Mary Farrar has a B.A. from University of Georgia, MABS from Dallas Theological Seminary, and has been teacher and director of women's ministries in various churches for twenty-five years. Mary is a frequent speaker for Family Life Marriage Conferences and other women's conferences and a member of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. She is the author of the best-selling book, Choices, co-author of Overcoming Overload, and wife to Steve Farrar, men's conference speaker and author of numerous bestselling men's books such as Point Man, and mother of three children now in their twenties, Rachel, John, and Josh.
When I volunteered to review Mary Farrar's book Reading Your Male, my main impulse was to read and review someone who has been such a good friend of CBMW. Mary and her husband Steve Farrar, have gone shoulder to shoulder with us throughout the years in combatting the cultural confusion over manhood and womanhood in the Church and home.
Yet, when reading the book, I began to realize the situation I had gotten myself into. I was reviewing a book that was teaching women how to (as the subtitle reads) "understand and influence your man's sexuality." For obvious reasons, the content of the book was less helpful for me (practically speaking, since I am a male). So then, how does a man review a book for women on men? Well, I came to the conclusion that I had two guidelines to judge the helpfulness of the book: (1) did Farrar's concerns and solutions line up with a man's experience (mainly mine), and (2) does it align with Scripture's concerns and solution? The second guideline is of primary importance.
My main question when reading this book was whether it was concerned with the felt needs of men or with what God desired for men. When reading or interacting with books on this sort of topic, it is usually the felt needs of the man that win out. Those books usually have no firm foundation other than "experience" for their contribution.
Thankfully, Farrar does not go down that road. She desires to promote the kind of woman who looks to influence the sexuality of her man for the glory of God. Her solution is that ultimately men need a women who is grounded in the Lord, not primarily in her man (pp. 220-221).
The first section of her book is probably the most helpful. Mainly, because it provides a good foundation for the rest of the book. If I could sum up her main argument it would be for good or for ill, women influence men's sexuality. Through her conversations with other husbands and wives, Farrar provides a compelling case that women must carefully and wisely use their influence redemptively – to fight sin and encourage godliness.
The second section explains the fight that every man has against sexual temptation. Farrar not only engages in the sin of day-to-day temptation, but the very real problem of the "feminization of the men" in our culture. Farrar recognizes that, in the Church, men are not stepping up to lead, but rather shrinking back from any responsibility. She encourages her readers (mainly wives) to biblically encourage their husbands to lead. Nothing cripples a husband's manliness more than the self-focused, critical, manipulative, Amazon-type woman. She writes, "True feminity stirs the embers of manliness. It awakens the man's calling and breathes life into his manly quest" (p. 81). Amen.
The third section is more practical in nature than the first two. Men think different than women, so how do women interact with men, biblically. Farrar grounds our differences in the Creator – a good place to start. Our different emotions are not grounds to diverge but to understand that we each, are created in the image of God. Emotions are not a result of the Fall (despite what some men think) because God shows he has emotions as well, like hatred against sin and love for his people. However, sin has effected our desires, and Farrar displays for women just how sin has affected the man's emotions and how to become a vital part of a man's defense within his personal warfare.
I am glad for Mary Farrar's publication of her book Reading Your Male. I hope the content of this book and its influence runs wide. Her primary concern is not merely a happy husband, but a holy husband. The interest is not to give strokes to men to keep marriage peaceful or appease the sexual desires of husbands, but to encourage the godliness of biblical manhood by biblical womanhood. May the Lord grant that message legs to run!
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