Talking About “Man-Boys”

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Ed Vasicek's picture

I am with the girl.  This blog encourages traditional "lie to yourself" thinking.  There are a lot of man-boys out there.  This is simply being truthful.  The reasons for this may be debated, but a categorical label is being a whole lot more honest about the problem.

"The Midrash Detective"

TylerR's picture

Editor

My initial thoughts are that this blog was written by somebody who needs to get out of the library and into the real world:

Man-boys” aren’t first and foremost struggling with being men, but with being human. Singleness, solitude, laziness, video games, and Mom’s house are modern-day fig leaves — self-made coverings for men who are stripped of competence and deeply ashamed of their inability to engage with the realities of life because of their experience with the Oppressor (Isaiah 14:4), who seeks to spread confusion and chaos among God’s people (John 8:44; 2 John 7; Revelation 12:10).

No. Man-boys are everywhere, and they are lazy, un-ambitious and un-motivated. They are pathetic. Men should be men. That means you make it happen, whatever "it" happens to be. Stop living with your mom. Stop playing video games. Stop being immature. Stop being a loser. Let's not cloak this problem in a lot of pious Christian-ese like this gem here:

The need of the day is not for the church of Jesus Christ to rip away the leaves, but to start clothing them with the God-made garment of the gospel 

Pardon me while I retch into the wastebasket. What, precisely, does that statement mean? Let's be practical, not theoretical.

  • I left home at 18 and joined the Navy
  • I got yelled at and screamed at a lot
  • I grew up
  • I was married at 18, we had our first child when I was 19
  • I was leading a police shift when I was a 19 year-old E-5
  • I know many other young men who were doing the same
  • I am nothing special, not smarter or swifter than the average bear

Therefore, when I see men in their mid-20s acting like idiots, aimless in purpose and about as intellectually and emotionally mature as a 13-yr old . . . I am disgusted. Yes, I say it - disgusted. There is no excuse. Whatever the excuse is, it's not good enough. This blog article is like popcorn; it looks so good but there is nothing of any substance there. I think, "stop being a loser" is much more succinct and to the point. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jay's picture

God is disciplining immature men to grow them up (Hebrews 12:11). He doesn’t need your snide comments to help (Proverbs 11:12). Trust that God has not abandoned men to immaturity, but is finishing the work that he began (Philippians 1:6).

It's a gross oversimplification to argue that boys just need to grow up.  When I got married, I had a lot to do myself in terms of growth (and God took care of that in spades), but the reflexively rude remarks to those described in this article is quite telling.  I recognize quite a bit of myself in the description that the author gave:

“Avoid” is a door to a slew of other active words, and a host of other realities of the heart: fear (“What if I fail?”), anxiety (“I can’t handle this!”), depression (“I hate myself/life”), feelings of insufficiency (“I am not enough”), self-deprecation (“I am stupid/dirty/undesirable”), shame (“God and neighbor are disgusted with me”), and a thousand more. “I would rather escape than publicly be put to shame” (cf.Revelation 6:16).

These categories give us a new perspective. “Man-boys” aren’t first and foremost struggling with being men, but with being human. Singleness, solitude, laziness, video games, and Mom’s house are modern-day fig leavesself-made coverings for men who are stripped of competence and deeply ashamed of their inability to engage with the realities of life because of their experience with the Oppressor (Isaiah 14:4)... 

Tyler, not everyone has been blessed the way you were.  I think you ought to revisit that earlier post.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jay's picture

I think that a large portion of the problems with men that we are seeing today is a failure - both on the part of society and the church - to follow through on the principles taught in Titus (and other places), about older men teaching younger men.  I think that pushing an 18 yo out the door and telling them 'It's your life, go figure it out now.' has done a world's worth of hurt, but not the kind you can see or bandage.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Editor

Jay,

What we have here is a different approach:

  • The author takes a touchy-feely, sensitive, almost feminine approach to this problem of laziness and immaturity among Christian men. His article is replete with lots of well-turned phrases and empathy. It is short on action. It is soaked in theory, and missing any real suggestions for spiritual growth on the men's part
  • My approach is rather blunt, matter-of-fact, and very practical

For example:

  • "What if I fail?" Guess what, you will - several times. Just keep on going.
  • "I can't handle this!" I know, that's why His strength is made perfect in your weakness. Don't use your fear as an excuse for doing nothing. 
  • "I hate my life." Are you saved? Perhaps you need to be reminded the promises from 1 Pet 1:1-12. 
  • "Everybody is disgusted with me!" Do they have a reason to be? 
  • "I would rather escape then publicly be put to shame." Self-pity is sin. 

