As I drove my boys to a new neighborhood in the area, we heard on the radio about a recall drive to oust a judge who gave a light sentence to Brock Turner, the Stanford student who was convicted in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman at a fraternity party in January 2015. The light sentence drew harsh criticism from prosecutors and advocates and prompted widespread fury on social media because Turner received only six months in jail and three years of probation after a judge became worried that a stiffer sentence would have a “severe impact” on the 20-year-old. (Source: Washington Post)
The outrage of this injustice is palpable.
This morning, I looked at a video of another case involving a mom who protected her daughter from a madman attempting to kidnap her, in broad daylight, at a dollar store. He was caught running away in the store parking lot by an off-duty officer. If that isn’t a miracle, I don’t know what is.
When I look at the headlines that clamor through our media outlets about all the wickedness in our society, what comes to my mind is Noah in the age of the flood, spared from total destruction by the mighty hand of God. What would compel God to end it all except for Noah’s family?
“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5
Take a moment to imagine the biblical age, and then wonder for a moment the degree of evil that moved the hand of God to bring justice across the entire land with the power of obliteration. I’m sure many who perished in the flood cried for mercy, however, too late.
Today we cry for justice. We can see when someone has been wronged or when something is not right or when a sentence is unjust. The case in Stanford gives us pause—not because it’s yet another tragic incident in our country, not because it is abhorrent how the judge ruled a sentence—but because it’s time we took a look at the crisis our boys face in the 21st century.
I homeschool my children and wherever we find ourselves at any given time of the week, I am vigilant. In college, I took a self-defense course that taught me the modes of self-awareness, of relying on instinct to warn us of impending danger, of using our voice to scream and using our bodies to fight against assaults. Some women in my class were already victims of a crime, while some were preparing themselves for this new life: college, a predatory zone. We were all women. We were trained to be vigilant.
We can deduce that perhaps Turner, the rapist, is without God, but I’ll choose to be silent on the matter; I don’t care to entertain conjecture. He was once a boy, who developed through his formative years under the care of those who raised him. Now we, as parents, whether we homeschool or not, need to have a conversation about what’s happening in our world today. When we see sin, what do we do about it; what will our sons and our daughters do? The Stanford rape case prompts a response from all of us who have children, regardless.
As we raise our boys to become men, it’s fine to celebrate that sweetness they possess as little ones yet to be fully draped with the rough edges endowed by their father, an armor that will shape them for battle in a world that compels them to dodge all its daggers. The enemy is at work to bring to perdition our sons and we must fight for them to be formed in holiness by our Lord.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:” Ephesians 2:1
“And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” 1 John 5:19
As mothers, how do we raise our boys to be men? How do we project a sweet spirit when we are worn, a meekness when we are frustrated, a quietness when we are boiling over?
I hold on by a string sometimes, recalling in those precarious moments of distress the essence of my calling as a mom, how much I wanted to do my labor and delivery by the book. I was only two years into my marriage when I gave birth to my first child, a child I remember taking to the window of the hospital at dawn, praising God for the grace He bestowed me. My little guy, my gift from God, who at only 6 pounds, 15 ounces was the embodiment of greatness and fortitude. This little guy, years later, would become a force to be reckoned with. I wasn’t alone as my mother was when she birthed and raised me. I had a husband and a life filled with God’s grace and a life redeemed by the Saviour.
When I was sent home into motherhood without the pampering of nurses and doctors to direct my handling of my newborn, I was amazed that it was just my baby, me and my husband left to root ourselves into parenthood alone. We would bloom where we’d be planted and water our lives with the word of God to grow strong in His purpose. Now, as we continue to define our lives by God’s terms and do our best to raise our two boys and girl with His strength, for His glory, I struggle to get a hold of all that is urged of me, because truthfully, my husband and I are pioneering through the road of homeschooling, something so unfamiliar to our extended families. We’re taking a new direction for our lives by homeschooling, trusting in the Lord every day. We don’t want to rust out on this, or become complacent.
