Good read: Future Men, by Douglas Wilson

This is a fantastic book (also on googlebooks) . It is strongly masculine (without recommendations of toting guns around the hills and lifting weights), and it is strongly Christian without denigrating the masculinity even close to mere “niceness”. It was encouraging, with some really good thinking on masculinity, doctrine, crankiness in disciplining, laziness, respect for woman and the role of manners in this, dragons and girls. I need to go back here over the next month or so and pick some of these things to actually prayerfully focus on and some that need implementing.

Sadly our South African English culture is so anti-manners that it is difficult to implement manners related to respectful address, since the recipients actively sabotage this due to their discomfort. Saying to the 4 year old, “No, don’t call me Mr .., or Uncle …, just call me Fred”… this is a great pity, if we were part of a large church (or a non-English church) this could be remedied to a measure…

The book is full of great quotes. Thankfully Douglas Wilson has posted a bunch of these on his site, so I have collected these here:

“But in our day, many of these designed masculine traits are drilled or drugged out of him by the time he is ten. Faith resists this ungodly process and defines sin by the Scriptures and not by pietistic traditions” (Future Men, p. 11).

“Before taking a road trip, it is a very good idea to have some idea of where you are going. Before rearing a son to be ‘masculine,’ it is equally important to have some notion of what that is . . . Manhood is where boyhood should be aimed” (Future Men, p. 13).

“And this is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns. Boys have a deep need to have something to defend, something to represent in battle. And to beat the spears into pruning hooks prematurely, before the war is over, will leave you fighting the dragon with a pruning hook” (Future Men, p. 16).

“There are two basic directions a boy can take in departing from biblical masculinity. One is the option of effeminacy, and the other is a macho-like counterfeit masculinity. With the former, he takes as a model a set of virtues which are not supposed to be his virtues. With the latter, he adopts a set of pseudo-virtues, practices which are not virtues at all” (Future Men, p. 19).

“The opposite problem to effeminacy is that of embracing, enthusiastically, a truncated view of masculinity, what I call counterfeit masculinity. This problem ‘glories’ in masculinity, but has a view of it that no wise observer should consider glorious at all. There is more to masculinity than grunting and bluster . . . True masculinity accepts responsibility, period, while false masculinity will try to accept responsibility only for success” (Future Men, p. 22).

“Related to this, a wise father rejoices in the fruit of his discipline. This is why many ‘disciplinarians’ are not disciplinarians in the biblical sense at all. They discipline because they are annoyed or irritated; they are almost impossible to please and they go through life like a crate of crankcase oil. But a ‘wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother’ (Prov. 10:1; cf. 15:20)” (Future Men, p. 28).

“A boy who is allowed to drift downward into this sin [laziness] is also being prepared for a life of poverty . . . (Prov. 6:6-11). God does not just promise poverty to this young man, He promises that it will come upon him like a thug with a gun. In the good providence of God, the lazy man is not going to be treated with tenderness. Parents who allow this pattern to develop while their son is under their oversight are asking the providential hand of God to work him over with a baseball bat” (Future Men, pp. 60-61).

“But liberty always implies a standard, and this standard always brings with it an antithesis. This means that he who says ‘free from’ must also assert a specified ‘free to.’ A man cannot turn away from something without simultaneously turning to something. Liberty always assumes an appeal to law” (Future Men, p.76).

“Another important principle is that of seeing small boys as future men. The way boys learn to deal with their various immature “passions” will generally be the way they deal with adult passions. A boy who is not obviously learning self-control with regard to his temper, his stomach, his video games, or his school work is a boy who will still lack self-control when sexual temptation arrives” (Future Men, p. 84).

“This can, of course, be easily misunderstood. No one is saying that a boy with a severed limb should yelled at for bleeding on the carpet. Nevertheless, instilling toughness in boys is extraordinarily important. A masculine toughness is the only foundation upon which a masculine tenderness may be safely placed. Without a concrete foundation, thoughtfulness, consideration, and sensitivity in men [are] just simply gross” (Future Men, p. 87).

“Often, young people are kept back from the Lord’s Supper because they are not yet spiritually strong. This is refusing to give your son bread when he asks for it–and, being too cheap to give him a stone instead, we give him air. When asked why the bread was refused, the reply is that he wasn’t strong enough to eat bread. He was too hungry for food. After he grows up and becomes big and strong, then we can give him bread. With a sort of perverse logic, we starve our children to death, and then point to their subsequent deaths as a good reason for not having fed them” (Future Men, p. 99).