Too many people are paralyzed by fear, laziness, their own immaturity or a whole host of other things. I can't really sugarcoat this - get over it. Solomon had the same message in Ecc 11:1-6 (see my PDF notes and sermon here for more info). 

I believe the blog author is excusing sin, and encouraging men to continue in their immature, lazy and sinful states. Where is the rebuke and exhortation? He merely tells women to pray for the men, have faith,charity and grace. That's fine, but what should the men do? He has this advice:

The solution to immaturity among young Christian guys is not remembering truths or tightening regulations, but a Person, who did notavoid our realities, but rushed into them for our sake: Jesus (Luke 2:52;Philippians 2:6–9) — Jesus, with his intercession, charity, and grace.

Lovely - translate that to action. What is he suggesting? To merely remember what Jesus redeemed us from, and through Him we can have victory? What is the author saying? That sentence is meaningless. Here is a more concrete suggestion:

  • Realize that the Bible teaches that Christian men are supposed to be mature, Christlike leaders in their home
  • Realize that you have a particular problem in this area. Be honestly convicted of your sin here, and make an honest commitment to repent and forsake this lazy, shiftless, purposeless and selfish way of life
  • Commit yourself to being corrected by the Scriptures in this area
  • Begin to live like a Christian man ought to live like

I really am a mild-mannered, easy-going guy. I just really disagree with the soft, sensitive and caring tone the man displays for what is a terrible problem. Men everywhere, not just 20-somethings, do not act like men. This is horrible. Sometimes a hard line needs to be taken first, and we can bring in the soft, soothing truths about Christ's finished work to soften the blow. Am I being too mean?

Sometimes we do more harm than good by being too nice. A man came to me recently wants to join the church. He is saved and was Scripturally baptized. The problem is, he was baptized by the UPCI - a modalist, Oneness denomination. I met with the man and didn't sugarcoat things. I told him, 

"You were baptized by a non-Christian minister. That denomination is heretical. Their views about God, Jesus and the Spirit are damnable heresies. We can't accept your baptism. We'd like to re-baptize you."

He asked if the rest of his family, who go to the UCPI church, are unsaved. I told him that only God knows, but that you can't be a Christian and consciously deny the truth about God, Christ and the Spirit. That man needed to hear that. I would have been doing a disservice to sugarcoat things. Man-boys need to hear the truth. The truth sometimes hurts. It doesn't mean I don't care, though. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Brenda T's picture

Did you notice the brief bio of the author?

Paul Maxwell (@paulcmaxwell) is a PhD student in systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has published articles and reviews on psychology, philosophy, and theology in secular and Christian academic journals.

Makes me wonder if his psychology articles sound a lot like this "man-boy" article - but maybe without the Scripture references.

TylerR's picture

Editor

Honestly, having seen his bio, my first thought was that he was a young man who has been in college since 18, is now 28-30, and hasn't seen or experienced too much of the real world and has lots of theoretical training that hasn't been seasoned with experience yet. If I'm wrong, I heartily apologize. It's the impression I got. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Brenda T's picture

I understand what you're saying. I don't know if you're wrong or right. 

When I go back and read the article I'm imagining that your comments are close to what the girl told the author during their conversation, but the author left them out with his ellipses.

“Christian men . . . ugh.”

Joel Shaffer's picture

I believe that the author is on to something when he was describing sins such as laziness as fig leaves, although I would have phrased it differently.  What is the sin behind the sin?  Discovering what is the sin behind laziness allows us to get to the heart issue, rather than just dealing with a behavioral sin such as laziness, which is quite symptomatic when there might be some deeper sin issue at hand.  

Jay's picture

TylerR wrote:

  • My approach is rather blunt, matter-of-fact, and very practical

No, your approach is rude, arrogant, and demeaning to the people you think you're helping.

I had the "privilege" one time of having a pastor who believed that my highest responsibility was to be in his church on Wednesday night and Sundays and helping with the ministries there.   My wife was at home, recovering from surgery to remove what we thought were cancerous tumors less that five months prior - surgery that put her flat on her back for almost three years.  I was working a full time 9-5 job during the work week, and then working part time from 11 PM to 7 AM on Friday and Saturday in order to try and cover our bills.  Advice like yours - and the advice from my then pastor (and, I thought, closest friend) - not only pushed me away from his church but very nearly drove me from the Faith entirely.  If God hadn't gotten a hold of my life via the ministry of Grace to You, I probably wouldn't be here today. But I'm sure that he was speaking the truth in love since I was 'in sin' and needed to be whipped into shape because I, as a newly minted Seminary grad, couldn't be there every time the doors were open.

