Changing Perspectives of Coming of Age Traditions

If interpretations of how and when a child becomes an adult—both biologically and socially—have changed in fairly recent generations, what might the socially accepted definition of “adulthood” be in future post-modern generations? What does it mean for the state of religious traditions and rites of passage, that for so long have determined one’s entrance into the adult world, if they are no longer considered indicative of an “official” adult within the greater modern society? Today, outside of religious communities it seems as though there is not one definitive age in which someone becomes an adult; instead, there are various stages in life in which someone may be considered an adult, depending on the perspective. In the U.S. some may consider someone as an adult when they reach legal age at 18 years old, or may not consider them an adult until they reach 21 and are permitted to drink alcohol. Even then, some may not be considered an adult until their mid-twenties. Being that many laws and ideas of adulthood stem from biblical interpretations and religious rites of passages, it is clear that what previously determined an individual as an adult has shifted, even within religious communities that continue to go through with rites of passage. McGuire presents these coming of age rituals as having become more of a tradition of religious celebration of children completing the last of their “obligatory religious training” rather than being recognized as an adult member of both religious and everyday society (pg. 63). As religious traditions and organizations continue to change and shift over time it will be interesting to watch for which aspects from the original interpretation of a certain religion remain, and which transform over time.