Blessed Are the "Man-Boys"

No, we don’t need more immature men. They’re plain to see. They’re easy to pigeonhole. They’re easy to reject and demonize and diagnose. We call them “man-boys.” But what if there’s a more complex form of male immaturity that our eyes can’t see? He’s got it together, he’s crushing it, he’s intelligent, he’s a leader in the church, but he’s insecure and immature on the inside. He thrives on the façade that he is a success. He is the alpha dog of Christian masculinity, but still a puppy when he’s alone with himself.

Inside somewhere, there is a little boy — himself as a little boy — blinded by bars of smug self-satisfaction, chained to the floor by the veneer of maturity, locked in a cage with all of his unresolved fears and insecurities. His boy-self is untouchable, because his immaturity is imperceptible — invisible to eyes that quantify sanctification with predictably visible criteria.

He is a little boy with a grown body who, despite his many marks of masculinity (which he is prepared to list), is just as needy as the grown man living in his mom’s basement. They are both frozen in versions of themselves — one in “man-mode,” one in “boy-mode” — both man-boys.

The Gap Between ‘Man’ and ‘Boy’

Culture tells us that women want a man who is boy and man. Emotionally intelligent and professionally advancing. Sensitive and serious. Artsy and affluent. Therefore, men are in a bind. So men try. And fail. And most of the men we meet are somewhere rocketing back and forth between “man” and “boy.”

And we sadly hate ourselves for being unable to integrate what, it seems, are two irreconcilable but good aspects of masculinity: innocent dependence and laborious wisdom, spun out disobediently into couch potato and heel-grabbing entrepreneur, Mr. Wrong and Mr. Right, despicable idiot and gloriously competent, slug and god.

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