Topics

Where Have the Men Gone? A Conversation with Kay Hymowitz

Interview with Kay Hymowitz

Thinking in Public

April 11, 2011

(This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated)

Mohler: This is “Thinking in Public”, a program dedicated to intelligent conversation about front line theological and cultural issues with the people who are shaping them. I’m Albert Mohler, your host, and President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Something is happening when it comes to young men in America and for that matter around the world. It might be better stated as something is not happening. What is not happening is that boys are not moving into manhood at anything like what we might describe as on schedule. Instead we’ve entered a new very, very troubling period in American life in which the transition from boyhood to manhood is anything but clear and in many cases anything but happening.

Kay Hymowitz is the William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute one of the nation’s most important think tanks. She’s also a contributing editor of City Journal. She writes extensively on issues including childhood, family issues, poverty, and cultural change in America. You may know her well through her books including Marriage and Cast in America, Liberation’s Children, and now her newest book Manning Up: How the Rise of Women is Turning Men into Boys. Kay Hymowitz really launched an assault upon the contemporary idea of manhood and of adulthood in an article published in Wall Street Journal on February 10, 2011 entitled Where Have the Good Men Gone? Kay Hymowitz welcome to Thinking in Public.

Hymowitz: Thank you. Well thank you for having me.

Mohler: Well I really enjoyed your article in the Wall Street Journal even more your book. But let’s go to the Journal article for just a moment because that’s where a lot of Americans think a frighteningly large percentage of Americans were confronted with an issue that is one of the most significant demographic, and cultural realities of our time. Why do you think most Americans haven’t noticed what you’ve then made headline news?

Hymowitz: Well I think they have noticed certain things. They’ve noticed for instance that it’s taking longer to grow up. That’s an observation, an important one in the book, and one that I try to analyze. I think they are aware that women are starting to outperform boys, men. I think that they’re, if nothing else, seeing evidence of it on television all the time. And suddenly I hear from a lot of teachers for instance who know exactly what I’m talking about that the girls in the classroom are more together, more ambitious, more organized, and more committed to their studies than boys. And this shows all the way through college.

Mohler: I was in a bookstore the other day looking at the education section and there were several books that were directed towards particular learning problems, classroom problems, homework and academic problems, and none of them were addressed specifically to girls and six in a row were addressed specifically to boys. So if you’re an educator you certainly do know about this.

Hymowitz; Yes. Yeah you know the book really is about the age group I call pre-adults people in their twenties and early thirties. But there are tremendous implications when we have a 57% of college graduates are female now. There are big implications about what is going on in the schools in elementary schools and in the high schools. This does seem to stretch way back into the elementary schools and certainly it’s something that we need to be looking at a little more carefully. What is it that’s turning boys off from school? Why are we having to struggle these kids and something’s got to give on those counts.

Mohler: Well we’re going to look at the much broader picture which you do so well in your book in just a moment. But I want to go back to my originating question about why many people don’t see this and I want to make a suggestion and that is that I think if you are an educator , if you are working with young adults, if you’re an employer looking at the big picture you know this. But I’m amazed by how many people see this only anecdotally. They think it’s about their son and their daughter or the young man that their daughter is dating. Many people seem to misunderstand that this is a fundamental reshaping of our culture. It’s tied to our economy, to our entertainment industry, to the new information age, and all the rest. This is not something that’s just going to be reversed by speaking to the young man in the bedroom down the room and saying shape up.

Hymowitz: Well that’s true. I think people do tend to personalize this and you know often I’ll hear from someone saying oh yes, I noticed that with my kids you know and I am much more worried about my concern. I think it’s quite right about that, and it could very well be because the public discussion has been so muted on the topic. In large measure I think because the feminists’ conversation, the feminist framing of these issues has dominated the public discussion so much so that really the issue according to public policy, according to the academic world, the issue we need to confront is the problem of girls and women. So now we’re seeing the other side of this which is the emergence of a child man from older boys and the emergence of poor students among younger boys. There’s no room for that in this discussion, so I think that’s a part of what’s going on here.

