Book Review: Where Have All the Good Men Gone

I’m going to be blunt: reading books about Christian singleness usually carries as much excitement as forensic proctology. And, when Charles–formerly of SingleChristianMan.blogspot.com–alerted me to A.J. Kiesling’s book Where Have All the Good Men Gone, I figured this was going to be another Debbie Maken screed all over again.

At first, as I opened Where Have All the Good Men Gone, and looked at the endnotes, I rolled my eyes. One chapter exclusively references Debbie Maken’s book Getting Serious About Getting Married. Kiesling starts out as if this is going to be an anti-male rant. I forced myself to keep reading. She referred to her singles gatherings where there were four women for every man present. (Sign me up for that Church…YESTERDAY!!!)

Instead, I found myself pleasantly surprised. THIS is the book that Debbie Maken could have written, had she not been blinded by her rage against men. THIS is the book that our friends at Boundless need to be promoting. (Ted: are you taking notes?)

If you are looking for a book that addresses why the Church has the dilemma of singleness–and what the Church must do–this is not your book. (Someone else is writing that one.)

If you are looking for a book that provides top-notch Biblical exegesis, this is not your book. (The book in progress might go there.)

If you are looking for a book that fingers one particular sex for the blame, you will be disappointed. (The author of the book in progress said his won’t go there either.)

If you are looking for a book that lays out–candidly–what is on the minds of Christian singles, men and women alike, and provides practical advice for each group in their pursuit of marriage, then this is your book.

Kiesling’s approach was different from Maken’s in that–rather than impute her experiences on the general–she actually made a good-faith effort to determine what the unmarried Christian men and women were thinking of each other. Her study was not perfect: she did an Internet survey of 120 Christian singles and used their responses as the primary content of her book.

While her method was not perfect in the scientific sense–she did not break down the respondents by age, region, denomination, or other levels of granularity–she was not aiming toward that end.

Still, I think she hit the important points, and–get this, folks–she was fair and balanced.

What you get is a sobering portrait of the hurts, the frustrations, the insecurities, the expectations, the hangups, and barriers that each sex has erected against the other.

I am not mentioning specifics, because I would rather you read it for yourself.

Kiesling’s tone is not one of judgment or condemnation; in fact, this is arguably the most constructive book–and practical one–that I have read on the subject.

If you are Christian, single, and want to be married, this is a must-read.

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 9.

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Where Have All the Good Men Gone

  1. I wasn’t so pleased with it, myself. My review will be less positive. I suppose my beef is that it never gets around to addressing the subtitle’s question, and she never deals with the reasons why single men do not feel like the church is a place that will help them get closer to God (as opposed to learning churchy manners.)

  2. Charles: I’ll admit, the title didn’t jibe with the content (which is actually a good thing). A better title might have been, What Single Christians are Saying.

    This book is more about the practical end of Christian singles–men and women–and their interactions with each other. Overall, I think she nailed that part.

    As for the larger issues of what the Church does, that is a different book. Someone else will need to write that.

    In fact, I think someone else is already working on it.

  3. Off topic question about exercise:

    I have developed some hip flexor pain since Sunday and I am hesitant about pulling my muscle again with my cardio routines and my weight routine for legs.

    My hip flexor feels better, but I don’t want to be in pain again. Can you think of an alternative way to get my heart rate going without messing up my hip flexor again?

  4. Emily: I would consult with a chiropractor or physical therapist first, but–at the very least–you might try a low-impact routine. Like an exercise bike or an elliptical jogger.

    I practically live on the elliptical jogger.

  5. okay … i’ve tried to post a comment here twice … but they didn’t show up … so i’ll try a third time ;).

    was wondering … what about the book will effect any change in your life?

    ***

    one thing i like about you is your ability to be objective and express that in a balanced way.

  6. Ame: I’m not sure. It’s not like I am bashful about asking women out. I’m going to check myself more to make sure I’m not coming across as a perfectionist. I’m anything but that.

    One of the common complaints registered about men was their fixation on appearances. (“The men all want us to look like porn stars.”)

    To her credit, Kiesling was balanced about that: yes, men need to do a better job looking for inner beauty, while women need to do a better job taking care of themselves. I’ve expressed the same sentiments on these pages.

    (For the record, I’ve traded e-mails with Kiesling. Very pleasant. I actually let her know that she was probably too easy on the guys in that area. I say that because–citing obesity stats–men are only 2% better than women, 33% to 35%–which is nothing for the guys to be happy about. Obesity is a problem that is no respecter of the sexes.)

