Boys Will Be.....
(Part 1)

Dateline: 13 September 2006

I believe men are mandated by God to do three things: lead, protect, and provide. And I believe God has equipped men to fulfill that mandate by designing and creating us different than women. The root source of the difference boils down to a chemical hormone called testosterone.

Boys who are in the process of growing up to be men have testosterone too. Lots of it. This abundance of the hormone makes boys more physical and aggressive than girls. Such aggressiveness can be a bad thing if it is channeled and expressed improperly. But it can be a very good thing if properly managed and directed.

As a father of three boys, ages 11 to 18, I see in my sons a desire to compete among themselves and their other male friends. Feats of strength and endurance are an everyday thing, as is wrestling.

Most mothers are shocked and alarmed by the testosterone-induced roughhousing of their boys. My wife is no exception. But I assure her it is normal and good. Just because they act aggressive doesn’t mean they are going to be juvenile delinquents or grow up to be criminals. After all, I tell her, I was the same way when I was a boy and look at how I turned out. Marlene gives me a funny little smile when I tell her that.

In any event, this is where a father comes into the picture, especially a Christian father. As such, I see it as my responsibility to set boundaries and to explain to my sons that God designed them with a warrior spirit for a good reason. Examples abound of ungodly men who misuse their strength by employing it to harm others while pursuing selfish desires. But God expects those men who call Him Lord to be servant warriors—to lead, protect, and provide, first within their families, then within their community.

Many men labor quietly for a lifetime, leading, protecting, and providing for their families, and we hear little of them. But they are the quiet heroes who leave a legacy of example for their children. Then there are the examples of men who, when needed, rise to a more visible calling. Todd Beamer comes to mind. When United Airlines flight 93 was hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was a passenger. As he became aware of the situation he was in and the murderous intent of the hijackers, his warrior spirit kicked into gear. It led him, and other men with him, to confront the perpetrators of evil. ”Let’s Roll! were the last words he was heard to say as he headed out to do battle. That’s testosterone for you.

Then there is the story of David in the Bible. Not even a man yet, the youngest son of Jesse was visiting his older brothers in the army of Israel. He heard the giant Goliath taunting and challenging the Israelites to send someone to fight him. He had been doing this for days. Everyone feared the giant. But David, when he realized the situation, did not hesitate to volunteer to fight. That’s testosterone for you.

Then, when you read the biblical account (1 Samuel 17) you’ll find that David did not hide from afar and sling his stone. No, it says he ran towards the giant!

And when the stone from his sling buried itself into the brain of the Philistine, David ran up to the fallen body, took the giant’s sword, and cut his head off. Now that’s testosterone.

By the way, it is common to see artistic renderings of David with his sling and shepherd clothing facing the armored and angry Goliath. But have you ever seen the shepherd boy after the battle, standing by the dead carcass, holding the giant’s severed head aloft?

We live in a fallen realm. Godly men must, when the necessity arises, defend the good against that which is evil. What about the Biblical admonition to turn the other cheek? I agree with it, of course. But I see that as a personal admonition. If someone is harming or intending to harm my family, others in my community who are incapable of defending themselves, or my nation, it is not personal. In such instances, godly men have a responsibility to do what God has wired them to do.

We men can protect in many nonviolent ways. For example, homeschooling is a way of protecting children from a government school culture that, under the guise of religious neutrality, actually labors to indoctrinate and convert all children to its secular faith—a faith that is completely at odds with true Christianity.

But sometimes, as I’ve already noted, men are required to physically fight in their roles as defenders. Such violence can be an ugly thing. Blood and gore, pain, suffering, and even death are not pleasant things to think about, let alone experience, but they are a reality that must be faced and dealt with by peace-loving Christian men, as God leads them.

A few years ago, Mel Gibson starred in the movie, Braveheart. It is a hollywood interpretation of the true story of William Wallace. He was a man who, with far more testosterone, conviction, and faith than most men, led a 13th century Scottish revolt against English tyranny and conquest.

I have Scottish ancestry on both sides of my family. When I hear the pipes, something deep in me stirs. When I watch the battle scenes in Braveheart, the emotion wells up in me. I want to be with Wallace on the field of battle at Falkirk, July 22, 1298, facing the English King Edward’s finest armored calvary. Gripping the long, sharpened, poles that will meet the horses, I know the odds are that I will die. But I would be there anyway. Because the cause was just and that is what men do. That is what men were born to do.

The point of all this is that I believe it is okay for boys to act out the part of warriors. And so it is that I introduce you to the following photos. My sons, Robert and James, after watching Braveheart, were inspired to make their own weapons—shields and battle axes. Here, in this first photo, are the implements of warfare, created with scrap wood, their dad’s jigsaw, nails (lots of nails) and imagination.....

