Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cultural Crisis of Men

Darrin Patrick
Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission

We live in a world full of males who have prolonged their adolescence. They are neither boys nor men. They live, suspended as it were, between childhood and adulthood, between growing up and being grown-ups. Let’s call this kind of male Moy, a hybrid of both man and boy. Moy is juvenile because there has been an entire niche created for him to live in the lusts of youth. The accompanying culture not only tolerates this behavior but encourages it and endorses it. (Consider magazines like Maxim or movies like Wedding Crashers.) This kind of male is everywhere, including the church and even, frighteningly, vocational ministry.

Moy may be a frightening reality in the church, but he is the best thing that ever happened to the video game industry. Almost half (about 48 percent) of American males between the ages of eighteen to thirty-four play video games every day—for almost three hours.  The average video game buyer is thirty-seven years old. In 2005, 95 percent of computer game buyers and 84 percent of console game buyers were over the age of eighteen.  Halo 3 grossed over three hundred million dollars in the U.S. in its first week, and more than one million people played Halo 3 on Xbox Live in the first twenty hours. Astonishingly, 75 percent of American heads-of-households play computer and video games.

It may be troubling to look at how Moy spends his money, but it is appalling to see how he relates to women. One needs only to follow Moy to “da club” to see what he thinks of and wants from the opposite sex. Again the stats tell the story.

There are 9.7 million Americans living with an unmarried different sex partner and 1.2 million Americans living with a same-sex partner. Every second $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography, 28,258 Internet users view pornography, and 372 Internet users type adult search terms into search engines. Every thirty-nine minutes a new pornographic video is created in the United States.

In the United States, 1.3 women are raped every minute. That results in seventy-eight rapes each hour, 1,872 rapes each day, 56,160 rapes each month, and 683,280 rapes each year. One out of every three American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. The United States has the world’s highest rape rate of the countries that publish such statistics. It’s four times higher than Germany, thirteen times higher than England, and twenty times higher than Japan.

Unfortunately, many young women today have given up trying to find Mr. Right. They are coming to the stark reality that they are probably going to have to settle for Mr. So-So. Moy is good at selling himself as a man, but the reality is that he is just a “man wannabe.” Moy typically doesn’t like absolute truth, but he proves its existence through his continual devolution into junior-high behavior and its accompanying consequences. It is a transcultural reality that assuming the responsibilities of husMoyd and father makes a boy into a man, but Moy doesn’t like responsibility, so he extends his adolescence as long as humanly possible. And by delaying having a family, which is the rite of many cultures’ progress into manhood, Moy is able to set his focus squarely and supremely on himself.

As Moy puts off adulthood, he also puts off marriage. Why bother with a wife and a mortgage when you can live in your parents’ basement, play video games all day, participate in adult sports leagues at night, and barhop every weekend? Hymowitz notes that in 1970, 69 percent of twenty-five-year-old and 85 percent of thirty-year-old white men were married; in 2000 only 33 percent and 58 percent were, respectively. And the data suggests this trend is not slowing. I think this is one of the reasons young men love watching mixed martial arts. They project themselves onto these “superheroes,” men who are everything they are not: incredibly disciplined, courageous risk-takers who have the genuine respect of their peers. It’s as if watching real men in danger taps into the brain chemistry responsible for what we call masculinity. Curiously, the testosterone and adrenaline that encourage men to seek danger and risk are rarely tapped into for honorable purposes like lifelong marriage and parenting. Instead Moy settles for virtual reality and virtual relationships.

Some men cease fondling themselves, the game controller, or the TV remote and actually participate in adult sports leagues, including the child playground game kickball.18 Perhaps one major catalyst for young men’s love for recreational sports is that it replicates the kind of challenge and competitiveness sorely lacking from their own personal, professional, and spiritual lives. One author called team sports a “civilized substitute for war,” which would explain why so many men only seem to come alive emotionally on the inside and feel connected socially on the outside to their fellow “weekend warriors.” It has become mainstream to be an adult boy.

The masculine journey from boyhood to manhood lies largely in the transition from engaging physically by inflicting pain to engaging emotionally by absorbing emotional pain and persevering through it. Boys must learn how to use their physical strength more passively than actively as they progress to manhood and become what David Gilmore calls “real men.” Real men “give more than they take . . . are generous, even to the point of sacrifice.” Being a man is about being tough and tender.

I have three beautiful daughters who have not only stolen my heart but seem to walk around with it and toss it back and forth between them like a plaything, all the while taunting me with the fact that I’ll never be able to get it back from them! But I also have a son, Drew, and because of my keen awareness of and pastoral interaction with the cultural influence of Moys, I know that my work is cut out for me when it comes to raising a godly man. As with all of us dads with similar aspirations, my only hope is the Holy Spirit. So I recently wrote a little prayer that reflects the kind of men we need. Drew and I pray this prayer together almost every night. It is a prayer for him and for me:
God, make me a man with thick skin and a soft heart.