Our children should see a picture of Christ in our marriage, one that is selfless, that magnifies Him in word and in deed. It’s not easy to do as it goes contrary to social norms, to family traditions. It is a swim against the current, to teach our children to have self-respect, to live in a dignified way, to do something when injustice is in full view; to stand up for something, lest they fall for everything, as the saying goes. Teaching our boys to treat girls with kindness needs to be intentional because if they don’t, they’ll leave them wounded like I was as a child, the memory of it not easily shaken off after all these years. Like the victim in the Stanford case said: “My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me.”
So what do we do?
We need to teach our boys to fight for the victim. God did, and we should too. He fought for the woman who was about to be bludgeoned to death with stones and He rescued her from a life of sin. We need to be compassionate for those who are lost. If we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be used of Him to help a lost person find their way to freedom from the chains of sin. As we do this, we also should stick up for those who are treated unfairly. Women, being the weaker vessel, doesn’t signify God thinks less of them; but rather, He knows they are to be given honor because for them He died too. And let’s remember that God knows women better than we do. Let’s point our sons to the women in the Bible who were used as mighty vessels for fulfilling God’s purpose. Esther, Mary, Rahab, Sara, and on and on the list goes. God loves us all and He wants to use us, but we must decide to follow Him first, to give of ourselves as He did, to live our lives to magnify His name, not ours.
We need to teach our boys that sin destroys. The mainstream media is an expert at painting a broad brush on gun ownership, but it bears narrowing the stroke a bit: People with guns who kill should be prosecuted. People who drink alcohol and commit crimes should be prosecuted. The root cause here is the same: people. And the culprit is sin. Sin abounds and as parents we should warn our children of all its manifestations. I was convicted about one thing when my eldest son was attending a private Christian school. His classmate had a backpack of an immoral celebrity athlete and I thought to myself, Is this his hero? Why are sinful men praised by Christians just because they can play ball and have accumulated wealth? These are the anti-heroes and our boys would be wise to not look to them as role models.
We need to teach our daughters that it is fine to not give themselves freely to everyone. It is not a character flaw to be guarded and to retain a gentle distance. My daughter has what I never did; she has copious amounts of sweet personality and a friendly spirit. We call her our diamond in the rough. I’ve said that she is cake and my boys are gravy. At the library, she invites other little girls to be her friend. She gets rejected at times, with no response at all, or with a blatant no from these little strangers, but my girl has tough skin. She can move to another corner of the playground or wading pool and find herself entertained there alone. I look at this as God preparing her for the hard lessons in life, as young as she is. Not everyone will like her. Not everyone is nice. Not everyone is a friend. Our daughters have to find their value in the gifts that God has given them so they can exalt His name in all that they do.
I read a meme somewhere that admonished moms to be closer to their children rather than to their husbands because, the point was, children stay in our lives forever, and husbands cheat and leave. Reading such things is a sad testament to what the world believes of the family and its design, devoid of God’s order.
If our boys in this age are to walk in Christ-likeness, we need to first pattern our marriage as the self-sacrificing mystery it is, the unfailing love of God that is the foundation of Christ’s death on the cross. He gave His life for us and thus, we give our lives for our spouses. Our children pick up on this model and may follow it, but it needs to be ever so present in their lives, for they one day will bring it to bear when they form their own families. And this will become what they hinge to when our sons, eventually, find their own bride.
“Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord.” Proverbs 18:22
As parents to sons, in particular, we must educate our boys to take responsibility for their decisions. As godly men stand alone in the face of the world that waits as a predator to bring them to ruin, we must (as moms raising boys to become men) allow them to get hurt. There’s no redemptive quality in the letter from Brock Turner’s father, who defends his convicted son in a manner that doesn’t hold his son’s feet to the fire of accountability and responsibility. As an adjunct some years ago, I recall assigning work to my writing class, giving them ample time to prepare before the due date. A student came to me in the eleventh hour to ask for help. He had nothing to show for the assignment. I remember telling him he was going to fail. Classroom life is an extension of life beyond. It takes no effort to fail for it is harder to gain victories, isn’t it?
Likewise, we can’t wait until the eleventh hour to teach our boys responsibility. Parents needn’t make excuses for their children when they’ve decided to live unrighteously. Teaching them to love the Lord, to model Christ’s love for all—men, women, and children, orphans, and widows—changes the course of society. We know that a society is a collection of families and therefore, as we strengthen our own with the love of Christ, we are better able to make a difference in this darkened world.