In a society that is growing increasingly more uncomfortable with gender distinctions, publishing a book that calls parents to raise their boys to become men is almost a revolutionary act. The very idea that we should make intentional effort to ensure our little boys grow into godly, productive, courageous, sensible, masculine men will jar the mind of anyone who has yielded to the contemporary androgenization of our culture.
Of course, there’s nothing really revolutionary about this kind of book. It is only until very recently that our society has drawn a sharp distinction between gender identity and biological sex. And, while the stage for this shift was set many decades ago, it wasn’t until the last few years that we’ve seen people pushing for a wholesale abandonment of gender distinctions, undergirding their pleas with seemingly complex philosophical, sociological, and medical arguments.
But lest you think you’ve weathered this cultural storm and emerged relatively unscathed, test yourself: if you find the title of this book a bit abrasive, it’s probably because you’ve imbibed—consciously or unconsciously—the arguments of those who want to re-arrange the categories of masculinity and femininity, or do away with them altogether. In truth, there should be nothing more natural then for a Christian parent to want their boy to grow into a man of God, and to seek biblical help for such a task.
Raising Our Boys Well
Mike Fabarez, pastor of Compass Bible Church in Aliso Viejo, California, has penned his most recent book to encourage and challenge parents to take seriously God’s call to raise their boys well. Given our current cultural setting, this assignment will probably be more difficult than it was even a decade or two ago. But it is for that very reason all the more vital to approach this task with biblical clarity and Spirit-empowered intentionality.
Fabarez takes up all the foundational topics concerning the training and discipling of boys in the home, emphasizing the call for parents to teach their boys what Scripture says about genuine spirituality. Parents must make it a priority to instruct their boys about sin, true repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, the centrality of the Word of God, and the importance of the local church. Boys must be taught to obey and honor their parents, resist selfishness and laziness, and, as they get older, manage their money and cultivate sexual purity.
The Importance of Dads
Dads play an especially important role in the training and teaching of their sons, so men cannot be passive in the home. While there will always be a need for direct teaching throughout a boy’s life, there is also much that a son will simply absorb by watching his dad respond to trials, love his mom, and model godly masculinity. This means that dads must take the lead in raising their boys. Although the mother will spend a good portion of the day with her children, it is the dad who sets the tone for spiritual instruction, discipline, and for how his boys will treat their mother. He must be proactive in thinking through the various areas in which his boys need to grow and how they can achieve growth in these areas.
But this book is not just for dads; it is also written to moms to help them better understand this rambunctious ball of energy they have running around their house so that they might better instruct them to walk in godly masculinity. When a dad is not present in the home, Fabarez encourages single mothers to “draw near to your church family like never before” and find men (youth group leaders, pastors, deacons, ministry assistants) to be the examples of godly leadership for their boys (see page 191).
Boys Will Be…Boys
Speaking of rambunctious balls of energy, parents must also reckon with the reality that boys are boys, which means they require a certain amount of physical activity each day and regular “loud” times. Getting his boys outside, making them sweat (through games or work), and allowing them to yell and sing before they were required to sit and be quiet for a while (like at a restaurant), were common strategies in the Fabarez home. If parents (especially moms) stifle this need for physical activity and for appropriate energetic expressions of young masculinity, they will only cause frustration for themselves and for their boys.
“Spiritual Common Sense”
Throughout Raising Men not Boys, Fabarez draws his instruction from clear biblical texts and principles, so his book saturated in Scripture. But he also offers what he calls “Spiritual Common Sense (Not Mandated Techniques).” Intermingled with his exposition of biblical passages and verses, Fabarez offers helpful, practical counsel in areas where Scripture speaks only indirectly.
[Spiritual common sense] describes a kind of teaching of the principles of God’s Word that extends to the practicals of how these timeless truths are implemented in our daily decisions about our kids. The following chapters will seek to drive these principles to that place. Not because this is the way all Christians should do it, but because sometimes the suggested wisdom for real-life scenarios we face as parents can become an instructive and helpful kind of biblical advice (14).
Because his “spiritual common sense” is grounded in biblical truth and years of parenting and counseling parents, this feature of the book is particularly helpful. Fabarez offers guidance about chores, sports, screen time, video games, dating, allowance, popularity at school, and a host of other everyday issues that parents will face as their boys grow into young men.
Overall, Fabraez provides parents with an immediately useful resource to help them raise their boys to become the men God created them to be. Whether you are a parent of little boys in diapers or young men in high school, this book will supply you with much biblical wisdom to guide you in this weighty task of shepherding your sons to be men of God.