    This is where my own fitness regimen might be getting me into trouble. I’m a self-confessed exercise nut who spends about 10 hours per week in the gym. Most of that is necessary: if I don’t keep my weight down, I will have to get back surgery.

    Ergo, I’m extremely fit. Especially for 41.

    Trouble is, women might see that and think I am imputing my standards–for myself–on them. That is NOT the case. Trouble is, they might not see it that way.

    My dilemma: how to get the message across that I am not a perfectionist.

    An e-Harmony match shot me down recently. She was 42. Average looks (perfect as far as I was concerned). Same height. Very active in church. Nice person. Fellow IT professional. Never married. Similar views. Similar journeys in life. I was jacked…she seemed to be a really good match for me.

    Her reason for shooting me down: she said she was simply not romantically attracted to me.

    I dunno…I think there was more to it than that. But then again, I’m a guy, so I don’t have a clue what she might have been thinking. LOL

  7. Single, christian and want to be married. That’s me. I’m going to go over to Amazon and order a copy right away.

    I’ve never read any of the books aimed at todays christian singles, but I am going to check this one out based on your recommendation.

    I have been enjoying your blog as of late after you put a link on the Boundless blog. I’m sort of new to the whole world of blogs and find the time can easily get away from me trying to keep up with them all! And of course most of them are by people that I don’t even know=)

  8. Well, I’m a girl, and I haven’t got a clue what men are thinking … and most the time don’t have a clue what women are thinking, either!

    The “perfectionist” thing is a hard one. I think it gets even harder as we get a little older b/c we now have “track records.” When your track record is good (which is what it’s supposed to be) then some take it as condemning … no matter what you say or don’t say.

    You spend your life on your knees searching God, desiring to honor Him, and people hate you for it. Narrow the road that leads to God … narrower still the road for those who truly search to honor Him in all they do, and much fewer those who walk it.

    People say they want a godly person to marry, but what they probably mean is they want someone who plays the part without condemning me. The closer one draws to God, the further they draw from most of the rest of the people.

    The fitness thing would be a flip of the coin … either it bothers her or it doesn’t. I wouldn’t stress over that one.

    Funny how we live in a world with so much knowledge and information, yet we are less happy and less satisfied, more restless and more skeptical, soaking in “what-if’s” till we drown in them.

  9. Hmmm. I’ll have to check this one out, since I review books on my blog. One important thing to note: Singleness is a societal issue, not just a christian issue.

  10. Savvy: That is correct; however, that Christians are remaining single is more troubling.

    We expect the secular world to eschew the things of God, but that the Church is unwittingly playing a role in this among Her own ranks, is troubling.

  11. Has anyone read the testimonies at ChristianCafe.com? They’d seem to debunk at least one myth: The very photographic evidence itself at many of the testimonies shows that there are men who actually do marry women who don’t look like porn stars.

    I hope whoever’s writing a book on what the church should do for singles — Hey Chuck – hint, hint 🙂 — includes an appeal for some efficient, prayerful Christian matchmakers to come on the scene. Folks who will take it upon themselves to aid single individuals: even if they just use a card file system. They could also create an online expression. If you young guys think there’s merit to this idea, I hope you passionately contend for it.

    Disclaimer: While I have some uncertainty about the question of divorced people (the party that didn’t want the divorce) remarrying, I don’t want to risk standing before God as an adulteress by marrying a divorced person. As we know, the Word says no adulterer shall enter Heaven. Also, if I were in a marriage concerning which I had the question of going to my grave as an adulteress, were I to die in the marriage, I may indeed terminate the marriage by divorce. I’m not wanting to be uncompassionate towards men and women in this plight.

  12. Anon: (1) I hear ya on the D&R issue.

    (2) The matchmaker idea you are suggesting is a good one that has some traction. The person writing the book–who is hoping Chuck will consider being in on the project–thinks that is a viable alternative to today’s “singles ministries”.

    (3) The “men want women who look like porn stars” line was hyperbolic frustration expressed by women responding to Kiesling’s survey. I know a couple men who are that shallow, but I would suggest that very few of us fall in that bracket.

    The women I’ve pursued in life have all been middle-of-the-road in terms of looks. Some have been over 6 feet tall; one was under 5 feet tall. None of those failed on account of looks.

    In general, I’d suggest that we guys merely want women who take reasonable care of themselves.

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