This is no exaggeration. Men are a dying breed. I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again. Men in America are in crisis. I’ve worked with college students and young families for years. I’ve walked many men through the question, “Are you a Godly man?” Their answers are quite similar. They don’t know.
A friend of mine wrote this guest post recently, addressing the question of what Biblical masculinity really is.
Yesterday, this post was on the CNN Opinion blog. The title of it caught my eye, so I copied it and made it the title for this post. You ought to read the article. It is short and sweet. A few excerpts are worth noting:
The data does not bode well for men. In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women’s earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men.
In 1950, 5% of men at the prime working age were unemployed. As of last year, 20% were not working, the highest ever recorded. Men still maintain a majority of the highest paid and most powerful occupations, but women are catching them and will soon be passing them if this trend continues.”
So what’s wrong? Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. The machismo of the street gang calls out with a swagger. Video games, television and music offer dubious lessons to boys who have been abandoned by their fathers. Some coaches and drill sergeants bark, “What kind of man are you?” but don’t explain.
Movies are filled with stories of men who refuse to grow up and refuse to take responsibility in relationships. Men, some obsessed with sex, treat women as toys to be discarded when things get complicated. Through all these different and conflicting signals, our boys must decipher what it means to be a man, and for many of them it is harder to figure out.”
For boys to become men, they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction. It is true in all ages. Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them? Each generation of men and women have an obligation to teach the younger males (and females of course) coming behind them. William Wordsworth said, “What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how.” When they fail in that obligation, trouble surely follows.
We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood.
The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, “Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married.” It’s time for men to man up.”
In our culture, youthfulness is glorified, while maturity is frowned upon. Yet all the while, boys are begging for someone to tap them on the shoulder, to invite them to walk life next to them, and to challenge them to a place they desperately want to be.
What say you, men?