The Crisis of Entering Manhood Later in Life

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Puritanboard Amanuensis
This thread got many thinking. Interestingly enough, Marsden, as do a few of Jonathan Edwards' biographers, note that many problems occured due to young men acting like adoloscents even into their late 20s.

I think we are seeing the same things today. Men are marrying later, having chirrens later, and, as Greco pointed out, "starting life later than previously."
The Following Analysis is a Generalization. This obviously does not apply to one's own unique case (also, I wrote this off the top of my head in a matter of minutes).

What are some of the sources of this problem?
1. The evangelical church has emasculated the men.
2. ?

What are some of the major obstacles facing us in combatting this?
1. I would suggest the modern educational/professional model itself is a problem. Consider the vicious cycle: Given the rise in inflation and the struggle to make a living having a non-specialized job, one must:
a. Go to college and major in a skill.
b. But of course, that's worthless in our technocracy unless one has a master's degree or equivalent.
c. Therefore, one has to go on to graduate and post-graduate studies.
d. The problem with this, however, is money. Graduate students are broke and college students are in massive debt (loans, anybody?).
e. Therefore, one has to spend money hoping--with no guarrantee, mind you--that this will be reimbursed later in life.
d. Therefore, men (and women--but I will get to that below) are starting life after graduate studies are over. But they are also starting in debt.

and this isn't the worst case scenario! Read on:
I worked in a third world country this summer--Bastrop, LA. I noticed, almost to the dot, that the women were holding steady jobs in their early 20s while the men of equivalent age and status were still playing games and spending their allowance on cold beers. Thus, we see women ready to start a family but no men were available.

Thus, using the above analysis, we can now pinpoint some problems in the modern sexual-ethic crisis. Youth are starting puberty at a younger age than ever before and are getting married (granting the Christian premise that marriage is the only proper outlet for sexual passion) later in life, leaving a dangerous gap where hormones run wild.

So, back to one of the original questions: what are some good ways to combat this phenomenon?

[Edited on 10--17-06 by Draught Horse]


Puritan Board Freshman
I have a unique situation, but one which I believe should be done in every church when possible.

My dad builds houses; ergo, he needs jobs cleaned up, yards graded, sod layed, streets washed, lawns mowed, etc. He has had me working with him for about 6 years now and about 2 pretty seriously. While we haven't done anything official, we've employed about a dozen boys from the church now and then for varying amounts of time.

In my opinion, there's little better for a young fellow who's too big for his britches to do than to work with his hands 8 hours a day among men, especially with his father. It refocuses time and energy and forces him into the world of working adults, where he sees what real life is often like, though he doesn't live it to the fullest extent yet. He'll learn to appreciate his situation as a child at home if he gains respect for what his parents do for him at work.

I love it and commend it to anyone who can do it. One of the dads at our church asked my father to work his boys even if we didn't pay them a cent, just as long as they were working. We didn't do that, but I believe that particular motivation was correct. Boys need to work. As John Wesley supposedly said, "If they learn to play as a child, they'll play when they're men." I'm not for everything in that statement, but you get my idea. I believe a good principle was expressed in a quote of Greg Price's "courtship questions": "What is your concept of recreation?" If we actually only re-created, we'd have less entertainment craze.

[Edited on 10-17-2006 by polemic_turtle]


Puritan Board Senior
With regards to education causing men to enter the 'real' part of life later, i agree that it has a tendency to cause immaturity, but i do not think that need necessarily be the case. There is certainly a tendency amongst students of all ages to view school as a time that is seperate from adulthood and hence where one can basically enjoy as much as possible while doing enough to get by. However, that need not be the case. A young christian person can, i believe, go though school taking it just as seriously as a worker would his or her work. This would require alot more self discipline but since all work is to be done as to the Lord, i don't think it would be that much of a stretch for a christian.

I guess what i am saying is that it is a choice: a person can chose to treat school as basically a time to muck around before entering the real world, or he can treat it as already being part of the real world and apply himself accordingly. Off course this extends not just to his effort at school itself but to other things like the treatment of money, free time etc.


Staff member
Ditto to Tyler. Strong fathers, I think, are key.

My Dad was not a Christian, but he understood the Genesis curse. He had me working "by the sweat of my brow" as soon as I was able to do something useful. He was a lawyer, but he worked hard at home constantly. He had me work with him all the time. We'd lift rocks for a rock wall, build houses, fix fences, plumbing, whatever. I was his companion in every project, whether I liked it or not. We moved to a ranch in my youth, so there was plenty to keep me busy.

Sometimes I resented being a slave, so to speak. But my town friends were all envious of what I was learning to do (and the fact that my Dad trusted me with power tools and shotguns). The result was that by age 16, I owned my own small herd of cattle which eventually financed my education, plus I had raised pigs, grass seed, wheat, and had a custom hay operation before I graduated from high school.

It wasn't all work. My Dad taught me how to fish and hunt. My favorite memories involve fishing trips with him in wild places.

Now, I don't think everyone would have the opportunity I had, but even having a father spend all day every Saturday with his son would be a big help. A boy can't grow up, I think, unless he sees what it is to be a grown-up. Of course, this assumes that the father himself is grown-up. That might be a problem these days.


Puritan Board Doctor
Pardon my jumping in....

I think *part* of the problem is divorce, and fathers not being around for their sons, teaching them what it means to be a Godly man and men in the Church don't step in taking these young men along side to help train them.

And mothers don't hold their sons accountable like fathers do, they want to nuture their sons, just as God created them to do, because unfortunately you can't nurture a boy into being a Godly Man.

They need another man to hold their feet to the fire, challenging them, encouraging them, and walking along side teaching and instructing them in the ways of God and how to apply it to their daily lives, and unfortunately most men aren't up for that challenge.

How many of the laymen who post here volunteer in the youth department, mentoring and discipling the young men in your churches? I know in our church there are some, but there are way more women volunteers than men, and so the boys, of all ages are suffering.

Our Church has a Nehemiah Ministry, I'm not sure how active it is, but they look for volunteers to provide needed services for the widows, elderly, single parents, those whose spouses are deployed overseas, families with special needs and the poor. (i think it should be expanded to help everyone, but hey, they are following after the example of Nehemiah who was a craftsman, builder, and helper of the poor.) But they look for men who can do any type of handy-man type work, plumbing, carpentry, electrical, minor appliance repair, heating/air conditioning, yard work, just to name a few things, but even having something like that where Men and boys volunteer even one weekend a month to do the various projects.

Make a list of all the various projects that need to be done and get a group of men and boys together and all the tools needed, then split the projects up between them and off they go...The boys learn the various trades and work along side various men in the church being discipled, mentored while at the same time learning how to build relationships with other men, and seeing how important they are.

Anyway, thats my :2cents: on things that could be helpful.

[Edited on 10-19-2006 by BJClark]


Puritan Board Graduate
In the Napoleonic era, 12 year old boys could enlist as Midshipmen, officers with authority over most of the seamen, in the British navy. I find that amazing, but it speaks to what a boy can do when placed in the proper environment.


Ordinary Guy (TM)
12 year old boys can do a lot when you threaten to kick the snot out of them. This might not be a "proper environment"but only one that renders compliance.


Staff member
Originally posted by trevorjohnson
12 year old boys can do a lot when you threaten to kick the snot out of them. This might not be a "proper environment"but only one that renders compliance.
Heh. My dad didn't need to make any threats at all. All he had to do was give "the look". There was never any serious rebellion in my family. At least not open rebellion. My heart was firmly rebellious.
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