in that emotional arena?

Karen: Well, Jimmy and I talk about this a lot because he just can't imagine that you don't, especially when your needs are not being met; that you're not emotionally – you know, maybe emotionally, if another guy was nice, but I don't know what was in me.  When he says I was pure, honestly, I had such a fear of God on me, and as low self-esteem as I had, it was hard to understand the dynamic of that, but it's just that when I read the Bible and I thought about what it said, it's like – and I'm not one of those religious, you know, fanatic people.

 So it sounds, you know, kind of like, "Oh, you're so spiritual."  Well, I'm not.

Dennis: You took God at His Word.

Karen: Yeah, I just couldn't imagine, if you're married to somebody, it's not right, so if I had a thought, it was like I caught it.  Now, where I battled is my thoughts against him, because I just was constantly – I allowed the enemy to constantly bring thoughts to me about how he's never going to change, you know, he's never going to meet your needs.  He's this, this, this, but I never thought, "You can find something out there."  I don't know why it didn't come to me, it just didn't.

Dennis: What about you, Jimmy?

Jimmy: Oh, yeah, I thought I'd married the wrong person.  I was very focused on the fact that I just married a dud.  She wasn't as sexual as I wanted her to be, she didn't honor me the way I wanted her to honor me – all the responses I expected from a wife, I wasn't getting from here, and the more she didn't do that, being as dominant as I was, I just tried to squeeze it out of her, and that didn't have a good effect, and so I was convinced that there was someone else out there, and I never personalized it.  It never became a person, but the concept was clearly in my mind – someone else is out there that would be the wife that I wanted.

Karen: I think my self-esteem was just so bad that I never could imagine anybody else would want me.  You know, so why would I think to look outside that, you know, is another way of looking at it.

Dennis: In the midst of all this, there is great disappointment.  What did you do with the disappointment?

Jimmy: I was angry at Karen, and I yelled at her.

Dennis: A lot?

Jimmy: Uh-huh, yeah, well, and I wouldn't say every day but once a week or once every two weeks we would have a fight, and I would lecture her.  I would just tell her, you know, "You're the problem," and part of my gifting is speaking and persuasion and things like that, so when that wasn't righteously ventilated, I became a prosecuting attorney every time we fought.

Dennis: And you usually won the argument?

Jimmy: Well, yeah, she would concede and walk away, but it just created more resentment inside of her.

Bob: Was there any joy in the first few years of your marriage?  Do you look back on that a go, "Yeah, we did have some good times."

Jimmy: Oh, yeah, we had good times.

Karen: Yeah, we were talking about some good times recently – how we used to go to the drive-in …

Jimmy: Foot-long hot dogs and all that stuff.

Karen: The simple things in life.

Dennis: Kind of as long as she did what you wanted her to do.

Jimmy: Yeah, we really did have a relationship to where we liked each other even when we didn't love each other.  We had a friendship …

Karen: We always communicated.

Jimmy: Yeah, we had a friendship that was bonded when we were 16, 17 years old, and we're only married because of God, and that's what we know.  If it were not for our relationship with the Lord, we wouldn't be married because both of us had a fear of the Lord on us in a respect for God, but during those days, the worst days of our marriage, there were some bright moments, but they just got fewer and fewer, and the fights began to increase, and when we got to the point where we almost separated, that was the point where we weren't in love anymore. 

 And when people say "I don't love him anymore," we know what that's like.  We were just numb, and when I apologized to Karen on that night when things began to heal, it took weeks before we really had any good feelings.  You know, really positive, hopeful, type of feelings.

 But the part of our message is it's never hopeless.  Is when you turn your marriage over to God, and you begin to do the right thing, if you don't follow your emotions, you just do the right thing, God can resurrect any marriage from that, and that's where our marriage came from.  When we write the book, "Our Secret Paradise," is that today our marriage is not perfect, but our marriage is great, and we live in a blessed marriage of having needs met and feeling very hopeful to the future and very passionate today. 

