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Posts Tagged ‘boys and girls’

jacob wrestles angel of the LordOften, after leading a Titus 2 Retreat, I am asked if I will say a few encouraging words to the husbands and male members of the sponsoring congregation or group.  This is important to me.  As an ezer, a helper by creation and nature, it is natural for me to want to help and encourage the very men who are so different from me.  It has been said that male and female are the two eyes of the universe.  I believe both are needed for a proper perspective.

Before I encourage the men to be the good stewards and defenders of life that God calls them to be, I apologize to them for the folly of women.  The feminist movement baptizes in the name of humanistic narcissism.  It pits women against men and places children in harm’s way.  But Christianity baptizes in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It clothes even an infant girl in the righteous robe of Christ, washes away sin, begins to work a good conscience, and makes her an heir of The Promise.  Daughters of God in Christ do not have to demean or compete with men in order to be persons of influence.

Radical feminism has done great harm, in particular, to boys.  Insisting that “equal means being the same” has left girls more vulnerable and boys deprived of godly manhood.  To deny that boys learn, process and respond differently than girls weakens society and hurts us all.  It shows in the modern classroom.  Almost twice as many boys as girls struggle with completing regular schoolwork and behaving in the way school systems want them to behave.  Boys are almost twice as likely to repeat kindergarten as girls and more than twice as likely to be suspended.  The majority of school dropouts are boys. (1) In my lifetime, I have witnessed powerful advocacy for girls but little desire to understand or respect what boys need to thrive.

Most disappointing to me is the Christian community.  Barna surveys found that a higher proportion of adolescent boys and men are leaving or not participating in church life compared to girls and women.  Sunday school, day school and catechism classes seem to have forgotten (or dismissed) that boys and girls learn and grow differently.  In his book Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Murrow documents that boys and men don’t really think the church has anything to offer them.  I have observed that the more contemporary worship services have become, the more men seem to drift away.  Why?  If God’s divine service to us is diminished by attention to our praise of Him, time in God’s House may become insignificant by men who are wired very differently from women.  Women may be “moved” by praise songs and emotional presentations, but are men?

Not long ago, following Vacation Bible School, I overheard one of the teachers say that the boys came to life when singing “Onward Christian Soldiers”.  Their lips moved during the rhyming and repetitive praise songs, but their voices raised and their feet marched when singing about spiritual warfare, gallantry and defense of all things noble and good.

In Raising Boys By Design, authors Gregory L. Jantz, PhD and Michael Gurian write,

For faith to be relevant, boys and men need to see it as a part of their action-oriented heroic quest — a wholehearted, sold-out-to-Jesus continual submission of the will to one greater than self.  Boys seek a valiant spiritual quest, fraught with challenge and filled with purpose, sacrifice, achievement, and honor.  Males want to connect with a God who is experiential, to have a personal encounter with Jesus that is so compelling they will grab hold of faith and hang on tight as their lives go forward.  Through such faith they will find their true identity, not just as a man but as a Christian man. (2)

Jantz and Gurian speak about a faith that must be muscular.  As the mother of sons, this resonates with me.  I wanted my sons to respect and defend women, but not become one of us.  Just as I am uplifted by the support and wisdom of other women, so men are strengthened by their healthy band of brothers in work, study, play or service.  From boyhood, men need to engage in problem solving, decision-making and wrestling with the tough issues of life on behalf of the women and children they are called by God to defend.  If you remember, Jacob wrestled with the angel of the Lord (Genesis 32).  Jacob’s hip was put out of joint during the encounter.  Martin Luther said that through faith, in the struggle of the cross, one learns to recognize and experience God rightly.  A man learns, through times of difficulty as well as times of blessings, that God’s Word is living and active; it can be trusted in all circumstances.

God calls boys to guard the purity of girls.  He calls men to defend the lives of women and children.  It is likely, in this sinful world, that boys and men will be bruised when they do battle for the lives of others and to the glory of God.  It is for this reason, I believe, that men (like women) need the Divine Service.  The literal catechesis in the Divine Service, week after week, prepares a young man not to be passive, but to be engaged in the real world.  It allows him to confess his sins, receive absolution and remember the cleansing work of his baptism.  It speaks the timeless Word of God in Christ.  It renews him with the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The Divine Service is not the boy or man doing something for God, but God doing something for boy and man so that they, in turn, may do something good for girls and women.

