Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Is feminism compatible with chivalry?

Here’s an interesting article in the Federalist that makes a point I’ve often made about eradication gender roles. If you get rid of the idea men ought to perform certain roles in society, and then don’t give them any respect for fulfilling those roles, then don’t be surprised when they reject the expectations of society.

Excerpt:

Well, our brave new world of gender equality—in which we scoff at gender differences and men and women are encouraged to act the same—often proves harmful to women and girls. While the modern feminist movement won women tremendous freedoms educationally, professionally, personally, and sexually, it often leaves women feeling anything but empowered.

The reality is these freedoms have too often come at the expense of all values and traditions. We’ve in effect thrown the helpful social mores out with the old-fashioned bathwater. But it’s the modern feminist movement, which ushered away any hint of traditional chivalry and gendered expectations, that’s in part to blame. Certainly few want to return to an age when gender roles were excessively rigid, but feminists have gone to extremes and encouraged a culture that undermines healthy gender relationships. Men who hold doors are now viewed as part of the patriarchal society. And girls are expected to just “be one of the guys.”

But gender roles helped men and women and in times past allowed the sexes to better navigate the sometimes-rough waters of romance, courtship, marriage, and sex. Feminists view the chivalry and social mores of previous generations as anachronistic. But the reality is these traditional customs of giving up a seat for a woman on a train, or accompanying a woman in public, weren’t all rooted in sexism. They were social structures to help make men more respectful of women and to curb this kind of inappropriate behavior.

It might not have been perfect, but it had a purpose. Today’s dismissal of gender differences instead creates confusion, disappointment, and often more opportunity for harassment.

It seems to me that this article explains why men are so disappointing these days with respect to rising up to the roles of protector, provider, moral leader and spiritual leader.

If you tell women that there is nothing that men aspire to that is different than what women aspire to, then they lose the ability to evaluate men as protectors, providers, moral leaders and spiritual leaders. If men have no special roles, then the only way to distinguish a good one from a bad one is by appearance, peer-approval and tingles (feelings). Once men understand that this is how they are being evaluated, that’s where they put their effort.

I can tell you that in my experience, women who are influenced by feminism do not welcome men who focus on and excel at these male responsibilities. My new duties, as I understand them from the culture, are to be fun-loving, thrill-providing, and non-judgmental. No definite moral or spiritual opinions are allowed. That’s the job of the public schools – to teach us right and wrong and our secular religion. And protecting and providing? That’s the job of the police and the army, and the government social programs. Men don’t like it when they don’t have respect for fulfilling roles that are their responsibility. We do better when we are respected for being able to do something that others cannot do, and when we are not micro-managed by others while doing it.

Regarding chivalry, I think it’s only safe to do now with women who explicitly reject feminism. Being chivalrous to a feminist doesn’t earn her respect, so don’t bother.

Filed under: News, , ,

Friday night movie: Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)

Here’s tonight’s movie in English, but black and white:

IMDB rating: [7.6/10]

Or if you are brave, you can watch the newer, color (1990) French-language version, with subtitles.

IMDB rating: [7.6/10]

Description:

Cyrano de Bergerac is a Parisian poet and swashbuckler with a large nose of which he is self-conscious, but pretends to be proud of. He is madly in love with his “friendly cousin” (they were not actually related as cousins), the beautiful Roxane; however, he does not believe she will requite his love because he considers himself physically unattractive. Soon, he finds that Roxane has become infatuated with Christian de Neuvillette, a dashing new recruit to the Cadets de Gascogne, the military unit of which Cyrano is the captain. Christian however, despite his good looks, is tongue-tied when speaking with women. Seeing an opportunity to vicariously declare his love for Roxane, he decides to aid Christian, who does not know how to court a woman and gain her love.

Gascony (Gasgogne in French) is the south-west of France, and Normandy is in the north of France. Cyrano and the other cadets are from Gascony, but Christian is from Normandy.

