Shaunti Feldhahn is a Christian author (one of my favorites!), speaker, and social researcher. Craig Gross is a pastor and founder of www.xxxchurch.org that has Christ-centered, biblical help for those ensnared by lust, pornography, and sex addictions.
They teamed up to help women better understand how their men think, what kinds of temptation they face, and how we as wives, girlfriends, and moms can best support the guys we love in this sexually saturated culture.
If you have not read my post from last week about preparing our hearts to read about the topic of how men think and the issues they have being “visual,” please read that before you read today’s book review. Thanks!
My prayer is that we might be in the right spiritual/emotional mindset – seeking to grow in Christ and to honor Him and to have empathy, compassion, and understanding toward our men – as we approach this potentially difficult topic.
Jesus taught that “he who has been forgiven much, loves much,” (Luke 7:41-43). I used to think that I couldn’t love God as much as some people who were “really bad sinners” – until God showed me all of my really bad sin. ALL of us have been forgiven MUCH by God. All of us owed Him a sin debt of billions of dollars that we could never repay.
If we have received God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace – we are then free to love God much. But I also believe that we are then free to love other people much – and to extend the same forgiveness, mercy, and grace to others, including our husbands.
If you have major issues with a lot of insecurity, body image issues, or extreme fear about your husband ever noticing that there are other women on the planet – please don’t read today’s post but pray and wait until God has healed you and you are ready to read this review with a level mind and steady heart. Pray for God to give you His perspective, His peace, His sense of calm, His unconditional love for your man, and His wisdom. Pray for Him to help you hash through any ungodly motives, wrong fixed beliefs, or fears and determine to trust God completely and rest in His sovereignty and love.
THE PMS ANALOGY
A perspective that helps me – as a woman and a pharmacist – is to think about that men and women have different biologically driven vulnerabilities and weaknesses. As women, we tend to battle things like PMS/pregnancy hormones/peri-menopause/menopause. (I believe some of these things are part of the curse in Genesis 3.)
There is a continuum for women for PMS – some women are hardly affected, others are mildly inconvenienced, but some are completely relationally crippled for days or weeks every month.
Our men don’t experience PMS or the feminine issues that we do as women. They do have emotions, certainly. But they can’t personally relate to the struggles we may have with our periods, the cramps, the irritability, the crying, the emotional mess, the migraines, and all of the issues that may accompany our hormonal cycles. Don’t we long for our men to approach us with empathy, encouragement, unconditional love, understanding, and grace when we stumble and fall? Don’t we desire compassion from them in our weakness? This is not to say that we are justified in screaming at them, hating them, throwing things, saying hateful things, or sinning against them when we have PMS.
Sin is never excusable. God never allows us to justify sin.
But our biological makeup creates some particular vulnerabilities. If we are not careful and are not walking in the power of God’s Spirit, we could easily stumble in the weakness of our flesh. We may need extra spiritual support in those times of weakness.
I would like to encourage us all to offer the same kind of empathy, encouragement, unconditional love, understanding, and grace when our men struggle with their vulnerabilities – even if we can’t completely relate to their struggles. Don’t our men need our compassion in their weakness? I don’t want any man to feel guilty just for being a man. Sin is wrong. We are not justifying sin. But – let’s allow our men freedom to be the men God created them to be. And let’s seek to understand their world. A man’s biological makeup creates some particular vulnerabilities that are terribly exploited by our culture like never before in the history of civilization. If they are not careful and are not walking in the power of God’s Spirit, they could easily stumble in the weakness of their flesh. They may need extra spiritual support in those times of weakness.
- Until we are walking in victory over our own personal spiritual battles, we are not ready to walk beside someone else to assist him in his spiritual battles.
If you are spiritually and emotionally ready – let’s dive into this book review below, my precious sisters!
This topic can get very emotional for us. We sometimes try to take the way we think and the way our brains work as women and make assumptions about how men think that are often not at all accurate. It is easy to think that if I don’t have a particular temptation struggle – then my husband is “bad” or “more sinful” than I am because he has different temptations.
As humans, we may be tempted to think that our sin is “better than” other people’s sin – or that our sin is more “justifiable.”
But in God’s eyes – no sin is justified. He hates it ALL. And yet He loves us dearly. That is why He was willing to pay such an astronomical price for all of our sins – for men and women – so that He could provide a way for us to be right with Him.
“Through a Man’s Eyes” goes to great lengths to explain the differences in how men and women think and why God’s design is good – for men and for women. God designed men to be very visual so that they can drive well, design things well, hunt well, and enjoy the precious sight of a wife’s feminine body in marriage. That is the only place men are supposed to see an undressed woman or a barely dressed woman – in their own marriage.
Shaunti and Craig have large volumes of surveys of men and women, as well as brain science, not to mention their vast experiences in ministry helping thousands of men and women with the issue of men being visual. They delve into appropriate levels of detail to determine the difference between temptation, attraction, and lust/sin for a man. It is important for us as women to understand that:
A man facing temptation is not the same thing as him being guilty of sinful thoughts or actions.
Christ was tempted, but was without sin. That is what He calls us to do, as well, as believers – to respond without sin to every temptation by His power in us. We can’t prevent the temptations sometimes. Although we can try to avoid them whenever possible. But we are responsible to God for how we respond to the tempting sight or thought. We can’t always tell if someone else is having sinful thoughts. Only God knows the hearts and minds of other people accurately. It is our job to take our own sinful thoughts captive for Christ. We cannot try to be responsible for another person’s thoughts.
