“Daddy my heart was pounding! We talked… we passed notes in class for like 20 minutes and then I just went for it. I just got the guts and asked will you be my girlfriend!”
This was a part of a recent conversation I had with my 10-year-old son. The young lady said yes by the way. It was just a reminder that he won’t be a child for much longer and he’s got some tumultuous days ahead.
Thankfully my son is in a church that teaches what biblical manhood actually is. When I grew up in church that phrase had a whole different meaning. It meant being a “manly man”, ruling over the household, not showing feelings, and leading the charge in us versus them. Unfortunately, this theology/ideology did so much harm to generations of men and women.
So we are teaching my son things I wish I would have known (my parents were baby Christians then too) growing up.
All Men Struggle with Lust
Do we? (Insert Thor squint face meme here…google it if you need to).
Is that actually a thing? ALL men struggle with lust? And just men? Zero women struggle with lust?
This was pounded into my teenage brain to the point that I thought my lust was normal. I struggle with lust so I’m just being a normal teenage boy. In the denomination I grew up in it was the girl’s responsibility to make sure that I didn’t.
Obviously this isn’t totally true. Of course I struggled with lust. And so did you. We all have/do. Because we’re broken. But because I was taught that so many times, by my youth leaders, they unintentionally normalized that sin.
Normal boy = lust. Lust = normal boy.
Instead they should have taught me what Job did. Job was a holy man who was pushed to his limits. In chapter 31 of his story we see him say this in verse 1: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.”
He recognized that lust was his responsibility and created a plan to combat it. Jesus went so far as to suggest we pluck out our good eye and cut off our hand if it caused us to sin. He was using hyperbole to show just how serious this is.
Don’t teach your boys that it’s normal to lust. Lust leads to objectifying women and reducing them to body parts that are there for someone’s selfish desires. It feeds into our basest nature and perpetuates all kinds of sin.
Instead teach them that people are more than playthings. Give them resources (xxxchurch.com is a great one) to combat lust and pornography. Model what a healthy marriage or dating relationship looks like. Don’t just teach them what God is against, equip them with what God is for.
Be a Man
Men did all the jobs in my childhood church. Being a man meant “You’re in charge”! They taught, preached, taught adult Sunday school, led worship, yard work, building, driving, etc. Women could cook, teach the kids and watch the babies. Oh they could play the piano or sing on stage – as long as they didn’t lead.
Being new believers at the same time as my parents we just did what we were taught. Fortunately, my parents didn’t live this out at home. My dad is an excellent cook. My mom is very handy. I saw my dad clean the kitchen and my mom work with her hands.
As I got older, what I was being taught at church didn’t line up with what I saw at home (in a good way). But man it’s hard to unravel something you grew up learning.
So it took several years to deconstruct this harmful doctrine. But deconstruct it we did. What happened created a life giving freedom for me, my wife and my children.
Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesian church (5:21) to submit to one another out of reverence for CHRIST! Mutual submission is what Godly relational leadership looks like.
Jesus taught his followers about leadership in Matthew 20:25-28: “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But amount you it will be different. Whoever want to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever want to be first among you must become your slave. For even the son of man (a title for Jesus) came not to be served but to serve others and give his life as a ransom for many.”
Being a man has nothing to do with being in charge and everything to do with serving. Our son will grow up knowing that Jesus loved and wept and served. He will see his mom and dad do those same things. He will see mom cook and dad mow the lawn. But he will also see mom mow the lawn (she enjoys doing it) and dad clean up the kitchen. We don’t do those things because we’re something special, but because Jesus calls us to love and serve one another. I can’t think of a better place for that to start than in the home.
It’s Us vs. Them
Please understand that what I’m going to say is to paint my parents in a bad light. They were baby believers at the same time I was. We all were doing what we thought God wanted from us.
The first time I remember being taught Us vs. Them was when the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” released. I know I just really dated myself there. Some of you may have to look that one up. I use this movie as the first time, because my church we went to in St. Louis, picketed the one theater showing the movie.
We held signs and marched up and down the street declaring that movie was from the devil! I don’t know if it was from the devil, but it wasn’t very good. I came across it a few years back on a streaming service and thought I would watch it and see what it actually was. Dude it was a terrible movie. Seriously. Martin Scorsese should be thanking churches like ours. We made that man so much money on a movie that would have otherwise bombed.
But- I was taught then that as a Christian man, I needed to be leading the charge against a depraved culture hell bent on destroying the Christian faith. While there are movements out there actively trying to do that, the vast majority of people and culture aren’t out to get us.
How did Jesus respond to the culture around him? His first miracle was to create amazing wine for a wedding celebration that had run out. He ate at the home of a thief and traitor (Zacchaeus). He had a turncoat (Matthew) and a freedom fighter (Peter the Zealot) in his friend group. He talked with, ate with, stayed with, people on the outside looking in. He spoke harsh truth to power. He met people with love and acceptance without leaving them in their brokenness. He saved his anger and wrath for the religious elite. The only us vs. them that Jesus lived out was those that would abuse power in the name of God and the people that were being abused in his Father’s name.
My job as a follower of Jesus isn’t to lead some charge against the culture. It’s to engage the culture where it is. It’s to love and serve it. It’s to help create a better culture. Gen Z is all about creating culture.
Empower your boys to meet “them” like Jesus did. He loved and served and earned the right to speak truth into people’s lives. He didn’t rant and rave. He wasn’t angry. He didn’t stand on a street corner screaming at people that they were burning in hell. He did none of those things. Teach your boys to model Jesus.
The thing we want for our daughter and son, above all else, is to love Jesus deeply. When they move out if they love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength then we will have done our jobs. Even if their faith looks a little different than ours, even if we don’t agree on every single thing. If they are in love with Jesus, then all this stuff I did right and did wrong will become insignificant. Because they will have a meaningful relationship with a creator that loves them beyond anything I can imagine.