By Ron Wood / guest columnist
The Meridian Star
I saw a handsome young man walking in my direction down the city street. Probably in high school. Maybe an athlete. Moving fast. He tugged on his pants, pulled them way down, and uncovered all of his boxer shorts. He held on to his belt with one hand and kept on walking, although now with a waddle in his gait. He didn’t notice me but I sure noticed him. “Hey! You! Pull your pants up!” I yelled.
“Who, me?” he tossed over his shoulder as he kept walking. “You don’t even know me.” He tugged upwards on his belt until his pants were now halfway up over his underwear, a little less in danger of exposing himself.
I thought to myself, “Yeah, son, I do know you. You’re a wayward son. You’re a momma’s boy who’s gotten too big for her to manage. Your daddy left you and now you don’t know how a man ought to behave. I know you because here you are, strutting down the street, a young rebel without self-respect.”
Tough love speaks up. It may sound like a father’s voice. It may be a mother’s insistence. But tough love will confront a wayward son. Why? So he will be spared from hell, kept from jail, and learn how to be a mature man for the sake of the next generation.
I’ve done a lot of research about absentee fathers in America. It’s an epidemic. There is no greater economic crisis or social issue. Listen up: America’s power is not in its military might but in its culture. Our culture was once anchored in two-parent, multi-generational families based on the Bible. But America has changed.
`So tell me … Where have all the fathers gone?
Boys left to be raised with no father in the house are more likely to seek out gangs. Why? There they find acceptance, authority figures, and feel authenticated by acting brave and getting noticed. Mothers abandoned by their baby-daddy are more likely to go on welfare and have a lower standard of living while the renegade man’s standard of living goes up after he bails on his family.
Boys have it tough in public schools too. Girls grow up faster. They excel in a female-oriented environment. Boys check out, go passive, and lose motivation to learn. Many studies have shown that simply putting a man in the classroom, just to be there, not even to teach, causes boys to suddenly do much better.
Recently, I walked out of a store into the parking lot. I saw a big truck with a small blue and white bumper sticker. I’ve seen them all around our city. This is what it says:
IT TAKES A MAN
TO TEACH A MAN
HOW TO BE A MAN
The power of that slogan stunned me. It wasn’t religious. It wasn’t political. It was so simple but so true. Turns out the inventor of that slogan has lived in Meridian all of his life. He’s Steve Mosley, pastor of The Church of Hope in Philadelphia. He sells the magnetic bumper stickers on his website: www.LetsSaveOurMen.org.
Men, take a stand for the sake of America's lost boys. Dare to mentor a boy or a youth. If you are a leader who influences others, encourage the young men to marry, to stay married to the same woman, and to become a good father. Together we can heal our land.
Ron Wood is pastor of Trinity Assembly of God, located on Chandler Road at State Boulevard in Meridian. Website: www.trinitymeridian.com. Phone: 601-483-8189.