I’d like to address this exhortation to young men. But those tasked with raising young men, or little boys who will one day be young men, or young women who would like to marry a young man someday should tune in as well.
There are abundant symptoms of atrophy amongst this generation of young men––rampant porn use, delayed (or no) marriage, low workforce participation, school drop-out rates, along with various measurements of failing health & vitality. But the disease underlying all this is that our culture has entirely misunderstood what young men are for.
Young men are glorious for their strength, zeal, and boundless energy. This is a design feature, and shouldn’t be medicated away, nor squandered away on porn & video game, nor on the vanity projects & unjust wars of tyrants. Rather, this strength must be submitted to the Word. As David says, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word (Psalms 119:9).”
This strength under the Word should teach us the goodness that Jeremiah comments upon, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth (Lam 3:27).” Loads are good things for young men’s backs. So, young man, submit yourself to God’s Word, and then find the biggest load you can bear. Once you’ve mastered that load, move on to a bigger one.
Along the way, as soon as you’re able, find a wife of your youth, and delight in her charms. Take Solomon’s counsel in Ecclesiastes 11, “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth;” but bear in mind that God will judge the folly of strength wasted. The 37th Psalm dryly reminds us, “I have been young, and now am old.” Golly, thanks! Your strength will dry up soon. So spend it, exert it, spill it out for the glory of God and not on worthless things.
The Lord God, of course, has seen our cultural folly. We have medicated young men, told them they are toxic, scolded and chided them, and insisted that they still go fight in our wars of greed or unjust causes. The Church bears much blame on this front. Instead of joying in the glory of the strength of young men we’ve cultivated an effeminate version of Christianity, a namby-pamby Gospel, and tolerated an impotent worship. May the Lord forgive us for not imitating the request of the Psalmist when he asks, “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth (Psa 144:12).” Further, may God grant us young men who are vigorous for His Word, hungry for His glory, and fully yet cheerfully aware of the fleetingness of their strength. May we in Christ’s church understand what both men & women are for, according to the Word. Would that the Spirit grant us a true a lasting repentance for the ways in which we have compromised and led our culture into compromise on this front.
Finally, strength is not found anywhere else than in the strong walls of Jehovah. Whether male or female, young or old, you must flee to the strong tower of Christ for safety, protection, forgiveness, and glory. Confession of sin is running into those bulwarks, and the Gospel assures us that our sins are forgiven through Christ.