Vantage Point: On Becoming a Man or Woman

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Vantage Point

On Becoming a Man or Woman

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It's common to hear advice to be true to yourself, to hold to your own ideals, to decide for yourself what is right for you. As some reason, the only way to be happy and successful is to firmly hold on to your own individuality. Expressing this sentiment, Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the mid-20th century, advised: "Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you'll be criticized anyway."

While we should always act in accordance with what we understand to be right, societal standards have shifted greatly since this former first lady uttered these words.

While many in her day strongly believed in things being either right or wrong, it's become popular today to accept all choices as being of equal value. And should anyone state that something is either right or wrong, it seems a chorus of political correctness shouts in response, "Don't judge me! Who are you to tell me what to think, believe or do?" Being "judgmental" seems to be the only remaining behavior considered sinful in our modern world.

Unfortunately, a society without guidelines is a toxic environment, not only for adults but also for young men and women. When we are taught that ideals are just someone's opinion and that other personal opinions are just as valid, we can become confused. Manhood or womanhood becomes a vague, illusory perception. It's whatever one wants it to be.

Delayed adolescence—a lengthening of the time it takes to become a self-sufficient adult—has become quite common for males in the United States. Here, an increasing number of young men continue living at home, dependent on a parent or parents.

According to Dr. Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland, many young American men aged 16 to 26 are "totally confused and cannot commit to their relationships, work or lives. Although they seem baffled by the riddles of manhood and responsibility, they submit to the 'Guy Code,' where locker-room behaviors, sexual conquests, bullying, violence and assuming a cocky jock pose can rule over the sacrifice and conformity of marriage and family. Obsessed with never wanting to grow up, this demographic, which is 22 million strong, craves video games, sports and depersonalized sexual relationships"(

While boys struggle to become men, girls are offered a dizzying array of ideas on what it means to become a woman. Feminists suggest that women should compete with men in the corporate world and forgo marriage and having children. Others say that marriage and family are at the heart and core of being a woman.

Instead of falling for empty slogans and other people's notions of manhood and womanhood, we encourage you to learn what God says about these important subjects. Be sure to read our lead articles: "True Values of Young Manhood" and "Preparing for Womanhood." VT