 But that came out of, literally, a loveless, hopeless kind of a situation.

Dennis: I think there are all kinds of marriages listening to this broadcast right now – some that the whole marriage is in need of redemption.

Jimmy: Right.

Dennis: There are others who have got good relationships where there's a major area or maybe a couple of areas that need redemption, and then there's others that even have a great relationship and a great marriage, but they still have issues that need that same principle of redemption applied in their marriage.

 Walk someone through the process of how they go about experiencing true redemption, whether they're in the ditch with all four wheels, and it feels like life is over as they know it, all the way to the couple who, well, they're swatting some big gnats in their marriage, but they still need redemption there as well.  I don't think we ever outgrow our need.

Jimmy: Absolutely not, and it switches back and forth.  One day it's the husband, the next day it's the wife, but typically it's a woman because women are more relationally sensitive, and 98 percent – when I was a pastor for many years, 98 percent of all marriage counseling is initiated by women because they fight for the relationship more, they're more humble in asking for help just like men asking for directions – women will ask for help quicker.

 But the whole issue of redemption is the best person does the right thing first, and when you look at your spouse …

Dennis: Say that again – the best person …

Jimmy: The best person does the right thing first.  And so when you see your spouse, and they have a problem, typically, what we want to do is to react to their problem and reject them because of the problem, and we feel justified.  Most marriage counseling is a person that's doing the wrong thing, justifying what they're doing based on the wrong thing their spouse is doing – and that's most marriage counseling.

 "Well, I know I threw the pan at him, but you can't believe what he said to me before I did" and "Well, I know that I hadn't been home for several days, but every time I walk in she starts yelling." 

 Someone is doing the wrong thing and, you know, the old saying, "When you fight fire with fire, you get a bigger fire."  The only way you can defeat a spirit is with the opposite spirit, and so Jesus said "Love your enemies.  Bless those who curse you."  That's the only way you're ever going to solve the problem.

 Karen began the redemption in our marriage, and I tell the story about – I was talking to her one time, just yapping at her, doing my typical dominant jerk stuff, you know, and I said something to her just pretty hateful and pretty rude, and she walked out of the room and walked back in the room with the tray with lunch on it and put it in my lap and kissed me on the cheek and told me she loved me and walked out.

 I mean, I wanted to fight.  I mean, I was looking for a fight, and she wouldn't give it to me, and when she walked out of the room, I thought, "Don't do that," and it just really frustrated me, and that – right at that moment, it was the Lord speaking to my heart saying, "You don't deserve her."  And that's redemptive love.  Now, it's not wrong for her to stand up to me, she needs to, and women need to stand up righteously, but the issue is how she behaved was not what I deserved.  That's what redemptive love is.

Bob: Karen, where did you even get the motivation to kiss him on the cheek and say "I love you," with that lunch in his lap after the way he'd just talked to you.

Dennis: There's a lot of women right now who know what they would do with that lunch.


Karen: I have that story, too.  Oh, yeah, we have a good meatloaf story.  I remember – it was actually a Bible study I'd been going to, and it was called "What Happens When Women Pray" by …

Bob: Evelyn Christiansen, sure.

Karen: Yes, and it changed my whole perspective of the power of prayer for anyone, especially your husband.  And I remember just thinking, "Oh, my gosh, there's my hope," that if I pray and if I act upon what I believe by faith now how I feel," because I didn't feel like it, but I believed that – I don't know, it was just something that hit my heart – God can do this.

 And so when – I remember, I got an immediate response.  I went, "Yes, God, oh, my gosh, this stuff works."  But, again, we weren't perfect.  I still messed up, we still had our issues.

Bob: Yeah, let's bring some reality to this.  Tell the meatloaf story.

Karen: Oh, I love this story.  This is a great one.  I love to cook, and so I had made him this absolutely fabulous meal.

Jimmy: Before we got married.

