Before tying the knot earlier this year after years of waiting for the right guy, Rebecca St. James set out on a quest to learn more about the opposite sex. She interviewed friends and acquaintances of all ages (particularly between the age group of 18 and 35), even putting out questions on her Facebook and Twitter accounts as well, all with the hopes of understanding guys better. So while Rebecca is now officially spoken for, she hopes to share her study with struggling young ladies everywhere to help them understand more of the dos and don'ts of dating and relationships.
What Is He Thinking?? is a unique book. Rebecca approaches the writing style from a very conversational point of view. As she shares her investigation into the male mind, she shares thoughts and expectations from guys of various ages - from young teens to married men, all with varied opinions and preferences when it comes to women. The downside to this might be the fact that Rebecca was quizzing guys she grew up with or knows from her field -- which is primarily the music and movie industry -- so you're going to get a lot of perspectives from those involved in the arts. Still, St. James' interview demographic is diverse enough, and relevant enough, to give you a good perspective. It's also a plus that these guys are Christians; they're not perfect by any means, but you're getting input from guys with a foundation in Christ, and that's a very crucial detail.
The book covers various topics from first impressions to flirting, body image, and turnoffs to spiritually connecting, physically connecting, and marriage. It tackles relationshops from a spiritual side, gives examples of things you really shouldn't do while sharing opinions on practices you should pursue, warnings of spiritual activities leading to the guy and girl getting too attached to each other, and good input on how crucial it is to have some kind of spirituality rooted in your lives together in order to have a healthy, godly relationship.
One thing to keep in mind when reading What Is He Thinking??, however, is that while it contains really great tips and guidelines that are vastly accurate, in the end, many of them are individual opinions and won't apply to everybody's personal situations. Still, Rebecca keeps her sources varied so you won't be just getting one isolated opinion from some extraordinary circumstance. These pages are certainly loaded with truth -- especially when Rebecca is citing scripture and seeking Godly council on a topic -- and ultimately it's filled with good, sound and smart advice. Some of the best advice Rebecca has to give comes from her own experiences. I like a particular instance where she talks about how she had held fast to personal boundaries she set for herself that wouldn't allow her to lay down on a bed with a guy or be alone with a guy in a bedroom with the door closed, among other things. In fact, her chapter on sex and boundaries is a real highlight of the book. Rebecca gives personal examples and uses scripture to drive home the importance God places on purity (1 Corinthians 6:18, for example). It's a fantastic chapter and one of the best and most crucial parts of this book.
As a married man myself, I kind of wish I had a book like this when I was a timid teenage male. I dated minimally as a teen with full intentions to potentially marry the person in each of the few relationships I'd been involved in. But it was a difficult lesson to learn just how rare that was to find in the girl and how not every Christian girl has the same view on dating. Other's emotions aren't always taken into consideration or valued enough and it's unfortunate that some of the most well-intentioned people in a relationship will fall victim to misaligned values on dating. What Is He Thinking?? addresses a lot of these sensitive areas; I wish every teen could read this book.
Although Rebecca interviews mostly guys and the book is entirely directed at women, there is plenty within these pages for the fellas to take away from this book. It may seem a little intrusive to be reading a book for girls that seeks to help them better understand men, but it's an insightful journey that isn't limited to just one gender. There are just as many mysteries for guys as there are for girls, and it's intriguing to get some perspectives from other men and from a Christian angle. Because the book gives a woman's perspective on the perspectives of men, it's surprisingly insightful for male readers.
Also, as a male reader, I can appreciate the stress Rebecca puts on the importance of women dressing modestly and putting their foot down when it comes to the physical boundaries in dating. Dressing immodestly not only sends mixed messages, but makes the battle for purity a more difficult one for Christian men trying to live a holy (and respectful) lifestyle. St. James also ventures into some seriously heavy topics on this subject, from battling the temptation posed by adult websites to what scripture has to say about those struggling with guilt over having gone too far physically with a mate. Rebecca quotes some great advice on all of these topics, which may be difficult to talk about but are very important nonetheless.
As someone who's been down the dating path and is well into my marriage years, knowing what you want and need in a relationship is another vital subject. Rebecca addresses related questions throughout the investigation of dating relationships and then devotes a few chapters near the end of the book to what guys think about marriage. She then follows that chapter with one dedicated to lessons learned and insights from "Married Mentors." Because What Is He Thinking?? addresses numerous weighty topics that other authors have devoted entire books to, this book almost feels like a handbook or quick guide to dating from a Christian perspective. It's easy reading, very interesting, and almost impossible not to learn something from.
Rebecca St. James has devoted her career and ministry to pursuing a pure and holy lifestyle while encouraging others to do the same. What Is He Thinking?? is a wonderful addition to her previous writings and a can't-miss read for anyone who still has both feet firmly planted in the dating world. If What Is He Thinking?? doesn't answer the questions you have, it'll give you plenty of food for thought. There is a lot of great stuff packed into the pages of this book and I can only hope and pray that it is received by receptive hearts who may just be looking to find a little extra clarity in their pursuit of a soulmate. What Is He Thinking?? helps to equip the reader with a sensitive heart that longs for God's best in their own life as well as the lives of their "brothers" and "sisters" who are also on this crazy journey through the topsy turvy world we call "dating."
- Review date: 9/21/11, written by John DiBiase of Jesusfreakhideout.com