Rites Of Passage

Stephen Arterburn

Many young men are in a state of limbo because they’re confused about when boyhood ends and manhood begins. Our culture has no identifiable rite of passage to announce, affirm, or celebrate this transition.

Many cultures around the world understand the need for such rites of passage. There’s an African tribe where, on the day of induction, one of the boy’s adult teeth is knocked out. Males who still have that tooth act and are treated like boys. Males who have lost that tooth act and are treated like men. The induction ceremony is often painful and frightening for an adolescent boy. But afterward he flaunts his painful wounds as proud proof of his manhood.

One Native American nation had a similar rite of passage. During the winter of induction, a boy was taken to a frozen lake. A hole was cut in the ice through which the boy dove three times to the bottom of the lake. Each time he brought up a stone from the bottom, which, from that day forward, he carried in a pouch around his neck as tangible proof that he was a man.

Of course, I’m not suggesting the reinstitution of these particular rites of passage! I’m only stating that no appropriate rites of passage exist in our society. I do, however, think we need them. Today’s young men usually have no idea when the transition to manhood should take place, leaving them confused, frustrated, and angry as a result.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *