David Murrow is back. Mostly. But perhaps some history is in order….
Even for someone like me, who loves men’s ministry but recoils violently at the thoughts of Promise Keepers and John Eldredge (huzZAH!), Why Men Hate Going to Church was pretty stinking brilliant — not only in its exploration of the recent “feminization” of the church but why men have felt so shut down by it, in striking detail. If you haven’t read it yet, do it — the points are largely still accurate, and once you worked through them, it’s like, “Well, duh — why wouldn’t men be shut down by this?”
Since that booming shot across the deck seven years ago, though, it’s been progressively diminishing returns. We’ve seen How Women Help Men Find God, which sought to further bridge the church gender gap (which, in many ways, this new book echoes). And then there was The Map: The Way of All Great Men — hated it. I’ll say it now so I don’t have to repeat it later: David’s very good when he’s presenting an argument; he’s not a good “creative writer.”
This new one is a bit of all three past books, but fortunately more the first two, and the title should tell you he’s back in his wheelhouse. It’s not the knockout punch that Why Men…. was, but it accomplishes what it sets out to do. And that’s a good thing.
David Murrow. What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You: A Guided Tour of a Man’s Body, Soul, and Spirit. 212p., $13.99, Bethany House.
While the book is geared specifically toward women, Murrow comments than 80 percent of men don’t know what’s going on with themselves either. Thus, men could worse than to try this book on for size as well.
It’s also worth noting that this book gets progressively better as it goes along — not that the opening premise of man’s view of himself as protector and provider (and how that informs later chapters) isn’t on target, but the anthropomorphization of Protector and Provider here had me rolling my eyes, a lot. That’s right, kids, it’s The Map version of Murrow we get in the beginning (and being his last book, maybe should’ve expected).
That said, this opening premise is important. As he notes in the introduction: “I’m convinced that every fear, dysfunction, and insecurity in a man’s life flows from an overdeveloped or underdeveloped need to provide or protect. It’s Adam taking his roles too seriously, or not seriously enough.” So bear with the goofy, “Hi, I’m Provider” stuff. It’ll be over soon.
From there, things ramp up noticeably as the next three sections respectively explore a man’s body, soul, and spirit. The discussions about sex (body) are frank and on target; and the soul chapters explore the provider/protector issues a lot more cogently. And then there’s the spirit chapters. “How Men Relate to God—and Church” is probably my favorite here, as it hearkens back to the arguments of Why Men…. and adds a few more for good measure. But most of the message boils down to this: “The guys ‘get’ mission—but they don’t ‘get’ churchgoing.”
Thus, the final section, “So What’s a Woman to Do?” breaks down how wives can help their husbands to become re-engaged with church, and to heal and grow in body, soul, and spirit. The following maybe captures the essence of this book better than anything else, so here you go:
Here’s the truth about your husband: You probably already have a good man. But he’s trapped in a cage of self-protection…. A man cannot reach out in love when his arms are clutched in a defensive position…. So ladies, here’s the big secret to getting the man you want: Stop trying to improve him. Stop trying to fix him. Start trying to free him.
And in general, when Murrow stops to say, “Here’s the truth about your husband,” it’s time to listen. And there’s plenty here to listen to, if you so choose. So if you’re up for the challenge, get going.