Virtue and Chivalry in the 21st Century
The other day I was on Facebook and an ad for fashion came up that had the tagline describing their clothes as: "Noble, Elegant, Sexy, and Pure." I thought, "Huh, that doesn't sound right." I mean, how did the word “Sexy” sneak its way in between the three other words?
In our generation, most people (mostly young people aged 13-30) just don't even know the meaning of words like nobility, elegance, purity, virtuousness, ingenuity, chivalry, refinement, integrity or dignity. They do know the meaning of words like entertainment, social, celebrity, media, provocative, loose, freewill, and pleasure. Everywhere you look the politeness in people has lessened, dignity is scarce and men and women insult themselves.
How do men and women insult themselves you may ask? Well, for example, a few weeks ago, a popular 36 year old film star, James Franco, was trying to pick up on a 17 year old girl who had contacted him on Instagram (another social media network overly populated by bold unsupervised teenagers). I don't want to get into any details, but in this case there was no chivalry or integrity on Franco's part and no class or morality on the young girl’s part. Although I respect James Franco as an actor I do not regard him as a man of noble stature. He insulted his own integrity by acting in a promiscuous way by asking this 17 year old girl if he should get them “a hotel room.” The young girl insulted her dignity by contacting Franco and making herself an object of vulnerable sex appeal.
Where is the virtue and chivalry in the 21st century?
Indiscretion runs rampant in the streets, in schools, at work and even in the church (no surprise there).
Men do not respect girls these days…but there's a balance. Do women give men a good reason to respect them? (Don’t close your browser yet! Bear with me.) There is a difference between respect and attention. Girls want attention from men and try to get it through impure actions, appearance and attitude. In return, they get the attention they want, but mostly from men who don't care about them enough to protect them or regard them with any kind of moral intentions.
I may seem old fashioned in my thinking and maybe the world is too far gone to be changed by old fashioned sentiments but this is what God has commanded in His word and that's all I want to encourage. In 1 Timothy 5:2 it says "... and young men treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters." And in Titus 2 "teach the younger women...to live wisely and be pure…"
Women have lost their pure gentle spirits and men have lost their nobility and integrity. We regard the opposite sex as a pleasure and momentary joy. We are not looking at our brothers and sisters in Christ through Gods eyes but through the world’s eyes. One reason being is that I think we have lost all respect for the human race. We respect ourselves, though, we love thinking about ourselves and making ourselves look better. Everything is about you; your phone, your car, your friends, your clothes, your life. But how can you blame yourself? The media practically screams to put yourself first. Your happiness is what is most important in life. And by listening to the secular tide and peer-pressure of the popular world trends, the people in our lives drown out and fade into the background in our journey to self-promotion and pleasure.
We no longer have love for the people. Kids are killing themselves over the fact that they feel alone or “invisible”. We don’t pay attention to third-world problems anymore. Crime and tragedy have become so normal to us, that we no longer notice it. Sure, maybe you give money to your church once in a while, maybe you send Bibles to people in China, but do you really care?
If we could only take our eyes off of ourselves and what makes us happy, maybe we could see the world through the eyes of its Creator. Wouldn’t that be life changing? Regard for others would come more naturally to us. Chivalry and virtue would still be new to us and others, but if we practice, we might see a change in the way we think and act towards the people around us.
1 Corinthians 13 is all about love. But it’s not about love for people we hate or love for people that are easy to get along with. It’s about loving everyone; little girls struggling with finding out what true beauty looks like, boys who need a fatherly figure in their broken lives, women who just need a hug, men who could really use some encouragement, a older woman who misses her husband, an old man who may just need someone who will listen for five minutes… Everyone deserves a little bit of love in their lives.
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” -1 Cor. 13: 4-7
By our actions we are able to change the way other people act around us. I have a friend that was at a “staff party” the other night with a group of new age radicalists basically. The conversations were less than moral and there were a lot of coarse jokes. My friend thankfully maintained a sense of virtue and tried to direct the conversation to more pleasant topics. By doing so, the atmosphere changed a little and when rude jokes were made they apologized to my friend and eventually ceased all together.
My friend had raised the standards and had a higher expectation for the company she was with and the people at the party felt this. Her sweet and gentle mannerisms went to their hearts and didn’t feel condemned, but challenged to a higher standard of conduct. The swearing lessened and the conversations were much more refined.
If we had a respectful love for everyone we came in contact with (including our girl and guy friends) we would be able to show Gods love to them through our polite chivalry and virtuousness. But it starts with you and God. Ask him for an unconditional love for others around you. Take your mind and eyes off of yourself and your happiness and seek true joy by blessing and serving others.