Thursday, March 28, 2013
Boys to Men
I have boys. I have boys who are all boy. They thrive on running, jumping, fishing, playing in the creek and bad jokes. They enjoy Vivaldi, playing the violin and Monet. And they love books.
As a mom, I have become increasingly alarmed at the challenges boys face in today's culture. While the females in our society become more militantly antagonistic toward males (and ironically more masculine in the process) our boys are being beaten down and feminized. In a culture turned upside down, what can we do to raise up strong men for the glory of God?
At the end of David's life, he gave his son, Solomon, this charge: "Be strong, therefore, and show yourself a man. Keep the charge of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to what is written in the Law of Moses, that you may succeed in all that you do and wherever you turn." (I Kings 2:2-3). Oh, to have fathers like this today.
How can we train our sons to be strong and show themselves men? Theodore Roosevelt spoke of the vigorous life. Lots of time in the great outdoors, hard work and time spent with Godly men can be instrumental in developing the strong character that will be necessary to reclaim this culture for Christ. Unfortunately, many boys no longer have access to these. Thankfully books can stand in the gap when Godly role models are needed.
Boys should be immersed in biographies of great heroes from the past. Davy Crockett, Patrick Henry, and Alvin York are examples of great courage. George Muller, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and D.L. Moody were men of great faith. What boy is not encouraged after reading Ralph Moody's road to manhood by overcoming many obstacles in Little Britches? Knights in shining armor, Richard Halliburton's adventures around the world, pioneers leaving everything they know for a better life all serve to inspire them to do great things. Authors like Stephen Meader, Merritt Parmelee Allen and Jim Kjelgaard give boys the character-building excitement they crave.
Boys should have villains to fight. Introduce them to Hitler, Marx, Stalin. They must be equipped to stand in the world they will inherit.
School for boys should be real and relevant. Endless reams of worksheets starve a boy's soul. A friend who also has boys was bemoaning the fact that, although she was drawn to Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education, she thought it was much better suited to girls. I replied, "Are you kidding?? Of all the educators throughout history, Charlotte is the only one I've found who had those boys' number! Short lessons, on-the-edge-of-your-seat books, and kick 'em outside!"
Boys must have time to discover ways to solve real problems and accomplish real goals. God has placed in each of them gifts to be used for His glory. Biographies about scientists, inventors, mathematicians, artists, musicians, doctors, astronauts, missionaries, etc. encourage boys to step out and take dominion. This is what our world needs. Are we equipping them for the task?
Put a book in a boy's hand and watch what he will become.