Why Wooden Swords & Plastic Guns Are Essential for Boys PDF Print E-mail


If you have been blessed by having sons, or if you deal with boys in a school context, you have no doubt wondered: why is it that this gender gravitates to weaponry?

We live in a world where the identity of the two sexes is so marred that little distinction is made anymore. Indeed to even suggest that significant differences should exist is to be accused of being outdated in ones thinking. What then, is true and Biblical masculinity? 

As much as it may distress us, our boys are future men. Raising boys takes a lot of courage and consistency and we need to look to the Scriptures to find our model for masculinity. Manhood is where boyhood should be aimed. William Mouser, in his book “Five aspects of Man” points to five clear distinctive features of the masculine constitution: Lords; Husbandmen; Saviours; Sages and Glory bearers. 


Man was created to exercise dominion in the earth. The charge which God gave in this regard is frequently called the cultural mandate. Right from an early age, boys want to conquer and subdue, even if the terrain is only the backyard.

momson armed_to_the_teeth

They are in training after all, and should be encouraged to become men who exercise dominion. They should be learning to be lords in the earth, and should be adventurous and visionary. This is difficult to do when they are only surrounded by videos and computers. If you have no backyard find a park, and let him conquer!!


Man was created not only to conquer, but also to make the conquered land flourish. If the dominion mandate were taken in isolation, men would end up basing a culture on piracy and freebooting. So, if you are going to subdue the land, you must settle down on it! A Great many lessons can be learned in the back garden. A rich farmer was once rebuked for having his sons work in the fields when they did not have to. His reply was that he was not just raising corn, but raising sons. Our boys need to learn to be patient, careful and hardworking.


Boys have a natural inclination to rescue and save. Our greatest example of a Saviour is of course Jesus Christ. The ancient serpent was the tempter who brought the occasion of sin before Adam and Eve. Men who follow Jesus Christ, the dragon slayer, must themselves become lesser dragon-slayers. And this is why it is absolutely essential for boys to play with wooden swords and plastic guns. Boys have a deep need to have something to defend, something to represent in battle. And to beat your swords into plows prematurely, before the war is over, will leave you plowing for those who kept their swords. The Christian faith is in no way pacifistic. The peace that will be ushered in by our great Prince will be a peace purchased with blood. As our Lord sacrificed Himself in this war, so must His followers learn to do. Our boys must therefore learn to be strong, sacrificial, courageous and good.


A man who is great in wisdom, is a sage. We must therefore teach our boys the masculinity of study, of learning, of books, of intellectual discussion. We must not let them pit one aspect of masculinity against another. When this is allowed to happen, a boy who naturally loves sport can too readily dismiss poetry or reading as effeminate. We must gird up the loins of the mind. This is a discipline possibly unpleasant at the time, but nonetheless essential. Boys must therefore be taught to be teachable, studious and thoughtful.


This aspect of masculinity is seen in the fact that men are the glory of God. (I Cor 11:7) The woman reflects the glory of God by reflecting the glory of man, whose glory she is. The head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is man (I Cor. 11:3). The Bible assigns one kind of glory to men, and another to women. This is not meant to be in competition to one another, but to complement one another. Because this is true, boys must be instructed on how to grow up into glory and how to fulfill their responsibility to be representative, responsible and holy.

In summary, we should have a pretty good idea of where we are headed with our boys. These future men need to learn how to be aggressive and adventurous, they are learning to be lords of the earth. We want them to be patient and hard working, they are learning husbandry. We want to instill in them a hatred for evil and to have a deep desire to fight it. They are learning what a weapon feels like in their hands. We should want boys to be eager to learn from the wise, as they become wise themselves. We should want them to stand before God, in the worship of God, with head uncovered. They are the image and glory of God.

Raising boys takes a lot of faith. This is good because the presence or absence of faith reveals whether or not we have a Biblical doctrine of our future. The faith exhibited by wise parents of boys is the faith of a farmer, or a sculptor, or anyone else engaged in the work of shaping unfolding possibilities. It is the faith of someone who looks at the present and sees what it will become through grace and good works. Let us immerse ourselves in Scripture and see then, how to raise our future men.

(This article is based on the book 'FUTURE MEN' by Douglas Wilson)

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