When we try to absorb the forever-wounds shared in a California court room testimony, we want to know our boys would never do what Brock Turner did. My friend Teri Lynne shared insightful words about the sexual assault that made “rape culture” part of common conversation last week. She pointed out that the “hundreds of little decisions he made before he pushed his victim down on the ground behind a dumpster matter.” Ann Voskamp said “Because a Stanford doesn’t begin with alcohol and it doesn’t begin with partying kids with inflated egos and it doesn’t begin with 20 minutes of not using your head but your hormones.”
What little decisions led Brock to his actions? How can we keep our boys from following Brock Turner? While we can’t pretend to know the lives and thoughts of those at the epi-center of the Stanford attack, we can sift through the public story to find lessons for raising our own boys the best we can.
Today’s boys grow up in an All You Can Eat, All Access, Gender Confused, Information Age. As hard as we try to influence them with a respectful, right view of women and sexual intimacy, culture works harder to mix them up. Our inner mama-bear could lash out to fight off those who would corrupt our boys, but the truth is, they’re already corrupt. Like us, they’re born flawed. If we aren’t careful, culture will leave a boy’s conscience calloused.
All You Can Eat
Today’s entertainment menu is a buffet. Gone are days of waiting for your favorite show, making sure homework is done in time. Delay and limited portion sizes are a thing of the past, replaced by “on demand,” and social media makes it possible to watch around the clock. As the content dial moves, what our senses consider “acceptable” or “offensive” moves too, so children often begin dulling their sense of “wrong” from an early age.
With a regular diet of little portions of offense, we gradually accept greater degrees of disrespect and violence. Foolishness is freedom gone wrong, and our world values freedom over faithfulness.
[Tweet “Foolishness is freedom gone wrong.” Keeping boys from becoming #BrockTurner]
If we don’t want our boys to be comfortable with criminal conduct, we should back away from it in entertainment and enact “appetite suppressants.” Why feed a desire for what we don’t want? In being intentional about what entertains, we protect a developing sense of right and wrong. Long before we engage in reckless behavior, it entertains us.
It’s hard to be a boy today. Much of the world isn’t for boys to explore, take risks, grow strong, be independent, and find out who you are. They spend time inside, get bored and withdraw to individual technology. Isolation, boredom, and freedom are a deadly combination for a boy within reach of every image and piece of information imaginable. Grown ups can help boys learn caution around this combination and train them to be active.
Every day, we have an opportunity to arouse the hearts of our boys. Evil influences don’t waste time in pursuing boys through pornography. Life is our opportunity to teach our boys what God wants them to know about living a good, whole, peaceful, truth-driven life.
“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)
It’s no wonder many see sexuality as anything but sacred. Boys listen to the voices of culture, but they learn most from those who are up close and personal. The best way to shape a boy’s view of women and sexuality is to live out a vibrant marriage before him, modeling a healthy attitude towards intimacy, instead of a crude or sarcastic one. I’m afraid a lot of today’s youth have learned to devalue sexuality from parents who diminish it in their own relationship.
Teri Lynne is right. We can’t bubble wrap kids, boys or girls, from evil. We can’t keep kids from technology, nor should we. We are responsible for what we put in our kids’ hands, the gateway to their hearts and minds. Our children look to us to learn what’s true and good. They won’t just “catch it” by living around us. We have to be planned, assertive, and consistent in teaching them.
So much information makes for a gray world. Women who once fantasized over Shades of Grey now wonder how Brock’s conscience could be so gray. Brock can’t blame his actions on alcohol. His athletic promise does not negate his calloused conscience. His privileged life should not protect him. His age will not excuse him. “Guilty” means you crossed a line. A fixed line of right and wrong.
We have worked so hard to be tolerant that we’ve taken the hands of our children and led them into confusing, gray places where “guilty” is not clear. Boys need to know where lines of right and wrong fall, so they will not follow in the steps of Brock Turner. Our overemphasis on freedom has caused us to forfeit faithfulness.
Prayer is our greatest tool in raising our sons well. Let’s pray for their protection, their integrity, and their love of what’s good. May God give us wisdom to help our children, especially our boys, navigate growing up in this all you can eat, all access, gender confused, information age.
- Not sure if culture is really changing how we treat each other? Read the Top 10 Effects of Porn on Your Brain, Your Marriage, and Your Sex Life.
- Read Teri Lynne’s post What Happens Next: One Mom’s Response to the Brock Turner Verdict
- Find a host of great resources for raising boys at The MOB Society where I write with an amazing group of boy-moms from all over the country.