Future Men by Douglas Wilson

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“At the beginning of his life, a boy does not know what century he was born in, and consequently exhibits to many of his politically correct and aghast elders some of the same traits exhibited by the boyhood chums of Sennacherib and Charlemagne. He doesn’t know any better–yet. But in our day, many of these creation-design masculine traits are drilled or drugged out of him by the time he is ten. Faith resists this ungodly process and defines sin by the Scriptures and not by pietistic traditions.” (p.11) 

Humans haven’t changed much since God created Adam out of dust. Masculinity has always existed but it’s been expressed in different ways according to custom and tradition. The hard part is directing that masculinity and the aggression that comes with it. 

We most certainly should be defining sin by scripture instead of tradition. I think defining sin by our culture instead of the Bible is one of the top reasons leave the church or never become a Christian. We’ve seen whole generations of Christians inviting people conservatism instead of Christianity.  

“Sin certainly affected our ability to fulfill this command from God, but it did not remove the obligation placed on us by the command.” (p.14)

Was Adam created sinless? Did he merely have the potential to sin but until then was actually sinless? I’m not sure if eating of the tree was the first sin. Maybe Adam’s desire to be like God was the first sin and then it was manifested by eating the fruit. But where did that thought come from if there was no sin in the world yet? To Wilson’s comment here, did we ever have the ability to obey God’s command? 

“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.” (p.16)

I’ve heard someone say that you can keep a gun from a boy but you can’t keep a boy from a gun. He will eat his peanut butter sandwich into the shape of a gun and shoot you with it. I’ve been shot with more L shaped sticks than I can count. The idea of defending a castle or damsel comes naturally to boys, so they need to be taught how to do those things effectively and with honor. 

“This pattern of fending off a threat of wounded pride through excuse-making is typical of males in sin, and yet is thoroughly unmasculine. A refusal to make excuses is right at the heart of a scriptural masculinity.” (p.22).  

I hate excuses. Even if I have a legitimate excuse like my car broke down, there’s a little thing in the back of my head urgin me not to say anything and just apologize for being late. I usually ignore that urge but it’s still there. I hope to train my son to not make excuses. It’s an attitude thing mostly. There will always be a reason to not follow through on something or not get things done.

“Refusal to discipline amounts to hatred and is simply a slow, cruel way for a man to disown his son,” (p.28)

It goes against our immediate feelings but it is so unloving to avoid discipline. We think it’s too harsh to raise our voice or swat him on the butt. But to allow your kid to grow up to be an incompitant jerk is hateful to your son. And it could be more drastic concerning things that could actually harm him. Nolan ran into the street while I was telling him to stop. I spanked him because I’d rather he have a temporary pain on his butt than be dead in the street. 

“Young men should long for the dignity of maturity. They must not buy into the current pattern of perpetuating youthful immaturity in dress, manners, and so forth.” (p.45)

The Peter Pan syndrome of never wanting to grow up. It is a symptom of our culture. Guys are putting off adult things like marriage and kids as long as possible. They see it as “game over.” I know I’m going to sound like such a dad but, this is extremely disappointing. 

“‘Why do boys not like to come to church?’ we wonder. The answer is that we chase them out with our insipid and impotent doctrine.” (p.51)

“David was not driven by any particular animus toward Uriah. Circumstances ran over Uriah–but David was still at the wheel. A young man wants to make out with a girl–he didn’t want to become a father when he was sixteen.” (p.55)

No one ever means for things to happen. Boys don’t go to school or parties thinking they’ll ruin their lives, but it doesn’t just happen either. Along the road that leads to an irreversibly bad decision, there are red flags and indicators that bad is coming. In David’s case, he should’ve confessed his sin of lust, no longer hang out on his roof, and make a decree against bathing on rooftops. Or better yet, he should’ve been in battle with Uriah and his men. But instead he stayed home and let that lust grow and fester and take root. There’s nothing wrong with staying home but David was specifically neglecting responsibilities. When a young man hangs out with people who are constantly getting in trouble he may find himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t do anything wrong but he did pick the wrong friends. 

“A son should have two kinds of work assigned to him in the home. The first can be categorized as the son learning to pull his fair share–chores, in other words. Everyone in the family has certain things to do, and they do them. But a son should also have additional work assigned to him, and he should be paid for it. With the pay comes the requirement that he learn to manage that pay” (p.72) 

“The end or purpose of Chiristan liberty is not to smoke and drink; liberty is given for the pursuit of holiness…The point is not to drink or smoke or dance according to our own whims, in the light of our own wisdom, but to do whatever we do before the Lord, with the increase of joy and holiness above all.” (p.77)

“Christian liberty is nothing other than slavery to God. The only alternative to this is slavery to man and his desires…But with this said, wine was given to gladden the heart of man (Ps.104:15) and one of the duties a father has is that of teaching his son to drink.” (p.80-81)

“A boy who is not obviously learning self-control with regard to his temper, his stomach, his video games, or his school work is a boy who will still lack self-control when sexual temptation arrives.” (p.84)

Everything is connected to everything else. If your son has a hard doing homework and getting to class, he will be a poor employee. There’s an overall attitude that hangs over everything kids do. I hope to cultivate habits of self-control with the small things so he’ll be able to confront (or flee from) the serious problems of porn and lust. 

“Instilling toughness in boys is extraordinarily important. A masculine toughness is the only foundation upon which a masculine tenderness may be safely placed.” (p.87)

This is all those big burly manly men having a tea party with their daughters. A man must be secure in his masculinity to be able to let his guard down and be so tender. This is important for men to be able to do but it’s only possible if they’re confident in their masculinity. Men must build up a strong guard which they can easily let down when necessary. 

