Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Be A Man

What is manhood?  What does it mean to be a man?  In most cultures throughout the world, there is some “rite of passage” that a boy enters.  Upon it’s completion, he is considered a man.  The specific rite varies from culture to culture.  It might be a test of strength, a test of willpower, proving one’s courage, or something else.  For example, the Vanuatu of the South Pacific requires boys to strip naked and bungee jump off an unstable 100-foot platform.  It would sound fun and easy if it wasn’t for the fact that vines are used instead of stretchy bungees.   If that doesn’t sound painful enough, rite of passage doesn’t count unless your head touches the ground!  Then there’s the Ethiopian Hamar tribe, who have to jump over a herd of cattle.  If they miss, not only is there the possibility of being trampled to death, but they forfeit manhood, the right to marry, and the respect of their relatives.  They can actually fail puberty.  And as for the painful mutilation of the Australian Aborigines…let’s just say it’s too painful for me to type, so I'll just link it instead.

The point of this is that while varied, almost every culture in the history of the world has some sort of initiation ritual that is an outward signification that someone has moved from boyhood into manhood.  Almost every culture.  In America, we don’t have a clear ceremony.  When does an American boy become an American man?  Is it when he gets a driver’s license?  Or is it when he graduates from high school?  What about when he can vote?  Gets his first full-time job?  Maybe when he’s 21?  Or is it when he moves out of his parents house?  How about when he gets married?  Or what about when he owns his own home?

There’s no markers that says “He is now a man!” in American culture.  And that assumes that a boy reaches manhood.  Because of the insecurities associated with trying to prove their manhood to other people, many boys engage in destructive behavior in an attempt to be affirmed as a man.  That’s one of the main causes of problems such as the prevalence of gangs, drinking, drugs, taking girls to bed, etc.

But none of that is Biblical maturity or Biblical manhood.  Nor is killing a crocodile, 
jumping over a bunch of cows, or bungee jumping with vines and making sure your head hits the ground.  I look at all the worldly standards of “manhood” and I compare it with God’s standard.  I look at Proverbs 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: for attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; or giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

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