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Reading Your MALE
AN INVITATION TO UNDERSTAND and influence YOUR MAN'S SEXUALITY
By MARY FARRAR
David C. CookCopyright © 2009 Mary Farrar
All rights reserved.
The Secret World of a Man: An Unforgettable Interview
No signs from heaven come today—to add to what the heart doth say. —Dostoyevsky
I've seen plenty of interviews on Oprah and Larry King Live. But I was recently privy to an interview that will never make it to network television—even though it should.
In fact this interview happened entirely by accident.
It began as a conversation. And like many good conversations in our home, it evolved in my kitchen right after dinner. The guys were gathered around, watching me clean up as usual. But that's fine. Our best conversations have happened in just this way. I was cleaning—and listening and talking. The guys were just talking. (ADD people can't do two things at once.)
That particular night it was a hearty group of young men in their early twenties—friends of my sons, most of them slugging it out through the last years of college. As the night grew late, we got deeper into conversation, and they didn't seem to mind that I was the only woman still up with them. They had moved on from the light stuff about crazy friends and NBA basketball and the latest good music. They were talking about girls (which ones they liked and didn't like), careers (what in the world they were going to do after college), and the inevitable subject of marriage.
Then suddenly, we were into it. It happened really quite unexpectedly. But once we were there, we were riveted. We were talking about sex. Sex as it is only experienced in the masculine dimension of the universe. The problem of it. The temptation of it. The cloudiness of its boundaries. The destruction it can create.
Outside, the moon slipped silently across the shimmering sky as the world lay slumbering.
Inside, the dishwasher swished and the clock ticked, eventually striking 2:00 a.m. There we were—huddled on our bar chairs, conversing quietly, importantly, and quite intensely. We were completely wide awake. Whatever exhaustion had tugged at us earlier had melted away.
We were Edmund and Lucy, who—having fumbled through an old coat closet in the professor's house—fell right into another land. We were in our own Narnia, that other world that always exists and is fully alive, filled with battles and wars and matters of great import, yet is rarely ever visited by strangers.
For some reason they allowed me in ... even welcomed me. They seemed relieved, actually invigorated to be telling a woman about their world, to have her know and understand. They spoke in a kind of foreign language to me—a certain form of male dialect. But I was willing to learn. And I was permitted to ask the most probing of questions, questions that had been in my brain for years.
They answered me straight-out, no holds barred. For my part I was madly taking mental notes. Eventually, with their permission, I asked if I could write down what they were saying. "Sure!" they said. "Write away." They had never had a woman so interested in what goes on inside the masculine brain.
Now I'm going to give you a portion of this unplanned interview. You should know that they don't mind that I tell you, as long as their identities remain anonymous. But you should also know something else. These are all guys who love the Lord and are actively pursuing a relationship with Him. They want to have pure hearts and healthy marriages.
They desire to be godly men.
I must also warn you that this is frank. But frank is what we need. Not a worldly, sick kind of frank, but an honest and helpful frank. And remember, I am letting you in on only a sliver of their inner world.
Q: How much do you think about sex?
A: Oh, quite a lot.
Q: Well, how much is a lot? Like a few times a week? Once or twice a day?
A: Oh no! Much more than that. More like many times a day.
Q: And you would say this is normal?
A: For guys our age in the world we live in, yes, it's normal.
Q: What makes you think about sex?
A: Oh, lots of things. It can be music, or a girl we see, or something on TV. Or just nothing at all. It can come right out of the blue, right in the middle of a worship chorus in church.
Q: How do you feel when that happens?
A: Well, it is the way it is. But it can really get bothersome. Sometimes we get really bummed out. I mean, what are you going to do with this intense desire to contemplate sex? We have to try to control it and not let it carry us away.
Q: Are you usually successful? I mean, successful in not giving in to those thoughts?
A: Ha! Good question. Sometimes we are, and sometimes we aren't. Lots of times we aren't, actually. It's tough when it's around you every day.
Q: Does the way that girls dress affect you a lot?
A: Totally. You try not to look, but most girls don't even seem to realize what we're dealing with. They really don't get it.
Q: Well, that's for sure. So what happens when you get pulled into those sexual thoughts and can't get them out of your brain?
A: It's pretty depressing. I mean, you don't want to think about it. And you're fighting it off. But then you blow it. It's hard not to feel guilty, you know? It's easy to get down on yourself and wonder if you can ever get it under control.
Q: So you feel defeated.
Q: Can you describe what happens when thoughts of sex enter a guy's mind?
A: Well, you immediately want to dwell on it. Guys are just driven this way. Then it's not unusual to eventually want to masturbate. It's a real battle.
