Major life events are typically honored. Rites of passage mark the end of one season and the start of another – the death of one identity and the birth of a new one. Maybe we need this sexually as well.
A commencement ceremony marks a student’s new life after school. A wedding ceremony marks a couple’s new life together as husband and wife. And baptism traditionally marks an individual’s new life in Christ.
These rites and ceremonies are much more than just sentimental pomp and circumstance.
The symbols and rituals speak deep into our souls as they call for our embodied participation.
We experience our new status in our bodies and not just our minds. This removes many doubts and questions and gives us a deeper meaning our souls crave.
Unfortunately, it seems we have few meaningful rites of passage left. We are typically left on our own to affirm our new beginnings.
This often robs us of confidence and of our ability to fully embrace our new status.
When we lack clarity, secret doubts linger and we remain in a type of limbo – not going back but also not knowing how to move forward.
This seems true for many of us sexually.
Our past is filled with stories of guilt and shame. But the man we were is not the man we want to be. No longer immature and selfish, we now want to be creative, passionate, and generous.
But our past still haunts us. We know we are forgiven, but living confidently in this truth remains a struggle.
Perhaps what is needed is an intentional way to mark our new beginning – a rite of passage declaring we are not the same anymore.
And maybe such rituals would give us an experiential truth to hang onto and allow us to fully embrace who we are, even as sexual beings, in our practice of love.
How might you help a younger man leave behind the shame of his sexual past and mark a new beginning? What has been (or would be) helpful for you?