A lost generation of men

World-renowned psychologist Phillip Zimbardo recently published The Demise of Guys: Why Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About It.  It was recently profiled on CNN.

The central thesis is that addictions to video games and online porn are devastating a generation of young men.

Dr. Russell Moore from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary writes poignantly, with spiritual discernment, about this crisis:

Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core.

Satan isn’t a creator but a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose. God intends a man to feel the wildness of sexuality in the self-giving union with his wife. And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed.

Moreover, these addictions foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression. The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation. The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one’s life. In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one’s reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.

Zimbardo and Duncan are right, this is a generation mired in fake love and fake war, and that is dangerous. A man who learns to be a lover through porn will simultaneously love everyone and no one. A man obsessed with violent gaming can learn to fight everyone and no one.

I have seen these h0llow, shriveled young men in my classes.  It is the young women who are assuming the vast majority of the leadership roles on campus.  Male leadership among the young generation is largely absent.  Those few that are emerging leaders are so attractive to the young women, particularly the insecure, that I am seeing more and more examples in my classroom of these insecure young women verbally throwing themselves at these young men.  Given the shrinking population of strong men, I can sympathize with their desperation, though they are called to a higher standard.

Meanwhile, those young men spending hours playing video games or looking at online porn are in a downward spiral.  They are not developing the kind of social skills and character necessary to be successful and to have real relationship.  So when they experience the resulting rejection, it drives them back to their addictions as a place of comfort and solace.

Lord Jesus, rescue this generation of men!  Lord, give parents of these young men wisdom and firmness.  In this generation, “Turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6).  Lord, raise up the men in your church to discipline themselves, to come together for encouragement, and to stand against the enemy.  May we be so caught up in your kingdom adventures that these kinds of addictive behaviors aren’t even tempting. Consume us with your love and passion.  Give a vision to our men that you have called them to love passionately and to fight aggressively in your kingdom.  Lead us in repentance and restoration, in Jesus’ name.

Rich young ruler

In Radical by David Platt, he discusses the story of the rich young ruler.  You know the story: The rich young ruler asks Jesus how to have eternal life.  Jesus tells him to follow the law.  Self-righteous rich young ruler claims to have obediently followed the law his entire life.  So Jesus cuts to the chase of his idolatry: “Go sell all you have and give to the poor…and come follow me.”  But the rich young ruler “went away grieving, for he owned much property” (Mark 10).

Platt then points out that many of us find relief in the idea that his command is not universal: Jesus is not commanding all of us to give away all of our possessions.  However, he quotes Robert Gundry:

That Jesus did not command all his followers to sell all their possessions gives comfort only to the kind of people to whom he would issue that command.

Ouch. I think I am one of those “kind of people.” It may not be money, it may be unhealthy relationships, or food, or pornography, or whatever. But Jesus is after our idols, our false gods–the things we turn to for comfort and security. He wants all of our hearts, because he knows that’s what’s best for us. When we live a fully surrendered life, we truly live. The life of faith is so much bigger.

Lord, I don’t want to live a shriveled life chasing false security. Lord, give me the strength to trust you with everything! In Jesus’ name.

Why can’t I see him?

On my bike home the other day, I was listening to a message that John Paul Jackson gave at a conference on August 1, 2010.  I wasn’t able to verify but I believe it was given at the Mission Viejo Vineyard.  Here is the excerpt that got me:

A pastor comes and says to me, “I have a 4-year-old son who says he’s seeing angels, and he’s talking to them, like, regularly.”  And he said, “Could that be true?” “Or is he talking to, like a spirit guide?”  I said, “Well, depends on your definition of a spirit guide, but it’s probably an angel guiding him,” thus the definition of a spiritual guide. And he said, “Well, I don’t see him. Why can’t I see him?” I said, “Well, next time you find your son talking to the angel, ask him!”  He said, “I can do that?” I said, “Well of course; you’re his dad!”

So a couple of weeks later the dad went up to get the son for supper—he sees his son talking to the angel.  He says, “Son, are you talking to the angel?”  The son says, “Yeah.”  And he says, “Will you ask the angel something for me?” “Will you ask him why I can’t see him?”  So the 4-year-old asks the angel, and the angel says this—the little boys says what the angel said—”Dad, the angel says for me to tell you,” and he says it in his 4-year-old voice, “that the reason why you can’t see him is that your eyes have beheld too much evil.” And so, after the dad recovered, he then looked at his son and said, “Son, will you ask him this: ‘Will I ever be able to see?’” So the little boy asks, and the angel responded. The little boy said, “Dad, the angel says ‘Yes, the day will come, but the calluses run deep and it will take some time to dissolve them.’”

See we allow ourselves to do things thinking it has no bearing—we’ll still get into heaven, everything is fine—but we have no idea it stops us from living at a higher spiritual plane than we would have lived otherwise. We live in a much lowlier estate.  And I don’t mean humble.  I mean less spiritual state than we would have walked had we allowed the Holy Spirit to discipline us and keep us in a better place.  Calluses form, lack of sensitivity, lack of ability to discern, slowly slowly.  We may have salvation, but slowly, slowly our spiritual life erodes, and we wonder why.  We make poor choices, and we think those choices are inconsequential, but five years later they take a toll.  Ten years later they take a toll.  Twenty years later, they’ve taken a toll.  And we think it doesn’t make any difference, making those kind of choices.  We need to feel His presence, and when it lifts, we need to do something different than we’re doing.

God’s grace covers us when we fall.  I know that from my own repeated experience.  But I want more.  I want to see the angels.  I want to know God at a greater level of intimacy and experience than I do now.  I believe it’s possible.

Lord, dissolve the calluses from my eyes, for I too, have beheld too much evil.  Lord, draw me close to you.  Transform my appetites to hunger for your word and your presence.  Show me how to keep pure eyes and ears and mind in this depraved culture we must live in.  In Jesus’ name.

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