A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Neo-Chivalry Part 2 (Honoring All Women?)

The Bible clearly teaches reciprocity in the relationship between husband and wife (Eph. 5:33). So, at the very least, there must be some reciprocity in any modern-day demands for chivalry. The lack of real reciprocity in any paradigm for gender relations makes it unscriptural. One might like to think I'm just being self-centered in advancing my own personal agenda as a male. Not really. This is not just some personal slight I feel. There is the larger picture of how other men are affected. The kind of nonsense being promoted by neo-chivalrous commentators violates a visceral sense of justice in my psyche. It also violates the Word of God. But neo-chivalry can not only be unfair to good men, it can be unfair to good women.

If you are a woman, consider this: Suppose you are in a college class taking your favorite subject. All throughout the semester, you go the extra mile. You take copious notes, always contribute in the class discussions, always start on your research papers early in order to have the best sources and best synthesis of material, and always study at least two evenings before an exam. However, there are other women in the class that are not so industrious as you are. You notice that they always chatter to each other, always look disinterested, and always giggle when someone is trying to say something important. You personally know some of these women and their study habits, and you are certain that they are not going to do half as well as you.

So the end of the semester comes. The professor announces that some people have done a lousy job in the class. But, he reminds everyone, "I am a Christian man and Christ commands me to love all people, so I am going to give everyone A's in spite of their effort, or lack thereof." Your jaw hits the floor. What? "This is not agape," you think to yourself, "this is caving in to total lazy-minded stupidity!"

Later you go to the professor's office and cry aloud, "Sir, I don't think it's fair that the other ladies in the class are getting the same grade as I am!"

But he counters, "Calm down. What do you want me to do? I count myself a gentleman who treats all women with honor."

"You are not treating me with honor," you snap as you storm out of his office.

You know what? You would be right. The professor was out of line. He was confusing charity with merit. Yes, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves and help those who are genuinely in need (Luke 10:25-37), but the same Bible that commands charity is the same one that demands that laziness not be rewarded (2 Thess. 3:10). The Bible also says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" (Isa. 5:20).

I do not give the same respect to sinners as I do to faithful Christians. I do not give the same respect to hussies and scolds as I do to godly women. So, it it is with some concern that I read statements like this:
I think that the point here is not women's suffrage or whether or not the men had a right to seats in the lifeboats (of course they did). The point is that those men who gave their lives were gentlemen in the truest sense of the word. And a gentleman will always be a gentleman whether the women around him chose to be ladies or not. [emphasis mine]

If Christian men chose not to be gentlemen, it says more about them as individuals than it does the women around them. That would be the equivalent of me choosing not to behave like a lady because the men I'm surrounded by don't treat me as one.
I believe other writers have said something similiar. What is meant by the statement that a "gentleman will always be a gentleman"? Granted, a man should stick to his principles and treat all people fairly and compassionately, but I do not believe that he owes any preferential treatment to women who clamor for equality. The preferential treatment that men bestowed on women in the past was rightfully predicated on women taking a submissive and subordinate position to men. If women refuse to be subordinate to men, then they forfeit all claims to any special treatment that traditionally comes with such subordination.

Let me reiterate something I have said in the past:
Men have not been in a habit of asking themselves what they want from a relationship. They have not always been encouraged to articulate their feelings about this matter; instead, they have been mostly trained to put the needs of others before themselves. Whether out of some notion of "chivalry" or a need to address the "past wrongs" of a "patriarchal culture," men have found themselves deferring to women in defining what a male-female relationship should look like. But the noble inclinations of men to be selfless and respectful of women are not always appropriate. Justice, decency, and propriety demand a limit to what women can rightfully ask of men. In fact, Christian men do a disservice to godly women when they declare all women to be worthy of the same treatment. The honor we give to good women has no meaning unless we can boldly expose the deeds of those women who are dishonorable. We need more men like Elijah to stand up against the Jezebels of our day and against the spineless Ahabs that do their bidding (even those in our churches).
What's the bottom line? The woman that clamors for indiscriminate chivalry asks for something unfair to other women. Indeed, she calls into question her own character by making such a demand. Social pressure must be brought to bear on amoral and hypocritical women to reform themselves if there ever going to be any hope of repairing relations between the genders. Yes, let a man show consideration and courtesy to all people. Yes, let's be concerned for all women. But let's stop rewarding bad behavior.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Personally, I believe a gentleman is a gentleman because he thinks it's the right thing to do, and because it's how he chooses to live his life. In a sense, a true gentleman does not make it conditional upon how others perceive his worth.