“It is a standing rebuke for us that there are many Christians who have an open sympathy for the ‘true’ books which Eustace read–full of true facts about governments and drains and exports–and who are suspicious of great works of imagination, like the Narnia stories, or The Lord of the Rings, or Treasure Island, because they are ‘fictional,’ and therefore suspected of lying. The Bible requires us to be truthful above all things, they tell us, and so we should not tell our sons about dragon-fighting. Our sons need to be strong on drains and weak on dragons. The irony here is that the Bible, the source of all truth, says a lot about dragons and giants, and very little about drains and exports” (Future Men, p. 101).

“We fell into sin as a race because we were beguiled by a dragon (Gen. 3:1). God promised to send a warrior who would crush the seed of that serpent (Gen. 3:15), and He has done this in Jesus Christ. In sum, the gospel is the story of a dragon-fight. The serpent of Genesis is the dragon of Revelation (Rev. 20:2), and we are called to rejoice that the dragon has been slain. In contrast, we have reduced the gospel to four basic steps toward personal happiness, and we are much farther from the truth than our fathers were when they told their glorious stories. This is another way of saying that dragon-lore is truer than therapy-speak” (Future Men, p. 102).

“In short, Canaan was a land filled with giants. The invasion of Canaan was a war of giant-killing, and a type of the giant-killing gospel . . . Christ became one of us, and, as a son of David, He bound and defeated the Goliath of that age (Lk. 11:21-22) . . . The Christian faith is a religion of world conquest. Are the giants which confront us big enough to qualify as giants? And have we taught our sons what they are supposed to do when they grow up? Part of fulfilling the Great Commission involves climbing the beanstalk” (Future Men, pp. 103-104).

“Egalitarianism, the political name for carping envy, was made obnoxious, the way it ought to be. The White Witch came upon an extravagant feast at Christmas, with all sorts of waste and conspicuous consumption. ‘What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?’ She then turned the partyers into stone and went on her evil, self-righteous way. We see the White Witch, Judas Iscariot, and federal bureaucrats have a good deal in common–concern for the poor sincerely expressed by those who keep the money bag” (Future Men, p. 106).

“Hatred of tyranny in the petty prohibitionisms came the same way. Sam Gamgee comes back to the Shire very different from the thick-fingered peasant that he was when he left. He came back to all kinds of progress, including industry, zoning changes, and a higher level of health consciousness. ‘All right, all right,’ said Sam. ‘That’s quite enough. I don’t want to hear no more. No welcome, no beer, no smoke, and a lot of rules and orc-talk instead.’ There are some deep lessons for us here–no beer, no smoke, and surgeon-generals all over the place. Saruman was apparently confirmed by our Senate” (Future Men, p. 106).

“We must never forget that the Bible alone determines the boundaries of sin. Not once in Scripture is there a hint that athletic competition should be considered as immoral or sinful. The Bible, and not the traditions of men, determines the definition of sin. We have no more ground for saying that athletics [are] sinful than we have for saying that blue curtains are sinful. The defender of athletics does not have to prove from Scripture that sports are lawful; he must simply show that Scripture does not prohibit it. If God had wanted His children to stay away from balls in motion, He would have said so” (Future Men, pp. 131-132).

“Girls cause a lot of trouble. If it weren’t for girls, we would have no moms, and if there were no moms, we would have no boys — and boys cause a lot of trouble” (Future Men, p. 135).

“A boy can seem to be developing into an almost rational creature, but then when girls come into the picture we see what might be called the catnip effect. One moment he is upright and strong, a most promising young man, and the next moment, after a glimpse of her, he is barging into furniture and barking at the moon” (Future Men, p. 135).

“The cultural discipline of honoring women is very important. It is no accident that feminists have succeeded in getting women treated ‘equally’ with men, and now that women are no longer singled out for honor, that the men around them just go with their lusts. The results have not been at all favorable for women. After decades of established feminism, the end result is that far more women, in their relationships with men, are treated like dirt” (Future Men, p. 136).

“Christian parents (and particularly mothers) must recognize that the temptations to lust comes down to us from our father Adam, from our members which are on the earth (Col. 3:5). They do not originate with the world or with Hollywood. The world can and does enflame these lusts, but the world does not create them. Thus, a young boy who has been kept at home, far away from the corrupting influences of the world, will still discover, after thirteen years, right on schedule, perhaps to his dismay and perhaps to his delight, strong sexual corruptions within him. This will happen whether or not he is regenerate. These corruptions will act, as one Puritan put it, like a gibbering ape within his loins” (Future Men, p. 137).

“We are not born again because we have repented and believed. Rather, we have repented and believed because God has given us the new birth. If our old hearts were capable of repentance and belief, then we would not need new hearts” (Future Men, p. 139).

“There is no way that young men can watch, and be entertained by, movies which include displays of nudity, steamy sex scenes, and so forth, without being aroused by them. A boy who tells his mother that he can ‘handle it’ is using what astute theologians in former ages used to call ‘a lie’” (Future Men, pp. 141-142).