BTW, when his wife called to see how she was doing, my wife mentioned that she'd had enough strength to go to work that week for about 5 hours. This pastor's wife told her she was wrong and should have been in church with me instead of going to work to try and cover the bills and take some of the crushing load off of my shoulders if only for a day or so.  Nevermind that we had been financing our food and gas via credit card for several months, or that she hadn't taken the opportunity to visit since before my wife's surgery, almost a year before.

You say that you're married and have been so for several years now.  Would you discipline your son for laziness the same way you say you would discipline one of the men described in this article?  Paul was no excuser of sin, but noted on several occasions that he was "like a gentle mother" to those he dealt with, going to far as to warn people "with tears" (Acts 20:19).

Your advice - 'toughen up' and 'grow up' might encourage a man to bail out on a church that doesn't care about him (in his eyes) and completely miss the struggles that are going on deeper in his heart. 

But hey, if you want to use that shepherd's rod as a cudgel...go for it.  That's what pastoring is all about, right?  

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

T Howard's picture

Jay wrote:

 

TylerR wrote:

 

  • My approach is rather blunt, matter-of-fact, and very practical

 

 

No, your approach is rude, arrogant, and demeaning to the people you think you're helping.

... Would you discipline your son for laziness the same way you say you would discipline one of the men described in this article?  Paul was no excuser of sin, but noted on several occasions that he was "like a gentle mother" to those he dealt with, going to far as to warn people "with tears" (Acts 20:19).

Your advice - 'toughen up' and 'grow up' might encourage a man to bail out on a church that doesn't care about him (in his eyes) and completely miss the struggles that are going on deeper in his heart. 

But hey, if you want to use that shepherd's rod as a cudgel...go for it.  That's what pastoring is all about, right?  

This isn't an either/or situation but a both/and situation. Paul was both gentle like a mother and exhorting like a father (1 Thes 2:7-12). A boy needs both to grow into maturity. I've seen my share of 20-something men who lack initiative, purpose, and direction. It's interesting that in many of those cases they've had hovering mothers and/or domineering fathers who rarely affirmed them growing up. I've also spoken with several 20-something women who are frustrated of finding that these kind of men are legion in our churches. These Christian ladies want men to take initiative, have a meaningful career, and know their purpose in life.  Instead, most Christian 20-something men they meet in church are content to play video games, live at home, and do nothing meaningful with their lives.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Tom beat me to the punch. Jay, I don't see how you situation would fit the description of the article or of Tyler's posts. And, while Paul was broken-hearted over having to deal with failing in others, the description of his confrontation with Peter in Galatians and his dealing with John Mark's quitting in Acts are hardly those of a "gentle mother." Context is everything. Sometimes, encouragement is needed, but sometimes all that is warranted is a swift kick in the pants. That's why the charge in 2 Timothy 4:2 includes all three commands: reprove, rebuke, exhort. Spiritual discernment is required to know the difference. However, in the context described in the article, again far different from the one you described in your own life, I tend to agree with Tyler. You don't raise strong men with soft pillows. The current generation of wimpy, whiny, lazy, good-for-nothing, overgrown babies living in adult male bodies is disgusting. There's no excuse for an adult male, even a full-time college student, to not have a job. With the current costs of schooling, I can understand parents wanting to help, but any healthy man who is sponging entirely off of his parents and credit is a disgrace.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jay's picture

I'm not saying that it's wrong to be harsh; I even thought about mentioning Paul's withstanding Peter to the face and some of the pointed admonitions in I Cor. 5 and II Thess. 3 to give balance to what I wrote, but I decided that I really needed to keep the post short.  My point to Tyler - and any other pastors reading this - is that it's very easy to assume you know all the facts and come down hard on someone when you don't know what the motivations are and why they are acting the way they are. That was the point of the DesiringGod article, and I think Tyler missed it. 

Jim Mora summed it up best in this post game press conference, even if he was talking about football and not pastoral ministry.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Ed Vasicek's picture

Brenda T wrote:

Did you notice the brief bio of the author?

Paul Maxwell (@paulcmaxwell) is a PhD student in systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has published articles and reviews on psychology, philosophy, and theology in secular and Christian academic journals.

Makes me wonder if his psychology articles sound a lot like this "man-boy" article - but maybe without the Scripture references.

Good point.  No, I had not noticed the bio.  Explains a lot.  Some academics in this field are afraid of simple labels.  Wonder what they think when Jesus referred to Herod as "that fox"?

 

 

"The Midrash Detective"