The lost boys of America...

(TB: this is a guest post by David Wegener.) A lot of pastoral care these days concerns the problem identified in this article: young men who haven’t grown up, aren’t growing up and don’t have much of a shot at growing up. The related problem is dealing with middle-aged men who never did grow up and have turned pouting and temper tantrums into an art form...

To summarize the article (which should be read with discretion), young men (college-age and above) are obsessed with porn and video games. They’re lazy, rootless, apathetic, vocational vagabonds who often live with their parents well into their 30s. They’re “not ready” for marriage. They’d rather masturbate to porn then coordinate sex with a live girl. What to do about such a boy inside a man’s body?

The author throws out lots of possibilities in the “who to blame game.” Compliant parents who like having their little boy back at home. Crippling student loan debt. The Pill. Facebook. Easy access to porn. The feminization of the work environment. The feminization of our educational system. Moral relativism. Poor work ethic. Too high self-esteem.

Undoubtedly, all of these are true. But where are their fathers? They’re either absent or emasculated. So pastors and elders and deacons have to stand in this gap. Fathering takes lots of time and unselfishness but its our only alternative. Years ago, David Blankenhorn pronounced vanishing fathers to be our number one social problem. Doesn’t seem like anyone listened to him.

In the countries of central and southern Africa, children are found in most homes who are not biologically related to the father and mother. Your sister died four years ago and now, after the funeral for your brother-in-law, the extended family meets in council while their children are assigned new homes. You have only three children and a good job so you get two little ones. Your younger sister also gets two and your younger brother (who is still single and has a good job) has to pay for their “upkeep and school fees.” These meetings happen every day and they are testing the social fabric of African society.

Our problem is different, but not all that much. The men of the church have to father the lost boys in their congregation, while calling their dads to repentance and obedience, preaching to their conscience and telling them to look reality in the face.

Let’s also stop encouraging our daughters to be shorter men or they’ll end up like Ann Coulter: uber-educated, urbane, potty-mouthed, successful and single at 50.


"Successful and single" at 50 sounds wonderful!

Well said. I'm troubled personally by the reality that a lot of people where I live simply have trouble making eye contact.

Even in small, rural towns in the South like the one I serve in this is a huge problem. The majority of my pastoral counseling and things that asked me by folks in the community center around this problem.

"According to the ideology of [Margaret] Sanger, birth control
Eventually would destroy Christianity.
Eventually would exterminate the black race.
Eventually would purify the white race.
Eventually would promote abortion as the women’s human right."

Because the Pill is Sanger's brainchild, and her first end is to "destroy Christianity," apparently these "lost boys of America" are just a side effect as the church continues to commit suicide.

I've seen this sort of "man" many times. Whether it's in church or at work I say the same thing to them. There is no difference between the student that can't get good grades and the student that won't get good grades. Both come to the same end. This principle applies just as readily to work for young men. Can't work, won't work, they are the same. Actually I have more sympathy for the man who can't work. Often times, I believe he would work if he was able.

Hey Mark, I take it you live in your moms basement?

Every so often the men themselves affected by absent Dads recognise their situation. An example of this is Donald (Blue Like Jazz) Miller, who is working with something called The Mentoring Project, to encourage the church (in Portland, in his case), to come alongside fatherless boys and young men to make a difference. And as a mission opportunity it is without peer.

(OK, I know that said Mr Miller is not the most popular person round here, but better to light a candle ...)

Not to be a naysayer or to disagree- but there's challenges for guys too. I would say in my congregation there is a noticeable bit of the opposite- the "bro" culture is strong too, but I have two good friends who've had a variation on the following- a young man in his 20's has a job, either owns a home or could if he chose to but either way lives in his own place, and is active in the church, and intentionally aims to court a young woman, but is spurned by the woman- also in her 20's who wants to travel, or live abroad, or get their masters degree. I don't dispute that the disease described above in the article is quite severe- but does anyone think there's something to the other half as well? Too often this story gets presented as young women doing everything right and young men just being a mess, and I think the guys get thrown under the bus a bit too reflexively when we generalize.

It's too bad that the author left this for the very end of the article, and then didn't expand upon it at all:

"...a shorthand definition of masculinity that seems pretty bulletproof: Real men stand up for the weak and disempowered."

You'd think that maybe he has read Job chapter 29.

11 “For when the ear heard, it called me blessed,

And when the eye saw, it gave witness of me,

12 Because I delivered the poor who cried for help,

And the orphan who had no helper.

13 “The blessing of the one ready to perish came upon me,

And I made the widow’s heart sing for joy.

14 “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;

My justice was like a robe and a turban.

15 “I was eyes to the blind

And feet to the lame.

16 “I was a father to the needy,

And I investigated the case which I did not know.

17 “I broke the jaws of the wicked

And snatched the prey from his teeth.

>>> I think the guys get thrown under the bus a bit too reflexively when we generalize.

We do need to teach our girls too... but for our boys, I don't think what we primarily lack is comforting words for how hard it is out there (mothering, in other words). These young men need to be taught to conquer.

Well, more galling than the incident(s) you describe is for a young or not-so-young Christian man to show an interest, for the Christian young lady concerned to say no ... and then for the said young lady to end up married to someone who wasn't a Christian.

I've only known one Christian man choose to marry someone who wasn't a believer, but I've seen the reverse a lot more often.