This movie is very special to me, because I share many of the character traits and experiences of Cyrano. In fact, whenever I want to explain myself to a woman, I show her this movie and highlight certain parts. Like me, Cyrano has a distant relationship with his mother, and no sisters. Like me, his favorite color is white. For him, it symbolizes independence. For me, it symbolizes independence and also chastity, fidelity and secrecy. He wears a white plume in his hat, symbolizing his independence.

At one point in the movie, Cyrano is shown to be fond of making enemies rather than friends, because he resents the way that people are constantly trying to make friends and trying to make people like them. I have that same view. I get very annoyed with Christians who hide their convictions about truth and morality in public in order to be liked by others. In fact, I think that the two biggest challenges to being a Christian are the expectation that if God is real, then he will make you happy and the expectation that following Jesus will make people like you. It’s much better if Christians expect to not be happy and to not be liked – that’s the normal Christian life. Many Christians fall away from their faith because they feel that God should make them happy and that people should like them.

I wish that everyone watching the movie could understand French, because Cyrano always speaks in rhymes in the French. He is asked by someone how he expects to survive after he has offended some fool who is protected by a powerful nobleman. Does Cyrano have a powerful protector? His reply: “No, I have no patron… but a patroness” while putting his hand on his sword. In other productions of the play, like this one, he draws his sword.

Cyrano is also very lonely, and finds women very mysterious, and therefore very desirable. But he has a long nose, so he feels that he has no hope with them, and he doesn’t even try.

Look:

CYRANO:
Look well at me–then tell me, with what hope
This vile protuberance can inspire my heart!
I do not lull me with illusions–yet
At times I’m weak: in evening hours dim
I enter some fair pleasance, perfumed sweet;
With my poor ugly devil of a nose
I scent spring’s essence–in the silver rays
I see some knight–a lady on his arm,
And think ‘To saunter thus ‘neath the moonshine,
I were fain to have my lady, too, beside!’
Thought soars to ecstasy. . . O sudden fall!
–The shadow of my profile on the wall!

If you watch the 1990 version of the movie with subtitles, you can at least hear the rhymes – everything he says rhymes. French is a beautiful language. Here’s the play in French and in English for those who prefer to read rather than watch. If you read the play, you get more details but you lose the swordfights. Cyrano is the best swordsman in Paris, and not afraid to use his sword to make a point, so to speak.

Happy Friday!

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Should Christians “guard their hearts” in relationships? What does that even mean?

Here are my two disagreements with Jonathan’s post on courting that appeared on this blog yesterday.

He writes this:

If you have followed the above procedure and have gotten as far as the relationship stage, I would suggest that there should be an increasingly greater level of commitment as the relationship continues to progress. In my case, I would not terminate a relationship without a very good reason once I have agreed to commit myself to the relationship. Do not take this commitment lightly.

It is important, however, that both parties take care to guard their (and each other’s) hearts, especially during the early days of the relationship, in case the relationship for whatever reason does not work out. This practice ensures that you will both be able to give your heart more completely to your future spouse. If you end up not being the husband of a girl whom you have dated, you want to be able to look that girl’s future husband in the eye and tell him with a clear conscience that you took good care to guard her heart for him.

I would suggest limiting physical contact to holding hands and the occasional hug during the early days of the relationship. Kissing should be reserved for significantly downstream in the relationship, until you have been together for a considerable period of time.

You should also avoid, whenever possible, being left alone together for long periods of time – where temptation may strike you and cause you to fall into sin. Meet together in public places or involve family and friends.

I disagree that the correct interpretation of “guard your heart” (from Proverbs 4:23) means “don’t love someone to the best of your ability until you are sure you won’t get hurt”. The correct thing to do is to love God with everything you have, and then to let that flow to others – especially others you have chosen to court because you see glimpses of who God wants them to be and you want to invest in them to get them there.

Here’s an article from Relevant that makes the point:

Quote:

When it comes to our relationships, I think we’re missing something. Jesus summarizes our highest command as: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31).