Mohler: Yeah and as a matter of fact I want to get to this in just a moment but let me just make reference to the fact now that if you read your Wall Street Journal piece you would actually not understand what’s on the cover of your book. The subtitle of your book is How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys. The Wall Street Journal piece really ignored that dimension of it all together.

Hymowitz: Well the Wall Street Journal piece was an excerpt of an excerpt so yes, it didn’t get the entire argument of the book in there. There is some material, a good bit of material in the book about men’s reactions to the rise of women. But a lot of what’s going on, I think, what’s happening to boys and men is not women’s fault exactly. People keep accusing me of blaming women. I think that’s really a very wrong way of looking at it. We’re talking about mammoth, just tectonic changes in the economy and in the culture that have really left men adrift and that’s really what I’m focused on.

Mohler: Well that’s what I want to focus on for the next few minutes because you in your book, you acknowledge something that very few who are writing about the immediate problem recognize and that is to use the language that I speak of when I talk about this there was a first transformation that took place before the second transformation. And your point to that in terms of the fact that the 20th century already saw a major shift in the way that boys would have traditionally moved into manhood. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Before we ever get to kind of post-modern America and the video games and all the rest something happened back in the early twentieth century.

Hymowitz: Right, well I have a lot of history you know I don’t spend too many pages on it but there’s you know it’s well researched, so one of the things I started to notice was that the concern about men and where they fit into the modern world goes really back even into the 19th century because as men found themselves more outside of the home as they were working in offices and that kind of thing, the home became much more dominated by women then it had been in the past. The word that is sometimes used is feminized. And it was this restlessness that you could see emerge from a lot of, in the popular culture that was expressed in the popular culture, so for instance there were magazines that started to be published for men that were things like about crimes, and police stories, and stuff like that. And it all seemed to be kind of an escape that men were looking for from the middle class home and they were very restless. And then that eventually leads into the most radical and dramatic expression of that which was Playboy magazine.

Mohler: Well what I’m talking about is the fact that the route to manhood for most boys throughout most of human history was short and very easily defined. At one moment you were the son inside the house the next moment you were the blacksmith like your father. You grew up on the farm and you simply took over the agrarian responsibilities. In the early 20th century it’s kind of like the second stage you might say of the industrial revolution the development for instance of the American community high school was the recognition that there had to be some kind of training for boys to get them ready for a work force that was primarily then manufacturing. And so you had the rise of the high school and of the pure directed culture there and then you have the development of what we really would call adolescence in which there was this period of transition between childhood and adulthood. But now in the new knowledge economy you demonstrate this very well in your book there’s a second transformation where high school is not nearly enough, college isn’t even now for many jobs enough, we’re now in an economic transition that means many young men when they are boys are looking at 15-20 years of preparation before they are fully ready to enter into the society.

Hymowitz: That’s right what I call pre-adulthood, what some sociologists refer to as emerging adulthood, this period between about 20 to 21 to the early thirties. There’s a period of preparation, and it resembles in that way the emergence of adolescence in the early twentieth century which was also a new period of preparation that was required in the new manufacturing economy. This new period is much less scripted, it’s much less understood, and it’s much less institutionalized. And what I mean by that is people are not in high school or they may be in college for part of it but most of it is completely voluntary and completely self designed. So you need an awful lot of wherewithal and an awful lot of drive and determination, and really creativity to kind of figure out your way through this knowledge economy. And you know I should just say the knowledge economy you know is based on jobs that require a lot of thinking, a lot of analyzing, a lot of computing, and communication skills. And not only does it require college and often graduate school or professional school it also requires a lot of early stage moving around. People move from internships to jobs from city to city, from country to country even and this means that you have a much longer period where you are probably not going to be able to settle down.

Mohler: Well, in this process it is boys and young men who are particularly having difficulty. For instance right now as you’ve indicated and by the way since you’ve written your book the statistics are only more exaggerated. The displacement of young men on American college campuses and it is that by the way. It’s not just that there are more women it is actually that there are fewer young men on many of these campuses. It is now to the point that many campuses are marking a 60/40 split between the women and the men with far more young women than young men. And when it comes to graduates even more so and in an…this just means that young men are getting further and further behind.