I'd also suggest that too many Christian women are looking to date a "puppy" whom they hope to domesticate. So, they pass over well adjusted, financially stable guys in favor of someone whom they can rescue. In the past few churches (PCA) where I've been a member, all the women go for the ambitionless mop-headed guys who work at Starbucks, strum their guitars, and live off of their parents (or their girlfriends). We non-artsy, financially stable guys get passed over again and again.

I'd suggest that this is due to evangelicalism's morbid obsession with rescuing the lost. Going back to Edwards, American Calvinists have preferred a revivalistic gospel whose central theme is rescuing people from moments of crises. We even tend to doubt the faith of those who grew up in covenant homes, never rebelled, steadfastly made use of the means of grace, and became corporate lawyers. In that sense, we seem to have lost sight of the fact that being born of covenant parents is the usual way of becoming a Christian in this era. So, by our obsession with revivalism, we seem to be steering women to run after the mop-headed rebels. In this way, I'd suggest that evangelicalism's women are as immature as their male counterparts. But their immaturity seems to be spiritualized...maybe only because it doesn't involve porn.

Tired of falling victim to this phenomenon, I recently switched to a PC(USA) church. For the first time in a while, I've met a number of bright, confident, intelligent women. I've enjoyed going out for dates and not had the burden of explaining the wine list!

Hi Robbie - if a change in church is what it takes to find s/o, go for it man! Great to see some manly initiative on display.

You wrote: "... we even tend to doubt the faith of those who grew up in covenant homes, never rebelled, steadfastly made use of the means of grace, and became corporate lawyers". This problem, of course, is not restricted to reformed churches; I grew up in a Pentecostal church and came to faith as a child, but always wondered how to 'match it' when I heard the testimonies of how some people had come to Christ.

But when you say, though, "... I'd suggest that this is due to evangelicalism's morbid obsession with rescuing the lost" - isn't that the business we're in?! Or have I missed something here. #gobsmacked

"A 30 year old man is baked." Ouch!

Everywhere the need for fathering smacks us in the face. The Church must rise to the challenge.

Men need comfort too: you'll find a huge band of trampled and directionless young men coming out of evangelicalism, if you just look, and if you don't take care not to tell the sick and beaten 'you wuss, shape up', rather than starting as physician to the needy, you'll push such folks into the waiting arms of eager wolves, albeit for the type I speak of, perhaps subtler rather than more evident ones. These of course are people weak in faith and doctrine, the unfed, not the fat and well tended.

Strange, I've seen the opposite quite often, young women who pass over any man so long as he's not financially established (read, can ensure a comfortable life) at least as much as the naiv/youthful pursuit of a rebel or romantic, even if the guy is faithful: beware these, even if outwardly they seem to possess a form of godliness, they're still vampires. I would go for a young woman who puts knowing the Lord aright, and cultivating godliness, and as a daughter and helpmeet to man, serving the needy, and day before caring about cultivation lije knowing about wines, btw: I hamd a gradmother who tried to fill me with high culture (teaching complicated manners with silverware when I was about 3) and I rebelked all the way, perceiving from day one that it was vanity, and even she is now realizing that in old age and after repeated encounters of death in sight, that it, and that society was and is, pretense: drink the wine you like, and care not about French or Italuan opinion unless they are suggesting it to you as a guest.

read 'and day' as 'any day',.and so be wary of other typos, darn mobile device...


Sometimes though 'you wuss, shape up' man to man is just what a man needs to start growing a backbone. Just this past week I was whining about how incompetent I was doing skim coating at my new house. A painter friend came over and showed me all the things I was doing wrong (including scraping off part of my work due to me putting it on 5x too thick so it was still damp 24+ hours later) and expected me to pick up a pole sander and a mud knife and get to work. I was humiliated at my incompetence being on display with other helpers there-- but the tough medicine was just what I needed. He was treating me like a man and I had to step up. Comfort was not what I needed. I needed a kick!

I know a lot of these men are hurting, but I'm saying a lot of the time what they need is not their mother's comforting breasts. They need a kick of love. Who's going to give it to them?

I wonder about the men who complain bitterly about not being able to find wives. If he's a young, single man, what prevents him from moving to a place where there are godly young virgins? No one is so mobile as a young single man. If he lacks training or education to be able to get a job in such a place, what prevents him from pursuing that training?

The sense I get from some of these men is that though they talk about marriage, in actuality they may be content with their bitterness and unwilling to make big changes or take great steps or order their lives to attain their vision. Does such a man really want a godly wife, or is he content to be bitter at the women who have refused him?

If and when the Lord blesses them with wives and families of their own someday, the sitting around complaining about how everybody (and ultimately God) has done them wrong will not serve his family well, either.

I see a lot of passivity and bitterness, neither of which are traits of a godly husband. I think some of these men need to repent of both and quit themselves like men, before they worry about wives.

I think that may be a bit unfair. I wanted to marry when I was in my 20s but my choice of career, in the Air Force, led to me being stationed in places with very minimal marriage opportunities. Eventually I was able to meet someone (and as a note to those yet single she was definitely worth waiting for) and married at age 40 with about five years left to serve. I don't think I was bitter but I was very frustrated at times. I didn't want the church to revolve around singles instead of families but I was very thankful when I had my own family. I wish I had been more patient than I was but I wasn't either passive or bitter nor do I think I was particularly unique. I know the other exists as well but there is a lot of variability.

#20 David - yep, can relate in a number of ways to what you are saying.

Add new comment