So…where has all the chivalry gone? Go ahead, pin me old-fashioned, so much so that I bet most of you reading this, despite your higher educations, had to think a good while about what the actual definition of that word is. Haha, still thinking…? Let me help. Chivalry is the medieval knightly code of ethics, morals and religious values that is bound up and uncompromisingly defined as such: honor, courtliness, nobility, selflessness, gallantry, heroism, bravery and even being well bred. Don´t worry, I had to check it up too.
Haha, if you’re like me you would now open that dictionary again to check up most of the words riddled in the definition. Courtliness? This was a way of life, and more specifically a way of carrying one’s self, in that you held everything from your thoughts to your very posture (back straight, eyes up and alert) as though at any moment the Prince or Princess might see you. Wow!Our very posture! That would mean, and take this with a grain of salt for the sake of an extreme, that every time we slouch in class, put our feet up, and struggle to stay awake when we ought to be…we are not only being sluggish in our appearance, but within our very hearts, and are spitting all over the ones we need to be serving.
So yes, the lack of chivalry today is grotesque, and while the concept finds no home at large in the world today, even within Christian circles today (although it does find hospitality in the Bible), I wish to bring this back down to earth to a very particular group of individuals that I sadly claim lineage to: Men. If I beckon the question, where has all the chivalry gone, the rhetorical undertone presupposes that I assume the world ought to be filled with Princes…humble men of excellence, honor and integrity…and if we are in fact to exist with such a ‘courtliness’ posture, then it goes without saying that we are to recognize that the world is full of the tip-toeing of many a Princess.
My anger toward men nowadays can be traced back to one thing: me. I know what my heart burns with in it’s darkest of moments, and I know that if ever the Spirit of God were rebelled against just long enough, God would more than likely hand me over to my sin and watch as I consumed myself with my pathetic fleeting passions. So, that’s a wordy way of saying…I recognize the evil in you because it’s the same one in me brother! If you ask anyone near to me, they will tell you how much I fight for chivalry. Haha, they’ll probably tell you the definition of the word too…luxury of hanging around with me, you learn medieval words that confound most people… they know the principle nevertheless.
MEN…hear me well, we lie to ourselves…and worse, in doing so, we sell God’s call for purity in our own lives FAR shorter than was ever intended.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” Eph. 5:3
If you’ve never read Joshua Harris, you should! Bare in mind his books, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” ” Not Even a Hint,” and “Boy meets Girl“…they are absolutely intended, in every way, to be entirely about getting your relationship right with God… and not despite popular myth, manuals about pursuing others… although, as I said, when we have our #1 in order, then adding a #2 can finally and only ever make sense.
Harris writes to his audience assuming one thing above all others…we either desire or struggle with wanting companionship outside the Lord. He does this because he gets it! We as Christians have this tendency to disconnect ourselves so much when we read in the Pentateuch about those silly 3,000 year old idolaters. People…the single greatest domestic mass product produced today is the idol! We are those 3,000 year old wood carvers! We just nowadays fashion golden calves and pagan alters through the next cute thing in curls, or the guy who really seems to have it all togther in life. We tend to play a much more dangerous game than our ‘wandering’ middle eastern 3,000 year old brothers and sisters. We engage in what C.S. Lewis described in Screwtape Letters as the most dangerous of misdirections.
In Screwtape (another one you should read if you’ve not) the little nephew demons are writing to their beloved demon-Uncle Screwtape, asking how they can really make Christians fall. Screwtape launches into a good number of illusions as to how the up and coming demons can really make a Christian fall, but adds one at the end that should send shivers down anyone’s spine who considers their to be an Enemy afoot who unfortunately knows our Fallen condition intimately. Yes, the Devil knows us intimately!
Making a Christian doubt God is the greatest joy you’ll ever have little ones. You’ll grow to love the sensation. The thing to always remember is to not overdo it. If you completely and utterly wreck a Christian’s life they will start to doubt so much and hit such a rock bottom, that they will either turn full circle, out of desperation, and begin to believe wholly in God yet again, or their pain and disobedience will be so obvious that the believers around them will notice all too well, and try and rescue them back to Christ. You need to keep the Christian in a perpetual cycle almost, where they almost think they are okay, so any sense of radical refinement or desperation is almost non-existent. I’ll tell you the very best way you can kee a Christian in this kind of gray…to make a Christian fall… I mean the tough ones to trip up…knock them off their path to God but one little degree…deceive them ever so slightly…then you’ll see the neatest thing happen…the Christian actually starts to run with hope…they think they’ve seen the glory of God opened up and start actually sprinting toward, what they think is the throne, but what we call home. Right past the throne to death they go my little ones…that is something marvelous to watch. (my own paraphrase)
So…we are in the idol making business now more than ever… and we often sprint right past His throne to the Devil’s home. Fair enough… but you might be thinking right now, what does idol worship and running the ‘Screwtape mile’ have to do with chivalry…well, it’s simple. While there are a million things that cause us to sprint toward death, a million things that trick us ever so deceptively to run right into the arms of the one that would kill us every day forever, we ought to consider the fact that we place our faith and trust, and ultimately, ‘far before love should be awoken’, our very hearts in other people to quickly.
