God's Potential and Design for Boys

     Last week we as a church hosted our annual men and boys camping trip up in the Sierras. What a great time. It was a combination of relaxation, recreation, and exhortation. We ate well, played hard, and spent each evening around the camp fire chewing on a spiritual theme. One of the men led a Bible study and then opened it up for questions each night, which consistently produced a flurry of thoughtful exchange. One of my favorite things in life is to see people learn, and watching the boys ask and answer questions by the glow of a fire as their minds wrestled with practical applications of spiritual lessons was priceless.

     A few people have asked me why we don't open the camping trip up to entire families. And although I would love to establish a separate trip for everyone, there was something absolutely irreplaceable about men and boys enjoying the exclusivity of one another's company. Girls change things. It's not a bad change, in fact my wife and three daughters provide some of the richest portions of my life and the most needed changes. But men and boys act differently around women, and the dynamic achieved by limiting the fellowship to males only could never have been obtained in a mixed audience.

     That's because God made us fundamentally different. We are as uniquely separate psychologically as we are physiologically. Men are more direct, aggressive, and abrupt. We think far more often in terms of competition and acquisition. We love risk, and are willing to lay everything on the line for the slightest chance of glory and gain. That's why the vast majority of notable entrepreneurs, inventors, leaders (both good and evil), conquerors and explorers have been men. And perhaps more than any other observable behavior, men do not want to appear weak or vulnerable, especially in front of women. That's why boys enlist in a lot of foolish stunts as they try and show off through ridiculous and often dangerous spectacles to demonstrate that they are not afraid or weak. Their antics look ridiculously hair-brained at times, but the masculine mind places a premium on strength and ability, even if the risk entails blood, compound fractures, and excruciating pain. If there is any doubt to my claims, type in "skateboard crashes" on YouTube. The fairer sex is noticeably absent from the stunts, but often not from the audience. Boys, especially in the presence of girls, love to prove themselves.

     And though teenage boys and young men tend to express their masculinity in rather stereotypical foolishness at times, if disciplined, properly influenced, and channeled toward endeavors of virtue, our sons can accomplish unprecedented greatness. And when placed securely into the hands of the Lord, their achievements can change the world. Abraham, Moses, David, Paul, Luther, and Edwards changed their world so significantly that their names and accomplishments live on today.

     The masculine mind has many God-given strengths in accomplishing greatness, but it is also extremely vulnerable to vice. The male soul seems to have great capacity for uncommon good on the one hand but extreme excess, pride, and violence on the other. Our prisons are not equally populated by both sexes. In fact, men lead the statistics in virtually every social ill. From drug abuse to domestic violence to abandonment and petty crime, the plagues of society are by and large the plagues perpetuated by men.

     But isn't that true of any valuable and powerful asset? Those passions and possessions that have the greatest potential for good also have the greatest potential for evil and destruction. We have an entire nation of boys and men who are situated to change the world for Christ and to expand the Kingdom of God, or quite conversely, to poison it with self-serving exploitation and to feed the flames of hell. Sadly, we are seeing much more of the latter than the former.

     We have failed as a culture and a nation to teach our young men that they are unique to the strength and goodness of our country, and we have failed as a church to teach them that they are unique in communicating God's plan for the salvation for this world. Our wholesale gender egalitarianism has taught men that nothing special or particularly sacrificial is expected of them, and that's exactly what they've given us. And a lack of excellence in men almost always translates into a harvest of heartache.
The sexual confusion of our times is destroying our men and it is reaching an agonized crescendo. Attorney Mary Bonauto arguing in federal court recently said, "There is no relevant difference between same-sex couples and two-sex couples." This from an educated lawyer, and even worse, received and endorsed by a federal judge who ruled in her favor that the federal ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. And Hollywood has just released the movie "The Kids are All Right," a comedy about a lesbian couple raising children in modern America. Gender differences in secular America are officially dead.

     Christians, churches, pastors, youth leaders, and parents, please take a stand, and teach your boys that they are different than girls and that God has called them to a special place of leadership and example both within the culture and especially in the church. We have been appointed for such a time as this, let's not watch an entire generation of young men spoil on the vine of God's potential and design.