#MeToo: How to Raise Boys to be Real Men

D

ear Boys We’re Raising to be Real Men,

When you’re the mother of four sons, when you’re wanting to raise up real men, when you’re reflecting much on fathers and what it means to be a real man,  this #MeTooWeToo awakening in the church is not about somebody else…it’s about us. And it’s about time, right about now, for us to stand up and say hard and holy things to all our sons right now because this can’t really wait.

Honestly, this doesn’t begin with just understanding the necessity of consent or the concerns around alcohol or what it means to be a thoughtful man who thinks with his head and not his hormones.

Honestly, Sons — this begins with a woman like your mama bringing home a man-child in her arms and what it means to raise up a real man.

DSC_1662

Joy Prouty

DSC_1671

Levi Voskamp

DSC_1664

Joy Prouty

It begins with one mama looking into her son’s eyes for the next 18 years and showing young men what it means to be a woman, showing every son what a woman is worth, teaching every son the value of a woman.

I brought the first of you boys home when I was 21.

I cradled you, and a woman poured out of herself to keep you alive. You rooted hungry and it was the roots of a woman that nourished you. It was a woman who gave you life, it was a woman who was the grace of God that kept you alive.

Your mama held you when fever burned your forehead. And she stroked back your hair when your stomach churned and she cleaned up the both of you  when you vomited all over everything. It was your mama who opened books for you and stoked your mind and unpacked a world before you and she laid down herself to make more of you and it wasn’t a sacrifice but the unexpected grace of motherhood.

We talked about life being much more than you can see, so you knew that a woman is always more more than you can see.

Your mama kept trying to be at peace in her own body so that you would always see women as more than a body. And I always told you that I’ve only ever met beautiful people. Ugly is only a state of soul.

I don’t know if I told you boys about that night I was 19 and I saw it in my rear view mirror, how a 20-something man reached over and started fondling a terrified 14 year-old sleeping girl. How the guy shrugged his shoulders when we confronted him, like he was brushing away an annoying fly.

How there were girls that whispered that he’d grabbed them too in the dark of a car when he drove them home from youth group, how there were all these shy and ashamed girls who were violated and forced and indifferently robbed.

I want to tell you, son  we were all church kids. There was no alcohol. There were no parties. There were no jocks or big athletic teams or big name college campuses with rocking parties.

There were young men who opened their Bibles and didn’t value the worth of a God-fashioned woman made for glory, young men who sang worship songs and satiated their lust by ripping off the dignity of a sacred human being, young men who said women were the weaker vessel meant let’s drink them dry and be merry.

We went to leaders. A handful of us girls with one teenage boy who knew that he saw it too and wasn’t afraid. And we went to leaders and sat there with our hands literally shaking and our mouths impossibly dry and we tried to find words for what should never have to be said. My cheeks and throat burned.

And it about kills me to say what happened next, but to stay silent is to let perpetrators perpetuate. And we are all better this, and want better than this, and we are committed to doing better than this.

When we spoke what we’d seen, how a man had violated a girl, we were looked in the eye, Son, were told:

“Boys will be boys.”

Son. When the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys  girls will be garbage.

And that is never the heart of God.

That’s what you have to get, Son – Real Manhood knows the heart of God for the daughters of His heart.

Your Dad is one of those men. When he hears of men violating women with indifference and ignorance, he has said it to me time and again:

Unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman.

So this is what your dad and I want you to get, to get this and never forget it: that *when God decided to pull on skin and make His visitation into the world, He didn’t show up in some backroom of an inner boy’s club or insert Himself at a boardroom table with all the power brokers.

What God chose as best was to make His entry point into the world through the holy space of a woman, to enfold Himself inside of a woman, to be held and nourished and cared for by a woman that’s the jolting truth of how God loves women with His honor.

Christ never beat down a woman with harsh words or lusting eyes or sneering innuendos, but He stepped in and stopped a broken woman from the abuse of angry men .

Christ didn’t degrade women in His talk, but He made women heroes in His stories. He invited a woman with a coin and broom to reveal the truth about the Kingdom of GodThat’s how God loves women with His words.

Christ didn’t demonize women but He accepted the presence of a woman reviled by the self-righteous, and He welcomed the rejected though he lost the respect of the religious. That’s how God loves women with His grace.

When Christ stepped out of that black tomb, he still didn’t choose to first manifest Himself to prestigious officials, religious leaders, the Twelve, or to any man in any position — but instead He revealed Himself first to the women, He entrusted the veracity of His resurrection to the testimony of the women, He offered the privilege of proclaiming Christ as the risen Savior to the women, though no court at the time would accept their testimony. That’s how God loves women with His regard.

So Sons — when you turn the pages of the Bible, Son, let everything you read of women be shaped by how Jesus sealed His view and value of women.

Let Christ shape you and not the magazine covers of the Walmart checkout:

Real Manhood never objectifies women. Real Manhood edifies women.

Real Manhood means you don’t get drunk, and a man can get drunk on a lot more than alcohol.

Men drunk on power, on control, on ego, lose more than all inhibition  they lose The Way, their own souls.

Men drunk on anything can destroy everything and real manhood thirsts for nothing less than righteousness.

Real Manhood means any pressure only makes you stronger in Christ.

Real Manhood believes that in a culture where it’s the tendency to bend, you’ll stand. That in situations where there’s tendency to look the other way, you’ll look for help. That time and again: you’ll rightly divide the truth and unify the brokenhearted. And you will be humbly committed:

Christ is The Truth — and where there isn’t Truth, there isn’t Christ. So, even when we’re hurting, we won’t ever be afraid of the Truth

In Christ, you rise against injustice.

And Son?

Real Manhood means you take responsibility for your body.

Responsible men – are response-able. The responsible are response-able to make the right response at the right time. This is your job. Everyone else has their own responsibilities. Focus on yours.

Your Dad and I need you to know:

Real Manhood means you hallow womanhood

The thing always is: Real Manhood means you hallow womanhood.

A woman isn’t a toy to amuse a man’s lusts, a thing to aggrandize a man’s ego, a trophy to adorn a man’s arm.

A woman is a man’s equal, and a woman has value not because she’s someone’s daughter but because she is made in the image of God.

The bottom line is: Any man who doesn’t hallow a woman with honor, makes his own life into a profanity.

Any culture of boys will be boys  means girls will be garbage. And that trashes everyone’s soul.

And we were all made to rise to something more.

Like that teenage boy from youth group, who saw how girls were hurting and witnessed how they were violated in shadows and shame, who stood up with the wounded because he believed real men of God are men for the hurting?

That brave teenage boy, Son?

He’s now your Dad.

There are more than a few good men, Son.

There are more than a few good men rising, more than a few good men doing hard and holy things, more than a few good men who elevate women because they’re about elevating Christ.

Real men like their Father  who laid down His life for His priceless daughters.