Question: What do you think stands as the main contributing factor in why many men today seem to be less mature than the generations of old? What do you feel are the spiritual applications?
Reply: (by Danny Akin and Alvin Reid): This is an excellent question and one that is quite relevant and extremely important for our times. When we see beer commercials mocking the immaturity of young men in our culture, we know that we have a problem! More significant individuals have addressed this issue as well, including a recent article entitled “Why men are in trouble?” by William Bennett. One of the better articles written some time ago is “Wimps and Barbarians” by Terrence Moore.
Dr. Reid addresses this in every class and preached on this subject in chapel (Click here for chapel message on October 28, 2010). Dr. Akin deals with this topic on a consistent basis in forums on campus and elsewhere. He especially raises the issue in the context of female/male service on the international mission field where women serve in massively superior numbers to men. In June 2009, for example, there were 331 journey girls and 126 journey men serving among the nations.
We live in a day when the average purchaser of video games is a 34 year old male; a time of prolonged adolescence and delayed responsibility. The root of this, in part, is sociological and goes back a few generations. The rise of the common school which led to public school education, housing massive numbers of children with one another more than being integrated in society with multiple generations, child labor laws which protected children from working in factories (a good thing) while failing to give responsibilities they could handle (a bad thing), and the practical reality that the median age in the United States has grown from 16 in 1800 to 35 in 2000 all play a role.
However, more recent factors include the rise of adolescence as a separate category fueled by such literary pieces as “The Lord of the Flies” and “Catcher in the Rye,” both published in the 1950s; the movie “Rebel Without a Cause” in 1954; the rise of rock and roll and a growing juvenile culture have all accelerated the growing immaturity of young men. Where once upon a time young men trained for war or for industry, young men today train for video games and play fantasy football.
We have a generation of soft boys. We have had several generations of wimps!
Add to that the reality of the absentee father, what we would argue may be the most dire of all other factors, and you can see to some extent how we have gotten to the place we are today. For the first time in American history we have a generation today where close to 40% are growing up without a father in the home. As we look ahead, at least one estimate has 55% of Millennial children growing up without a father in the home (Parenting the Millennials, 7).
We believe one of the most fundamental challenges of the church today has to do with raising up a generation of young men who become men of God, not spiritual wimps on the one hand or boorish barbarians on the other. We simply have too many who can be described as BANs, or half boy, half man.
What is a man? More specifically what is a man of God? Paul addresses this in I Timothy 6:11f. Here is a great place to begin the construction process of a man of God. First, Paul says recognize who you are! We are men of God. “You, man of God.” This is indicative. If you are a man and a believer, you are a man of God, so be who you are! Now, what are the marks of this man?
He is a runner: Paul says to flee and to pursue (verse 11). We are to run from the things listed in 6:3-10 such as false doctrine, slander, the love of money, useless arguments, etc. It is not the mark of a man of God to be constantly arguing over secondary issues. We are to run after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.
Men of God respect authority. And, they keep their word! They persevere, even when it is hard. One of the marks of this immature generation of men is their inability to persevere. More young men that women drop out of Alvin’s workout group each semester. More young ladies than young men are heading to the mission field. This is pathetic.
Men of God are also gentle. Being a man does not mean you watch MMA or talk tough. That may actually demonstrate adolescent behavior. Grown men can cheer for their sports team with gusto, speak to a child with gentleness, and love on their wives with tenderness.
Men of God are runners; they are also fighters. We are to “fight the good fight of faith” (v. 12). Some things are worth fighting over. Let us fight against Satan and his kingdom. Let us wage war against heresy on the one hand and legalism on the other. Let us man up and take a stand when necessary. Shepherds of local churches do not only guide the sheep with gentleness; they confront wolves with ferociousness.
Men of God are also wrestlers: we are to “take hold of” or “grasp firmly” eternal life (verse 12). Men do not spend their time and emotions fooling around with insignificant matters. Men of God give their lives to matters of eternity.
Finally, men of God are guardians. In verse 14 and following Paul reminds us to guard the things God commands. We must stand on the message of God and live out the message of God in our generation.
One of our students fought in Somalia and was rightly portrayed as a hero in “Black Hawk Down.” He talks about the wimpiness he sees in churches and how effeminate it is!We are convinced that the quota for wimps has been met in the church! It is time for a “man of God revolution!”
So what can you do? Get men involved in the lives of younger men. Challenge them to go on mission assignments nationally and internationally. Get them into the Word. Teach them theology. Read Titus 2 carefully and put it into practice for both men and women in your church. See the prolonged adolescence of young men as an idol in our time that must be confronted by the gospel. Be the man God saved you to be. The time is now and the need has never been greater.