Make me a man who is tough and tender.
Make me tough so I can handle life.
Make me tender so I can love people.
God, make me a man.

All of this is to say that we have a couple of generations of males who were not raised by men, and the result is a prolonged male adolescence. In a culture where the influence of godly men is desperately needed, this void results in a legitimate cultural crisis. We are not going to solve it by ignoring Moy and hoping that he eventually grows up. We are not going to solve the problem by simply telling women that they should take up the slack. We might solve the problem by modeling biblical manhood and calling adult boys to forsake their youthful lusts and become the men that God is calling them to be in the context of the local church. This call should come from godly men and women sitting in the pews and, specifically, from the pulpit of God’s church. The models should be men of God.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Gift of Trials

If the trials of many years were gathered into one, they would overwhelm us: therefore, in pity to our little strength. He sends first one, and then another, then removes both, and then lays on a third, heavier, perhaps, than either; but all is so wisely measured to our strength that the bruised reed is never broken. We do not enough look at our trials in this continuous and successive lesson which is beyond the power of any to teach alone. -H.E. Manning

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I try to not be disappointed when I hear children of God laughingly say, “Don’t pray for patience!” as it is the all-encompassing kiss of death upon the joy of a child of God. I know they simply mean that fruit of the spirit comes with a high price, but I wish they would consider they are also implying they by no means are willing to pay that price.

As I pray for depth of character, be it wisdom, patience, fortitude or strength. I should and must realize the means by which those traits are possessed. They are not endowed, for endowment engenders shallow disregard, but rather they are wrought - wrought by impasse, strife, temptation and hard tough terrain. We should not disregard the truth and pray for the end without accepting the means.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:2-8

Why can you rejoice in trial? You know the end of that trial, or at least you should. Consider this passage in context. Is James really going to say in one breath to rejoice in trials that produce patience, but if you ask for wisdom it’s going to be delivered on a silver platter, or it will be in the next puddle you fall into? This is why James establishes the need for single-mindedness. Know that your prayer will produce a trial, and when it does have faith, and you will receive from the Lord what comfort He desires to work into your life.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-6

Are you called to minister? Know then that you are called to trials and sufferings. With what else would you comfort the people of God? By what other means would an oil be beaten to feed the flame of the lampstand which is the church? (Revelation 2:1)

Just like the children of Israel it may be in your affliction and trial in which you are equipped to do the work for the kingdom of God. You see Israel went into captivity in Egypt a nomadic people skilled in herdsman ship and short term farming. They left with the skills of blacksmiths, carpenters, tradesman, scribes, masons and more. They left their captivity with everything they had need of.

Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they had need of. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
Exodus 12:35-36

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Silent Psalmist

There are sixteen months of the Psalmist’s life in which you find no song. They are the months that David was living in a land not his own, under the rule of Achish king of Gath. It does seem so odd that David, who led the nation of Israel against a Philistine of Gath name Goliath, would at some point in his life pledge allegiance in the same streets the giant ran as a child.

What lead to his compromise? First, David started looking in the wrong direction, “David said to himself…” (1 Sam 27:1) Then, David questioned the promises of God; “… I will perish.” Remember even Saul affirmed the prophecy that David would be king (1 Sam 24) Then he acted on his own flawed logic “There is nothing better for me to do…” David thought shallow, moved quickly and invested deeply.

There was no song because David became complacent in Gath with the false since of security that comes with sin. There was no song, because he gave over the authority of his life to a king that God had given him victory over when a giant fell. There was no song because the land of compromise became the home of David’s family, his men, and their families. There was no song because he lived a life of duplicity. David would fight the Israel's other enemies on one front, appearing against Israel on the other, and kill anyone who could testify of the truth.

David lost his identity as the enemy called him friend. He lost his purpose as he tried to convince the king that he would fight against Saul and the children of Israel. And he fell into depression upon finding the enemy had destroyed his home while he was chasing after a battle he had no business fighting.

The parallels are striking. When comprise begins by looking in ourselves for our answers and direction we logically lose our identity in Christ. When we continue by questioning the Word of God we lose our purpose. And as we invest in the flawed reasoning derived from the previous mistakes we will trade true treasures for destitution and depression.

Thankfully we know that upon seeing his home empty and in shambles David cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard him. How many songs of victory, songs of sustenance, songs of peace, could have been sung had David looked to the Lord the first time around?

About Me

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Every now and then I get amazed that God still loves me and speaks to me. And sometimes I still get a little surprised that I married Julie Jones.