Hymowitz: That is exactly right. So this is a big concern you know if you have 57% or 60% of college graduates are women what happens even if it takes a much longer time to settle down most people still want to get married and have children where are these women supposed to find their husbands. You know they’re either going to marry men who are less educated than they are or they’re going to remain single. And I think the former is unlikely from what I’ve seen. There are some more marrying down as it might be called among women over the last decade but I’m not an awful lot of those marriage tend to be much more fragile.

Mohler: Yeah and as a matter of fact there is no precedent in human history for women marrying men with less economic ability, and less education, and less social status and that working.

Hymowitz: Yes, that’s exactly right I just wrote a piece on this very topic. It’s something that people don’t like to talk about because we like to pretend that marriage really is just about love, finding your soul mate, and class has nothing to do with it. But of course it does a great deal. People are more likely to be attracted to people to whom they share their values and a mindset.

Mohler: You know when I read your book, you deal a great deal with how the entertainment culture both reflects and I think kind of accelerates these trends. You talk about the dude movies, the really crass humor, the kind of stuff that you find on the cable channels and everything from Spike TV to the Comedy Network and all the rest. But let me ask you a question, do you think that that is at also signaling something of an anxiety about this? I mean I think an awful lot of that entertainment is really a fairly thinly disguised cry for help.

Hymowitz: Well, I think there’s something to that. One of the movies that I really call the anthem of, what I call the child man, the young adult man who’s not quite an adult, not quite a child, is the movie Knocked Up. And in that movie there’s a moment I don’t know whether you’re familiar with it but the premise is that the young man’s gotten a woman that he met at a bar pregnant. She is, they barely know each other, they decide to try to get to know each other, and she decides she wants to have the baby. And at some point he, the main character whose name I’ve forgotten, but it’s played by Seth Rogen, goes to his father and says I don’t know what to do. He says what’s the right thing for me to do here? And his father looks at him and says what are you asking me for I’ve been married three times. And it’s kind of, so yes, there is this cry for help, how do I grow up and can somebody out there help me. And a lot of young men have found that their fathers are not much use to them.

Mohler: Kay Hymowitz is one of those observers who pulls together all of this kind of demographic and cultural data and puts it into a picture that really paints the landscape as it is. Most of what she draws from is publically accessible and the points that she makes are largely incontrovertible. That’s not to say they’re not controversial. That’s why a conversation like this, well, it has to continue.

In your book Manning Up you talk about this shift as a momentous sociological development. As you say it’s a major demographic reality. The statistics continue to mount, and it is indeed an avalanche of data that comes at us. And there are some big questions that come out of this, but I guess the most immediate question most of us have is whether or not there is any reversibility to this. How do you see that question?

Hymowitz: Yeah I don’t really think so. I think there’s very good reasons why people are delaying marriage. There are necessary responses to this economy, it’s a necessary response also to the fact that women also want to play a role in the knowledge economy. Many of these jobs as I describe in my book are actually very appealing especially to young women. They allow them to use their talents in creative senses in ways that jobs didn’t use to allow you to do. So I don’t know, I’m not interested in suggesting that women should just give up on their careers. I think there are very good reason they’re attracted to working in this economy though I also think that they’re going to want to have children and probably cut back in various points of their career. So I don’t see that changing, the delayed adulthood, the delay in marriage. What I think can be changed, I think we can maybe learn to negotiate this very change of period of life a little bit better than we have. Women need to be a lot smarter about their love lives equally as smart as they are about their careers because they are treating the twenties, especially the early twenties a little too casually. And giving too much sustenance to the child-man you know and not demanding enough from him. And I think we need to also concentrate a lot more on reaffirming from men how necessary they are not just to, how necessary it is not just for them to achieve in school but how necessary they are to family life because one of the things we haven’t talked about yet is that I think that the message, and this is subliminal it’s not, most people are not actually saying this, it’s that they’re optional to family life. Women can do it on their own. They are doing it on their own occasionally. They even talk about how the single strong mother, the strong single mother I should say and I think that message has gotten through to boys as just back off and if we call on you it will be nice but do we really need you? Well, maybe not.