And here are the boy warriors with their weapons prior to doing battle......

Now the battle commences. Robert delivers a mighty blow. James deflects it with his shield.......

And James returns the blow (I love the facial expression on this one). Back and forth the battle rages, each boy swinging his weapon at the other. This is an awesome spectacle....

And then, oh my, one of the warriors takes a swing at the camera man!....

(Stay tuned for more great examples of boys being warriors in my next blog entry....)


James said...

Those are some great pictures. Many of the boys at our church have been making "swords" out of 1/2 inch pvc pipe, foam pipe insulation and duct tape. Nothing like watching bands of a dozen armed warriors charge across the meadow at each other. Boys can whack each other pretty hard with these swords, but, sadly, we had to outlaw blows to the head after a few bloody noses.

Marci said...

I grew up with 4 brothers and now live with my husband and my son. Ah yes.... I learned early about testosterone. I have learned that if it really bothers me, I look the other way. =)

Amey said...

I was just about to post briefly on this very topic on my blog, and link to your blog, since I used the quote from Steve Farrar in your book. I come over here and find this post. Neat-o. My boys are only 7 and 5, but I'm already getting gray hair due to their exploits.

Anonymous said...

Matthew 5:39 says, "If someone strikes you on the right cheek,turn to him the other also." It seems to me that this is describing a personal insult accompanied by a (right-handed) backhand slap. That would land on the victim's right cheek. So I believe you are right, that turning the other cheek does not apply to defending one's family or even yourself from a mugging or an assault. We should treat personal insults the way David allowed Shimei to curse him (and pelt him with stones--II Samuel 16:5ff). But when it comes to protecting others and ourselves from injustice, let the testosterone flow!
Larry of Larry's Dairy

Waves of Grace said...

With 3 boys of my own (15, 13, and 9) we have dealt with this seemingly on an ongoing basis. It is sometimes difficult to teach them healthy and unhealthy parameters. But they will learn mostly by the example we fathers set before them. If godly in our pursuits this will be a powerful influence in their lives. The opposite is also true. I often ask myself if when my boys see my life does it say in truth "If you want to follow Christ, then follow my example."

Emily said...

Great photos and commentary, Herrick. Having raised two boys who are all grown up, I miss the rough-housing and love being around a group of boys engaged in play. May the Lord give you wisdom as you raise them to Godly manhood and channel their testosterone in the right directions. :) Have fun with your "future men" as Doug Wilson calls them.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this post and the points therein, so I hate to detract from it in any way, but I felt the need to point out the misprinted date of Todd Beamer's courage on Flight 93. I know that you, as any one of us, knows what the date was that the tragedy took place, but it was typed as the year "2000", so I thought that might want to change it to the correct year.

Again, thank you for the article. God bless.

Anonymous said...

This looks familiar to me too. Four boys equals mega doses of testoterone. I will remain forever intrigued at the display of this hormone. But, I am thankful for the protective instinct especially as Andrew protected me from the vicious dog.

The sad thing is my poor girls are out numbered and at times get a wee bit confused. I don't want to raise Xena girls. So we are trying to tone down their interaction with the boys. It doesn't help matters much when momma wields a chain saw. It is my own fault, I know.

Great post Herrick. Beautiful kids!!

Herrick Kimball said...

Hey Everyone,

I sure do appreciate reading your comments about this story.

Thanks for setting me straight countrygoalie.

Steve, I enjoyed your sarcasm. it is wonderfully expressive.

Patti, thanks for the link. That looks like a web site I need to bookmark (and I have). I've also copied off the review and comments to read during lunch at work tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this post. Have you read 'Wild at Heart' by John Eldredge? IMO, that and 'Future Men' by Douglas Wilson are essential reading for anyone raising boys to be Christian Warriors. In particular, Wilson describes a very wise way to handle children playing with toy guns.
You may also be interested in this forum:
Keep up the good work. America needs Godly men.

Carol Perryman said...

I feel the need to state that you have a right to your perspective, but to me, you and your 'agrarian christianity' are disturbing (deer guts and ice crystals?) I have seldom read such a load of hogwash. It's interesting (to a limited extent) to follow your convoluted logic. Your 'strong, quiet hero full of testosterone' is just a jumped-up fantasist.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Carol,
I appreciate your comment here. I hope you feel better after voicing your opinion. Obviously we do not have a lot in common. Out of curiosity I went to your blogs. It appears that you are not married, and do not have any children, certainly not three boys who are teenagers. If you did, and you lived within an agrarian setting (which you do not) your opinions would be tempered by experience and the culture and much more understanding of what I am communicating in this essay and others on this site. Curiously, while you choose to judge me harshly for my beliefs, I have no desire to do that of you and your beliefs. Sincere best wishes,

Herrick Kimball