Karen: Yes, before, this is when I was living on my own.  And – fabulous meal – he had gone golfing, had not called all day, and he was an hour late.  Never calls, walks in the door, arrogant as you can be.  "Well, what's for dinner?"  And he knew I was so mad, and he never said "I'm sorry," nothing.  And he sat down, and he goes, "What's wrong with you?"  I picked up my plate, and I put it on top of his head, and meatloaf – I still remember it – meatloaf, green beans, mashed potatoes …

Dennis: Oh, you didn't just set the plate on top of his head …

Karen: Oh, no, he was covered with food.

Dennis: You turned it upside down on his head.

Karen: Oh, smashed it on him.  And then I get in my car, and it was a little Volkswagen Beatle, and I drove through a clothesline this wide – I don't know how I did it, but it's like "I'm outta here.  I'm so mad at you."

Jimmy: She was mad, that's right, I remember that.

Karen: Yeah, I'm passive/aggressive.  I can get that anger thing coming out after I've been pushed too much.

Bob: I wouldn't say that was passive there.

Jimmy: I liked the passive part, but …


Bob: So you would recommend to wives, don't take the meatloaf approach, take the lunch tray approach …

Karen: Exactly.

Bob: And say "I love you."

Karen: A lot better, a lot better.

Jimmy: But, you know, I didn't – exactly what Karen said, I didn't get it.  But when she began to respond to me out of love, it broke through my heart because it wasn't what I expected and, again, it's not an enabling thing.  Redemptive love – a lot of people fear redemptive love because they think it's enabling.

 But, remember, you know, Jesus would sit down at the Last Supper, and he washed Peter's feet, and Peter said, "No, Lord, you won't do this."  He said, "Well, if I don't do this, I have not part in you." 

 Being a servant and being a redeemer doesn't mean that you put yourself in a defenseless position.  I'll protect myself when I need to protect myself, but, otherwise, I'm not going to return evil with evil.  And the other thing is, that voice that we have to take captive that's constantly telling us, "Your spouse meant to do that.  They know exactly how you feel.  They're paying you back for the other day," and by the time they walk in the door, you're ready for a war.  And none of that is probably true.

Bob: Jimmy, I'm thinking of a friend of mine, and I would say, as I've observed their relationship, she has been faithfully attempting to provide gracious, loving, redemptive kindness toward her husband, and he still doesn't get it, and it's been years. 

 We can hear a story like what Karen shares and think, "Okay, I'll try that, and that should fix it tomorrow."  What do you say to – and it can be a husband or a wife, but to the one who has been serving, sacrificing, loving, being gracious, and the other spouse still doesn't get it, what kind of counsel do you give them?

Karen: Well, first of all, like I said, when I did it, I didn't just – all of a sudden, everything changed.  But it does something for your own heart.  It depends on, too, how she thinks she's doing it.  She's doing this out of rules and regulation so I can get results, you know, a husband can pick up on fake behavior, you know, and if she is being genuine, you know, I think sometimes there just comes a point where you need to go to counseling.

 I mean, we believe in counseling, huge.  I mean, we have couples that we know have been in marriages, and they're strong Christians, and they can't get over the hump.  And it's like it's amazing how just sitting in a room and having somebody else – just like us sitting here on the radio and dialoging about the situations of marriage, and have somebody else that's not in the marriage speak to things that only a husband can hear or only a wife can hear, and it disarms that wall or that way of thinking, you know, so, personally, in a situation like that, if things are not working according to what should be working, you know, we really would recommend the counseling.

Jimmy: And probably without her behavior, the marriage would have melted down a long time ago.  Even though she might not have had the results she wanted, she's probably preserved the relationship just through her actions.

Bob: But she may be thinking, "I'm not sure I want to preserve it because it doesn't seem like he is getting it at all.

Jimmy: Well, that's why I think exactly what Karen said is true – a woman – and she's using redemptive love – he still has a will.  But when people use redemptive love, there's a couple of things that happens.  Number one, it protects you.

