Henry’s Journey [ARTICLE – Levi Pellitier]

If you could meet eight-year-old Henry, you would like him. 

Something about his wild and free heart sparks a man to reminisce about his own childhood. In appearance, he looks just like his dad, though he is unaware of this—because Henry has not met his father. As Henry looks in the mirror, he will never know the resemblance he bears to this especially important man he will never meet.

This good-natured boy is on an extensive journey, while packing a rather ponderous burden. He is navigating the path to manhood, and he is shouldering the weight of an absent father. Yet, Henry is remarkably ambitious and lacks no measure of observation. Still, he is impoverished of discernment, a necessary trait for such a journey. He is a boy traveling to the territory of manhood; so he must discern the masculine way. Can we expect an eight-year-old boy to discern masculinity amid a culture where gender lines are fading? Statistics declare that his chances of adopting biblical masculinity are bleak.

Henry’s journey to manhood is lined with hostile strains, but it is also not without help. Two forces are vying for his allegiance: the culture and God. He lives in a time—our time—when the culture offers no aid to gender distinctions. It wants to steer him into a genderless abyss using “billboards” like music, clothing, hairstyles, movies, and social media.

The world in which Henry lives is screaming for his allegiance! “Don’t commit to one woman—you’ll sacrifice a life of excitement!” “Let your feelings determine who you are, and your fashion can express it to everyone else.” “It’s okay if you don’t want to work; someone else will support you.” “Children just get in the way of a happy marriage.” “A man is only as strong as his body.” “Spiritual activities are for the weak-minded and delusional.” Henry’s world tells him that God’s fixated gap between the genders can be bridged by the content of his feelings. Our culture is a rapidly moving current, and it is pulling Henry’s generation under.

Don’t forget that God is also a force vying for Henry’s allegiance. No one knows his need for a masculine father more than God. No one wants Henry to obtain masculinity more than God. It is here that I will say a word to Henry and to all who are navigating the path to manhood without an earthly father. You must conclude it is best to be fathered by God. Every fatherly characteristic is intrinsically perfect within Him. God knows how to raise a boy. He created the male gender, and He is the source of its qualities. Deep fellowship with God always results in the development of your gender.

Henry has a simple yet meaningful relationship with God. Still, the pressure of the culture and the absence of a tangible father act like frosted glass in front of God’s portrait of manliness. If Henry could just see what it looks like, his heart would follow.

Innate within every boy is the desire to mirror what he identifies as masculine. Without a visual example, masculinity will remain an abstract concept to Henry. Telling him the tenets of his gender is not without profit, but principles gain clarity and meaning when they are projected through a visible life. The life of Christ is our chief example because Jesus perfectly embodied the principles that He taught. It is the tangible expression of masculinity that will illuminate manliness to Henry. He needs an environment in which he can observe men who are at the bow of all things spiritual.

You may not see him, but Henry attends your church. He often rides the bus or sometimes comes with his grandparents or his single mother. In the potpourri of people and pews, Henry sits—observing. His curious eyes jaunt from man to man and scene to scene. In his mind emerge several thoughts: “I wonder why they’re not singing? Don’t men like to sing? Maybe I shouldn’t sing so loud? I’m sure tired! Is it okay to sleep in church? Jimmy’s dad does it every week. That’s odd that just the women knelt down after the preaching. Do men like preaching? I wonder why none of the men teach Sunday School? Maybe just women are supposed to do that.” This is the message of masculinity that Henry would receive in too many churches.

Our churches should be the strongest voices coming to the podium of masculinity. God intends for His church to declare and to display a clear picture of manliness. A masculine Christ did not institute a feminine church. Men, you are God’s represented force for masculinity, and you are battling the culture on the ground of Henry’s heart. A manly church fosters masculinity in the heart of a fatherless boy.

I confess, Henry is a nonexistent boy, but his story represents a pervasively existing plight in our world. His story is not unlike mine. I write on behalf of Henry and all those who travel his path. I write to the men. Fatherless boys are receiving counsel in the way of manliness by observing your conduct.

Ponder this thought: if Henry were to mirror you as a man, can we have confidence in the perpetuity of masculinity?

Levi Pelletier graduated from Heartland Baptist Bible College in 2017 and is currently enrolled in Heartland Baptist Seminary.  He is part of the Global Baptist Times staff at Bible Baptist Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

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1 Comment
  1. Excellent reminder Bro Levi. This is an article every man in a church should read.

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