Friday, April 25, 2014

10 Truths We MUST Teach Our Sons

A few months ago I read a great blog article entitled "Seven Things We Must Tell Our Daughters."  It was so helpful to me as a Father of 2 daughters.  As I've thought through that article since then it occurred to me that the reason every generation of young women has increasing struggles with a healthy body image, self-respect, and purity is partially, if not near fully, due to males refusing to be men.

Sadly we are living in a culture that is embracing males who refuse to be men.  A generation where males are believing it acceptable to act like teenagers well into their 40's and the women they chase romantically are supposed to lower their standards and accept it as well.

So as a Father with 2 sons of my own I am thinking through how I can raise them to be a real men.  Men who are ready to lead their generation towards Christ and not conformity to this world.
Please know I do not consider myself perfect nor do I have any lofty ideas that I will do this without mistakes.  But prayerfully with God's guidance when I do fail I will demonstrate repentance to my sons so that they learn even from my sinful shortcomings.

Here are 10 suggestions for truths that we must teach our sons to raise a generation of men, not boys.  These are not intended as a comprehensive list.  Feel free to comment with any you may have that are not on the list and I may include them in future updates to this article.

10 Truths We Must Teach Our Sons

1.) You are valuable

You have value simply because you have been created by God.  No matter what standard the world holds up as criteria for the worth of a man, don’t buy into it.  Even still you have a God-given value and as your father I will help you to see that value so that in turn you glorify God for it and grow to understand what it means to be a real man one day.

2.) Your ‘manliness’ is not determined by the bench press

Physical strength has value in both your physical health and ability to protect others.  However, you are not the sum total of your muscles.  You are not less of a man if you can’t track and kill an animal bare handed, build a car from scratch, and bench press a small train.  You may or may not be able to do any of those things.  There is nothing wrong with any of them. In fact, you may find any or all of them to be incredibly useful skills, but they do not define you. You may be able to do many other things.  First and foremost, real men commit to love God and love/protect their family above themselves.  My prayer is that you always see this modeled in me.

3.) You don’t NEED a girl

Not right away at least.  Take advantage of the time of your childhood and youth to learn what it means to be a Godly man as it relates to your relationship with a woman.  Use your pre-adult life to learn what you need to be to one day be a great husband and father.  God’s Word defines both of these things.  Seek out His truths as your treasure.  You do not learn how to be a husband by dating around and making emotional attachments with girl after girl.  Furthermore your singleness is not a bad thing.  If you are not ready to pursue marriage, you are not ready to have a girlfriend.  Your job as a man is to protect the heart of any woman you know.  From the friendships you develop through that, God will send you a wife who will be the delight of your heart.  I have that delight with your mother and I pray that you see that in the way I treat her. Beginning with your mother and sisters, the girls who you form friendships with in life, on to the woman that you will one day marry and the daughters you may have of your own in the future; strive to protect their hearts.  As your buddies go through relationship after relationship and heartache after heartache, just remember, if you are not prepared to love, care for, and sacrifice your life for her you aren’t ready to marry her.  You must be able to choose to love her the way that Christ chose to love you.

4.) You are ‘cool’ just as you are

This is not intended to inflate your ego or anything and it isn’t to make you believe you aren’t sinful and in need of Christ. (You are a sinner, same as me, and you DO need Christ to rescue you from your sin.)  I want you to know that ‘cool’ is not defined by popularity, athletics, or even academics.  You being satisfied with and pursuing a life that pleases God is all you need to concern yourself with.  At many times that very thing will be the most ‘uncool’ thing you can do according to your peers.  I am not going to be more proud of you for being the star quarterback or straight A student than I am with you simply being who God made you to be; a young man who loves Christ and seeks to put away the sinful flesh in order to pursue Him more.

5.) ‘Boys will be boys’ is a terrible lie!
Of course boys will be boys in the genetic sense.  Boys are born boys and will remain males for their whole lives. You must know that excusing ‘youthful indiscretion’ with the cliché that it’s ok because boys just do those sorts of things is unacceptable.  Hear me clearly that the lust of the flesh and crass crude behavior is natural because of your sin nature but it is not okay.  It is a temptation from Satan that men are prone to give in to all too easily.  You must resolve early on to wage war against those desires now.  Go to God in prayer and ask Him to help you apply His Word and to strengthen you.  Ask Him to protect your mind, eyes, and heart and keep them pure and undefiled.  ‘Boys will be boys’ cannot and will not be used as an escape in my house nor will it be tolerated as acceptable and you will cripple your development into manhood if you buy into this destructive lie.

6.) Your eyes are to desire your wife, not every woman you see

Related to the previous truth, the world will tell you that it is ok to look and lust after any woman you see and find desirable.  This is a lie.  Jesus has said that to look with lust is equal to having committed adultery with her.  You’ve sinned in your heart against God and her in doing so.  While the temptation is common and normal, it is not who God made you to be.  Though portrayed otherwise in most media, women are NOT lesser creatures to men.  They do not exist to fulfill your lustful desires.  You must train your mind to view women as God’s beautiful creation, not a source of lust, no matter how much skin she may be showing off.  It is ok to find a woman attractive and admire the beauty God has given her, but you must be very careful to guard your heart that it goes no further for any woman who is not your wife.  You need to understand that there is great beauty in a woman of modesty, not immodesty.

7.) Love your Mother

I will not always be around.  I will age and one day die just as everyone in this world does.  God has given me sons because you are to protect and lead the family in my absence.  I hope that you see in me that I love your mother deeply.  When I am loving your mother as God has called me to, you will see modeled there how you are to love your wife one day.  I hope that I am training you to do that well and when you fail to do it, as I often do, I hope that you see me repenting and learn repentance yourself.  If you cannot love your mother and sisters, you cannot love a wife.  I will commit to teach you how to love showing you what that looks like.

8.) You have talents and abilities that God has given you

You have talents and abilities and gifts that God has given specifically to you.  He intends for you to use those to glorify Him with them.  If you aren’t using them to His glory you are in danger of sinning.  Pursue those talents with an eye on the cross.  Seek God for wisdom to distinguish between Godly desires and uses for those talents verses worldly ones.

9.) Follow Christ, not the world

Be courageous in the face of opposition to those who would have you go the way of the condemned.  The Bible says that it is the wise that walk in the way of the Lord.  It is he who walks in the way of the Lord who is blessed.  Do not waste your life walking with the fool in their folly.  As you decide what to do and what not to do, filter all of your decisions through Scripture and bathe them in prayer.  Seek counsel from me and other Godly men in your life.  Put no value on the wisdom of fools who do not love Christ.  They will lead you astray.  There is one passion and one alone worth living your life for and it is Christ, nothing else will satisfy. 

10.) I love you

I love you.  I make it my goal to tell you, your brother, your mother, and sisters that on a daily basis.  You are not less of a man for being able to say ‘I love you’ to someone that you love.  In fact it is a Godly attribute to be able to not only say but to show love to those in your life whom you care about. Just as God calls on you to love others, so too He intends for you to express it.  I hope I model that for you.  I want you to hear that I love you because as you grow and feel turned away by this friend or that or experience disappointment I want echoing in your mind that no matter what, I will always love you.  More than that, you must remember that God loves you.  No matter how hard life gets remember God loves you and desires you to trust Him, not the world.  I want you to know that I will always be there for you whether we are celebrating your successes or crying together over failures or talking through your mistakes to learn valuable lessons.  I will always love you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Do you want to build a worldview?

With the success of Disney’s most recent princess tale “Frozen” much discussion has been swirling about since its release concerning the overtones and themes hidden in the message of the movie.  One camp says that, though admittedly unintentional, the movie teaches several Biblically supportable principles. 

For example: The older sister, Elsa, contains her powers and ignores that she even has them until one day through a series of events she unleashes them on the kingdom and quickly ushers the entire land into a winter that is only reversible by her.  She then runs away and sings the now world famous song “Let It Go”, the ballad of her breaking free from the years of oppression and now she is just letting go and doing with her power what she wants.  What does she come to realize?  Spoiler alert: She comes to realize that though in her ballad she sang “no right, no wrong, no rules for me” that sort of behavior only brought about trials and misery for all those who looked to her for care. 

Additionally it isolated her from the rest of society.  Interestingly enough, the Bible teaches that there actually is a law, God’s Law, and it is written on the hearts of all mankind (Romans 1). If we violate that Law we are indeed sinning against God as well as our sin has effects on those around us who trust us or, in some cases, who look to us for provision and protection.  We would love to be able to say that there is no right, no wrong, and no rules that we follow but that is moral relativism that ultimately makes truth a subjective matter that leaves a true adherent to that worldview in total chaos.

The Bible also makes plain that there is absolute truth, God (Genesis 1:1).  When Jesus declares that He is the Truth, the Way and the Life He effectively closes the door on the validity to any other worldview that opposes that which is revealed in the Christian Bible.

