Russell and Duenes

We Are Training Them to Be Lords of the Earth

with 4 comments

As boys go, so goes the culture. Now I can hear someone respond with, “But don’t mothers influence the next generation more than anyone else?” I would argue that they do, but precisely how these mothers will influence the next generation has a lot to do with the presence or absence of the father; and if present, what character the father brings to the family.

I saw this very clearly when I was working at a probation school in Los Angeles. We were having a conference with one mother in particular whose son was out running the streets. She was vexed by his continued poor behavior. She complained, “I cook for him, clean for him, iron his clothes; I don’t understand why he wants to keep doing this.” And I’m thinking to myself, “What? You think he wants to stay home and be a ‘momma’s boy’ with you?'” Forget about it. She could have given him a million dollars and he still would have preferred to be out on the streets, in the “fellowship of men.”

I see it at school. When a particular graduating class has young men who have a vision to influence and lead others in a Christlike fashion, when they have integrity about what they do, when they are eager for hard work and profitable achievement, when they are in glad submission to their God-given authorities, then you typically have a class where boys are involved in extra-curricular school activities and there grows up a spirit of participation and ownership. Where godly masculinity can and does flourish, there is human prospering. But when you have classes where a good number of the boys are mockers, scoffers, bullies, know-it-alls, and full of apathy and lethargy, then the results predictably follow: All girl leadership teams, low or no attendance at class events,  and general frustration. The difference is palpable, and this is what we should expect, given God’s revelation to us about masculinity. When women are pressed into the service of what men should be doing, in the long run, things run aground.

When it comes to educating boys, whom Douglas Wilson aptly calls, “Future Men,”, we have to follow the same procedure we would for any venture to succeed. We must start with the end in mind. We have to practice “learning by design” here, too. What we are, in fact, doing is training these boys to be “lords of the earth.” That’s what having dominion means. And boys and men have a particular role to play as such lords, but do we know what it is? Do we take our cues from Genesis, chapters one and two? Are we teaching and training them toward that end?

It seems to me that our educational model wants to squeeze young men into the female role, and they rightly resist. If we are interested in training young men to be such lords of the earth, under Christ, then six hours a day in mixed-sex classrooms behind desks and more Bible studies is probably not going to do the trick.  Surely being a lord of the earth, for a young man, means a good deal more than passing U.S. History exams and mastering Geometry. Can fathers shoulder this training alone? I’m inclined to think not.

How do Christian schools further their progress? How do we buck the dominant educational paradigm, which clearly isn’t sufficing, and start fulfilling our mandate to help train these boys up, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, into such biblical manhood? Don’t they need to, at some point, be doing something separate from the girls, under a different kind of accountability and discipline than the girls, since girls will have a different role in their dominion over the earth (a role that is equally important, but which cannot be properly carried out apart from truly masculine men)?

Are we surprised when our class leadership is all girls, when boys dump on official school activities and socials, when they try to find all manner of ways to flaunt the rules? They may not always be doing this out of ungodliness. If they are not asked to give their masculine energy to things that require more of it than they’ve got,  why would not some of them turn their energy toward the “danger” and “risk” of breaking the school rules? Why not push the line here? If not here, where are they going to push it? With the cops? With drugs? With sexual conquest? With godless ambition? They are called to something higher, called to enter into the fellowship of men, called to be lords. We will need God’s mercy in this endeavor; tons of it. We will need to remember that “young men must prepare for battle…This is a world at war. A common mistake made by young men is to see war only when the shooting starts, and not the result of the antithesis between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman at the very beginning” (Douglas Wilson, Future Men, 170-1).  May he give us the grace to take our cues from His Word and the wisdom that has come down to us through His church over the ages.


Written by Michael Duenes

June 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm

4 Responses

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  1. You guys have a very good point. I know for myself growing up without a father it’s very difficult to find what true masculinity is when all around no one in your life is rising up to true masculinity. I’ve been reading a book about masculinity by John Eldridge and I truly believe that the church really should be teaching and raising boys to become the men that God is initiating, calling us to be, but if no one is there giving the time to help guide, being that God can only lead, then how can we as boys truly become these spiritually masculine men. Forget leadership classes, how about BIBLE CLASSES!

    David gora

    June 13, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    • Good points, Davy G. Eldredge is a good place to start. I’ve read a bunch of his stuff myself. But one thing you notice about his books is that he teaches his sons to be men through the experience of hard work and masculine initiation rites (like climbing a mountain or something). This is not the only thing that has to be done, but I think many boys I encounter have little conception of hard work, and the joy of it. They have not been taught how to work with their hands, how to build and create things, how to push their bodies to the limit, and how to use their minds well. I’m not totally sure how we should accomplish this, particularly in school, but I want to learn. The good and happy future depends on it.



      June 14, 2010 at 9:07 am

      • Yah you do have a good point about the roughness in his books, but as believers the Lord is calling us to be biblically masculine in so many ways, but the Only way we can Know is through his written word.

        David Gora

        June 17, 2010 at 11:11 am

  2. I was going to leave a comment in reply to this, but the comment became long enough that it deserved a blog post. Here is one of my thoughts on the issue.

    Silas Reinagel

    June 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

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