Putting Away Childish Things

LegosSome of you will be taking your children to college in the next few weeks. While you’re in the dorms, you might notice a difference in how girls and boys decorate their rooms.

Stop your snickering. This is a serious subject.

In a young woman’s room it’s not uncommon to find various keepsakes of her childhood, including stuffed animals, baby pictures and dolls. Go to a boy’s room and a different portrait emerges: it’s as if his childhood never existed. There’s nary a Lego, Tonka truck or Mutant Ninja Turtle to be seen. Instead the walls are plastered with the images of sports heroes, curvaceous models and alcoholic beverages.

Why the difference?

Psychologically speaking, young men have an intense need to separate themselves from childhood. Women, on the other hand, celebrate their childhoods for a lifetime. No shame accrues to a woman who revels in her youth, but in our society men are supposed to strain toward manhood. I’m not saying this is a good thing, but it’s the way things are and have been for centuries. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:11: “but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Young men are still eager to do this.

So we have another reason men avoid Christianity: there is a strong psychological link between church and childhood. Women, who are free to enjoy the delights of their youth, attend church without shame. But men are wary of an institution that has strong ties to their formative years.

Forgotten Mission

Military baseMilitary base closures are in the news. The pentagon wants to shutter hundreds of installations around the nation, in order to plow the savings into beefed-up national security.

But local communities don’t want to lose the bases. They depend on these posts to buoy their local economies, provide jobs and enhance prestige. The moment the list was announced, governors and senators rushed to the microphones, pledging to “save our bases.”

But there’s a core truth that’s being lost here. The military exists for one purpose: to defend America against hostile enemies. It does not exist to provide jobs or prestige to localities. But these towns (and their supporters) seem to have forgotten that.

Our churches fall into a similar mindset. We forget our purpose: to make disciples of Jesus. The only valid measure of success is this: are people becoming more like Him?