In my last blog post, I talked about protecting girls in a #metoo world. My hope was to give practical suggestions that will help empower girls and women to be kind yet proactive, respectful of all yet cautious with trust. I think teaching girls appropriate boundaries as well as teaching them how to respond to unwanted advances by any man in their life is always appropriate. That being said #metoo is predominantly a male problem that is a reflection of a culture that values sex above personhood. To abuse, women is to revert to the pagan view of women being a commodity or property. Christ changed the value of women and Christianity should be the greatest champion of women because of whose image they bear and because of the value Christ placed on them in his earthly ministry. To be clear the sexual abuse problem in our country is not the fault of women at all. Should women dress modestly? Absolutely. Is the modestly or immodestly of how a woman dresses justification for harassment or assault? Never.
What we teach our boys in the sex-crazed world we live in matters and matters greatly. The problem is we live in a world that says there are no boundaries that sex is free that anything that makes you happy is ok until somehow it’s not. This message is the exact opposite of what our boys need to hear if they ever want to become men. I teach my boys that God has made them strong to protect the hurting, the poor the weak and those who are treated unjustly. The measure of a man is not how strong he is but how he uses his strength. In a world that is constantly reinforcing to our boys through social restructuring, porn, and power that you can take what you want. We must remind them that the call to Godly manhood calls them to lay down their life for their wife. To love and protect. To be a voice for those who are without a voice.
I tell my boys some very specific things but I thought it might help to structure them in more universal terms provided by Rev. J.C. Ryle in his excellent short book Thoughts for Young Men.
(1) One danger to young men is PRIDE.
Young men, I beseech you earnestly, beware of pride. Two things are said to be very rare sights in the world–one is a young man that is humble, and the other is an old man that is content….The older you grow, and the more you see, the less reason you will find for being proud. Ignorance and inexperience are the pedestal of pride; once the pedestal is removed–pride will soon come down.
If you aren’t familiar with the #MeToo head over to twitter and read some of the tweets posted by famous women, known women and women no one really knows. Their stories are gut-wrenching. I read through a few feeds of evangelical women I deeply respect and tears came to my eyes because of the pervasiveness of abuse and the destructive power of sin in our world. As a father of two beautiful girls, I don’t want this for them. As a father, it is my responsibility to protect them love them and model to them how men should treat them. As repulsive as the whole Wienstine thing is I pray that good will come from it, that women will speak up and the culture of abuse will be dealt a severe blow.
Our country has spent the last 60 years preaching and worshiping the god of sexual fulfillment at all costs and we are starting to see the devastating legacy of our unrestrained sexual ethic. We see it in the dissolution of the family, in the celebration of every kind of personal pleasure without a thought as to the effect our actions will have on the people we love most and even broader society. This is not a new problem but is rather an indication as to how far our country has slipped from the Christian values that used to guide and define us. In Roman times when Christianity was in its infancy one of the unique things about Christians was their sexual ethics and their high view of women and children. Tim Challies describes Roman culture in such a way that it sounds like the picture that is being painted of the celebrity Hollywood subculture specifically and of American culture increasing.
Rome was a culture of extreme promiscuity and inequality. Those who had power—male citizens—were able to express their sexuality by taking who and what they wanted. Their culture’s brand of sexual morality was exemplified in the Caesars who, one after the other, “were living icons of immorality and cruelty,” using sex as a means of domination and self-gratification.
Yet this system, evil as it looks to our eyes, was accepted and even celebrated by Rome. It was foundational to Roman culture. To be a good Roman citizen a man needed to participate in it, or at least not protest against it. To be loyal to Rome, one had to be loyal to the morality of Rome. To the Romans, the biblical view “would have been seen as disruptive to the social fabric and demeaning of the Roman ideal of masculinity.” What we consider odious and exploitive, they considered necessary and good.
So seeing that our culture is slipping further and further into the sex-crazed pagan practices Christianity opposed. How do we raise our kids and protect our daughters from a sick culture that objectifies women?
Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of the forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe
With loss of Eden till one greater Man
Restore us and regain the blissful seat
It seems that kids younger and younger are getting cell phones these days. There are many good reasons to get your kids a cell phone and there are equally as many reasons to delay as long as possible. The question I hear from parents is how do I keep my kids safe online and yet let them enjoy the freedom of a cell phone. The balance of safety and security is not easy to maintain.
I used to be an advocate of waiting until kids are much older to get a cell phone. I have changed my mind, with the pervasiveness of technology and the easy access of porn you have to teach your kids at a young age how to use technology without being ruled by it. If you just hand your kids a cell phone without teaching them how to use it or placing safeguards around it you are crazy. I love you but you are crazy. Here are a few things we have done and are putting into practice with our oldest as he joins the millions of kids who are connected around the world. These are a work in progress.
The challenge from my last post was to help our kids to properly love. The question that creates is how. How do we properly love? We know we are supposed to love God first and love Him most but how can we be sure that we are doing that?
John Locke clarified the philosophical principle of primary and secondary things that Plato first proposed. Locke says primary things are physical secondary things are more metaphysical. For us, as Christians, the distinction between primary things and secondary things is an important one. Not is the same sense that Locke proposed but in the sense, Christ proposed when he was asked the question what is the most important commandment. In trying to trick Jesus the religious leaders do us a great service they allowed us to see how to order our love and how to properly interact with secondary things.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The most important command isn’t to love people. It’s to love God primarily. How our love for God is seen is in how we love secondary things, people. Jesus was saying our love for Christ is primary and our love for everything else is secondary. He was also telling us how to measure our love for God. We can say we love God and there is no way for us to know for sure if we truly love God or if others truly love God. That is what makes secondary things so significant. It is in how we love secondary things in their proper way and to the appropriate degree. When we love secondary things too much we demonstrate that we don’t love God first. Loving things such as family, friends, money, and influence too much reveals the idol factory of our heart. Loving things too little produces anger, envy, and pride. When we don’t love secondary things they way that God does it reveals that we don’t know God or trust him in his love for us.
The problem in teaching kids to love we stop short and only teach them to be loving. The problem is being loving deals with secondary things. To teach kids to truly love it means teaching them to order their love by loving Christ primarily then because you know Christ who is love you will from that love appropriately love secondary things. Being a loving person is a very different thing than being known by Him who is true love. The confidence and assurance that comes from the loves in our life being rightly ordered free us to appropriate love secondary things. It is in how we love secondary things that show that we primarily love Christ.
Questions to ask ourselves about ourselves and our kids:
- What is one thing in your life that you feel defines who you are?
- What if removed from your life would cause you the most pain?
- Where do spend your time and money?
- Do you struggle with an excess of love which is greed, lust or gluttony?
- Do you struggle with a deficiency of love which is anger, envy or pride?
- Where do you turn or to what do you turn when life gets difficult?
- Do you preach the gospel to yourself every day?