This is what Harris knew and was/is scared to death (Screwtape) of. We often sprint right past His throne, especially in our youth, holding someone else’s hand. I know… I’ve done it! (read my first blog). I not only did it, but I thought, with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (the same exact way we are to love God) that I was serving God best by holding this particular someone else’s hand. How wrong was I! How wrong might you be?
I think this is where I need to make the disclaimer for all those hopeless romantic frustrations circling out there sounding something to the effect of, ” yeah, but I love my eventual mate.” The fact that I was not meant to be with the one I “loved”, had nothing, and I repeat, nothing to do with the fact that I could have loved her so easily… I could have given her my heart, wanted to give her a ring, and was about to give her my name…but again, that has nothing to do with what God ultimately would see happen in our lives. Ask the right question for crying out loud!
As much as a potential union with someone forever before the sacramental eyes of the Lord is about two people…IT’S NEVER ABOUT US! Marriage is not about us!
The question was NEVER could I love her…that was easy…she was and will always be wonderful. The question that God kept trying to beat into my thick skull was…SHOULD YOU LOVE HER? I had to learn the simple truth, as unromantic as it sounds, that there are plenty of people that I could fall in love with…but only one God has divinely appointed to be the most absolute perfect compliment to us in order…that you two would forever serve and love Him back better than ever before!!! That’s what it’s about.
And thus we’ve come full circle now… from Screwtape, to Joshua Harris, and back to the chivalry I wish would catch like brushfire in the hearts of believers. If I had a more profound sense of what it was like to truly walk amongst and serve (even with my posture) royalty, for that is what every single daughter of Christ is, I surely would have had a far more difficult time hurdling the God-designed wall that keeps idols at bay and my heart solely focused on Him.
God builds in us each an individual kingdom to live Holy from…a world, not closed off to everyone else, but a world that starts and ends in His arms in loving embrace. If God watches you grow, even sends His Spirit out with you all day, every day, and then waits on you to see if you will return to Him every day…is it any wonder why when we come running back to Him holding someone else’s hand why He might seem a little disappointed and angry with the now crowded hug. He is a jealous God, who righteously and romantically hunts us, and unless He is completely submitted to for the necessary approval to share your heart with someone else, expect that the very best you are ever doing is sinning…no matter how right it seems.
All that said, do I want everyone in the world to break up…may it never be! I want everyone in the world to experience the fulfillment of the very thing I’ve been dreaming about since I was 10 years old…marriage. I simply want people to ask themselves the tough questions…who’s my #1, am I dating or courting?
courting: the specific intention of spending time with someone in group settings (the only way you’ll ever know how they really treat people) with the progression of knowing that if they seem to catch more than interest in groups, if they tug at heartstrings from that safe and good distance, then, and only then do you consider them to be be someone you might want to spend your life with, at which point you intentionally (no gray) make known the fact that you view them as potential for the rest of your life, and would like to go down that road with them if they so desired.
Other tough questions are…could I walk away from this person? Do I view the best they could ever be in my life, even if they end up being my love, as my #2, behind God? How hard am I trying to make this work, even if it is working, and how much is God just seeming to take the wheel of it?
Those are the kind of questions that we often don’t bother to ask because I think we know the answer might be something that disrupts our little, I’m in control of this” world model. WE ARE NEVER IN CONTROL! That’s the beauty of the greatest power we’ll ever possess and partake in…we surrender everything, to gain everything. Why do we even want control anyway? How many times have we not just messed up, but butchered and massacred other hearts on our own constructed alters of control, simply because we thought at some point that they, the very person the we want to love more than anything, deserved less than us bringing them before the Father’s feet.
Why do we miss that mark everso slightly? Why did I miss it? Why do we treat the ones we love so poorly at times?…Screwtape perhaps. The Enemy isn’t going to derail our train, at least that’s not the best way to ruin us…he’ll instead sit and wait, having loosened a screw (no pun intended) or two, and as we become distracted by trying to fix it, he shifts our trajectory but one little degree. He fudges us the tiniest bit, and off we go, strugglin’ our way to what we think is the Promised Light of Old.
So I ask again, why do we even want such control of our own hearts, let alone the unforgiving dynamic of trying to lead another’s…unless we do entirely under God’s guidance.
“I love because I was first loved, and only because of that reason, but I do have a question for God before I go home to Him. I wonder why He gave me so much control?” – Mother Theresa
So again, where have all the chivalric Princes gone? My best guess is we’ve forgotten our way. We are somewhere lost between the ancient Truths of the Bible and modern day society, which soft-peddles the Gospel for marketing sake and widdles away the most raw and intense Christly notions of romance and honor today. We exhange a sword for a collared shirt and a shield for a plan of our own.
