St. Matthew Church | Glendale Heights, Illinois

Playboys and Boys Playing

Our country witnessed two deaths recently: Hugh Hefner and the Boys Scouts of America. I delayed writing their obituaries due to my deep respect for all the good the Boys Scouts do and my deep sorrow for all the bad Hefner did. I have been present at many deaths; at those times, I have no knowledge of the goodness or the badness of the deceased’s life. I am simply there because they have died. I am there to pray. In that spirit, I pray both for the Boy Scouts and Hefner.

Hefner’s death was marked mostly by praise in the media. He was portrayed as one of the founding philandering fathers of the sexual revolution. Two weeks later, Harvey Weinstein was condemned for living out the principles glorified by Hefner in his pornographic photography. Weinstein was condemned by an industry that makes a living by prostituting in film what Weinstein lived. I am all for condemning Weinstein’s horrible actions; they are already condemned in our six and ninth commandments. We are almost all of us sexually harassed against our wills simply by turning on the television. However, consistency demands that we go all the way and condemn Hollywood and Hefner at the same time we condemn Weinstein. May God have mercy on those who lead others into sin. May they find his mercy and live in the light of his pure love. The industry doesn’t produce playboys; instead it turns boys into beasts.

Which is why I loved the late Boy Scouts of America. They helped bad boys become good and good boys become better. In their ranks, a boy got to stand shoulder to shoulder in a band of brothers. He learned how to work together with others as a team. He could also achieve great merits on his own and be honored for them. You might doubt there is such a thing as boyhood that needs to be celebrated. But even transgendered girls have recognized it and desired it, although in a confused and misguided way. Even those little girls want to be boys. That’s because boyhood is a wonderful, glorious thing. God the Father created it. God the Son lived it. And so did the late Boys Scouts of America; they provided a path to help boys grow into men. I saw it happen while four wheels were slapped on a block of pine wood and raced down a track to shouts of joy. That was a real joy ride and we could go along for the ride. The boy who knows how to play well doesn’t lose his boyhood; no, he rides into a manhood. This is why I mourn the loss of the Boy Scouts. I am not alone in this; the Girls Scouts were also shocked at the change. I still respect our current scouts and their leaders and I encourage you to make your troops noble and effective. But your parent group has died; there is no more Boys Scouts of America. Now it is Boys and Girls and Girls-who-want-to-be-boys Scouts of America.

If we lose our boys, we lose our men, we lose our brothers, we lose our husbands, we lose our fathers, we lose our priests. Bombarded by sinfully sexual imagery, our boys will become beasts. Without positive, virtuous imagery to inspire them, our boys will become effeminate. This is not a pessimistic prophecy—it is the world we live in. Neither of those paths are the path of the perfect man, Jesus Christ. The one who follows after him becomes himself more of a man (Gaudium et Spes 41). I encourage you to spend time playing with your boys. Let them share their joy with you. Challenge them to be kind and courageous. Teach them to celebrate the gift of their masculinity while understanding its wounds. Teach them to respect the equally beautiful gift of femininity with its own wounds. But most of all, introduce your boys to Jesus Christ.

We can learn this from a good father and a good man, St. Josemaria. He says,

Don't let your life be barren. Be useful. Make yourself felt. Shine forth with the torch of your faith and your love. With your apostolic life, wipe out the trail of filth and slime left by the corrupt sowers of hatred. And set aflame all the ways of the earth with the fire of Christ that you bear in your heart. (The Way 1)

With my prayers,

Fr. Jerome