Q: How many Christian guys would you say have struggled or struggle now with masturbation? Maybe that's hard for you to say.
A: Oh no, that's easy: 99.9 percent of the guys we know would admit to having struggled with it. And everybody knows that the other .1 percent is lying. Trust us.
Q: That's a lot of guys struggling.
A: Yep. But that's how it is.
Q: Have any of you ever talked to your dad about masturbation?
A: Only two of us have. We don't know of anyone else close to us who has. That's pretty much not in the cards for most guys, including Christian guys. Our dads don't talk about it and we don't ask.
Q: The world says it's natural and okay for a guy to masturbate. Do you agree?
A: Well, the urge to go there at times may be natural, but otherwise—the world is wrong. It isn't good. It's addictive and destructive.
Q: You feel pretty strongly about that.
A: Very strong. We wish we could tell that to every young guy who is just beginning to think about sex.
Q: How is it destructive?
A: It causes a guy to think about sex as only sex—pure, unadulterated, self-fulfilling sex.
It's the gateway to all sexual sin.
Q: So how does a guy get hooked into a lifestyle of sexual sin?
A: Well, it's a private thing that builds with a guy. It usually starts with an early natural and innocent experience of masturbation. Then somewhere he sees some pictures of naked women or he looks at some porn, and that stays in his brain. The next time those images come up in his brain, he thinks about them until he masturbates. That gives him a temporary physical high, a sort of release. But it doesn't last long. So he starts regularly looking at pornography while masturbating to get his high. This is when it becomes destructive. It doesn't happen overnight, but that's pretty much the routine.
Q: You said this is a gateway?
A: Well, at this point a guy is already compromising big-time, and it's already affecting his relationship to God. After awhile, just looking at porn and masturbating isn't enough. A lot of guys get sexually active with girls at this point. They need a real woman for a bigger high. They might get into a relationship, but they really want to have sex. In some cases, they'll even have sex with a prostitute. But for the majority of guys, there are enough girls around who will go all the way without a heavy commitment, so why look elsewhere?
Q: Have any of you guys had sex?
A: No, but we know a lot of guys who have. And we know a whole lot more who are very physically involved with their girlfriends and close to having sex. That's really common. When they're not with their girlfriends, they are masturbating.
Q: These are Christian guys?
A: Heck yeah, at least some of them. But, you know, they feel bad about it. They're really struggling, and they feel a lot of guilt.
Q: How do you think premarital masturbation hurts a future marriage?
A: Well, of course, none of us is married yet. But we know guys who are. And what we hear from them makes sense to us.
For one thing, a guy who habitually masturbates can get so good at satisfying himself that he can find that his wife isn't able to give him that same sensational high. That puts their sex on a performance basis, and that is just flat ungodly. It doesn't work very well for a wife, either. A man has to be willing to be patient and find out what pleases her.
The worst damage from the habit of masturbating with pornography is the mind-set it produces in a man—you know, a focus on sexual self-fulfillment without any relational effort at all. A woman becomes an object in this scenario. That's all. An object from which a man gets his own pleasures met.
So when a man gets married and has to work through things with his wife, it becomes much more of an effort than he's ever had to put out. He misses that instant pleasure.
But in a good marriage, intercourse is about fulfilling the other person's needs and having the surpassing experience of mutual satisfaction. The world can't even come close in that department. For this to happen, a guy has to be sacrificial and look for ways to please his wife's needs. You know, it's all about Ephesians 5. A guy has to love his wife as Christ loves the church. And this kind of love leads to sex that is so much better than the world's self-gratifying sex. That's why the Bible uses marriage as an illustration of the relationship He has with the church, His bride.
Q: Wow, guys, I am truly impressed. You've really thought this through. That's great stuff you're saying. So how does a guy get off the masturbation track?
A: It's all in the mind. It's inside a guy's head and heart. We have to get aggressive by starving it to death. You have to starve the bad stuff in your mind and feed on the good stuff. It's best if a guy never ever looks at pornography in the first place. Just don't put those images in your head. But if they are already there, and truthfully, it's hard to avoid them anymore, you have to consciously choose not to feed upon them.
Then you have to do something else. You have to feed on Scripture, and on the truth that's there. The Bible always brings perspective to the messed-up world we live in. We've noticed a real difference when we are feeding regularly like this and when we aren't. It's pretty amazing.
Q: So starvation and feeding.
A: Yes. But it has to be something even more than that. You have to get to a point where you just hate it. The thought of sexual sin has to make you feel disgusted, like throwing up. You're sickened by it, totally nauseated. You want to get away from it, have nothing more to do with it. That's the goal. That's what has to happen.
Q: Anything else you would say to a guy who's trying to conquer habitual sexual sin?