We speak of the noblility of taking captive every thought we might ever have about our beloved sisters…do we not understand that the command to ‘take captive every thought captive’ carries with it all the forethought imaginable of not putting yourself in the position to hurt our sisters in the first place! Again, the question, much like with who we might love one day, is not could we, but should we? The Word does not say, at least for my heart, that I can go salsa dancing with my good friend, who happens to be very attractive, as though somehow the fun of dancing the night away with her is okay so long as I take captive every thought. The fact that I would meet every sinful thought with shield and sword is not the point (and I probably would)…Pardon the language…but why in the hell would anyone walk their sister in Christ, especially one you would consider to one day be your wife, through a minefield…just because you might be able to.
Is it not more honorable to say, I love you way to much to take you out for an evening anywhere near where you might be hurt by me?
Again with the wrong questions…think about what you’re actually asking yourself, because again, these answers we come up with…they carry the very heartbeat of His daughters with them.
By the way, we know that, not if, but when we look upon a woman with lustful eyes, we have committed adultery in our heart. I think that if we look upon a sister in Christ who clearly had made it known she wishes to respected as a woman of God (not looked upon lustfully) then have we not committed spiritual rape of our dear sister? The same extreme holds true in my opinion of the idea behind us dating and not being entirely honest about our intentions and when, if ever, they become more than just desiring to be friends. Without honestly telling our sisters when we have feelings for them outside of friendship, and ones in paricular we desire to pursue, we force an arranged marriage on them in our hearts…for our hearts have already pledged far beyond what they have even yet to consider.
Why are we so afriad of being honest with one another? I scare people off with my honesty sometimes, but all for the better I say. Certainly I can refine my tactics and develop a sense of timing, but I refuse, insofar as I can keep myself accountable, to let any more time go by where we say half of what we didn’t want to, and almost none of what we did want to. Be honest with your sisters men! Ladies too…help us out…you claim to be creatures of communication…consume us with blatancy and bluntness. Let us know what your heart is feeling, especially if it’s the letdown message…better to walk away a little limp than with a false skip in our step.
So again, where has all the chivalry gone? Where are the noble princes? We are too busy not focused on God, but rather on pursuing and presenting Him with the tandem of what He, the All-Omniscient One, might want to consider…as if we know something He doens’t. Let’s face it men…That’s where we are…sitting in some dumb corner staring in confusion and reflection at our circumstances, nursing our wounds and regretting all those we doled out, wondering why things feel just ever so off between us and our sisters…or worse, we are sitting holding someone’s hand thinking, “this blog doesn’t apply to me, everything’s fine with my relationship.” If it’s so good and so immovable in love, then ask yourself the tough questions…ask God to Psalm 139 it and see if it still stands after He’s finished with it.
The questions is not, sadly enough, if our hearts are shared between God and others, but who those others are, and how drastic the situation has become, with or without us even realizing it.
So, I beg all of you (myself included) search your heart, especially if it’s in the process of leading someone else’s around. Let God be ever in charge of what seems to already be thoroughly blessed. God determines the starts and the all too often the overlooked stops in our circumstances…He is behind it all.
God without question is sacred, but sometimes that is too big and overwhelming to grab hold of…so, let’s try this…we’ll use His very best creation in my opinion: women. God is manifested through women, epsecially in the eyes of men, as something that men need only think of to be reassured that there is a God and He has quite a way with creation. That said, Princes, look upon your sisters in Christ as royalty, and as something that is sacred…for that which is sacred before God, forbids even a careless touch.
Stop lying to yourself in thinking you can handle something as crazy-wonderful as woman, let alone her heart. I’ll save you the trouble…you can’t! Not only can you not do this without God guiding you every step of the way, but more profoundly, (the right question to ask) why would you want to? After all, if God is Lord of your life, and you trust Him with your salvation, then why would you EVER give something as precious as a woman’s heart, especially one you might want to serve forever, to anything other than that same God you depend on for everything? Why?
Here’s how the story ends gents… God gets the girl! He gave life to His daughters and He will not take lightly the idea of an endless sea of suitors standing before His door wanting to know if they can take His daughters out for a bite to eat.
May we find ourselves at that awkward doorstep kneeling before Him and asking, ONLY if it is in His will, that we might be blessed enough to show His love, through His Spirit to His daughters…through our simple vessels.
We are all in a slow dance of circumstance when God’s in control, and our only approach to His greatest creation should be asking God, as we tap Him so timidly on the shoulder, if we could have the next dance with His daughter. May that question never be rhetorical! May we always seek permission to behold something as precious as a woman’s heart in our own. For if ever we assume that we need not ask permission for such a gift we need to confess that we have forfeitted her beauty into something we think we can control by our own power. That’s not the kind of woman I ever want to spend my life with, nor is it the kind of man any Christian woman shoud ever want standing at the end of her wedding isle. I want a woman who tells me every day I am her #2.
We all ought to want a woman that would just as soon knight us and point us toward God before ever batting her eyes at us.
Protect your isle my sisters… it is quiet only for a while…soon enough rose pedals and violins will compete for attention in that place and you will hopefully, God willing, have your chivalrous Prince.
That is what we fight for and against men! “May we not awaken love before it is time.” We, men, are too the bride of Christ…careful now, as we lower our shields for the one who would turn and fight alongside us forever…let Christ put her there, and so too, Christ will be. Amen.