January 23, 2021

Review: “Yup. Nope. Maybe.” and “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?” by Stephen James and David Thomas

yup.jpgAfter reading Stephen James’ and David Thomas’s twin book excursion into popular complementarianism, “Does This Dress Make Me Look Fat?” and “Yup. Nope. Maybe,” I’m ready to say that complementarians at least write more interesting, entertaining and readable books than egalitarians.

Here are two books- don’t read just one- that explore the relationship between the sexes using common stereotypical questions that have been water cooler/coffee shop/bar standards for years. The questions make you smile, but the issues raised are serious and important. Thomas and James have backgrounds in counseling, and just beyond the entertaining dialogs and recognizable conversations is real help for couples who may feel they can never really understand each other.

Unlike many books covering similar ground, James and Thomas have written books that are fun to read- hilarious in parts- and substantial in content. Couples can read these books together and have a good laugh, likely shed some tears and find much real help for serious issues in their relationships.

There’s a lot of anecdotal material in these books, and both the authors have a library of stories- funny and poignant- to illustrate their content. For short books (under 150 pages + appendices), there is a lot of anecdotal humor that the editors might have reined in a bit, but many of these stories are the kind that reach into every marriage and remind us of how we sound and what we do when we are out of touch with one another in ways that matter.

On either side of the good stories are sound exegetical and pastoral explorations of the Genesis accounts of the beginnings of our relationships as men and women. There are outstanding counseling insights, succinct summaries, great questions, good discussion resources and plenty of practical application. And for good measure, there’s plenty to laugh and cry about.

Reading these books made me think of many, many ways I could be a more attentive, loving and considerate husband. I was enlightened into what my wife really means when she asks me questions that sometimes sound puzzling to me. I was reminded of ways I failed as a dad, and where the real joys of life can be found. There was a lot brought to my mind that needed repentance, and there will be some changes in my thinking and understanding as a result of these books.

fat.jpgWhile I don’t subscribe to the entire complementarian program as it’s articulated (and inconsistently practiced) among contemporary evangelicals, one can’t help but be persuaded by much of the Biblical and practical wisdom presented by Thomas and James. The differences in male and female relationships are rooted in many genuine differences at every level. When these differences are understood, everyone benefits.

But James and Thomas aren’t about joining in the debate within evangelicalism. They are about helping men and women to love one another, listen to one another and understand one another. In these two little books there is good medicine for hurting relationships, and good nurture and truth for relationships that want to grow together in intimacy and life-long companionship.

(The opening chapters for both books are available in pdf from the links above.)


  1. thank you som much for reading and critiquing the books. i really appreciate your support and kind words. stephen (one of the authors)

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