An unattached male is a young man who is either single or divorced. With today’s focus usually on helping young women flourish, unattached males are not faring well in modern American culture.  David French in The Dispatch recently sounded the alarm about this segment of our population. Quoting Patrick T. Brown he noted, “The opioid epidemic is hammering single and divorced men. Over 35,000 prime-age single men died of drug-related causes in 2020, a 35% increase from ’19.”  

Further, French cited a Wall Street Journal article detailing the immense and increasing education gap between American men and women: “At the close of the 2020-21 academic year, women made up 59.5% of college students, an all-time high, and men 40.5%…U.S. colleges and universities had 1.5 million fewer students compared with five years ago, and men accounted for 71% of the decline.”  

Beyond disproportionately high opioid overdoses and declining college enrollment numbers, men commit suicide almost four times more often than women.  They’re also losing close friends at a higher rate than women.  In light of this, French asks whether “gender-specific cultural or policy changes” exist to “help repair the terrible (and often deadly) damage done to young men.”   

French wonders how we can help younger men find their way even as we intensely debate the question of what it means to be a man.  Remember that the American Psychological Association declared that “traditional masculinity ideology” marked by “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression” is harmful to boys and men.  French uses this to make a case for the channeling of these tendencies in men as virtues. “Healthy masculinity,” French suggests, “seeks to channel these characteristics (which are often, but not exclusively, found in young men) towards virtue and away from vice.”  

Then French makes this observation which I want to quote in full, because it is worth pondering as grown men wanting to influence the lives of younger men:  “…You’re not asking boys to reject their nature, nor are you asking them to indulge their impulses. Instead, the process of character formation shapes a young man from the inside out, to make the very best of who they are. And then, ideally, as a boy grows into a man, he connects his virtue to a sense of purpose – a calling into which he pours his energy and effort.”  

French makes a very telling comment when he observes that there are two jobs that only men can fill: “Only a man can be a husband. Only a man can be a father.  And those jobs have a purpose and meaning that transcends the purpose and meaning of virtually any profession or career…two of the most important purposes that any person can pursue are right there, in front of them, and theoretically available to the vast majority of America’s men.”

Men, that is the challenge: it is our task to raise up the next generation of young men who love God and desire to serve him.  We can’t leave it to the government, or to social engineers who keep their focus primarily on needs of young girls.  Yes, girls need help too.  But who is going to come to rescue of young men?  Don’t expect your wife or your mother to do that.  “YOU ARE THE MAN.”

I am past my prime.  But I write this blog to influence men younger than myself.  I cry out with the words of Psalm 78:18, “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”