Mohler: Well, I’ve been making an argument for many years in print and public and controversy that I see made by few others, and I was absolutely thrilled to find in one sentence where you make this same argument in your book. You say adult manhood is almost universally been equated with marriage and fatherhood. I just want to amplify that and say if you look through literature, and I know that’s part of your academic background, if you look through the history of almost any civilization it is impossible to argue with that. But that is somehow now a controversial statement.

Hymowitz: Yes, this is so true and it’s an anthropological fact, it is a historical fact, the man…a boy growing up knew he was going to be a husband and father that’s where he was going. And I think that for some young men today not only is the message that they’re optional, the message is also that well maybe they won’t do that. It’s completely voluntary on their part as well and many young men say well not only might I not do that and not become husband and father. I’m having a really good time the way things are. You hear different kinds of responses from men. Some of them talk the way I’m saying, you know I’ve had any number of men say to me, I’m a guy, I’ll wait till I’m thirty-five or forty. Of course women don’t have that luxury, and I think this leads to certain tensions between the sexes which I try to describe in one of my chapters in the dating scene.

Mohler: Well that’s exactly where I want to go. You talk about well I’ll put words in your mouth just a bit to say that there was a compact or covenant between the genders you describe it in your own way in the book and that’s really been, well you have to say it’s at least a bi-lateral re-negotiation. If the men aren’t doing what men had been expected to do, women are also following a very different life script. Girls moving into womanhood are following a very different life script and they really are moving apart from each other in terms of how this story is told.

Hymowitz: Exactly. The more that women are focused on careers in their early twenties the more men can remove themselves from thinking about their future lives as husbands and fathers. And what I see happening in many cases is that a woman then gets to her mid-twenties, or late twenties, or possibly their a little slow and it’s not until their early thirties and they start to hear that ticking biological clock. It gets louder and louder and they look around and the guys are saying, some of the guys the more family oriented guys who are already married or they’re a child man of sorts like I describe in the book who just think why should I settle down right now? If I want to do it when I’m forty that’s when I’ll do it. And there are women who are left high and dry. The numbers aren’t huge. Most people who want to get married do get married, but the numbers are growing and we are seeing less marriage and less child bearing among college educated women then we were just a little while ago. And we’re seeing more single mothers, more the growth of single mothers particularly sperm donor mothers.

Mohler: Yeah and actually those numbers are, they’re not a small uptake here. We’re talking about a major demographic wave that is coming at us especially when it comes to the fewer young women who are getting married and even to a greater degree the fewer babies coming from those unions. Mark Regnerus at University of Texas and others have been doing work and there’s another side to this and that is that feminists had thought that getting women into these positions of college and university and becoming graduates moving into work force that it would empower women. But Regnerus and his colleagues are showing that something very interesting happening in this and something very unexpected and that is that for instance if you go to an elite university and you go into the academic programs where the women outnumber men by a 60-40 or sometimes even greater percentage the men are the ones who end up with the power because what happens is that every one of those young women by and large is looking for a husband and the pool is now very small which means the power differential has gone to the young men. And if they’re not willing right now to get married, well it turns out that well, as Regnerus puts it, they’re able to have all the sex they want without any demand for marriage because they hold the power.

Hymowitz: I agree with Regnerus’ interpretation up to a point. What I think he leaves out is that it’s not all men who get the benefits of this new arrangement. Because women still are choosing, and they are choosy. And they tend to choose the more, for lack of a better term, we’ll call the alpha male, the more attractive, the more dominant, the more socially popular man on campus so that those men of course can have whatever they want and lots of women begging for their attention. It is actually not so true for what people call in the vernacular beta-male where the guys who are a little socially attuned who are maybe spending an awful lot of time in programming computers, and maybe don’t have a lot have of the moves that the big man on campus do. So I do think that it’s some ways even uglier than what Regnerus is implying because there are some guys who are losing out here.

