November 1, 2021 @ 9:00 AM

What makes a boy a man? When does that take place? In the society in which we live there is no specific date when boyhood ends and adulthood begins. Is it at 16 years of age when you obtain a driver’s license? Is it at 18 years of age when you can vote? Is it at 21  when you can legally drink alcohol? Is it when you graduate high school? Is it when you land your first real job? Do you see what I mean? It’s pretty nebulous.

That is not the case within Judaism. Orthodox, conservative, and reformed Jews all have a rite of passage called a Bar Mitzvah (“son of the commandment”). When a young man, having studied the Torah and learned from the rabbi, reaches 13 years of age, a ceremony is conducted in which his family and friends are invited to the synagogue. The young man reads from the Torah scroll in Hebrew, speaks what he has learned, and offers answers to the questions of the rabbi. He is then prayed for and the party begins. A wonderful meal is served and the young man receives gifts from those attending. He is officially welcomed into the Jewish community as an adult, a bar mitzvah. Virtually the same ceremony is conducted for a young woman although she is only 12 years of age at the time. She is called a Bat Mitzvah (“daughter of the commandment”).

Is there an equivalent rite of passage for Christians? Not until recently. A growing number of Christian families are celebrating a Christian Manhood Ceremony for their young men. Like a Bar Mitzvah, it is a rite of passage in which the young man is now responsible for his own words and actions as an adult. I have been to 4 such ceremonies the most recent being this past October for my grandson, Josiah Houle. Josiah was 16 at the time of the ceremony which was held at his house. I was asked to emcee the evening. Josiah invited important men in his life including his head football and track coaches, senior and youth pastors, family friends, and younger brother, Micah. Following a group photo, a delicious meal from Famous Dave’s was served topped off by “salvation” brownies.

The ceremony consisted of each man reading a letter of encouragement he wrote to Josiah. The letter detailed the godly qualities he saw in Josiah and what it meant to be a man. Several additional letters from men who were unable to attend were read. All the letters were gathered by Josiah and kept in a special folder for future reading. Joe thanked all the men for their words of encouragement. Then the men gathered around Josiah, laid hands on him, and prayed for him. It was so touching! Finally, Josiah was given the gift of a framed American flag with his name and the date, the inscription of “Christian Patriot,” and Psalm 91:15.

It was a glorious evening of celebrating what God is doing in Josiah. Thinking about holding a manhood ceremony for your son? I’m no expert but I’d be glad to send you what I’ve learned on how to host and lead it.

“When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).