A: Well, you need a plan. You need to know what gets to you. What you can't watch and listen to. Where you can't be. Who you can't be around. That sort of thing. You need to know what you're going to do if the opportunity comes knocking, how you're going to "walk away" mentally and also literally. You have to know yourself pretty darn well and what brings you down.
It also helps to find other guys who are trying to defeat it. And it helps to be around girls who we respect and make us want to be godly guys.
The biggest thing is hope.
A: Yes, hope that there can be victory. If you've been defeated over and over, you lose hope. You need to know that somebody else has defeated it. To discover that "my dad doesn't do this," or "this guy I know hasn't done it for a solid year," or "this other guy hasn't done it for four years!"—that's incredibly encouraging.
Q: So what will you say to your sons?
A: We're going to be real straight-up, real early. We're going to talk about those women in pictures ... that they are real people, somebody's mother, somebody's sister. We're going to tell our boys about the natural urges that we men have, and why they are good. But we're going to tell them not to give in to those urges. Those are meant to be fulfilled in marriage. They are for a very special woman. And when they find her, they will be so glad they didn't go down the other road.
Basically, we're going to try to coach them on how to develop a good defense. And we are going to advise them never to start down that path of masturbating. Just don't ever do it.
Q: Wow. That's very strict.
A: In this world, strict is necessary. We wouldn't have them smoking marijuana and playing around in the world of drugs. Why would we want them masturbating and messing around in the world of sexual indulgence? These days a guy's got to get a plan that works.
And that works. We want our boys to talk with us about their struggles with girls and sex. It will make a big difference—just having a man they can talk to who's gone down that road and understands what it feels like.
Q: If I could tell women anything, what would you want me to say to them? What do you want them to know?
A: Tell them it's a lot tougher than they think for us. Tell them that they need to understand our struggle. Also, they need to think about what they are wearing and how they are acting around us. It doesn't solve the problem completely, but it would really help. It's hard to walk into a Bible study and be struggling because some girl is sitting there—excuse us, Mrs. Farrar, but—with her boobs hanging out in a revealing top and her pants down below her navel. They also need to be careful how they act. A girl that comes on to you doesn't realize what she is doing. We don't really respect her, but we can't help but be sexually aroused.
Q: What should I tell older married women?
A: Well, some of them are the same way. You can see a "loose" married woman a mile away. On the other hand, a woman should keep herself looking as good as she can, in a godly, feminine sort of way. It disturbs a young guy to be around married women who have just let themselves completely go. A guy can also tell if a married woman is cold and it's probably not happening with her husband. And that's a torturing thought. A younger guy worries that that could happen to him someday, and we have enough to be worried about as it is.
* * *
I thought that after living with three very transparent men for most of my life, I understood men pretty well. But such honesty woke me up.
I didn't really know. I think most women don't really know.
This conversation was about sex. Men think about sex. But it revealed something important. Men who think about sex can also be very thoughtful, deep-thinking men. I sensed I had only scratched the surface of the male psyche. Several years later, I can confirm this to be true.
In the upcoming pages, we're going to go deep into the masculine mind. We will discover that men are profound, complex beings, and they possess profound, complex needs.
That's why, as you will discover, this really isn't a book about sex. It's a book about male sexuality—something much bigger and far more important than sex. It's true that sex is fundamental to a man's identity and self-expression. It's also true that sexuality and sex are linked, for one leads very naturally to the other—like a river flowing into the ocean. But sexuality encompasses far more than its natural end result. It has to do with people and relationships, emotions and thoughts, inclinations and convictions. Sexuality goes to the very core of a man ... and a woman. It is the headwaters from which the river of love and sex flows.
In truth, this book is about something even more encompassing than male sexuality. It is about the difference a woman can make when she understands male sexuality. And that difference can be pivotal.CHAPTER 2
When the people look like ants—Pull. When the ants look like people—Pray.
—proverb of a skydiver
I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.
Sitting down to write a book about male sexuality was like jumping out of a plane without a chute. But personal passion overruled reason, and a compelling cause overcame shyness.
Let me assure you, I am not one to walk around casually discussing sex, especially male sexuality. I doubt if you are either. Sex is a delicate, personal, intimate subject.
So what was this passion, this compelling cause that enticed me to take leave of my senses, strap on my chute, and jump at ten thousand feet? It was an overwhelming sense of urgency brought on by an increasing awareness of three things: a runaway epidemic that has targeted our boys and men; the need for women to understand why the male sex is uniquely vulnerable; and the powerful role we play in determining whether our men will survive and thrive.
Excerpted from Reading Your MALE by MARY FARRAR. Copyright © 2009 Mary Farrar. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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