There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the man-baby boom. And when I write man-baby, I’m pretty sure you know who I’m talking about. You’ve seen ’em in movies like “The Hangover,” “Knocked Up” and “Hall Pass.” You probably know some personally, actually — ones that can’t seem to hold a job, ones that treat women like blow-up dolls, ones who can’t finish school, can’t move out from mom and dad’s and have no personal ambition or goals to discuss or think about, period.
On the flipside, William J. Bennett, CNN contributor, and author of The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood recently wrote that, “for the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.” The New York Times reported in 2010 that women account for more than half of college students and nearly half of the work force.
It should be a woo-hoo!-women moment. And it is. But it’s hard to be completely happy about the fact that while women are becoming more successful, men seem to be regressing.
Today, 18-to-34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to-17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways.
Articles from Hanna Rosin (The End of Men), Kay S. Hymowitz (Where Have the Good Men Gone? and Fiona Roberts (America’s Lost Boys: Why ARE so many young men failing to grow up?) have also highlighted the plight of young men in America.
According to the Daily Mail article by Roberts, psychologists blame the man-baby trend on a range of factors, from boys becoming disillusioned at young ages about their roles in society to the rise of video games and the internet.
Research like the ones cited above might hit close to home, considering many atheists are young and male. Research from Ariela Keysar (2007) reports that one-third of American atheists are under 25 years old, and half are under age 30. About one-fourth of 25-year-old white men lived at home in 2007 — before the latest recession — compared with one-fifth in 2000 and less than one-eighth in 1970 according to the New York Times article cited earlier. However, research also tell us atheists tend to score high on measures of IQ, especially verbal ability and scientific literacy.
So what is the problem with men these days? Or is there even a problem?
It’s not like there are a ton of great role models out there. Ashton Kutcher? Chris Brown? Ben Roethlisberger? Even the usually brilliant Richard Dawkins got some heat last year for mocking Rebecca Watson after she said she felt uncomfortable when a man propositioned her in an elevator.
Earlier this month, Driscoll wrote:
I’m a pastor, and I know this will seem crazy, but let’s put down the remote, set aside the porno, and see if maybe the Bible has any wisdom since what we are doing isn’t working.
It’s just extended adolescence, where 20s, 30s, sometimes even in his 40s, he doesn’t really want to get married, doesn’t really want to have kids, doesn’t really want to pursue a career. He has a lot of hobbies, got a lot of buddies, watches a lot of porn, gambles, has a lot of fun, maybe plays in some band or is in a guild of World of Warcraft, or something ridiculous like that… I think part of the problem is, as well, that the Church in large part has accommodated that.
Those guys tend not to go to church. If those guys do show up at church, it’s usually just to find a couple of gals to break the commandments with. And the Church doesn’t really know what to do with them, so the least likely person in America to go to church is a guy in his 20s who is single. Without knowing what to do with those guys, they commit crimes, they get women pregnant, they’re a drain on social services, they don’t raise their kids, they don’t contribute to church, they’re not getting ready to lead the next generation. I’d say it’s nothing short of a crisis, it’s a real problem.
According to an article on The Catholic News Agency’s website, “Nearly 40 percent of post-abortive women in one study reported that partners pressured them into having the abortions.” Emory University professor Elizabeth Fox-Genovese is quoted as saying “the most enthusiastic fans of abortion have been men — at least until they have children of their own.”
Christian blogger Ruthie Dean also writes that women have been damaged by dating immature guys who don’t want families — immature guys like the one she calls “Mr. I Don’t Believe in Organized Religion.” She wrote on a christanitytoday.com blog post last week:
…standards should not be created based on the worst examples but instead on what God deems right…. humans cannot change people. God is in the business of changing and redeeming men’s hearts.
I know someone who agrees with Driscoll and Dean. She told me she wishes the guy she is seeing (he is 23ish) would move out of his parents’ and go to church. She mentioned his atheism as if it was a problem that would keep him from maturing. I took offense to that.
OK, well, sure, there are some basic, positive concepts that could benefit anyone in the Bible.
But there’s a whole lot of scary stuff, too.
Should women be treated like property and killed if they don’t cry out for help while being raped? Should men be willing to give their wife sexually to a pharaoh as a bargaining chip like Abraham did? The Bible is a literary cornucopia of men behaving badly.
As a pre-teen in Bible school, I heard the story of David, Bethsheba and Uriah. When my Bible teacher read the verses where God described David as a man “after my own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), it made me feel like if a murderer and pervert was the closest person out there to God’s heart then humanity had to be absolutely hopeless. The message I got was that something was wrong with each and every one of us.
Now I’m a little older and a little smarter. And what I hope for is to not marry a man like David. And I don’t want my future kids to have a dad like Abraham, who would sacrifice his son because he heard voices. I definitely wouldn’t want to marry a man who prays upon and bases his ideology on the Bible, especially not with messages like these:
Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. — 1 Timothy 2:11
If men need fiction to grow up, I’m thinking books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Handmaid’s Tale, If This is a Man (not fiction), and Brave New World are good starts. To me, Stieg Larsson‘s Millennium series offers more of a solid condemnation of violence done to women than the Bible does.
What do you think? Are the statistics concerning the growing immaturity of men overblown? And if not, what will help?
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