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Future Men Paperback – June 1, 2001
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About the Author
Douglas Wilson is pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho, and editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine. He is author of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, Reforming Marriage, and Federal Husband.
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The cover of the book pretty well describes Wilson's feelings on the matter; in believing aggression to be a naturally masculine and God-given trait, he encourages what seems to me to be a sort of Christian bullying. For example, Wilson actually says it would be beneficial for a boy to want to "beat someone down to God's order". I can say with absolute truth that NO ONE ever became truly Christian by being beaten into submission. If my son knocked another child down at school, telling me that he did it because the other child was not a Christian would be more alarming than reassuring to me, and you can bet he'd be punished. That was only one alarming example of what Wilson seemed to believe was healthy aggression. When giving us another scenario, this time of a boy hitting another boy on the back of the head and calling him a fathead because he asked a non-Christian girl out for a date, Wilson actually said this behavior would be good! I see; now Christian children can hit other children because they're Christian? When did spontaneous aggression become Christ-like?
Through all these passages advising fathers to teach their sons toughness, Douglas's typical female stereotypes ran very clearly. I guess he just couldn't resist pushing his submissive-female agenda while he was at it. His sentence that "women flourish through male leadership, but men wither when women lead" thoroughly disgusted me. If men have a problem with female leadership, that problem is taught, NOT inborn. God never once commands women to refrain from leadership; in fact, He placed many Biblical women in leadership over other people (including men), so if we really wish to to follow the Bible, Wilson's ideas are actually the opposite of what we should do.
Unlike some seem to think, Wilson has a very low level of true inspiration; I've seen him shamefully twist Biblical passages out of context before and his tendency to deform God's design for women is quite obvious. Women are not born bad leaders, and any man who thinks female leadership will make his male parts shrivel and fall off needs serious therapy. Boys need to be taught to respect girls as their partners in Christianity and fellow heirs to God's kingdom, not as the people who sit in the back of church and shouldn't speak. As a Christian man with a place of leadership, Wilson should be discouraging male paranoia towards women and their ways, not encouraging a breach between the sexes. He is doing the latter, however; his statement that sexist stereotypes are actually HELPFUL in defining our roles made it very clear to me that God's influence is not what he is truly using in his advice or life.
Here are some wise words from a woman I know regarding this agenda to keep women down:
"Right now, it's a religiously and politically-popular thing to rail against the "war against boys" in school. The argument goes that unless boys get back the preeminence they used by tradition to receive, they will lose interest in school. It's not worded quite so bluntly, but that's the essence of the argument. If girls are free to excel, then boys will not want to and therefore won't. Oh, and while we're at it, say the critics of girls' academic achievement, boys need to be free to beat each other to a bloody pulp on the playground again, because sitting still at desks all day is such a girly thing and boys have no manly things they get to do. (Again, not worded so negatively, but that's the essence.)
It's the patriarchy lie re-packaged for the juvenile set. Never mind that boys did well in structured, sedentary settings for centuries. Suddenly now, because a majority of GIRLS have managed to do well in the same kind of setting, it's beyond the poor, "sissified" boys. These toxic troublers of the children are trying to convince "the faithful" that the only way for boys to succeed is for girls to be absent or at least silent. Sound familiar? It's the old error of forgetting that the focus is on "let a woman learn" and majoring on the minor of "in silence" and twisting the specific, for-the-present report of the apostle not letting A woman teach or usurp authority into a for-all-time indictment against women ever learning for the sake of becoming teachers of other learners. Sure, they'll reluctantly tolerate a woman among the learners (so long as it's not among future-pastor learners), but she'd better not ever learn so much as to qualify to teach any of the men-folk!"
The only reason I gave this two stars is that Wilson did say a few helpful things; his statement that girls who are sexually promiscous seek emotional attachment instead of sex was actually accurate and insightful, and I'm glad he advised fathers not to smother their sons with too much toughness. However, his comments that "righteous" violence among children is okay, that boys should be encouraged to bully non-Christians, and his degrading words of women and the evil of female power (even in this book which is supposed to be about boys) sink from Christianity to male preference which, unlike God's Word, should have been left in the dust centuries ago.
Wilson is a huge home school guy who lives up in Idaho and I guess my impression of him is that while he is biblically-based, he is practically and culturally irrelevant. There are several books much better on the issue of raising godly young men and I would strongly suggest that someone considering this book check out some great books like Vaughn's Letters from Dad, or Ashcroft's Lessons from a Father to His Son, or the classic by J.C. Ryle titled Thoughts for Young Men, or even the short little book by the founder of Chick-Fil-A Truett Cathy titled It's Better to Build Boys than Mend Men. I have a list of books for Dads/Fathers that might be helpful.
Of course, if you do decide to select Future Men, you'll probably mine some valuable gems from the book as I did - just be careful of the landmines along the way!