I appreciate that the authors take time to point out that not all men have the same degree of struggle visually, that there is a continuum. This book offers a place for women to start – but hopefully, they will be able to eventually have loving, honest, open conversations with their particular men later that might help them better understand their guys. The authors repeat over and over again, though, for women to read the whole book before trying to have a conversation with their men about these things. It is important that we be willing and able to have CALM discussions about this topic so that our men will know they are safe in sharing these things with us.
If we freak out, we will show our men that we are not safe and they will shut us out of this area of their lives. That is not going to ultimately benefit us, them, or our marriages.
Craig and Shaunti don’t gloss over sin – for men or for women.
They call it what it is and encourage women to get appropriate help if their husbands are addicted to porn. They don’t excuse sin or justify it in any way. But they do help us to better understand how God created our men’s minds and how we can be on their team instead of condemning them, hating them, or holding on to bitterness. They also explain how porn addiction really doesn’t usually have anything to do with a husband’s love or attraction to his wife. It is an addiction just like a drug – it generally isn’t about his wife. It is about his addiction and the rush of “I feel good” – but it is a counterfeit. Many times men became addicted to porn as middle or high schoolers – and they would have this issue no matter what wife they married. God designed real affirmation and blessings for men when they experience sex in marriage. The counterfeit only causes pain in a man’s relationship with God, in his own life, in his wife’s life, and in their marriage.
I love that the book goes into detail about specific, practical things that wives, girlfriends, and moms can do to support their men and bless them. I am also thankful for the conversation about the importance that women dress modestly to bless our brothers and to not set a stumbling block in their way. Yes, men are responsible for their thoughts and their sin. But why would we ever intentionally try to make things harder on our brothers in Christ by dressing immodestly or provocatively?
I believe this book is a must read for wives, girlfriends, and moms. I long to see God use this book to begin to bridge the gap in understanding between men and women in the church and in our families that we might come together in unity, love, support, and help for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
If this topic is really difficult for you and you want to share your struggles, let’s talk about it together!
If God has empowered you to handle this topic with grace, understanding, peace, and poise – please share with our sisters who are hurting and struggling how God has helped you to approach your man with compassion, grace, and understanding on this issue.
FOR LADIES WHO FEEL TEMPTED TO TRY TO BE A TROPHY WIFE OR THINK THAT IS THE MESSAGE:
I came from a background of focusing on what my husband should change for me. So it can be helpful for me to focus on what I can change to bless my husband in a healthy way – not an obsessed or idolatrous way. But not all women are from that background.
We can seek to bless our husbands, but we are not responsible FOR them or their sin. I hope that makes sense! Ultimately this is all about us seeking to please God alone.
Here is what a dear sister in Christ shared – and has given me permission to share. She used to believe she had to be a “trophy wife” and when she approached some Christian books, she thought she was hearing that message reinforced. Sometimes, certain women are very sensitive to such triggers. I think this wife’s approach may be a great blessing to many who struggle with balancing messages in the area of dealing with husbands being visual and having temptations, etc… Check this out:
Some Christian studies on marriage can tempt us to feel responsible for our husbands sin, our marriage, to stay together, and a whole lot of performance on our part to make sure he is never tempted and we are always enough for him. The problem is we are never pretty enough, exciting enough or wonderful enough to hold our marriages together. Our husbands could still sin even if we were.
So we need the truth – We are not going to be enough to keep our husbands faithful or keep them from sin. We are not their savior. Their sin issues were there before we were in their lives. Only God can set them free from lust or anything else . And only God can set us free from fear and worry and performancing.
I am already beautiful in Christ and I need to be filled up with His love and truth about me. Only Christ is enough for my husband. If he is focused on Christ, Jesus is enough for him. So the answer for my husband to be free is Christ. I can pray for him. And the answer for me is Christ.
I don’t have to be a victim – worried about my husband’s sin or potential to sin. I can grow with Christ in any circumstance including one where my husband is sinning. My hope and joy and identity is in Christ, not my husband being perfect. I don’t have to pressure myself and feel constant guilt and fear to perform or he will leave me. I can rest in Christ’s love and grace for me and for my marriage and husband. I don’t have to worry about the future and what-ifs. I can enjoy my husband and think of intimacy and beauty as a good gift from God rather than a heavy, impossible duty I will never be good enough at (a lie from Satan).
Rather than be fearful and jealous, (Beth Moore said jealousy and fear has never won back a wandering husband) and looking at my lack, I can look at all the good already in my husband, all the love and blessings Christ has already given me, and the hope that God is fighting for me and my marriage. I am not the Holy Spirit and I can quit trying to police my husband and be free to give him respect and prayer and be listening to God and staying out of God’s way if my husband does need convicting.
Sometimes my husband isn’t even struggling and it is just me being paranoid that is the problem! I need to ask for God’s wisdom, and not try to figure out what is right in my own eyes.
www.menarevisual.com – Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross
www.xxxchurch.org – help for lust/porn addictions and spouses of those who are addicted
Prayer for Those Hurt by Porn, Addicted to Porn, and Involved in the Porn Industry
“Through His Eyes” by Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross
“For Women Only” by Shaunti Feldhahn
“For Men Only” by Jeff and Shaunti Feldhahn