Rite of Passage. Western culture largely views these as age-based rights young adults automatically deserve once they hit a certain date. Depending on local laws 18 or 21-year olds are allowed to consume tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and pornography; they can now purchase weapons and ammunition. In most cases, this “right” is granted regardless of whether youths have benefited from any guidance in the inherent dangers of these practices nor any training in discernment in their use.
High school sports team and college fraternity hazing rituals involving sexual abuse, or deadly alcohol over-consumption, as we saw this week at Penn State and in 2013 at my own alma mater, Northern Illinois University, confirm the consequences of the absence of effective guidance in rites of passage.
Cultures across the globe have practiced the often-sacred ritual of male rites of passage when the fathers of a village suddenly take the sons away from the familiar and expose them to a new understanding of their roles as young men. These practices universally include the stages of separation—encounter—challenge—return—celebration.
Jewish culture, Native American, African cultures and others continue these time-honored traditions today. North American and European cultures have largely abandoned this kind of “initiation” to responsible, self-disciplined adult behavior at great cost.
This week Peregrine Ministries guided six dads and six sons through a modern version of this sacred practice we call Passage to Manhood. The dads “stole” their unsuspecting and bewildered sons from their high school for a day of mystery, teaching, challenge, movie clips, story-telling and sharpshooting. The journey culminated the next night with a room full of moms, siblings and grandparents who witnessed story-telling and blessing.
This isn’t a one-time deal where the sons suddenly become men overnight. But it is a profound and significant step in a journey that encourages young men to love God and others with all their heart (compassion), soul (confidence), mind (conviction), and strength (courage.)
Do you have a son who needs to hear this truth and experience this kind of encounter with you? Let us know. Because he matters.
My greatest joy in life is my family. I know, that sounds like the comment you’re supposed to make as a man and father. All I can say is I literally shake my head in wonder at the family I have: my wife Beryl; my daughter Barclay and son-in-law Vince, their four daughters, Bella, Brynn, Brooke and Blake; my son Alec, my son Conor and daughter-in-law Bonnie, and their daughter Gemma. Every one of them is a genuine gift. Beyond that, I have a calling that I live out through Peregrine Ministries. It is to help men: Understand their identity in Christ, Embrace their role as men, and Live out their God-given calling in life. Bottom line is I’m convinced men matter and I want to help them live life on purpose.