Mohler: Well indeed and some of them are the ones who are counted on the success side by the educators and the employers but from a perspective of the life script or their development into assuming the full responsibility of adulthood, it’s not going well. Let me ask you a very specific question. You write at the level of public policy, a keen observer of these things from kind of the stratospheric level, what would you say to a set of parents who have you know the challenge of raising boys? What would you say to them?

Hymowitz: Well, I would say to them, look you are going to want to have a family some day. You know when you look at surveys that keep coming back to this that people need to be convinced that this is something you can say. When you look at surveys almost all young people want to marry and have children. So parents should be saying to their kids, look you want to be a husband and father some day and that has to be a key part of your thinking about your goal, about your future. How are you going to get there? I think that there’s an assumption among a lot of young people that that’s something you don’t have to plan or strategize. You can just wait for, you know wait for the time and then something magical will happen. This isn’t true for a lot of women of course who have been so focused on their careers and become, and reached their thirties, and are utterly shocked to find that it hasn’t all fallen into place. I think men too need to be thinking much more strategically about who they want to be when they grow up even if that does take longer than it might have for their own parents. And what kind of life they want to have you know, there is this sense of not just that this is a fun time, the twenties, but that you really don’t need to worry about the implications of your behavior, of your actions during that time except insofar as it bears on your career.

Mohler: Now how about at the level of public policy you work in that level and obviously have the concern here but you know you could look at this, and I think it could be something like being back in the 1960’s the late sixties and being handed the Moynihan Report and trying to think ok, I agree with every word of it but what in the world do we do in terms of public policy with this? You know forty years later we’re still not sure what to do with that massive amount of incontrovertible research. What do we do with this? What would you say if you’re sitting down with major leaders in the government and politics and they say, alright Kay what do we do?

Hymowitz: You know, I don’t think there is a lot the government can do. I think we need to be concentrating more, as I said before, on boys in school. I think we need to focus more on that. But what kind of policy would promote, encourage men to be more mature. This is a cultural problem, and it seems to me that when the government has tried to get involved in the culture in the past it hasn’t done a very good job. And a lot of unintended consequences have emerged. We could, I suppose do something on the order of sperm banks, I mean I’ve always argued that there should be nothing as anonymous sperm donation, but I don’t think we’re going to be able to get further than that and that really is just tinkering around the edges. So I have to say I don’t really see that the policy has a lot to do here. I think what I want to see with my book was to start a conversation about some of the problems I see emerging from this new stage of life and from the rise of women.

Mohler: I think you have certainly accomplished your goal of starting a conversation and I certainly want to thank you for joining me today for Thinking In Public.

Hymowitz: It’s my pleasure.

Mohler: I really appreciate Kay Hymowitz coming on for that conversation because it gets us started down the road we need to follow in thinking about these things. And thinking about them as merely those who find the statistics troubling, anecdotally, and personally know the stories behind the data but because as Christians we have an investment in this that goes beyond sociology, beyond politics, and economics and gets right down to the heart of what it means to be human, to be made for the glory of God and to find God’s glory at every stage of life.

You look at the cover of this book by Kay Hymowitz Manning Up, and you see the picture of a toddler boy wearing a shirt and tie and having his feet in his daddy’s shoes. He’s looking down at his shoes as if he wonders what these things mean and that is a very powerful picture, a depiction of what’s going on in the lives of many boys and young men wondering who am I supposed to grow up to be. Now as we discussed there has been a relatively easy transition from boyhood to manhood for most of human history. It was almost instantaneous. It was a very brief period of time in which the boy all of a sudden came the man and the transition point was generally courtship and marriage. At that point courtship was that transformation when the boy turned into a young man about to become a full fledged adult. Adulthood came with marriage and with marriage came children, and with all of this came the cultural, social, economic, and political recognition that this is a man no longer a boy. Well, contrast that with America as we are today in which you don’t have to just look at the big screens of our entertainment you can often look right across the hall, or right across the street, and see exactly what we’re talking about here. Young men, and by that we’re defining it as those between the ages of say fifteen and thirty-five, a twenty year period of time in which many young men are really not acting as men at all. It’s one thing if you look at that as a sixteen year old, it’s another thing with a thirty year old. Now the invention of adolescence is one of those things we can see as perhaps sociologically inevitable but not particularly helpful. The psychologists and the educators leapt upon it as an opportunity to define a period between childhood and adulthood that would be filled with all of the identity transitions that would be necessary for the young person to emerge in modern society knowing who he or she is. Well, it turns out that the development of the high school and the development of adolescence institutionalized this for most of the twentieth century, but we need to recognize that there were other institutional assists for boys to turn into men during that period as well.