“A well-mannered boy is not a boy who acts like his sister. Put another way, manners for boys should be a means of disciplining and directing strength, and not denying it. This means that boys need to be taught that manners are a means of showing and receiving honor. Honor is a concept which boys instinctively understand and love, but they still have to be taught to direct it with wisdom.” (p.89)

Wisdom is an element that is wholly absent from our current culture. The word means nothing today. Thankfully, Christians still have a biblical concept of wisdom which we can use. 

“Manners for men should therefore point to or illustrate their distinctive responsibilities, and young boys should be in training for this. One of the things we do in our house-hold (common in another era) is that we have the men stand around the dinner table until all the ladies have been seated.” (p.89)

I love the practical application of what exactly, tangibly looks like to be a man. I want to implement these practices in my home. See if they stick. 

“A priority should be placed on those manners and customs which place a distinction between men and women…men seating women at the dinner table, opening and holding doors, standing when a woman enters the room, walking on the sidewalk between a woman and the traffic…not tipping back in chairs, not putting feet on the coffee table, and not bouncing a basketball next to the china hutch…not dressing like a slob, not bolting food, not wearing a baseball cap indoors, etc.” (p.90)

“Boys should be able to see masculine leadership throughout the life of the church. From the pulpit, to the session of elders, to the choir, boys should be able to see men they respect. They should not see what is too often the case–men missing or silent men just along for the ride. When men go to church simply to sit in the back, they are teaching their boys to do exactly the same thing, if that.” (p.95)

I was lucky to have many male role models in the church I grew up in. There were several godly men who led their families well in Christ. They also led the church fulfilling all the main roles of pastor, music, youth group, and even teaching Sunday school. I know most people have experienced the opposite, but to me it’s weird if men are absent or aren’t leading in the church. Wichita Falls has a huge Air Force base and a lot of the men were in the Air Force, so maybe it was that military mindset of discipline and responsibility that permeated through the city and the church. 

“Many of the ‘traditional’ hymns of the nineteenth century are romantic, flowery, and feminine (I come, after all, to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.) But the recent rejection of such hymns in favor of contemporary worship music has been a step further away from a biblical masculinity. The current emphasis on ‘feeling worshipful’ is frankly masturbatory, which in men produces a cowardly and effeminate result…the writer of most of the psalms was a warrior, and he knew how to fight the Lord’s enemies in song.” (p.100)

Some of the old heroes even up to those of the war for American independence were pretty floral in their language. Even how David’s relationship with Jonathan was pretty gay. I don’t think they were homosexual, and that’s my point. If we criticize flowery, effeminate language in old literature like hymns, we’d have to criticize Sam and Frodo, David and Jonathan, and even Jesus and John. I think tough guys were just more affectionate. 

“The gospel is the story of a dragon-fight. The serpent of Genesis is the dragon of Revelation (Rev. 20:2).” (p.102)

“‘All right, all right,’ said Sam. ‘That’s quite enough. I don’t want to hear no more. No welcome, no beer, no smoke, and a lot of rules and orc-talk instead.’ There are some deep lessons for us here–no beer, no smoke, and surgeon-generals all over the place. Saruman was apparently confirmed by our Senate.” (p.106) 

“The boys who are ‘good boys’ according to this kind of teacher, are boys who ask ‘will this be on the test?’ kind of questions. And the boys who actually probe and question, the boys who are future leaders, are treated as a problem. After a while they just shut up, and count the days until graduation. Institutions will often have a rule that says, in effect, that physical force is never required. The dictum is that it takes a real man to walk away from a fight. And, while this is frequently quite true, it is not universally true. There are times when a boy should fight, and the wisdom which recognizes this is rarely found within institutional walls.” (p.112) 

This reminds me of my dad. He had a hard time in school because he wasn’t one off the “good boys” according to the mostly female teachers. He did question things and probed for answers and the “why” of things. For these efforts he mostly got detention. It jades kids to be treated this way. Just another example of why people should keep their kids out of public (and most) private schools. 

“A boy must be taught that he may not fight unless the fight is consistent with his love for his enemies. This requirement shows us the heart of the Christian ethic for individuals.” (p.127)

“Numerous individuals want to save the planet, and no one wants to help Mom with the dishes.” (p.128) 

“Boys who play at war are training for something men are called to do…Among the essential things that boys must learn here are honor and restraint…young boys should obviously be trained in the use of real firearms…carelessness with toy guns breeds carelessness with the real thing.” (p.130-131) 

“Manners are therefore a form of sexual discipleship; they are sexual discipline. A boy who has learned to honor women everywhere will have difficulty in despising one in the back seat of a car.” (p.136)

“What is the offending member? What brings a young man to sin this way? What produces such sin? And what must therefore be cut off? THe answer is that the offending member is the heart.” (p.139) (Concerning Mt.5:27-30)

“Adultery is a form of suicide. ‘Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; he who does so destroys his own soul.’” (Prov. 6:32) (p.149)

“If a man smokes a pipe once a month, I would be hard-pressed to show from the Bible how he was sinning. But if he is addicted to a pack of Camels a day, then obvious issues of self-control come to mind. And the same thing goes for Starbucks.” (p.183)

“A father listens to instruction, he disciplines his son with the rod, and the son listens to instruction. A father who will not do this may be sentimental about it, but he still hates his son.” (p.188)

 

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