Puberty Sex information - Teenage Boys




Boy to man transition

When do you actually become a man?
man preparing boy for initiation
"Almost every culture... (except Western cultures) have some form of 'rite of passage' for their boys to become recognized as men" (12)

Background

image of typical boy

Ask any group of males what is required to become a man and you will get a lot of blank stares! When exactly does a boy become a man and what are the characteristics of a real man?

It could be said that biologically, a boy has begun his journey into manhood with his first ejaculation of semen. This would be similar logic to a girl experiencing her first period and being accepted as being on her way to becoming a woman. The boy's transition is fairly private and generally is not formally recognized.

Without some form of official closure to childhood and welcoming to manhood, a male can become caught in a subconscious life long quest to prove he is a man!

Many unspoken ways are presently used to try to confirm manhood in Western society including:

  • Being a workaholic
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Sport involvement
  • Sexual conquests
  • Heroic exploits (bungee jumping etc.)
  • Marriage
  • Promotions at work

What the Bible says

Bible answers

You are already a man if you have reached puberty! Your body may still have some growing to do, but the biological days of being in a child's body are over! There doesn't appear to be the concept of 'teenager' in the bible.

Jesus was "about his father's (God's) business" when he was 12 years old. We could read into this that God didn't worry about Jesus' immature body while asking him to do things only a 'man' would do. (in this case teaching in the temple!)

Bible answersKing David received a visitation from God when he was a youth - indicating his body was not fully matured and yet God treated him as a man rather than a boy. David went on to overthrow his nation's enemy (Goliath and his army) while he was still quite young.

The completely matured physical body is not required in order to be classed as a man! The body will continue to change from the first sign of puberty until death in old age!

The fact that you are a male and you have reached puberty means you are no longer a boy in God's eyes! The consequences of accepting this fact are life changing:

  • You don't have to do anything to become a man - you already are a man!
  • You don't have to do anything to prove you are a man - you already are a man!
  • You don't have to believe others who label you as less than a man - you are a man and that can't be changed!
  • Nothing you can do will make you more of a man - you are a man and God made you perfect as you are!

The Jews do it this way

image of dad and sonThe Jews recognize the boy is no longer a child with a ceremony called a "Bar Mitzvah". It is an official "rite of passage" ceremony held when the boy is 13 years old. This ceremony is considered to be the most important day in a boy's life. (12)

Many married adult men who have been through a Bar Mitzvah actually verify that day as being the most important day of their lives! In its simplest form it is some form of ceremony or celebration to mark the closure of childhood and the new passage into adulthood. In a Christian setting it would be accompanied by a person praying a blessing over the young man's life. Praying a blessing like this releases God's power into the person's life to empower them to prosper (thrive, do well, succeed, flourish)

During this ceremony, it is imparted to the boy that:

  • God, before the world was created, had planned for the boy's life. He was no surprise or accident. He is on this earth with a purpose from God which only he can fulfill.
  • God made him perfect - God doesn't make mistakes.
  • God and those around him, see him as a man from that day forward and will no longer treat him as a child.

Characteristics of a Real Man

The biological changes from boy to man happen without any input. A ceremony (as described) is often used to mark those changes.

The character traits of a real man, however, must be learned:

Rejects Passivity (sluggishness, inactivity, laziness)
Adult males have a natural tendency to avoid social responsibility. Real men reject being passive in the areas they have responsibility in. (14)
Accepts responsibility (obligation, loyalty)
Jesus had the responsibility to do God's will while on earth. That responsibility defined Jesus as a man and He pursued the responsibility as a source of great satisfaction. The responsibility of every man is:
i) To obey God's will (as revealed in the scriptures)
ii) To do his work (at home, at his job, in the church and the community)
iii) To love his wife (if he is married) (14)
Leads courageously (brave, fearless)
Real men lead rather than follow. They do not ignore their principles in order to yield to the emotions and feelings of the moment. Leadership demands that men must have the courage to master their passions and control them with the principles of truth revealed in God's word. (14)
Expects a greater reward
Life is not just work day after day. The anticipation of later joy kept Jesus obedient to God's will for Him on earth. Real manhood is liberating and a call to life. It is also a means of great reward here on earth and afterward in heaven. (14)

Why this interaction is so important

image of typical boyMasculinity is an essence that is hard to articulate but that a boy naturally craves as he craves food and water. It is something passed between men. When a father and son spend long hours together, we could say that a substance almost like food passes passes from the older body to the younger. That is why my boys love to wrestle with me - why any healthy boy wants the same with his father. They love the physical contact, to brush against my cheek, feel the sandpaper of my whiskers, my strength all around them and to test their strength on me. And it is this testing that is so essential.
image of typical boyAncient societies believed that a boy becomes a man....only through the active intervention of the older men. The father or another man must actively intervene and the mother must let go.
Sometimes when the mother clings, the boy will try to tear himself away, violently. She feels rejected and he feels guilty but he knows he must get away. Whatever the mother's failure it can be overcome by the father's active engagement.
...when the father-son relationship is right, the quiet tree of masculine strength within the father protects and nurtures the fragile stripling of masculinity within his son. (40)

Higher level

A rite-of-passage is more about defining the path forward for a boy rather than an acknowledgement of past achievements. A boy of 13 does not really have any achievements to earn the passage, but many who work in this area agree that 13 is the age to have the most effect from the rite. It defines the path for the coming teenage years. Some boys have no outward signs of puberty, but anecdotal evidence is the boy has benefited from the rite-of-passage.

An official recognition by another man (preferably your father) can have an amazing effect on your life. It frees you from having to read constantly "between the lines" from your friends indirect comments about your masculinity. Instead that question is settled with the official rite-of-passage. You are free then to relate to your friends in a more confident way.

image of dad and sonYou might have to put some effort in to get that rite-of-passage affirmation from the significant man in your life. In the Bible a guy called Jacob went to great lengths to secure the blessing from his father. That blessing enabled him to prosper, where his brother who did not have that blessing, went no-where! Words carry power! (see Bible: Genesis chapters 27 and 28)

A rite-of-passage is a tangible way to formalise your love and belief in your son.

Father love...is the key to help boys feeling motivated and believing in themselves, that being a good man is something to strive for. (61)

For parents see sample rite-of-passage letters

Further information

Focus on the Family

Amazon books

Dr. Jeff Brodsky is the founder and President of JOY International He is a Messianic Jew with many years of missions experience as well as the author of the International best seller, "Stepping Into Adulthood." Dr. Brodsky travels the world explaining the importance of celebrating the transition of children into adulthood. Nearly every culture in the world has a "rite of passage" experience for boys except Western society.

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