This week has been filled with thought and reflection. I have prayed for and mourned with the 29 families who lost loved ones in the two mass shootings of this past weekend. Also, I have hurt for the fifty-plus families who are experiencing the trauma of recovery. The Saturday ambushes in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio has caused much senseless pain and death. Across America, we ask “Why”? Many will use the two tragedies to grandstand for political gain. Hours and hours of opinions will flood the airways and tempers will fly as blame is attributed.
The focus for me has been on the young men in their 20s who have chosen to express hatred and violently murder innocent people. What is happening to our young men? What is the role of the body of Christ to this generation? What can we as a community do?
The following is a quote from Dr. Warren Farrell, USA Today opinion contributor concerning the “Boy crisis” in America and its impact on our future. (April 9, 2019) “In an astonishing disclosure about the two greatest dangers to the future of America’s economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell revealed on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last month the peril posed by “young males”: young males not looking for work; being addicted to drugs (think opioid crisis); and being unprepared for the transition to technology. Powell posits that this economic problem is also a national security problem. He implies that we ignore this crisis at our own peril. Yet his warning is ignored. In my half-century of research on boys and men, I have discovered that there is, in fact, a boy crisis, that it is a global crisis, and that it is particularly egregious in America. The crisis is more than economic. It is multifaceted, with each facet magnifying the others.”
Dr. Farrell lists education, mental health, physical health, crisis of shame, economic health and lack of male discipleship as the contributing factors to this crisis. The article is well worth reading and may be accessed online at the USA Today opinion page.
One last quote is essential to this article’s challenge. “It is a crisis of mental health. Boys’ suicide rate goes from only slightly more than girls before age 15 to three times that of girls’ between 15 and 19, to 4 1/2 times that of girls between 20 and 24. Mass shooters, prisoners and Islamic State terrorism recruits are at least 90% male.”
We need to give our young men something to live for! The scriptures clearly present male to male discipleship as the norm in the new testament church. The Apostle Paul greatly influenced Timothy, John Mark, Titus and many others throughout his missionary journeys. In 1 Timothy 4:12 NLT, Paul encouraged Timothy, “Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” Paul did not believe young men should be a “forgotten generation” but a key to the future of the church.
In Proverbs 3:1-8 NLT, the book of wisdom, it says, “My son, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”
It would be easy to adopt a political solution to this past weekend’s violence. But what is needed is a spiritual solution that will change the hearts of our young men in crisis. We need men like the Apostle Paul who will nurture, love and train young men in their quest for identity. Will you help father the fatherless? Will your church sponsor a program to help heal hurting young men? Will you assist in preventing another weekend of violence by embracing and understanding the “boy crisis” in America?