Number one, when they did graduate from high school they were basically ready to enter the work force and they did. They became workers. They entered into the factories and the manufacturing economy. And the transition was a little longer than it had been when they were working with dad on the farm and then just joined to having a farm of their own. But it was still a defined period of time in which there was the expectation that a boy of fifteen who knew by the time he was twenty he was going to be riveting bolts at the auto factor, or he was going to be in the work force in some very clearly expected way. Well, that then led to the period of adolescence when one of the things were excused in this transition. That the hyjinx, and the pranks, and the identity, the Sterm und Drang of the on Xof adolescence those things psychologists and educators just came to expect, and they told parents just you’re going to have to deal with it. But that was about a four or five year period. Well, we now know that it is true when people say that college is the new high school and graduate school is the new college. In other words, in a knowledge economy in this great economic transformation, it’s not just that a young man of fifteen will know that he’s going to be graduating from high school and going to the workforce. Now he knows that if he’s going to be a meaningful position in this economy, he’ll have to go to college. But if he’s going to have the kind of position that most would aspire to he’s going to have to go beyond even college in to some further preparation. If no graduate school then internships and he’s going to have to start at a certain level and work his way in, and it’s going to require both intellectual and social skills that many boys just do not have.

Now, I said back in the twentieth century that there were institutional assists. And sure there were. The schools had very clear in local parentis authority. The schools were able to say here is our expectation of you young boy and how you’re going to grow into a man. There were clear social and cultural expectations and there was a culture to enforce it. You had institutions such as the Boy Scouts which emerged from what was then understood to be the boy problem of the early 20th century. And you had such things as compulsory military service. Nothing was more institutionalized in terms of the transition from boyhood to manhood then the experience of putting on a uniform and moving from the authority of the father to the authority of a drill sergeant. But that is largely missing from young men and their lives as well. And so what we have now is absent fathers and the absent experience of these kinds of institutional assists that used to help a boy know exactly what was expected of him. And again you have the fact that the incontrovertible argument that it simply is so true throughout all societies and civilizations that it’s beyond debate. Adulthood meant for males becoming a husband and a father. But these days it’s really not that way at all and what is changed is the fact that there is a huge economic power that is invested in young men which is separated from their responsibilities as husbands and fathers. There’s no longer the cultural expectation and there’s no longer the regulation of sexuality that used to make certain that marriage was the criteria, the defining issue, and thus the entry point for young men to get what they desperately craved which is the comforts of a wife and the fullness of all that marriage promises. It meant that the obligations and the blessings, the benefits, and the enjoyments of marriage were all one package. But now they’ve been taken apart. Modern entertainment and the culture around us actually celebrates the fracturing of this unity and one of the things we need to note as Christians is that many of us have been complicit in this as well.