[…]According to Mark 12:30, Jesus wants us to be all in. And when we love Him with our all, it will help shape our perspective of earthly relationships, romantic and otherwise. When we are totally firm and secure in God’s love for us, we will be less worried about “guarding our hearts” from pain and heartbreak as we relate to others.

Jesus is the greatest example of this. He loved His Father so much He was not afraid of getting hurt by loving others. On the contrary, He died for relationships. Jesus sacrificed everything for love. He did this to restore not only our relationship with Him but our relationships with each other. His body was broken for us—not just His heart. Clearly, Jesus wasn’t afraid of a broken heart, mind or body. What would happen if we had the same perspective?

Relationships are risky business, and there’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a broken heart. But because of Christ’s love, the fear of a broken heart no longer has to be the motivating factor. 1 John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” We can fulfill the greatest commandment because of God’s perfect example in the flesh.

Christ’s mission was to leave Paradise and sacrifice Himself on the altar of love. Even when it appears Jesus struggles with going through with this plan, He prays: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:42). His whole life was dedicated to making us whole; He loved us with His mind, body, heart and strength so that we might also be able to love wholly.

And here’s another support from Mars Hill Church:

Quote:

The first error we can make is to guard our hearts in such a way that there is no possible way we can get hurt. We keep relationships shallow, people at arm’s length, and anyone from getting to know us at the heart level. The Bible is the most honest book ever written—it makes no claim that if we “guard our heart” we will avoid pain and heartache in this life (1 Peter 1:6–7). It is simply not God’s will for us to be isolated, walled off, and invulnerable.

I have heard the “guard your heart” barrier invoked by Christian women who urge me to read the Bible more and be more spiritual, and it makes me suspect that their sexual history is coming into play – they’ve made poor decisions with non-Christian men and now they are misusing the Bible to refuse good things to good men because of their past experience with bad men. When a woman is on a marriage track with a man, she needs to love him like she’s never been hurt.

I do not think that it is fair for bad men to be trusted MORE than good men. Women need to learn to 1) make better decisions when they choose a man (don’t choose an immoral and irreligious man in order to avoid moral/spiritual judgment and/or abandonment), and 2) to love good men as if they have never been hurt, lest those good men get sick and tired of being distrusted and pushed outside barriers, and move on to someone else.

Men like to be trusted. Men like vulnerability. Men like authenticity. Men like engagement. If we are constantly rebuffed even though we are chaste, we do move on to someone who is more lovable. I don’t think that an unchaste man deserves to have access to trust, vulnerability, authenticity and engagement – but a chaste man does. That’s what he is offering, too.

As long as the couple avoids sexual physical contact, then any break up is going to be far less painful than it would be if there were a physical (especially sexual) component. To love someone well, to build them up, to let them go do amazing things for the Lord – this does not hurt. I am still friends with women I’ve courted who hurt me, but it doesn’t last more than a month or two. Then you’re friends again and the friendship lasts.

My second disagreement with Jonathan is about kissing. For me kissing on the cheek or hand is OK, but kissing on the lips should be reserved for the day of engagement. If the man is on his knees with a ring, and she accepts, he should kiss her on the lips to seal the promise. After that, kissing on the lips is fine with me. But not before.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Surprise! In this post, I actually agree that men should “man up” – in one respect

I hope I don’t get my Christian manosphere credentials revoked, and I’m going to try very hard to explain why I am linking to this post by Matt Walsh below, in a disclaimers section.

But first, this:

It went from courting, to dating, to hanging out. Sometimes even hanging out reeks of too much commitment, in which case ‘talking’ can be used. And if talking sounds too serious, maybe we’ll start hearing ‘vicinitizing.’ That’s a word I just made up, and it means that you and your female friend are often in the same vicinity, but it doesn’t get all intense by insinuating that you’re actually in that general location together on purpose.

When did men become so afraid to make a commitment, to take the lead, to say what they want, to make long term plans, to set goals, to pursue, to talk about the future?