The problem I have is the fact that it's become the social norm for women to expect men to be gentlemen all of the time, while disregarding their own responsibilities for being deferential. I think of it as a woman trying to define masculinity for men. They aren't qualified to do so.

I understand the point of reciprocal consideration, and how a non lady-like woman should have no expectations nor the right to set the bar for any man. But, a gentleman is what he is because of his values. If the woman of dubious quality benefits from it, then fine. It's actually a testament to him and his convictions, and that's what it's really all about, isn't it?

Anakin Niceguy said...

The only thing a woman of dubious quality is entitled to is charity and agape. She is entitled to same honor that I would show my male enemies as a Christian. Nothing more. The Bible does not command anything beyond that ... just like it does not command us to give handouts to lazy people. (And that's what neo-chivalry is, a handout to morally lazy women). Special honor given to women is reserved for those who act like virtuous women.

Anonymous said...

You know my biggest problem with the whole chivalry/gentleman thing that is constantly thrown around? My biggest problem is idealized version that is used. The truth is that women who did not live up to their role as a 'Lady' were typically ostracized (at least to an extent) because a a true gentleman would never want to be seen having any relationship with a less than virtuous woman because it would cast doubt upon his own role as a gentleman. Therefore there was no "treat all woman like Lady's". No rather it was treat women who can at least act the role of lady like a lady while avoiding those women who didn't. Thus, since we are going back to the alledged 'good-'ole' days of chivalry and the code of honor for gentlemen, am I allowed to ignore and ostracize those women who do not fulfill their role as a lady in order to properly fulfill my role?

Christina said...

Therefore there was no "treat all woman like Lady's". No rather it was treat women who can at least act the role of lady like a lady while avoiding those women who didn't. Thus, since we are going back to the alledged 'good-'ole' days of chivalry and the code of honor for gentlemen, am I allowed to ignore and ostracize those women who do not fulfill their role as a lady in order to properly fulfill my role?

That might have some women rethinking how they live their lives...no woman wants to be without a man - whether her goal is to push and shove him around and take advantage of him and use him, or actually be in a relationship with him, all women really do want men (well...the straight ones, anyway).

I didn't read the entire article, so I apologize if I missed something, but Anakin, what would you say if you spent 70 years of your life living a Christ-centered existence and the guy in the hospital bed repented as he took his last breath, after spending 70 years doing everything UN-christian like, and when you take your final breath, there he is standing at the pearly gates being let into heaven with you?

I didn't really like your analogy =p Didn't quite work for me.

Anakin Niceguy said...

Christina,

I don't see how you can adequately comment on a piece or ask questions about it if you have not read through it all attentively.

The hospital bed illustration completely misses the point. We are not talking about salvation. We are talking about special, preferential treatment and just who it is who really deserves it.

Christina said...

The hospital bed illustration completely misses the point. We are not talking about salvation. We are talking about special, preferential treatment and just who it is who really deserves it.

Thing is, there are certain things that I believe are beyond our choice of what is right. Yeah, there's Right and there's Wrong. You can choose to do what's right or wrong, but you can't decide which one's right and which one's wrong.

Anything that contradicts a direct charge from God is wrong.

Anything that goes against what we know about God is wrong.

"Love your neighbor as yourself" and "Love your enemies" kind of make judgement a bit hard.

Treating people as they deserve goes against a lot of what Jesus has ever said about loving neighbors, enemies, and forgiving people.

And seriously, I've been treated in a special and preferential way without deserving it. I've spit in my friend's face, betrayed her confidence, slept with more than one guy, done countless other things that make me feel utterly wretched, and I'm still forgiven and given preferential treatment.

Thank God I don't have to rely on human beings to show me mercy...and yet he continually uses human beings to show me HIS mercy.

