Russell and Duenes

Read Scripture, Get into an Accountability Group and Take a Cold Shower

with one comment

What follows is a little dialogue I had with a friend this week about the issues of single-sex education, adolescence and younger age of first marriage, with a particular focus on how these issues affect boys. My rejoinders are in italics:

I would say that I’m not comfortable with anyone taking a position that there’s any human condition God can’t deal with [i.e., living in a culture where most teenagers, in order to obey Christ, will have to put their sexual desires on hold for about 10 years].  Granted, teenage boys are up against it when it comes to atomic hormones and today’s social paradigms, but I’d hate to think society has finally come up with a problem God can’t equip his followers to tackle.

I’m not taking the position that there’s a human condition that God can’t deal with. Could God have given the Israelites the strength to avoid idolatry while leaving all the idols in the land of Canaan? Of course! But God told them to remove the idols, lest their hearts be drawn to them and they end up worshipping them. It is one thing to trust God’s power and another thing to put God to the test by asking him to handle something that we should be taking responsibility for. I’m taking the view that our co-ed educational system and our movement toward later marriage is sin and needs to be repented of. God will not override what he has ordained. “Society” has not come up with this problem. God’s people have acquiesced to the falsehood of adolescence and been complicit in not training their boys to be mature men when they should be. They’ve allowed boys to pursue all sorts of distractions and just kind of drift into manhood (if they ever get there). God indeed equips his followers to tackle the problem, and God’s equipping, for most men, is marriage. When we don’t take our cues from God and His Word, then we cannot blame God when sin happens. What I’m proposing is indeed a way in which to “tackle” the problem, namely, start training up our boys (and girls) socially, educationally, spiritually in ways that are different from our culture (imagine that!). Get them ready for marriage at a younger age. Teach them what it means to be a man and provide arenas in which they can pursue it in the fellowship of godly men. And help them understand what God’s will is. One of the reasons God has given us marriage is so that young people don’t “burn with passion,” as Paul says. So obedience to God, even in this culture, does not mean leaving boys to take cold showers and get into accountability groups where the best of them, about every two weeks, confesses that he’s masturbating or some such thing. We’re practicing the gospel of sin management. Boys are trying to manage desires that should be finding expression much earlier. Surely it is a serious sin in our churches that most Christian boys are growing up following the same values and trajectory that our culture does: Go to school, try to get a girlfriend in high school, get a little physical action short of sex, go to college, get into a job, have some adult fun, set your sights on attaining the suburban house and acoutrements, and try to get married in your late 20’s when you’re finally set up.

Also, you’re assuming young boys wanting to do the wrong thing (look at porn, boink girls, bop their baloney) is a certainty.  Is this the case?

Of course there are boys who are walking in line with the gospel in this arena. But I think the reality is that the LEAST that most boys are doing is fantasizing and getting off. But what’s worse is, if I’m a youth pastor mentoring boys who are 16 and who are asking about how to pursue holiness, my options seem to be: Read Scripture, pray, be involved at church, and have accountability. I’m being a bit reductionistic, but the point is, that this pastor cannot give those boys any hope of fulfilling their sexual desires under Christ for a good 10 years or so, for marriage is the only lawful arena in which they can enjoy intercourse. Surely this “news” has to be disheartening at the least.

I do agree that our culture is rigged to generate moral failure (which isn’t all that surprising when you see the planet as the battlefield that Greg Boyd describes), and I’d further agree that you’d have a better shot leaving for Bananastan, or some other place where you could rig some kind of medieval E-harmony matrimonial selection system, but that’s probably not reality.  We’ve got to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt.

We always have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt. You and I have no disagreement over that. What we are likely disagreeing over is how to “play” our hand. There is actually a rather large scale, Christian “in house” discussion going on these days over “biblical” dating, courtship, etc. But what needs to get more play are questions over the validity of our “adolescence” paradigm. Also, we need to re-think our educational paradigm. Single sex classrooms will not, by themselves, solve the problem. Nothing will entirely solve the problem, but Christians have got to do a better job of challenging the reigning ideas about how to educate their children, especially their boys. This is not a call for cultural withdrawal, but for cultural challenge. The Christian church has always been able to challenge the cultural imperatives, and in so doing, often ends up steering the culture in good directions.

In the case of my boys, I’ll be spending a lot of time dealing with their “wanter”, and the chief tactic I’ll be employing will be (to quote Dallas; would you expect anything else?) to “ravish them with the Kingdom of God”.  They may not choose to reside there, but for me to think it doesn’t have enough allure to hold them seems to me a massive misunderstanding of the reality of the universe.

I’ll be dealing with my son’s desires as well. I will be trying to ravish them with the goodness of living in God’s kingdom, both now and for eternity. But life in God’s kingdom does not allow us to go against God’s design. Part of the “reality of the universe” is that God made us as sexual beings, and we come into our sexual flowering in our early teens. This is not something that God calls the majority of us to deal with by seeking personal holiness. Rather, his call on our lives is to live in light of the truth. As Dallas would also say, truth is just what it is, and our opinions about it have no effect whatsoever on its reality. An illustration might help. Let us say that our schools are showing pornography to our boys, we would not tell them, “Well, that’s just the way things are right now, and your life in God’s kingdom will help you to overcome any lustful thoughts you have while you’re looking at the porn in your school.” Rather, we would take them out of such a school and start our own. So, we should intentionally seek means by which to raise our boys so that they can better live sexually in the ways that God has designed them to live. If our culture is not a help in this way, then we must find alternatives, which surely God in his wisdom can give us. This would be a way to trust God. I’m not so arrogant as to suppose I know the exact way, and I’m probably being too idealistic, but if we don’t begin to kick around these issues, we’re one-hundred percent guaranteed to see nothing change.



Written by Michael Duenes

September 29, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Posted in Duenes, Ethics, Philosophy

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I love the way you think! Still mulling it all over… but I love the challenging thoughts. Thanks for this.


    September 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: