Boys will be Men
As the headmaster of Trinity Christian School, I sometimes have the opportunity to disciple young men and ladies in loco parentis. In laymen’s terms, kids get sent to my office from time to time. It is interesting, but not surprising that girls typically get sent in groups of three. One of them has been left out by the other two and she has her feelings hurt. All sorts of strange things happen at that point as they all begin to rationalize, take offense, become defensive, and assign motives. Boys on the other hand, usually arrive solo or in pairs. The offense typically involves some type of aggression towards another boy, a verbal outburst in the classroom, laziness, or disrespect towards a teacher.
The greatest privilege of teaching at a Christian school is having the liberty to go beyond assigning detention and essays to write. We get to teach and instruct children from a biblical worldview, going through a process of confession, repentance, seeking forgiveness, and restoring fellowship.
As Christian parents we want this for our kids and understand the mandate of raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Even so, it is sometimes tempting for all of us to see the speck in another child’s eye while ignoring the beam in our own child’s. As parents of boys, we might be tempted to overlook opportunities for correction by saying “Oh, that Johnny, he’s all boy”, or “boys will be boys.” While that may true, a greater truth, with a greater implication, is that boys will be MEN someday. In his book Future Men (Cannon Press, 2001), Douglas Wilson offers some wisdom in instructing and correcting our boys without threatening their masculinity. This book is an absolute must read for anyone with a son. What follows are some excerpts from that book:
“When Theodore Roosevelt taught Sunday school for a time, a boy showed up one Sunday with a black eye. He admitted he had been fighting and on a Sunday too. He told the future president that a bigger boy had been pinching his sister, and so he fought him. TR told him that he had done perfectly right and gave him a dollar. The stodgy vestrymen thought this was a bit much, and so they let their exuberant Sunday school teacher go. What a loss.
Unbelief cannot look past surfaces. Unbelief squashes; faith teaches. Faith takes a boy aside and tells him that this part of what he did was good, while that other part of he did got in the way. “And this is how to do it better next time.”
As we look to Scripture for patterns of masculinity for our sons, we find them manifested perfectly in the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the one who set the ultimate pattern for friendship and courage, for faithfulness and integrity.
If you have been blessed by having sons, or if you deal with boys in a school context, you have no doubt wondered: why is it that this gender gravitates to weaponry?
We live in a world where the identity of the two sexes is so marred that little distinction is made anymore. Indeed to even suggest that significant differences should exist is to be accused of being outdated in ones thinking. What then, is true and Biblical masculinity?
As much as it may distress us, our boys are future men. Raising boys takes a lot of courage and consistency and we need to look to the Scriptures to find our model for masculinity. Manhood is where boyhood should be aimed. William Mouser, in his book “Five aspects of Man” points to five clear distinctive features of the masculine constitution: Lords; Husbandmen; Saviors; Sages and Glory bearers.
Man was created to exercise dominion in the earth. The charge which God gave in this regard is frequently called the cultural mandate. Right from an early age, boys want to conquer and subdue, even if the terrain is only the backyard. They are in training after all, and should be encouraged to become men who exercise dominion. They should be learning to be lords in the earth, and should be adventurous and visionary. This is difficult to do when they are only surrounded by videos and computers. If you have no backyard find a park, and let him conquer!!
Man was created not only to conquer, but also to make the conquered land flourish. If the dominion mandate were taken in isolation, men would end up basing a culture on piracy and freebooting. So, if you are going to subdue the land, you must settle down on it! A Great many lessons can be learned in the back garden. A rich farmer was once rebuked for having his sons work in the fields when they did not have to. His reply was that he was not just raising corn, but raising sons. Our boys need to learn to be patient, careful and hardworking.
Boys have a natural inclination to rescue and save. Our greatest example of a Savior is of course Jesus Christ. The ancient serpent was the tempter who brought the occasion of sin before Adam and Eve. Men who follow Jesus Christ, the dragon slayer, must themselves become lesser dragon-slayers. And this is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns. Boys have a deep need to have something to defend, something to represent in battle. And to beat your swords into plows prematurely, before the war is over, will leave you plowing for those who kept their swords. The Christian faith is in no way pacifistic. The peace that will be ushered in by our great Prince will be a peace purchased with blood. As our Lord sacrificed Himself in this war, so must His followers learn to do. Our boys must therefore learn to be strong, sacrificial, courageous and good.
A man who is great in wisdom, is a sage. We must therefore teach our boys the masculinity of study, of learning, of books, of intellectual discussion. We must not let them pit one aspect of masculinity against another. When this is allowed to happen, a boy who naturally loves sport can too readily dismiss poetry or reading as effeminate. We must gird up the loins of the mind. This is a discipline possibly unpleasant at the time, but nonetheless essential. Boys must therefore be taught to be teachable, studious and thoughtful.
This aspect of masculinity is seen in the fact that men are the glory of God. (I Cor 11:7) The woman reflects the glory of God by reflecting the glory of man, whose glory she is. The head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man (I Cor. 11:3). The Bible assigns one kind of glory to men, and another to women. This is not meant to be in competition to one another, but to complement one another. Because this is true, boys must be instructed on how to grow up into glory and how to fulfill their responsibility to be representative, responsible and holy.
In summary, we should have a pretty good idea of where we are headed with our boys. These future men need to learn how to be aggressive and adventurous, they are learning to be lords of the earth. We want them to be patient and hard working, they are learning husbandry. We want to instill in them a hatred for evil and to have a deep desire to fight it. They are learning what a weapon feels like in their hands. We should want boys to be eager to learn from the wise, as they become wise themselves. We should want them to stand before God, in the worship of God, with head uncovered. They are the image and glory of God.
Raising boys takes a lot of faith. This is good because the presence or absence of faith reveals whether or not we have a Biblical doctrine of our future. The faith exhibited by wise parents of boys is the faith of a farmer, or a sculptor, or anyone else engaged in the work of shaping unfolding possibilities. It is the faith of someone who looks at the present and sees what it will become through grace and good works. Let us immerse ourselves in Scripture and see then, how to raise our future men.”
Posted on July 15, 2010, in Christian Living Blog Entries and tagged all boy, boys, Christian boys, Christian men, Christian parenting, dad, dads, discipline, disciplining boys, Doug Wilson, Douglas Wilson, father, fathering, future men, godly man, godly men, manhood, parenting, raising boys, son, sons, wild at heart, young men. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.