What kind of relationship do the teen boys and young adult men in your life have with their female counterparts? Do they think about their relationships in the light of God’s Word? And if they do, what is most likely to keep them from acting accordingly?
Dr. David K. O’Connor, Professor of Philosophy and Classics at Notre Dame University (USA), answers this question in one word: fearfulness.
Fear of what?
Some years ago my husband and I hosted a group of university students in our home for several days. One day the conversation around the kitchen table (a favorite place, because there food and conversation came together!) was about how difficult it had become to know how to treat their female acquaintances. One of the young men told how he had recently offered to hold the door for a young woman. She had grabbed the door handle and retorted sharply, “Let ME hold the door for YOU!” “We don’t know how to treat girls any more,” the young man said.
The fearfulness that O’Connor sees is deeper and more disconcerting and, he says, it has been paralyzing male-female relationships in the United States. It is a spirit of fearfulness about anything that looks personal, because personal relationship can lead to abuse — an idea entirely foreign to previous generations.
How did this happen?
A corporate model A close personal relationship between professor and student used to be standard at universities, and considered essential for the learning experience. But the teacher-student relationship has become more like an employer-employee or a seller-customer relationship, which is intended to be impersonal, and now students too are expected to maintain personal distance. It is considered unacceptable, for instance, and even dangerous, for a male to tell a young woman that she is attractive.
The “Circle of Reasonable People” This avoidance of the personal has been made a mark of the “elite” on university campuses, so that if a young man dares to express a contrary opinion he is looked down upon, considered not serious. Not only must he not say he disagrees, he must not even think differently. So young men go along with the views of the “Reasonable People” without reflecting on what they really feel or what they really want. They don’t choose for themselves.
Becoming a “Real” Man
How does a real man look at a woman?
A real man wants to fall in love with a woman. A real man wants to marry the woman he falls in love with, to have sex with her, and to have children through their sexual union.
Men and women are naturally attracted to each other. This was God’s intention in making us male and female. Adam was ecstatic when he saw Eve, and this attraction led to their becoming one and having children (Genesis 1:27; 2:23, 24).
Sexual attraction is powerful, and that power can be misused. But that is no reason to not let yourself feel it. As O’Connor says in Straight Talk for Men: Awe Not Fear — How a Real Man Looks at a Woman, “You don’t ban power saws because occasionally you’re an idiot with one!” A real man can regard a woman with awe, acknowledge his ecstatic desire for her, and envision being married to her for a lifetime, with children resulting from their love. Even if this is not a culturally acceptable view.
Will the young men you know be courageous and be models for their peers?