“All this is serious business, but it should not obscure what is being done. The Christian faith does not say no to a young man’s sexual urges just to be a killjoy. Rather, it is more like a mother telling her son that he cannot have a bag of chips half an hour before dinner. She knows what has been prepared, and she does not want his impatience to wreck it. In the same way, sexual impatience causes a lot of problems in marriage. We say no to that which would diminish or destroy the joy and purity and honor of the marriage bed” (Future Men, p. 144).

“Fathers who want to control the details of their sons marrying are, ironically, behaving in a way that will make a very poor husband out of any son who puts up with it. When a man marries, he is stepping into headship and responsibility. He cannot do this well if he has never done it before. If right up to the wedding his mother is cutting his meat for him, and his father is tying his shoes, don’t look for that marriage to wind up in the hall of fame” (Future Men, p. 146).

“Unless wisdom governs, words are like proverbs in the mouth of a fool — like the legs of a crippled man (Prov. 26:7). So it doesn’t matter if it is called courtship, biblical courtship, or covenantal dating. What matters is more intangible. Unless wisdom governs, as I am fond of saying, courtship means that six idiots are involved instead of two” (Future Men, p. 147).

“‘This is a a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church’ (Eph. 5:31-32). Those who want the formation of this great mystery to be reduced to a simple checkoff list want something that cannot be. For those who have no hands, wisdom has no handles” (Future Men, p. 147).

“For example, in the fifties, when something became hot, something on the order of hula hoops, everybody had to have one. And they had to have on because they had to be like ‘all the other kids.’ But snookered by our new consumerist culture, we now see that everybody has to have the latest hot thing in order to be different. In other words, in the old days you had to be like everyone else in order to be like everyone else. But this new generation coming up is media-savvy and street smart-hop; they have to be like everybody else so that they can be different from everybody else. The old conformists at least knew what they were doing. The new conformists haven’t a clue” (Future Men, pp. 153-154).

“But because of an immature ‘all or nothing’ mentality in the evangelical world, as soon as anything is pronounced not inherently sinful, everybody rushes off to splash about in their Christian liberty, about which more later. And this is why the evangelical world today is crowded out to the borders with the culturally retarded. Cultural issues are always maturity issues, and maturity issues are not amoral” (Future Men, p. 159).

“Debates with Christians who embrace pop culture are frequently hamstrung by the tenacity with which they insist on discussing the audible sound only, and never the actual meaning of the word. Modern evangelicals have a clear eye this way; they have a true imitative genius. They can copy anything the world produces, down to the slightest flourish or embellishment. Whether trafficking in guitar licks or designer logos, they can always ape the real thing with exactitude. The only thing they don’t know is what it all means. Modern evangelicals are like a drunk Japanese businessman in a karaoke bar singing along with the Stones. In his own boozy way, he knows everything about the song except what it is about” (Future Men, p. 160).

“Say we are dealing with a young man who has dyed his hair purple. I am giving him counsel and I tell him (as I would tell him) that this was sinful. He would want me to look up ‘purple hair’ in my concordance and show him where the Bible prohibits it. But this is as unreasonable as the demand to find a list of English obscenities in a Greek lexicon. The Bible condemns rebellion, and the purple hair means rebellion. If he agrees, he has admitted the sin. If he disagrees, then he is an empurpled ignormamus, as the Sex Pistols would readily tell him, were they here” (Future Men, pp. 160-161).

“Our culture swarms with little gods, like the frogs of Egypt. But the gods of Egypt do have the advantage of being relatively easy to identify. They are gods of antithesis. The gods of synthesis, the gods of gray and off-white, the gods which sidle up next to you in order to whisper devotional encouragements to you, are something else. These lords of compromise, these gods of soft counsel, are dangerous. Because of them the modern church is languishing, and the church is languishing because the households in Israel must tear down some idols” (Future Men, pp. 166-167).

“Another such god is the god of the republicans and democrats–the god of civic religion and prayer breakfasts. This god would have been happily served by a pragmatic pagan like Cicero. This is the god to whom some want to offer prayer in the government schools. Such prayers would not get past the little two-foot space right above the acoustic tiles in most classrooms, which is just fine, because that is where this god lives” (Future Men, p. 167).

“A few verses later, he says it again. ‘Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings: and the years of thy life shall be many’ (Prov. 4:10). And since his son was looking out the window, apparently with some kind of old covenant attention-deficit problem, just a few verses later, he says it once again. ‘My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my saying’” (Prov. 4: 20) (Future Men, p. 186).

About Anthony Caetano

Christian husband & father. Also an IT person but that doesn't come into this site much at all. Not on facebook or twitter, probably never will be. You can email me at my firstname at this domain.
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