Initiation rituals to join street or prison gangs are brutal and can be deadly to either the inductee or another chosen victim. But brutality isn't confined to gangs, where violence is the code for life.
In colleges and other institutions of learning, violence or some other type of hazing rituals are routinely initiated against plebs leading to injury or even death. Now lest you think that some interests lend themselves to violence, let me disabuse you. Hazing is found in glee clubs, literary societies, and bands, to name just a few.
In an article by The Chronicles of Education, Eric Hoover asks, "Are students hard-wired for hazing?" Experts maintain that we're "built" for initiation rituals because we are "social animals." This article contains disturbing information about the prevalence of hazing rituals along with the idea that we're built for rituals. Some identify hazing rituals as "an identity builder."
My problem with the article is that the experts are grasping the wrong end of the problem. It would be more helpful to separate the idea of rituals from hazing and stop describing humans with the term "social animal."
We are created as social beings, people who are to be in communion with God and other humans. We're designed to belong to a family, then other groups like a religious order, etc. It's evident that humans need rituals because we have them in everything from religious ceremonies (like baptism) to sports events.
But when we start self-identifying ourselves as animals because of this or any other tendency, we miss an important part of our identity: We are image-bearers of God. This is a distinctly human trait. Animals don't think -- they are driven by instincts. Just watch shows like The Dog Whisperer. Owners and viewers are quickly disabused of the idea that their pet is human.
It's when original sin rears its ugly head that the problem occurs. If it hurts the body, mind, or spirit, it isn't healthy because God designed us for love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God gave us a commandment: Love Him with our heart, mind, and soul; love our neighbor as ourselves. If you're beating or being beaten to get into this or that group, it is evil, plain and simple, and nothing good will ever come of it.