We are devolving into primates, losing the ability to even discuss our own behavior using words and sentences. The average single American man is now relegated to grunts and shrugs and ‘whatevers’ and ‘you knows’ when pressed to have a conversation about his dating habits. Or his vicinity habits. Or his whatever habits, because whatever, you know?

‘Hanging out’ is how we describe what we do with our buddies. Is that what you want? Do you want that beautiful woman to be your buddy? Or would you ideally prefer it if you could distinguish between your relationship with her and your relationship with your friend Steve?

And this, I really love this:

Then, one day, I met Alissa. She was looking for a grown man, and I was sick of playing games. We were both exhausted. So do you know what we did very early in our relationship?

We defined our terms.

We made our goals clear.

We were open with each other.

We spoke about the future.

We used words like ‘marriage.’

We were clear and convicted and purpose driven. I had ambitions for our relationship. Ambitions. I, like, had an idea about what I was doing and why I was doing it. Can you believe it? I was in it for a reason. I wanted it to become something.

See, I’d been floating like aimless debris through an ocean of cloudy intentions and half-heartedness, until I grew up and realized that romance isn’t a game, and most women aren’t frivolous bimbos. They want men who know what they want and aren’t afraid to verbalize it. And if they don’t want that, then they aren’t worth your energy. Get out now. If she still wants to pretend she’s in tenth grade, let her live that fantasy with someone else.

With Alissa, things were pretty clear from the get-go. We had a relationship. A real, live relationship. A few months into it, I proposed. Some people wait longer, which is fine. We’re all on our own schedule. But I promise you, despite popular sentiments, it doesn’t take a decade and a half to figure things out.

And finally this – I could not agree more, (but see my disclaimer below):

No matter what anyone does, or says, or thinks; no matter what we tell ourselves; no matter what society insists, romantic relationships are always serious business. Call it what you want — hanging out, talking, dating — there’s a woman’s heart involved in it. That means you have a responsibility, alright? You have a duty as a human being, as an adult, as a man.

She’s making herself vulnerable to you. You need to honor that, protect it. And if you aren’t looking for anything but cheap sex and another trophy of sexual conquest to hang on the wall in your studio apartment, then you need to protect her from yourself, because you’ll be bringing nothing but disappointment and chaos into her life.

Listen, there’s a lot of joy and love you’re missing out on when you spend years tumbling like a ball of weeds from one opaque hang out session to another. I know this from experience.

If you’re hanging out with a woman and you feel like you might be into her,tell her. Call her on the phone. Take her out on a date. Say the words: “I’d like to take you out.” No ambiguity. Plan the date yourself. Women want you to be decisive. Lose the whole “so waddaya wanna do tonight?” schtick. Take charge. Pick her up at 7. Pay for the meal. Have a conversation with her. Go mini golfing or something. Go somewhere. Open the door for her. Put your phone away. Open up to her. Share your ideas, your dreams, your fears. Get to know her. Pursue her. Pursue her. Invest yourself in the process, as scary and unsure as it may seem. Take a risk, gentlemen. Go out on a limb for once. Be purposeful. Be desirable. Be a man.

You wouldn’t go into a job interview and tell the interviewer that you aren’t sure if you want the job, and you don’t want to even talk about the job because it freaks you out and gives you a tummy ache, would you? So don’t do that to the women you’re dating, or hanging out with, or talking to, or whatever.

In the old days, they called it courting. It was a lot like dating, but with more of a point and less confusion. Maybe we should get back to that strategy.

Just this week, I was shown an e-mail from a man who has been very serious about a woman who has just swept him off his feet. He really likes her and has been very clear about his feelings for her. His long term goal for his relationship with her is marriage, and she knows that. He has been encouraging her to grow her skills and to pursue her dreams. BUT this is what she wrote to him in the e-mail I saw “Do not talk about marriage, or love. This makes me uncomfortable.” This is after 3 months! THREE MONTHS!

