In my men’s small group we are using the DVD “Quest for Authentic Manhood” by Dr. Robert Lewis as an aid for our discussions. It’s been an excellent resource in helping us ask tough, thought provoking questions. One of the things that this video brought up was the fact that as Christians living in our western culture, there is no specific rite of passage or milestone that signifies a coming of age for a young man into adult hood. There are secular recognized ages such as 16 – getting a drivers license, 18 – the legal age of emancipation from ones parents and being able to vote, 21 – being able to purchase alcohol, 25 – getting a reduction on car insurance (one that I can fondly remember looking forward to), etc.
And while the church does recognize a number of significant milestones…
- Joining a Church
We are still left without a prescribed time when a father says to his son, “Now, you are a man.”
Should there be one? The scripture verse that most reference in regard to this question is Matthew 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
A large number of Chrisitan men’s organizations see this verse as a recommendation for Christian fathers to pass on the mantle of manhood with their sons. These groups also see the lack of a rite of passage as a shortcoming in our western society and one that can leave a man questioning his self worth.
Does Dad see me as a man? Have I achieved the goals that my Father set before me (even if I don’t know what those may be)? Is my Dad happy with me, or is there something that I still need to do to win his affection?
In my men’s group one of the guys mentioned that he is looking forward to setting aside a time with his son and going through a rite of passage with him. I have found this whole thing to be a rather new idea and so I’ve been doing a great deal of “googling” and reading up on rites of passage. I’ve been quite surprised with the number of sites I’ve found that are devoted to this topic. In explaining this concept to my 16 year old son, he said that he liked the idea. So what do you think? For those of you with son’s is this something that you’ve considered doing? In reading the articles that I have linked below, I question; if this is such a profound experience for a young man, if there is (and there appears to be) scriptural evidence to support it, then why aren’t we doing this in our churches? Why don’t we have something like this as a church recognized ceremony? And before anyone goes down a rabbit trail like, what if the child no longer has a father, then I would say that’s what the fathers brothers, Christian friends or elders of the church are for.
I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this.
I found this to be an excellent article, although I do question the authors comments regarding girls and rites of passage – Boys Will Be Boys
This article at LeadershipU does a good job outlining Dr. Robert Lewis’s vision for manhood – Knighthood and Biblical Manhood
This is from the Band of Brothers site – Raising up the Next Generation of Brothers of Christ
If as Christians we don’t fill this need, should we be concerned that men who feel unconnected and lost may turn outside of the church to mark this transition in their lives.