One of my best friends in high school, who was of course a girl, had to tell me we couldn't hang out anymore. When I asked why, she bitterly let me know that her parents told her I was a pig who was only interested in her for her body. I thought that was cute, being stereotyped in the completely wrong direction. But isn't that what so many Christians think is all they need to know about young males?
I would say that about 95 percent of the guy-specific ministry I experienced from the teen years on up had to do with managing lust. A vital topic, to be sure, but I often wondered if anyone saw anything else in me, or if anyone could answer my deeper questions about life, relationships, real manhood — which is more than just white-knuckling our way to our wedding night.
My secret struggle with my sexual identity underscored how little was taught to me and my peers about building a godly masculine identity in the first place. I'm sure someone touched on it in a sermon somewhere along the way, but preaching never has a lasting impact on such core, complex parts of a person's being.
And if anyone was going to help me respond healthily to my feelings, they needed to at least acknowledge their reality and validate my experience, not just tell me that sin is sin and feelings don't matter. That's where the self-named "progressives" are one step ahead of Christians; they take time to listen, and they take young people seriously.
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