This is not a good time to be a boy," David Frum wrote recently in The Weekly Standard. "The schools view boys suspiciously as potential sexual harassers ... and lurking in the shadows are the omnipresent psychologists, impatient to pump them full of Ritalin."
Mr. Frum noted that the excitement even has gone out of lots of books designed for boys, which used to emphasize manly heroism in the context of faith, fairness, and gentleness toward women. Now, boys are told to have a different kind of boldness: "Here is a publisher's blurb for a book about a boy who courageously 'defies teasing to remain enrolled in ballet class'.... It must sometimes seem to the American boy that the whole world is hostile to him, that every authority in his life wants him to be dainty and docile."
As the father of four boys, I feel their pain. I want them to be bold and courageous, not dainty and docile. I want them to turn the other cheek concerning personal offenses but bravely fight for biblical principles, as in the third stanza of that wonderful hymn, "For All the Saints": O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold, fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, and win with them the victor's crown of gold, Alleluia!
And yet, within the church, there is great pressure on evangelicals to be dainty and docile. In a secular liberal culture, we often get along better with our neighbors, in the short term, if we do not in any way seem threatening. If we play our cards right we might even become the 21st-century Amish, perceived as dainty, docile, and quaint. (No insult intended here to the real Amish; I'm discussing perception.) If we move quickly, we can even pick up the franchise for tour buses!
As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I am thankful first, last, and always to our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, who (as the first question of the Heidelburg Catechism states) with his precious blood has fully satisfied for all our sins, and delivered us from all the power of the devil.
Secondarily, I am thankful for God's faithful servants at WORLD who this year fought, as saints nobly fought of old, against those who would twist Scripture or otherwise give in to cultural pressures: men like Joel Belz, Nick Eicher, Bob Jones IV, Roy Maynard, Jay Grelen, Ed Veith, and David Freeland, and women like Joel's sister-in-law Mindy Belz and my wife, Susan.
No one on our staff is ready to become a 21st-century Amish. Not one will go gently into that cultural night. Not one will enter into a group hug with feminists or postmodernists, even if a refusal to conform leads to the label, "troubler of Israel."
No one on our staff wants to be labeled a troubler, and perhaps libeled in the process by those who have become thoroughly modern millenialists. We need to remember that, if some men and women of the Bible had been dainty and docile the way some say we should be now, Moses would have followed the crowd and worshiped the golden calf. David would have offered to play his harp for Goliath. Elijah would have become associate pastor at the church of Baal.
I am not, let me emphasize, proposing that we fight for fighting's sake. We are not to be quarrelsome. We are to turn the other cheek concerning personal offenses. But when basic biblical principles are at stake, we must not be reluctant to fight as saints nobly fought of old. When people whisper, "Did God really say ... ," as the serpent insinuated in Eden, we need to say, "Yes, he did." When people want us to go with the flow, to meet "halfway," we need to stand our ground whenever it is good ground, high ground, God's ground.
I thank God that the WORLD staff, sometimes under terrific pressure, stood its ground this past year. And, if there are battles in the year ahead, I pray that all of us and our dedicated subscribers will remember the fifth and sixth stanzas of "For All the Saints": And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long, Steals on the ear the distant triumph song, And hearts are brave again, and arms are strong, Alleluia! From earth's wide bounds, from ocean's farthest coast, Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host, Singing to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Alleluia!