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When asked to write this blog on chivalry, I first went and asked permission from my wife. I did not want to write about something that I was not practicing myself. I’m by no means perfect as a husband – actually far from it – but I’m thankful that my wife stated I was good to go.
The English word “chivalry” is an old school term for “respect,” specifically when it comes to how men are to treat women. It comes from the French word “chevalerie,” which stood for the code of conduct required by knights in medieval times. This code of conduct represented that a man would display courteous behavior in his relationships, especially toward women.
We live in a day and age where not only does the word seem like a thing of the past but, sadly, so do men who truly model these virtues.
Whether you are dating someone or married, let me state two reasons why chivalry is still so important today.
#1 Chivalry Reflects Your Relationship with God
Now, for those of you who are not married, bear with me. What I’m about to share might sound like this is just for husbands, but these words are really for all men. For husbands, this is what God expects of you right now in your code of conduct. For single men, this is who you are praying for and preparing yourself to be if God desires you to marry someday.
God’s desire for how husbands and wives should interact is clearly stated in the book of Ephesians,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Ephesians 5:25-28 (NIV)
Men, we are called to be the heads of our marriages as Christ is head of the church. Serving our wives involves sacrificing our desires (just as Christ gave himself up) and guiding her by the Word of God (washing with the word). This involves treating our wives with godly headship and servanthood, which is the opposite of worldly headship. Worldly headship says, “I am your head, so you take your orders from me and do whatever I say.” Godly headship states, “I am your head, so I must care for you and serve you.”
You see, God’s Word also provides our wives with a lofty calling.
Ephesians 5:22 states, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”
Even though that is a direction from God to our wives, it should still cause us to reflect that verse in our own conduct in this way, “How does my conduct aid my wife in her submission to my leadership of our home? Do I make it hard for my wife to submit to my leadership?”
Worldly submission says, “You must submit to me, so here are the things I want you to do for me.” Godly submission says, “You must submit to me, therefore I am accountable before God for you. I must care for you and serve you.”
Men, chivalry for us is first and foremost a heart issue.
We open doors for our wives; we hold their hands; we ask them how their day was when we come home from work; we truly listen to them; we lead them in devotions with God’s Word. Each of us should serve our wife not just because we love her, but most importantly because we desire to honor God as the head of our household. Our code of conduct as men toward women is not old or outdated like the word “chivalry,” it’s alive and active because it comes from God’s Word, which is alive and active.
Now for you men who are single, I want to ask you, “What are you looking for in a wife?” Instead of just looking for an attractive woman, or a woman who does what you want her to do, you’d better first be looking for a godly woman who you can serve and care for – a woman who enables you to say before God, “I will treat her as if she is my own body!”
And for women who are single, this means you should take great care in how you choose your husband. God states that you are to submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ. Remember, this is what God will require of you in marriage. This is his expectation of you. So instead of looking for an attractive man; instead of looking for a wealthy man; instead of looking for a romantic man, look first for a godly man whom you can truly respect and submit to as head of your household.
#2 Chivalry Affects the Generations Following Us
Men, the way we treat women and our spouses also affects how chivalry is viewed by the generation of younger men and women under us.
My son Ezra is only four, yet I know already that the way he sees me treat my wife, Kristen, will greatly affect the way he will one day treat a woman while dating and, God-willing, his future bride.
Similarly, my daughter Faith is two years old, and the way I treat my wife will greatly affect the type of man she one day chooses to marry and, God-willing, submit to his leadership as head of their home.
Your kids are watching you. The youth group in our church is observing us. Men, we have a great deal of responsibility to model for the younger men today in the church. We must demonstrate what it means to treat women with respect, love and honor, and how that directly reflects our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (ESV)
What act of chivalry will you do this week toward your wife that will honor God and train up the younger men in your home, in your church and in your community to model your behavior toward women?