by Frank Muller
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I invite fathers who have boys to carefully consider having the discussion with our future men in society about what defines a man for both good and for evil. The issue of sexual attraction and the inappropriate acting out of it has devastating consequences for both men and women. Those consequences flow through to society and culture. This loss of self-control of our physical purity becomes the first domino in the loss of so many other virtues.
Young boys are bombarded with images and story lines and role models that create a belief that sexual conquest is what a man should pursue and how women should be viewed and used. In many ways, it is seen as the validation of a young boy to have a girlfriend and from that a sexual encounter. I will set aside in this missive the discussion about what this does to girls and future women, but it is certainly destructive in the long term to both sexes.
Let’s be honest with ourselves men!
Most men (including me regrettably) have seen sexual images and scenes that once seen cannot be unseen. These images and role models may create a pathway of recurring imaginative thought that can last a lifetime. Like any consistently performed behaviors, this mental imaging and fantasizing leads to behavior addiction and character formation for good or for evil.
From an early age, our young boys are taught to give into their carnal desires instead of learning to manage those natural desires to their rightly ordered end. Watch almost any program and it becomes quickly apparent how compromising moral virtues actually becomes funny. Characters are celebrated for their ingenious manipulation of others to get what they want. The gossiping, the criticizing, the emotional outbursts and tears and on and on…… Every emotion is characterized and made extreme right down to facial contortions and smirks.
That which is evil is seared into our minds and hearts just as that which is good can be seared into our minds and hearts. This can come through drama, comedy, music and every other form of information consumption.
It is vital we protect these vulnerable young boys from allowing such grave evils into their hearts and minds and to teach them how to seek only the good in what we allow into our inner world. The first step to emotional and moral maturity is learning how to rein in our passions and govern our emotions and thoughts. When we learn at an early age to not struggle against those impulses but simply work to be successful at satisfying them then they will diminish their ability to control a myriad of other moral decisions and behaviors.
A well-formed man is capable of great sacrifice, tremendous amounts of work, physical and moral tenacity and more. A Navy Seal learns how to discipline their bodies to pain which is a military good. However, do we have a Navy Seal program for morality and virtue where our young boys learn how to discipline their minds and habits? That training location is not in Coranado, California. It is in our homes.
We grow strong as men not in what we partake of but rather what we deny ourselves of. By learning how to eschew primal desires and elevate our minds and hearts to moral virtues then in the instance of sex our healthy and normal desires can now be channeled to the right purpose.
The tragic and devastating consequences for both men and women of this rampant loss of self-control and seeking pleasure in this way and thinking it will make us happy – it will not, and the data is overwhelming. Broken marriages, abortions, narcissism, cheating, pornography, abuse both physical and emotional, substance abuse of drugs and alcohol and ……
The role of fathers is to teach (even if we did not learn early ourselves) how to master our thoughts and rightly order our behaviors. Teaching young men to honor women as people of dignity who are meant to be loved, honored and protected. The “loved” part means sacrifice, not sex.
Teaching our young boys from the earliest age that the purpose of sex (which is good and beautiful) is for the creation of new life. If we allow them to be taught that sex is merely about pleasure then of course they will want sex without consequences, responsibility, respect, or costs. Women may then become disposable in favor of the next more attractive or friendly girl and children become a liability – not as asset.
When our young boys learn how to control purity and rightly order themselves, they become later able to control their tongue, discipline their study habits, and many other virtuous tasks. We see so many successful men in athletics, academics and business who despite their successes have a long line of broken relationships and failures in their personal lives. Success is defined in the wrong way.
Learning to order purity then allows the foundation for secular ordering towards success to be placed within a virtuous context. Winning at all costs goes away and replaced with winning in the right and honorable way. That way is the way of love, which is sacrifice and mercy, not the marital act.
Pornography is the worst possible form of degradation to morality. Let us not think that X rated is just pornographic. Anything that degrades sexuality to merely pleasure and conquest as an expression of “love” is harmful to all. Orienting “love” to sacrifice and sex to “creation” brings order and lasting happiness.
Pornography and the follow-on pathology of repetitive fantasy life is destroying manhood and the family. I have lost count of the number of men who have confided this lifelong struggle to me and it all stems from seeing and exposing our imagination to such images and role models and then investing countless hours talking about women, chasing women, thinking about women – all of which revolve around satiating our desires no matter what moral principal we have to break.
Regardless of the mistakes we have made (or are making), we as husbands and fathers can seek forgiveness and mercy through our sincere confession, repentance and FIRM determination to stop. This will be a lifelong struggle for us, but we can save our young boys from that struggle by guiding them in Truth and Love. It is precisely because we may have sinned in this way that we are able to actually help and more importantly try to prevent the same mistakes we made.
It is the sinner who is able to speak to the sin. Is the alcoholic who can stand and up say “I am an alcoholic” and they start the path to helping themselves AND others by that confession. One way of helping with this struggle is to love those boys we have charge of by teaching them the true meaning of manhood and our proper relationship with women.
The more we teach, the more we ourselves are transformed but this act of selfless giving. Let us also not forget that our young girls are just as vulnerable, literally a click away. As boys and men, we can set the example for both sexes that we can learn to manage our natural and normal impulses and through our free will and the Grace of our Creator rise to our rightful place above the animals, not with the animals.
Not only has our culture lost its’ sense of true manhood but it has also lost its’ sense of true femininity. The object of our desire which are these beautiful and loving women, we defile if we are not rightly ordered, and all lose. When we treat them and ourselves from the earliest days with dignity and rightly order our interior lives, our world will become a much happier and safer place to live.
Linked below are resources for men and boys who may have this challenge or seek to reduce the temptation to take a peek. What is seen, cannot be unseen. Let us shine the light of goodness and beauty and virtue into the lives of our sons.
Peace be with us all.