What Is a Rite of Passage
Traditionally, a rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s transition between childhood and full inclusion into a tribe or social group and identify as an adult, warrior or contributing member of the society in which they live. A rite of passage marks a defining moment, a milestone, in an individual’s life when their social status is changed forever. When they are no longer what they were.
1 Corinthians 13.11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” A rite of passage encourages and demands a boy to put away childish things and become a man. There are many different rites of passage in numerous cultures. Whether, it’s the Spartan agoge where a boy of seven years was taken in and trained to fight, then released on his 18th birthday for the Helot killing. Killing as many Helot slaves as possible. Or the lion killing ritual of the Maasai an African tribe that used a lion hunt as a rite of passage, one of a few steps in the process of turning teenagers into warriors and members of society. Using nothing more than spears and shields, the young Maasai venture out into the savanna to kill some lions.
American culture is lacking when it comes to a rite of passage that initiates a boy into manhood. A ceremony that ushers him from child to warrior, contributing individual, man. Leveling up in a video game, or becoming sexually active, getting drunk or fighting his way into a gang, these are the negative, false and empty substitutes for a rite of passage. This route will only lead to doubt and asking the question, “do I have what it takes?” Without a real conquer of fear, without a real battle with oneself, without facing a challenge that makes you draw from the inside a power and desire to prove yourself, one will never know. Challenges are good, facing fear is needed, overcoming a challenge is what’s needed to temper a boy into a man.
A rite of passage is needed for every boy so that he can look in the mirror and know he belongs. A first deer taken, fighting white water in a raft, riding the buck out of a horse, these challenges bring out of boy what God had placed in him from the beginning. Adam was created in the wilderness. Eve in the Garden. The wilderness proves men. It takes boys and makes them into men. This why hunting, camping, working cattle from horseback is so important. It puts us back in the wild where we were created.
Rite of Passage Ranch is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry providing fatherless boys unique opportunities to challenge and lead them through a rite of passage into manhood.