Archive for June, 2010

Conversations with Max


Who tells a boy that he has become a man? For that matter when does a boy become a man? If you’re looking to popular culture for an answer, you’ll get a very convoluted mishmash of an answer. The world says we have infants and toddlers, adolescents and pre-teens, tweeners and teenagers, and then finally we graduate into adulthood. As one might expect, Scripture is much more black and white on the subject. You are either a boy, or you’re a man. That’s the Book of Proverbs. Most people think of Proverbs as a bunch of disconnected, wise, pithy sayings. But I would challenge you to go back and read it again through a different set of lenses… those of ushering a boy into manhood. It is building a boy into a man, chapter by chapter, precept on precept, verse by verse. I mean, essentially everything you need is there: wisdom and women, puberty and piety, laziness and libido, hard work and harlots, just about anything you can imagine needing to instruct your son in is in the book of Proverbs. God obviously thought this “initiation manual” was important enough to place it as one of the most important of the Wisdom Writings. My question then is, “What does that mean for us”? That of course begs the question, “Why is any of this important in the first place”? Let me start with the latter and we’ll get to the former. The statistical data are clear:

1) Porn and youngsters stats footnotes needed
2) Sex and youngsters footnotes needed
3) Sex in youth and faith in adulthood footnotes needed
4) Mental health and all the above in adulthood footnotes needed
5) Victims becoming perpetrators footnotes needed

No doubt you have your own anecdotal evidence and stories that you could add, but these will suffice. They state the problem well enough. So then, why it is important to tell our boys when they are men (and what that is) should be obvious. But the power of us as their fathers telling them they are men is equally as important. God, as our Father, has shown us what he thinks a man is (Proverbs again) and it is incumbent upon us now to pass on that legacy…. To pass on God’s heart of what a man is. For if we do not define what being a man is (what it looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes like) rest assured, the world will define manhood for our sons.

Last summer my son Max turned 12 years old. Believe me, we have already had the sex talk, the abuse talk, etc. But when I came to the conclusions I have just outlined, I decided what he and I needed was much more than some purity promise, though I wanted that to be part of it. What we needed was something much richer and fuller. Something that said, “I see you boy. I see you becoming a man. I accept you into the brotherhood, but here are some things you must know or you will get eaten alive.” In that context we were able to speak about what it means for him, personally, to be a believer and how that should change his whole life. We were able to define Life and get some answers about what makes a good one: friends, family, community, bravery, honor, women, sex, fraternity, and all the mathematics that spin out of each of those equations. This is what we spent the summer doing, mile after country-road-mile, thing by thong, precept on precept, day by day all summer long I enjoyed the most life changing moments of my life… having conversations with Max