 When you get caught up in revenge and anger and bitterness, you're going to get consumed in the process.  The other thing is the best result will always happen – is if the best result is a stalemate, you know, where it may not get where it's going to be, that best result will happen.  And that's not good, and that's why I agree with Karen.

 Everything that she can do, she needs to do to get him into a counseling situation where someone else can appeal to him, and, you know, if it's not a destructive situation or an abusive situation, and she's just hanging onto the marriage, she needs to try to get him into counseling.  If it's destructive or abusive, then there are other remedies.

Dennis: What you've been talking about throughout this entire program, and you've actually quote most of the tale end of 1 Peter, chapter 2, and the beginning of 1 Peter, chapter 3, is summarized in verse 8.  It says "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead."

 It has a promise, and it says, "For you were called for this very purpose, that you might inherit a blessing."  And what we're talking about here in Bob's friend's marriage, is a woman, a wife, perhaps a husband, who is faithful and true to the Scripture to just keep on returning the blessing for the insult.

Karen: She'll reap it, she'll reap it.

Dennis: And we don't know when that reaping will occur.  It may be later rather than sooner.  I do think we're very impatient. 

Jimmy: That's right, that's exactly …

Dennis: I am extremely impatient in this cause/effect society we live in.  We want to put a quarter in and get a dollar out and, in marriage, many times you've got to keep investing the quarter.

Karen: Always.

Dennis: An investing and investing and investing, and your word always is a good word because you really never stop investing if you want to have a great marriage.

Jimmy: That's right.

Bob: You know, at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences that we host all across the country, we spend a lot of time helping couples understand the issue of anger in marriage, and then how an individual can seek forgiveness when you've wronged your spouse, how to grant forgiveness, how to rebuild trust, and then ultimately we do talk about what do you do if your spouse isn't doing the right thing?  How do you do what you talked about, Dennis – giving a blessing instead of returning evil for evil.

 We're going to be hosting these conferences in dozens of cities all across the country this spring, and this week and next week, we're encouraging FamilyLife Today listeners to either go online at or give us a call at 1-800-FLTODAY; get more information about when the conference is going to be held in a city hear where you live and then make plans to attend one of these upcoming conferences. 

 If you register this week or next week, you can save $60 per couple off the regular registration fee as a FamilyLife Today listener.  This is something we do at the beginning of our spring season for our FamilyLife Today listeners, so if you're looking for an opportunity to attend an upcoming conference, and you'd like to save some money, then go to the website,, get the information you need there, or call us – 1-800-FLTODAY.  Someone can answer any questions you have about the conference and dates and locations, things like that, and then register, and if you register online, when you're filling out your registration form, you'll come to a keycode box on the form.  Just type my name in there.  Just type "Bob," and we'll know you're a FamilyLife Today listener, and we'll automatically take care of that $60 per couple savings off the regular registration fee.

 Or if you call 1-800-FLTODAY, and you register over the phone, just say "I listen to FamilyLife Today.  I'm a friend of Bob," and they'll make the same special offer available to you.  Now, you have to register either this week or next week in order to take advantage of this special opportunity, and some of these conferences are starting to fill up.  So if you want to make sure that you can get in, it's best to register as soon as you can.

 Again, the toll-free number to call is 1-800-FLTODAY, or go online and register at  And while you're at our website,, you can get more information about the book that Jimmy Evans has written called "Our Secret Paradise."  A book about marriage that really takes us into some of your story and some of the things God has taught you in the challenges of your own marriage relationship.  We've got it in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  Again, you can get information about the book on our website at  Just click the red button that says "Go" on the center of the screen.  That will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about the book or call 1-800-FLTODAY, and we can make arrangements to have a copy of the book, "Our Secret Paradise" sent out to you.

 Now, tomorrow we're going to spend some time talking about what couples can do to get a little more sizzle back into the marriage relationship.  How you can express your affection for one another in some fresh, creative ways.  I hope you can join us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.


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