As for me, I will continue to resist the foolishness of some women.  I have no reason to desire the place of a man or covet the responsibilities he has been given.  I do, however, have my own role to play.  It is my belief that I can best help men defend the sanctity of life, protect women and children and, ultimately serve God by loving their neighbor as themselves when I encourage my husband, sons, grandsons and brothers to put on their armor.  To grip the Sword of the Spirit.  To stay alert.  To gather with all the saints and persevere.

War rages.  It is not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities.  It is a spiritual war for our very souls.  I, for one, need the courage and commitment of men who are prepared for such battle.  Men who do more than praise God, but receive from Him training in righteousness… zeal for good works… and the power of self-control.  Divinely served by a mighty God and with marching orders in hand, a man is equipped to bring order out of the chaos of sin.

(1) Gregory L. Jantz, PhD, and Michael Gurian, Raising Boys By Design (Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2013), 12-13.
(2) Jantz and Gurian, Raising Boys By Design, 195.

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Maura, a young and spirited woman, invited me into her life.   She seems to welcome the experience of age and expresses the need for a “mother” figure.  Maura is intelligent.  More mature than most her age.  She has a tangible dream and works hard in college.  Maura displays all the normal feelings and emotions that come with being female.  But, there is more.  Wisdom speaks to Maura through her conscience.  The answers to my questions consistently reveal that Maura delights in all things of God… but, she is “hooked” to her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend’s words of love cause Maura to feel special.  He has demands.  She tries to please.    The warmth of his embrace encourages her loyalty.  But, his lack of commitment makes her vulnerable.  She isn’t sure how he really feels about her because his attention is easily distracted away from her.  She hopes the relationship will change.

Time passes between our visits.  We have talked at length about our identity as creations of God, so every now and then, I remind her of her value by mail or text.  Maura almost always responds with a request: “Can we get together?”  At lunch or on a walk, she brings me up to date.  She is busy with work and studies.  When the conversation turns to relationships, Maura smiles when she talks about her dad.  “I’m happy when I’m with him.  I feel safe at home.”  But, when I inquire about her boyfriend, Maura’s smile always fades.

During our last visit, Maura seemed less confident.  More sad.  She uttered not one positive or hopeful word about her boyfriend.  “So,” I asked, “why do you stay with him?”  Her shoulders drooped.  She stared past me for a few seconds.  Sighed.  Then shuttered.  “He isn’t good for me,” she confessed.  “But, it’s so very strange.  The more time I spend with my boyfriend, the more I need to be with him.”

The honesty of our friendship compelled me to take a deep breath… then look into her eyes.  “Maura, you’ve fallen into a bad habit.  You’re hooked.”  Tears that flowed were evidence of the tug-of-war for Maura’s heart.  Mind. And soul.

Maura is “hooked” not because she is uneducated, but because she is wrongly educated.  The culture has told her: “We are sexual from birth.”  (What does this mean?)   Maura is “hooked” not because she missed out on “Sex 101” but because she was encouraged at a young age to “be comfortable with” her “sexuality.”  Maura is “hooked” not because she is rebellious, but because she followed the rule: “Be responsible by practicing safe sex.”

Planned Parenthood-style sex education instructs in the act of sex, sexual fantasy, contraception, abortion, self-pleasure, gender role stereotypes, sexual diversity, HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases.  Maura’s well-meaning school, counselors, and adult mentors probably followed SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) guidelines, thus believing they had provided everything Maura and her peers needed to know.

Sex education seems comprehensive, doesn’t it?  Would appear to reveal all the facts, right?  Then why is Maura, like countless other young women, in conflict with herself?  Why is her soul troubled?  Does her heart ache?  Are her thoughts confused?   Because, observe physicians, psychologists, and biologists, some vital information has been kept from Maura and her generation.  I agree.  Truth has been withheld.  That truth is: Male and female are different.

