By David Bush
I’ve had the privilege over the past few years to be a part of the Men’s Fraternity classes on Wednesday nights. As the leader of a breakout group, I would have the opportunity to facilitate discussion and encourage men to apply the lessons that were taught via video by Pastor Robert Lewis.
One of the points Pastor Lewis made repeatedly was the fact that boys today are missing out on a significant rite of passage that used to be imbedded in the fabric of nearly all cultures. In past generations, the transition from boyhood to manhood was overseen by fathers and the men of a tribe, clan, or village. It was sometimes conferred ceremonially, at other times by inclusion in adult activities.
In the void of this kind of cultural affirmation, today’s adolescents and young men are left to wonder if they possess what it takes to be a man. Our culture is often filling this void with suggestions that manhood is comprised of things that are associated more with rebellion, violence, and unsafe or unhealthy practices than virtue or maturity.
As the father of four boys, I was convicted that I had a responsibility to not only define what a biblical man was, but to affirm to my sons that they were on their way to achieving this goal. I shared with the men in my breakout group my desire to take action in this area, and started to think about what a “manhood ceremony” would look like. Weeks turned to months, and months turned to more than a year. When my oldest son graduated from college, my second son got engaged to be married, and my third son was approaching 18, the realization came to me that it was “now or never” to fulfill my responsibility and commitment.
With all of my family home for Christmas break, and my two oldest son’s girlfriend and fiancé in town as well, I executed my plan. Along with one set of grandparents, we all went out for a nice semi-private dinner. Retiring to our home for dessert, I read to all a list of the things that I thought comprised biblical manhood, and contrasted this with what our culture suggested manhood meant. I then affirmed to each of my three oldest where they had met the qualifications of biblical manhood, shared something of the heritage they would now be a part of sustaining, and expressed my love and pride for each of them. I concluded the speech by presenting each with a special commemorative gift.
Will this be a game-changer for my boys? I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that I have had the opportunity to publically express my thoughts, God’s word, and my love and pride in a memorable and tangible way. My boy’s grandparents were able to see how their faith and involvement in their lives was bearing fruit that will pass to another generation. Two likely future wives of my oldest sons were able to hear a biblical definition of manhood and see ways that their men were achieving this. And a youngest son was given a picture of manhood and a goal to strive for.
All this, plus I got to fulfill a commitment I made to my band of brothers. Better late than never.