Secondly, absent from “Frozen” but present in nearly every other Disney film is the theme of following one’s heart.  Disney has made billions of dollars selling the lie to our children that to find happiness and fulfillment all one must do is follow their heart.  While Frozen falls woefully short of labeling it dead in sin, it does imply that our hearts can be difficult to change and what is needed is love.  While I am certain that Disney’s definition of the love needed is quite different than the Bible’s, I find it interesting that they are sending this message.

Thirdly, Disney’s Frozen ultimately sends the message that what was needed was not the true love of a love at first sight romance that is usually so obvious in all of Disney’s princess films, (spoiler alert) rather it was the unconditional love of a sibling.  If we are to draw a parallel there to Biblical truth we might say that Anna, the younger sister, is the archetypal Jesus who we see loves her sister though her sister consistently rejects her and pushes her away.  Just as Jesus pursues us though in our sin we reject Him; His love never fails.  Ultimately it is the Anna who is willing to sacrifice her own life so that Elsa’s is spared.  Seems I’ve seen that act on a eternally grander scale somewhere before... Ephesians 2:1-0; Romans 5:1-10

None of those themes were in there for the benefit of the Christian community I assure you. It is not Disney’s hopes that people will repent and turn to Christ as a result of their film, so please do not begin to write your “Frozen” Bible studies because Lifeway, Family Christian, and Mardel are sure to snap them up and get them on the shelves quickly if you do... the next Christian publishing goldmine?

But if you, like my family, saw the movie and enjoyed it these might be some great themes to discuss with your children after the fact.

On the other side of the issue we have the not so hidden agenda of the homosexual community.  They would have us believe that the ballad “Let It Go” is ultimately a song about ending homosexual discrimination.  According to that view it is said that the message of the movie is that people need to learn to love their homosexual family/friends regardless of the consequences that their life choice may have on others.  Let me be clear when I say that Christians are called to love others period.  We do not have to agree with a person's behavior and choices and we may label some of those things (such as homosexuality) as sin.  However, the most loving thing you can do for a person is be truthful with them.  Not accepting homosexuality as natural and normal is not automatically equal to being intolerant or unloving.  If that is the theme of the movie there is a problem.  As pointed out above Elsa comes to realize that letting go and living with no rules is actually not helpful at all but very harmful indeed.

All of this coming to the forefront of the media due to a recent interview given by some of the song-writers who were hired by Disney to write for the film.  (Source story : )

The claim is that Disney does not allow God to be mentioned in any of their films and prefers for His Name not to even be mentioned at all in any form.  Some Christians are upset over this but I, for one, am thankful for it.

I do not need, nor do I desire, Disney to teach me or my family theology.  In fact, I am very glad that they keep their hands off of it.  Much harm has already been done to the doctrines held by many through films and other media that teach horrible theology as it is.  If Disney teaches me a principle through their media and uniquely labels it as God's truth and it happens to be false, then they are guilty of blasphemy and leading others to idolatry.  It is better Disney stick with their secular moralism than try and teach something that they are woefully unqualified and incapable of teaching, namely Biblical truth.  All the while Christians ought to remain prayerfully hopeful that not only those associated with Disney but that all who are lost and dead in sin would be reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Even in the examples cited above of the Biblical truth parallels contained in Frozen, upon further dissection many of them break apart because as I mentioned it was not Disney’s intent to teach Biblical morals or truth through the film but rather to provide entertainment to the masses of moms and dads who would flock to the theaters with their daughters for one more princess film.

In the end, whether you go to watch Disney’s film or any secular media for that matter is more or less a matter of conscience.  Something that you must work out by examining what the Scriptures say about how Christians are to conduct themselves.  If you do go to see these sorts of films, please... please... I beg of you... do not go home thinking that now you’ve found the golden key for teaching your family Biblical truth.  You haven’t, because it is not contained in a Disney (or any other) film. The theology built on Disney film teaching or any other secular medium will fair no better than Olaf in summer.

If you have the Bible, you have the key to teaching your family truth and explaining to them the Gospel and their need for Jesus Christ.  Open the Scriptures with your family and explore them together.  It is God’s prescribed means for spreading the truth about Himself in this world.

[16] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
(2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

[5] Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
(Proverbs 30:5 ESV) 

(In case you didn't see the movie, the title of this article is a play on the song "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" featured in Disney's Frozen.)

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