Militant feminists deny this difference.  They’ve been working feverishly to repress this difference so that women can shed their role of “helper” and, instead, compete with men.   So, everything girlish and womanly is minimized, managed, and sadly misguided.  No one informed Maura that her female brain predisposes her to yearn for love, understanding, connection, and communication.  No one informed Maura that her chemistry promotes attachment and trust of her boyfriend.  No one told Maura that her female wiring causes her to take risks by overlooking her boyfriend’s shortcomings.  Maura’s unique physiological vulnerability to intimate behavior was never explained because that would be a “gender stereotype.”

Maura knows her relationship isn’t what it should be.  As a Christian, she knows it isn’t what God desires for her.  But, even if she wasn’t a Christian, she would sense that something was wrong.  What is wrong is that educators in “sexuality” have failed girls and boys.

As a “helper,” I have promised not to fail my young friend by fooling her.  Or manipulating her.  There is one truth for Maura… and all the rest of us.  It is the truth of our design.  Divine design.  This design by God is evidenced by our anatomy.  Pure biology and scientific study.

Sure.  This messed up world complicates everything.  We may be “hooked” into harmful relationships.  But, Maura matters.  So, we are discussing a new life — unhooked and set free.  Set free to be all she was created to be.

(Recommended reading: You’re Teaching My Child What? by Miriam Grossman, M.D.)

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The debate over boys and girls in contact sports continues.  With ears open, I hear good sense and hope for civilization in the comments of both men and women.  Here, as I promised, are some of those comments —

  • As a former high school wrestling coach, I see it this way.  If we are teaching young men to be pure until marriage, then wrestling a teenage girl (woman) is not appropriate or helpful.  Many wrestling holds require close contact with the opponent’s crotch or hips close together.  Tight holds across the chest or laying chest to chest are common.  If done in a high school hallway, it is considered groping, even if consensual.  If done without consent, it is sexual assault.  Putting on a pair of wrestling shoes doesn’t eradicate the moral overtones of the situation.
  • I know a girl wrestler who is well-endowed.  The boys enjoyed wrestling her.  She admitted that she liked the attention and ended up sleeping with a few of the boys.  In the name of equality, the system actually “used her” and made her more vulnerable.
  • My experience as an athletic trainer brings me to this: Outsiders looking in can say, “Boys!  Turn off your hormones,” or “You just don’t want to get beat by a girl!”  But, the fact is, boys are put in a very uncomfortable position when matched in a contact sport with a girl.  Also, girls are led to think they’re better than they really (physically) are because when a boy wrestles a girl he doesn’t wrestle the way he would against another boy.
  • Why do people think that boys and girls need to do the same things?  Or, if they do the same things, why do they need to do them together or in a competitive way?  Do parents really think that a boy wrestling a girl has no influence on his (or her) thinking?
  • Boys learn lessons from sports that help them later in life professionally in business and in working relationships with other men.   They learn what it means to work as a team.  Women participating with men in contact sports  mess with that camaraderie.
  • I was a tomboy, but I know there are some things we females should and shouldn’t do.  I’m disappointed when I witness situations where people are so absorbed in today’s “accepted” societal practices, but disregard simple things like respect, consideration for others, self-discipline, servitude and so on.  We are caught up in a “I deserve what I want, when I want it” mentality.
  • A reporter commented that Joel Northrup, the Iowa wrestler, was in need of “counseling” because he forfeited a match to a girl.  In reality, young Joel was exhibiting qualities of decency, integrity, and leadership.
  • Whether a person is a Christian or not, nature itself is not in favor of boy-girl wrestling.  The entire purpose of aggressive male sports is defeated when females participate.  Male sports with girls become games.  Games are fine for social events, but not for wrestling (or the military, for that matter).
  • Freedom requires that good men and women will stand up for what is right.  What is right?  It is found in God’s Word.  There is maturity in choosing right over winning worldly recognition.
  • I am reminded of a story.  A man opened the door for a woman behind him.  The woman snarled, “I suppose you are doing this because I am a lady!”  He replied, “No ma’am.  I’m doing this because I am a gentleman.”
  • There is nothing more liberating, right, and helpful to society than identifying and honoring the male and female differences created by God.

There is good sense… on the mat — and with all issues of life.  It comes when we begin to trust the Creator of male and female.

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