This week I’m sharing some wise words from a good friend: Mr. Ron Gilley, Headmaster of Trinitas Christian School in Pensacola, Florida. I hope you enjoy his article “On Boys, Danger, and Dragons,” but I hope you also find it challenging and edifying.
There is something in a boy that loves danger. That love frequently manifests itself in ways that polite society does not approve of, so we often squash it thinking we have done the boy a good turn, saved him some trouble down the road. What we ought to do instead is help him order his love of everything else to its proper place so that his love of danger becomes bravery in the face of evil, or even just resolve and determination in the face of the difficulties of life for the good of the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, though, our tendency is to squash and emasculate. And where has that gotten us? What has become of masculinity? Whatever happened to killing the dragon and getting the girl? Our boys and men are wilting in the face of dragons while the girls are girding on their armor for the fight. Backwards? Uh, yeah.
I don’t claim to be the model for masculinity, or even a good man for that matter; furthermore, I don’t mean to suggest that recaptured masculinity is the answer to all of society’s problems or that girls shouldn’t be part of the fight. I do mean to say that if we men will man up and teach our boys to do the same, we will be working with the grain of creation; we will be helping to establish the Kingdom on earth, and that is what we’re here for after all.
When I was a kid, from the ripe old age of about seven, I spent my Saturdays and summer days in the woods hunting snakes. Armed with BB guns or bows and arrows or homemade spears, my brother and I searched high and low for snakes to slay, not your run of the mill green and black snakes that were good for catching and putting in terrariums, but the dangerous ones, rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, copperheads: they were dragons for us. Our motive was pretty simple: rid the world of these evil scourges. These were (are) dangerous snakes that slithered from place to place looking to ambush good people going about their business in the world. Sound familiar? It should. It is reminiscent of the language from 1 Peter 5:8 describing Satan: “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I wasn’t thinking that far ahead at the time, but I was practicing what came natural to me, what God had put in me when he created me, a male.
Our problem is twofold really: first, we often squash a young boy’s flirtation with danger; and second, we don’t do a great job of teaching him what to love and what to hate. When he is away from us then out from under the protection of mom’s apron, he will usually choose one of two paths: 1) live in fear of evil because he has never been allowed to practice being dangerous to it; or 2) have his danger anyway, but then it will be in the wrong form because he does not know really what he ought to be dangerous to.
To answer the first problem, let your boys do dangerous things that are appropriate for their age, size, and experience. Let them jump off the bed, climb trees, shoot cans with a slingshot, sword fight with sticks, wrestle with other boys, box with other boys, explore the woods by themselves or with friends, jump in the deep end of the pool, take out the garbage in the dark, camp in the dark, camp alone, shoot bows and arrows, shoot guns, hunt for food, bleed without making a fuss, fail, fail again, and fail again.
To answer the second problem, teach your boys to hate relativism and the idea that truth is in the eye of the beholder. Teach them that there is one God, one truth, and that He is Love. Teach them (and train them by doing it yourself and leading them in it) to love what God loves and to hate what God hates. Teach them to hate lying, stealing, unfaithfulness, pride, idolatry, selfishness, the lack of self control in other men. Oh, the world will tell your boys all these things are right and good in the proper context. You had better be on your guard and actively teaching them what to love because I can assure the world is already teaching them what it wants them to love. The snake is lurking, waiting to ambush them on billboards, television, radio, social media, college, friends, girlfriends, toys, video games, shopping malls, music, sports, pop culture, you name it. The work is already being done and your boy is the target. The snake is crafty and more cunning that any other beast upon the earth. He is also the roaring lion; he is the dragon. And if you don’t teach your boy to recognize him, he will take your boy’s natural love for danger and put it to work for the wrong kingdom, the kingdom of darkness before you know what has happened.
When we pray as our Lord taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come. / Your will be done / On earth as it is in heaven,” we are praying for the Kingdom to actually come on earth, and we are real participants in bringing that to pass right here in Pensacola, Florida, USA, Earth. God gives us the great privilege of participating, and our boys should play a huge role in that, folks, so we better make them ready. God created them to love danger just a little bit. It is our job to teach them what they should be dangerous to and then turn them loose to do it. If we abdicate, Satan will take over. He will teach them using all his subtleties just what he wants them to be dangerous to, or he will watch as we emasculate them ourselves so they aren’t dangerous at all. We may as well pull our own houses down our heads.