According to NBC, David Wise, Olympic gold medal skier, lives an “alternative lifestyle”. And by alternative, they mean that he is a mature, married man who prioritizes his wife and 2-year-old daughter, attends church, and still finds time to develop his ski style abilities.
A 23-year-old family man is apparently not considered mainstream anymore.
Or maybe it is simply not mainstream for Olympians, which leads one to wonder if all that focus on developing a specific sport skill is healthy on a mental, emotional, and social level.
Now, in their Twitter stream about this someone asked if the “alternative” part was tongue in cheek, and whoever posts for them said simply, “Yes.” However, the original article uses the word in the headline and in the body of the article, and offers no signal that it is to be taken less than seriously.
But whether they intended it to be tongue in cheek or not is beside the point. They used the term, and they wrote an entire article focusing on how unique (from their perspective) his way of living life is. The whole basis of the article is the notion that how David Wise lives is a break from the norm.
Perhaps it is. Maybe our society has completely bought the idea that marrying later is always better, and that 23 is still boyhood, and that a guy who loves his wife, daughter, and Savior and is still well-balanced enough to be successful is a complete anomaly. But what does that say about our society?
We seem to have come far afield from the days when teenage boys were expected to start learning a career. Or when a 12 year old boy like David Farragut could be put in charge of an entire ship. Not that Farragut isn’t a unique case, but when a skier twice his age makes news for taking care of his family, well, have we lost sight of what it means to grow up?
This is a problem in general I see in our society. The Affordable Care Act says that 26 year olds are still children, at least as far as health insurance is concerned. Psychologists and sociologists are claiming that a 25 year old is still in the transition out of adolescence. The average age of first marriage statistic says that a guy is shooting for the middle when he can’t get a girl until he’s 30.
When I was a young man, I thought I had hit the milestone that said I was entering manhood when finally I needed to shave on a daily basis. I think I was 14 at the time. Yes, I had a lot to learn then about manhood (probably still do), but at least I knew I was getting close. I didn’t have an entire society telling me I was only halfway there.
Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t give us a specific age at which a boy becomes a man. It might be easier if it did, because then we could at least say to the young men in our churches, “Here it is, ready or not!” However, I have always found interest in a couple of specific statements God does make:
“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for other believers in your speech, behavior, love, faithfulness, and purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12. We don’t know how old Timothy was when he received this encouragement, but the point is that youth does not preclude doing good things for God and modeling godliness to others.
“Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.” – Jeremiah 1:7. God said this to Jeremiah before sending him out as a prophet. Jeremiah was not yet “old enough” according to Jewish tradition to teach, being under the age of 30. God had a different idea about who he could get to speak for him.
Also, while God was saying this to Jeremiah, the guy sitting on the throne was a 21 year old named Josiah. He’d been king for 13 years at that point. Do the math.
The fact that NBC can run an article like they did about David Wise and still be called credible as journalists fills me with concern for young men today. Rather than being urged to mature, they are being told that they can play the part of Peter Pan, go hang out with the Lost Boys, and put real life on hold until they feel a little more ready.
Can’t we do better for our boys? Can’t we encourage them to walk boldly into manhood and make something of themselves? What do we need to give them to make that happen?