Now I asked Kay Hymowitz some very direct questions, and I was asking her knowing that she came from a worldview that was very compatible in the main with what I would believe and I would think but that I would have to go beyond where she is and think as a Christian about how I would have to speak to young men, and to myself, and to my own son, and to all those young men who I dearly love and appreciate and say we’re going to have to do better than this. We’re going to have to rethink this equation. We’re going to have to be not only concerned about the sociological data and the massive transformations we’re going to have to be looking at what will be required of us to fully reflect the glory of God at every stage of our lives as Christian men. So what am I talking about there? I’m talking about the fact that yes, I think Kay Hymowitz is exactly right. I don’t think this is a problem that government can solve. I don’t think this is something that is going to be demographically reversed. If anything, the trends are likely to get worse and not better. If you look at the college campus right now and 60% of the undergraduate students are women, 40% are men and the graduates have an even greater distinction then the reality is this is not headed in a good direction. When you look at the fact that what will be required to put this picture back together again, the egg having fallen off the wall to put it back together again would require a cultural cohesion that doesn’t exist anymore. It would require agreement on so many of the most important value and moral questions that simply doesn’t exist anymore. And that’s why the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is going to have to be a counter culture in a way that many Christians have never previously conceived. We’re going to have to be the people that say not only to young men but to young women if you’re going to follow the script that is handed to you by the secular world then you’re going to look exactly like what these statistics portray. The kind of conviction necessary to reverse these trends is not just to say yes to a young man this is what is expected of you and this is what we’re going to encourage you to be and this is what we’re going to hold up for you as an ideal it’s also going to have to say to young women you’re going to have to decide whether you want to be a part of a community that includes young men you would want to marry or whether you want to be a part of the community that is going to follow very different rules and end up with young men with whom you’d want nothing to do. This is going to require Christian parenting at a different level than what has been required of previous generations. It’s going to require the church to help to arm its people by Christian and biblical teaching to understand how not to think the way the world thinks so that we won’t simply live the way the world lives. This means that many of the choices that are being presented both to young men and young women are going to have to be redefined if we’re actually going to live in any way that is authentically Christian.

Now there are some who would hear me say that and would say I know immediately where you’re headed. Well, maybe you do and maybe you don’t. This is not to say that we just need to head back and something that would amount to cultural conservatism. Cultural conservatism has its limits and one of the limits that is very clear in this case is that many of the economic incentives that cultural and economic conservatives consider so important are actually the very things that are breaking apart the wholeness which had previously marked human existence. In other words, you only get the problems of the family many of those rights are being caused by a consumer materialist society and by the kind of economic impulse to advancement that means you sacrifice family for economic gain. No, conservatism is not going to be enough. It’s going to require a radical Christian commitment to a biblical understanding of what it means to be a human being made in the image of God. To be a man or a woman. To be a boy or a girl growing into manhood and womanhood. To be parents who are going to have to raise our children differently than those around us would consider the norm. It’s going to require us to make educational and child-rearing choices that are different than those of our neighbors. It’s going to require the church to hold out resources to young people in order to assist them to swim against the tide and it’s going to require us continually, especially, to say to the most vulnerable among us who of all things now turn out to be boys and young men you really can do this. This really is what you were made for. Marriage and fatherhood—these in the main are where you are headed if you want to make a contribution to the kingdom of God, here is how it’s done. If you want to grow up, play the man, as the scripture says, and do what a man does. Show up where a man shows up, act as a man acts, and as Christian men believe what Christian men believe. Live it out faithfully. That’s going to require a counter cultural revolution, the likes of which the world has never seen but then again maybe it has. When Christians are put to the test maybe that’s when we find out what we really believe and when we get to show the world it really can be done differently. Boys really can grow up to be men.

Thanks for listening to Thinking In Public. I want to remind you about a very special event on the campus of Southern Seminary on April 29. We’ll have a preview day for those who are interested in seminary and perhaps considering God’s calling in your life. We hope you’ll come and join us. It will be an immersion into the seminary experience. You’ll get to meet our faculty, I’ll get to meet you, and explain why the experience of talking about the things that are most important to us as you consider God’s future direction for your life. That’s April 29 you can find out more information by going to our website at sbts.edu or simply call our Admissions office at 800-626-5525. I hope you’ll go to my website for more information at albertmohler.com. You can follow me on twitter at twitter.comalbertmohler. For more information regarding all things related to Southern Seminary go to sbts.edu. For information about Boyce College just go to boycecollege.com. Thank you for joining me for Thinking In Public. Until next time, keep thinking. I’m Albert Mohler.