I'm not saying that your final conclusion is wrong. Like I quoted in my previous comment, I think that treating ladies as ladies is a lot more productive than treating ALL women as ladies...but that doesn't mean degrading them, either - even if that is what they deserve...

but monkey said...

Ad hominem arguments.

I didn't read the entire article, so I apologize if I missed something, BUT...

You can choose to do what's right or wrong, BUT...

I think that treating ladies as ladies is a lot more productive than treating ALL women as ladies BUT...

Do the right thing man, blast it back into cyberspace where it came from.

Anonymous said...

The divorce statistics in the US are artificially kept lower by omitting high divorce states such as California.

So lets look at the divorce rate in Californian and what women do not want you to see:

Divorces Figures for California:

Year, CA Div.,L.A. Div.,CA Mar.,Divorce %
1996 169,416 38,026 219,039 77.35%
1997 165,547 37,501 237,669 69.65%
1998 161,905 35,706 194,108 83.41%
2000 156,078 36,551 196,896 79.27%
2001 154,672 38,850 224,241 68.98%
2002 160,854 40,468 217,880 73.83%
2003 148,511 38,811 194,914 76.19%

Average Divorce Rate: 75.54%**

**Reference: Court Statistics Reports for 1996-2004.

Now out of the 20 - 25% of marriages that work I would further bet that 50% of those are not too happy -- men trapped out a threat and fear of loosing their children, homes, jobs, pensions and assets.

Oh wow, a 10 - 15 % chance of a marriage where you get to keep your children and house too!

Remember, when you marry your marrying into the feminist SYSTEM - and it's all about business. Men are merely commodities, assets and walking ATMs.

If you plan to marry to start a family - as most marriages in the US *WILL* end in divorce, you're better off marrying a foreign born women and ex-patting to a nation where there is no legal divorce.

It doesn't matter what womens feelings are - they change like the wind. What matters is the law as you're marrying the feminist state.

Remember, men have no rights in nations like Amerika these days. You will, Christian or not, likely get divorced and when you do as a man will have no legal rights, you will presumed guilty, you will loose your children, your savings, house, assets and future.

You may also end up paying for children whom are not yours and God forbid, your spouses lawyer gets you on false charges of spousal or child support, your life is all but over.

Triton said...

I've spit in my friend's face, betrayed her confidence, slept with more than one guy, done countless other things that make me feel utterly wretched, and I'm still forgiven and given preferential treatment.

And now it all becomes clear.

Christina said...

And now it all becomes clear.

Heh - Triton,

Your opinion would be considerably different if you knew the entire story. But the point wasn't the entire story. The point was my actions involved in the entire story.

I didn't behave like a christian - no matter what my beliefs - because I'm just as fallen as anyone else...redeemed and trusting in savior, but still liable to mess up.

The preferential treatment is the fact that in spite of the mistakes I make, God still loves me.

Trust me, I don't use that as license to continue making mistakes. I have weaknesses that I struggle with every damn day. And I don't always succeed in fighting temptation. I use that as a comforting blanket of TRUTH...and its amazing how much God loves me that he'd choose to give his life for such as me.

Tell me, if you looked stark at your actions in every questionable circumstance without thinking about what the other person had done to you, how innocent would you be? Would you be found as guilty as I have been found, or are you just perfect?

Christina said...

Triton (and anyone else with his opinion of me),

I used to think the same way as you guys. I used to be the good girl that never did anything wrong. And (even though everyone else thought I was) I wasn't that uppity about it. I wasn't very proud of being "better" than everyone else, although I was too prideful to actually allow myself to mess up (that and I was afraid of anyone being unhappy with me...especially God).

I got into so many arguments with my best friend over grace and mercy because he wasn't nearly as well-behaved as me. I believed that as children of light, we were to live in light and not in darkness. The forgiveness thing didn't really mean a whole lot to me.

I still believe in the children of light thing (Ephesians 5), but the forgiveness side of things and the Romans verse about all falling short of the glory of God carries much more significance for me now than it ever did before I turned 18.

Before you start your stone throwing because I revealed myself to a bunch of men I do not trust to not throw stones and made myself MUCH more vulnerable than I ever should have, Luke 7:47 says this:
Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little

I no longer expect people to be perfect. But I have learned that who I was prior to doing anything HUGELY wrong was a hypocrit - I acted the part of the dutiful Christian girl, but did I really think I was in need of a savior? Of course I did...but I didn't think I had done much to need a whole lot of forgiving. And that simply wasn't true. If someone like who I was in my youth could've grown up to do the kind of things I grew up to do, how good was I REALLY?

