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As more questions have come over the years, my husband and I have been careful to separate Truth from opinion. Since we are a family of Christ-followers, that means Truth for us begins and end with God’s Word, both written and Incarnate. We have endeavored to “train up [our] child[ren] in the way [they] should go.” To that end, we study the bible individually and as a family. We pray together as well as on our own. We attend weekly church services, serve in some form of ministry, and attempt to walk out our faith in daily life both in public and in private. But as our oldest reaches puberty, I am reminded that there will come a time when he must do these things for himself, apart from his parents. He will be charged to take up the mantle of his faith and engage his God in a real, personal, intimate relationship that is uniquely his own. He will wrestle with scripture, attempt to apply what he understands, and repent when he blows it. In short, he will become a man.

In Jewish tradition, at the onset of puberty, children are honored in a public ceremony known as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. I had always assumed that the words referred only to the ceremony. But I have recently learned that Bar Mitzvah in Hebrew means “son of the law.” Bat Mitzvah means “daughter of the law.” The instruction, the ceremony, and the celebration combine to provide a powerful imparting of identity to the child, and mark his/her formal entrance into adulthood. I want that for each one of my children. The closest Christians come to this rite of passage is the Catholic sacrament of confirmation. Although I was confirmed in 8th grade, I am no longer a practicing Catholic. Furthermore, confirmation usually involves several candidates instead of a single individual.

That is why my husband and I decided to research Christian Bar Mitzvahs. The first thing we learned was that the Christian version of the ceremony is called Bar/Bat Barakah, which translates into “son/daughter of the blessing.” This makes sense because in Christ, we are no longer under the law, but under grace. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of information that exists. It seems other parents also recognize the benefits of a ceremonial blessing for their children. My husband and I will take classes and read materials recommended by Family Foundations International out of Colorado, to better prepare ourselves and our son for his big day. Our son will then undergo preparation through studying and discussing scripture and a few selected texts in private sessions with his father, for a period of 12 – 18 months. I had hoped to participate in this part, but after reading Craig Hill’s guide to a Christian Bar Mitzvah entitled Bar Barakah, I better understand and agree with Mr. Hill’s explanation of God’s design for fathers to impart identity to, and to bless their sons and daughters.

This preparation will be followed by a church ceremony, presided over by our pastor, during which other men will speak into our son’s life, and welcome him into adulthood. I am anticipating that the most significant part of the ceremony will be when my husband speaks a public blessing over our son and affirms him as a man. Thinking about it now, makes me teary-eyed. A big, fun party, akin to something like a wedding reception will follow, where family and friends will have the opportunity to further bless (albeit less formally) and congratulate our son (and by extension, his parents) while we all celebrate by sharing great food, much fun, and lots of dancing.

In a society where fathers are often regarded as little more than knuckle-dragging sperm donors, unfit and ill-equipped to parent their children, or lead their families (and therefore disposable); and young men, left to their own devices to define manhood, engage in acts of violence and/or sexual promiscuity, I am grateful to learn that God has provided a proper and holy means by which to welcome young men into adulthood. While my husband and I are excited and a bit sad to see our oldest get closer to the day when he will strike out on his own, we are convinced that the blessing inherent within the Bar Barakah will go a long way in building a solid platform for a successful launch of a noble, young man into his adult life.

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