Peter Pan the American Man

by Stephen Simpson
Publication: One-to-One, Summer 2007


Recently, I heard my pastor friend, Felipe Pinochet quote a news report noting the dramatic increase in the percentage of unmarried women in the United States. One of the primary reasons cited for this increase was that women were finding it more difficult to respect and trust men–increasing numbers of men seem to lack vision, direction, focus, and purpose.

The pop-psychological term for this is the “Peter Pan Syndrome,” which refers to the idea that many adult men simply don’t want to grow up. The term was popularized by author Dr. Dan Kiley, who wrote a book by that title in 1983. Symptoms of this syndrome include narcissism and immaturity, typified by irresponsibility, refusal or inability to plan ahead or make lasting commitments, rebelliousness, anger, and other problems. Sounds to me like an everyday episode of MTV’s “Real World” program.

Of course, there is a flip side to this problem as well. Many men are frustrated and confused by the rise of male-hating feminism, which has been seared into our society with white hot intensity via media, entertainment, advertising, education, politics, and courts run amok. Sadly, some men’s response to this is to become even more disconnected from reality via wanderlust, substance abuse, promiscuity, pornography, or even violence.

This reality cannot be ignored–the consequences to the long-term viability of civilization itself are dire. Because few of these men become eunuchs, and because many of them are master manipulators, they are able to find the occasional women with whom they can produce children. Sadly, the ability to create a child does not automatically confer the ability to raise a child.


This syndrome therefore perpetuates itself, so that increasing numbers of young people are being raised in homes where no father, or father figure, is prominent. Males are growing up with little direction, purpose, or focus, relying upon mother to care for them, feed them, pick up after them, and unconditionally love them. Millions of women heroically attempt to be all things to their children, but the statistical facts indicate that boys and girls both suffer when there is no father figure present.

If the Church is to have any relevance at all, it must actively equip and encourage our families for practical success in life. This means, we’ve got to take on the “Peter Pan Syndrome” full force, head-on.

Early on in my dad’s pastoral ministry, he discovered that large chunks of his time and energy were devoted to counseling women who were struggling desperately with collapsing marriages or bad husbands. He sensed the Lord telling him that the best thing he could do to support women was to reach their husbands with the Gospel of Christ’s Kingdom.


The Church today must strengthen and sharpen its focus on men. Ministries such as CSM and Promise Keepers have had a long-term emphasis on reaching and equipping men to be who God called them to be. This is not to the exclusion or detriment of women; it is for their great benefit.

Yet, many feminist groups have launched scathing attacks on these and other ministries, and upon the very Scriptural basis for reaching men. There is a palpable anger in our society against men, and it is true that many men have abdicated their God-given leadership roles due to gross irresponsibility, abuse, or immaturity. The very word “patriarchy” has become a curse word for many.

But the sin of some does not negate the truth of God’s Word for all. For the sake of present and future generations, men and women of God must uphold and encourage the principles of godly manhood and fatherhood. We must train our sons in what it means to be a man, what their destiny is in God, how to be resolute and responsible, how to be servant-leaders, and how to stand fast against the wiles of a spiritual enemy that actively seeks to destroy homes and communities.

It may mean occasionally tearing our young men away from their X-Boxes and off the couch. It may even mean some middle-aged men need to take a step or two away from the Star Trek conventions. While we are playing, other religions are reaching and engaging men militantly, and training them for conquest.

Changing the atmosphere in our culture may mean that some ladies need to spend less time watching Lifetime (aka the “Men are Evil” TV network) or imbibing in other feminist-inspired endeavors that promote man-hating. The answer to the “Peter Pan Syndrome” is not more male-bashing. When men see and hear someone like Rosie O’Donnell, it only makes them want to run away deeper into their play caves. Mere shrieking and finger-pointing won’t get the job done.

Saving the next generation means that men and women of God need to be unafraid of political correctness, to demonstrate biblical standards of manhood and womanhood, and to be willing to step into broken homes and bring wisdom and strength to children who need support. We need to encourage and restore men and women who are hurting. We need to stand together in prayer and believe that the faithfulness of the Lord does indeed endure to all generations.

About the Author:

Stephen Simpson

STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.