The forgotten answer to young men and violence

Luke Ablett (Sunday Herald Sun – January 12, 2014) introduces some disturbing concepts when describes the things boys are taught (and I assume, what he was taught) as a boy growing up.

According to Luke, boys are taught:

  • To be tough.
  • Boys don’t cry
  • If someone does something wrong by you, you fix it, physically.
  • To be a man is to be:
    • a risk taker,
    • to be in control,
    • to be powerful,
    • not be scared, to not be a pussy, to not be a girl, 
    • To get what’s rightfully yours.
    • To drive fast and
    • Drink faster.
  • To measure the success of our teenage weekend parties:
    • By the number of drinks we have and
    • The number of girls we hook up with.

The higher the number, the cooler we are.

  • Friends tell us:
    • that it’s OK to drive home drunk, just go the back way, and
    • That it’s funny to take that corner far too fast.
  • We are told that if you have your eye on a girl and someone else manages to hook up with her that she’s a slut and that he cut your grass. You should fix that up; she was “yours”.
  • We are taught that we are in charge and in control, or we at least should be, and if we aren’t, then we should do something about it.
  • I was told, early on, that if trouble was brewing, I should throw the first punch: “Aim for the nose.” That way, again, I’d be in control.

What a terrible way of life Luke has described. But I want to tell everyone, it doesn’t have to be that way!

What has been lost in our modern, post-Christian society is the benefit of those men who Follow Christ (not just some religious practice, but a living, breathing faith in Jesus). These men see their lives as ones that reflect Christ in what they do, say and think.

Let’s look at a different list, a list of how a Christ following man would (should) teach his son and other young men.

The first thing we teach is about our relationship with God.

To those with no belief in God, this is an alien concept. But there are primary truths that emerge through belief and faith in God. Truth one, we are created individuals, not an accident. Truth 2, we have a purpose beyond just existing. Truth 3, God provides a set of values that does not change, which God holds us accountable to. Truth 4, we belong to a community that is focused on good, not on evil.

This relationship is based on three basic themes. We are sinners in need of a savior. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. We need to accept that salvation, ask for forgiveness and make Jesus Lord of our lives.

The next thing we teach our young men is about our relationship to others.

This is based on Jesus famous words, Love your Neighbour as yourself. To do that requires we need to have our attitudes, thinking and actions changed to be like Christ.

Christ like attitudes reflect an attitude of forgiveness (God to us, Us to others), Self sacrifice (versus selfishness, self focus), Self Control (think in terms of anger, words, sex, food, cars, drink … the list is very long), Kindness and Gentleness and Respect. Respect for parents, Respect for those in authority (teachers, police, bosses, community leaders, and political leaders), Respect for others (and for boys/men, especially respect for women).

As Christ followers, these young men would be taught that they are accountability to God, to society and to themselves. Accountability is a missing ingredient in many people’s lives. God knows, he sees, you can’t escape. This is not a guilt trip, but a truth about accountability, you can’t pretend with God.

We also teach our young men to be a positive contributor to Society (good works).

Think of these areas: volunteerism, giving to the poor, and pursuit of justice, being prepared to confront evil and defend the weak. (Here is our mandate for public service, policing and serving in the Armed Forces). They would always be encouraged to look for other opportunities for do good works. (Think of White Ribbon Day campaigns).

Finally we teach our young men the virtue of hard work, to be a building and contributor to society and supporting their family.

So looking again at Luke’s examples, a Christian boy/youth/man WOULD NOT:

  1. focus on getting drunk
  2. treat girls as sex objects or call them sluts
  3. try and hook up (have sex with as many girls as possible)
  4. drink drive
  5. drive like a mad man
  6. get the first hit (Coward Punch) during a confrontation

A Christian boy/youth/man WOULD BE in control of their emotions (anger, bitterness) and of their sensual desires (lust for sex, lust for money, and lust for power).

When confronted with a violent situation a Christ following man would first and foremost be the peacemaker (in words, attitude, demeanor and actions) and walk away if possible. (There is greater courage in avoiding the fight if you can). If conflict is unavoidable (and there is no opportunity to escape, avoid or call the Police) then they would defend the weak and the defenseless (including themselves). Having done all to avoid the fight, the Christ follower would and should win the fight.

The final test in this difficult situation is when it is all over. A Christ following man would forgive would not let bitterness take control and trust the Police and the legal system to deal with it and not seek their own revenge.

In conclusion, Luke spoke of the problem of violence and how it stems from the concept of manliness being defined by men’s distorted view of power, authority and their control over their lives and those around them. Luke has wondered what we can do to solve the problem of violent young men.

The Christian definition of manliness is quite different, we measure ourselves against Jesus Christ and try and live the same way. The solution is both simple … and hard … we need to teach our boys and men to be more like Jesus, the best example of a man we could ever find.

This entry was posted in Christianity, Family, Fathers, Men, Values, Violence. Bookmark the permalink.

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