Anakin Niceguy said...

Christina,

I am not going to judge you or paint a scarlet A on your t-shirt. I've had to grovel before God myself like the prodigal wretch that I was. Time will tell if your repentance is real. Time will tell if men can trust you.

I will say this Christina: I wonder if all the women and men who shout, "Aw. Give bad girls a chance! Men should forgive. Remember Hosea and Gomer!" would be so forgiving if they found out the youth pastor slept with one of teens in the church. Oh no! They would have his head. Or if they forgave him, he wouldn't get hired again anywhere. The same for the pastor that has an affair. Banish him! He can't get hired anywhere! I don't hear about second chances for these guys. The whole "Hosea-Gomer forgiveness shtick" has worn thin. So many "Christian" women who want grace extended to the erring members of their gender seem to say nothing when the lynch mob comes for the guy who fondled the wrong lady.

Christina said...

Anakin,

For people in leadership, I don't think they should be in leadership anymore for those kinds of actions.

At least for a long long time.

I think the Bible is pretty clear about "husbands of only one wife" and being able to manage your own household before you shepherd his people.

Those people you describe tend to be the ones that haven't been forgiven much. I was one of them =p (though I never had to actually forgive one such leader). Those that actually know and have grappled with their own depravity and the mercy extended to them don't usually behave in such a way.

That pastor and youth pastor, though? Though I don't think they should continue in leadership roles in the church - I think that we exercise prudence in removing them from leadership and exercise prudence in pointing out that what they did is wrong - forgiving them as Christ forgives them is what we are called to do and painting them with a letter 'A' is vastly different from exercising proper action against an offense. Kinda like me not being given the responsibility of baby-sitting my siblings after I put my hand through a window while baby-sitting. My parents don't lord it over me or constantly accuse me of it (they think it more funny now...), they did exercise prudence in removing me from that role for a long while.

This, coming from someone who was no longer allowed to lead on the Youth worship team after my youth minister found out about my first indiscretion (which wasn't sex, FYI).

The Learner said...

Anakin,
If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that you believe men (and women) should be concerned for others and help and protect others (both men and women) when they are in need, but that men owe no preferential treatment to women just because they are women. Am I correct? What I don’t think I understand is what kinds of preferential treatment you are talking about. Could you give a few examples?

Amir Larijani said...

Anakin says: I wonder if all the women and men who shout, "Aw. Give bad girls a chance! Men should forgive. Remember Hosea and Gomer!" would be so forgiving if they found out the youth pastor slept with one of teens in the church. Oh no! They would have his head. Or if they forgave him, he wouldn't get hired again anywhere. The same for the pastor that has an affair. Banish him! He can't get hired anywhere! I don't hear about second chances for these guys. The whole "Hosea-Gomer forgiveness shtick" has worn thin. So many "Christian" women who want grace extended to the erring members of their gender seem to say nothing when the lynch mob comes for the guy who fondled the wrong lady.

Those are valid points. Personally, I look at the general trend in a person's life. If I see increasing responsibility, increasing maturity, increasing stability--a clear indicator that she's serious about being a Christian rather than a foxhole convert putting up a front--then I would hardly rule her out.

On the other hand, if I see nothing but a string of blunders, with no proof that she has learned anything or applied what she might have learned, then I would not want her for my mate.

The issue here is less about forgiveness and more about whether I think she'll work with me and not against me in a marriage.

If she blames others for her bad choices, or refuses to apply lessons learned, then that is the same pattern of behavior I can expect in a marriage: everything she does wrong will be my fault.

And she will hate me all the more, because I will never be able to exercise the perfect headship that she otherwise expects.

Gerv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gerv said...

I'm rather surprised no-one's mentioned Matthew 20 in this thread. It seems to me that The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard has a large number of similarities with your story of the women working hard at college. Yet Jesus seems to think that treating them all the same is showing grace, and implicitly a model for us to copy.

In other words, his conclusion is exactly the opposite of yours...