I was talking about marriage with one girl I was interested in on the FIRST meeting. And in the second meeting, she brought up John Piper’s questions for couples considering marriage – it didn’t bother me one bit. I was happy to have something serious to talk about with her. Just to check this out, I asked two of my co-workers what they thought. The first moved in with his girlfriend after a month, and married her within a year – they’ve now been married 19 years. The second was picking out engagement rings after a month of meeting his wife, was engaged 9 months later, and he’s been married to her for 29 years.

I agree with Matt that IF men are interested in a woman, THEN they should state their goals and talk about the future with her. But if the woman is very spontaneous, emotional, fun-loving, etc. and only wants to talk about surfing, skydiving, etc., then a man can’t be blamed for not bringing up marriage in that case.

Disclaimer

I want to be clear that this admonition to man up does not take away from anything that I’ve said about marriage being very, very dangerous for men. The fact of the matter is that marriage does not mean what it used to mean before feminism. To just give one quick example, no-fault divorce and anti-male divorce courts make marriage a really risky decision for a man. 70% of divorces are initiated by women, and they get full custody 90% of the time – with the child support and alimony. So I think that as long as we are talking about women who are politically conservative, into apologetics, frugal, chaste and a graduate of a STEM degree program, then men should be clear and direct and make the woman feel desired and safe. Otherwise… just stay clear of them.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why should a man refuse a woman’s offer of casual sex?

I’ve been having some conversations recently with a good male friend of mine who is not a Christian. I like to talk to him about women because we disagree about women, and Lord knows I love to disagree with people. Anyway, he’s read my rules for chastity, courtship, etc., and he considers them, and me, quite weird. He is coming from the position of having a great deal of sexual experience with women, whereas I strictly avoid sexual activity for a variety of reasons. And what we disagree about is this: I think it’s wrong to have casual sex with women who offer themselves to a man before marriage, and he thinks it’s permissible as long as he warns them that the relationship is going nowhere afterwards.

First, let me talk about where we agree. Both of us agree that most women today have lost the art of making a man like them without using sex appeal. We are in broad agreement that the right way for a woman to make a man like her is by being feminine. And we agree on what that means – showing the ability to be a wife and mother. If a woman talks to a man about his day at work, studies hard things to be more skilled, listens to his life plan, and tries to contribute to the causes he cares about, then he will like her (because he needs her and appreciates her).  Also, it’s important that she have a plan of her own that he can help with, and she should let him help. Men like to give gifts to women, and we like to see how our gifts help women grow.

Now where do we disagree? Well, I think it’s a bad idea for a man to submit to casual sex with a woman who is unable or unwilling to set boundaries and have a Christian goal for the relationship. I think that casual sex is an inappropriate technique that a woman uses to make a man love her without demonstrating that she really understands him or wants to help him. Sometimes this is done inadvertently because the woman has never learned how to deal with men appropriately, but sometimes it’s done deliberately in order to get attention without have to care about or help the man.

Here are three reasons why men should not accept an offer of casual sex:

Reduced courting capability

A lot of men spend a lot of time and money and the best years of their lives pursuing a lot of different women for sexual gratification. But the pursuit of casual sex takes away from the goal of having a helpful wife and effective Christian children, (e.g. – children like Stephen C. Meyer, Jay Richards or WLC). It takes up time and resources that are better spent on building up teachable responsive girl friends. Chasing non-marriageable women also detracts from learning apologetics and theology, which are needed in order to impress the tiny minority of women who want a man who can be an involved, nurturing provider and mentor. There is no way to assess a woman’s fitness for marriage and mothering through casual sex. It has no value whatsoever when it comes to courting, because it removes the self-control needed for objective evaluation. Casual sex doesn’t show women that you can lead your future children, either.

Reduced vulnerability and romantic capability

I would not be able have sex and break up with that person without suffering serious emotional damage. I subscribe to the velcro theory of sexuality – the more you attach and separate, the less well you can attach the next time. I simply do not believe that men who do intimate physical things with women can be as vulnerable and susceptible as when they remain chaste. Casual sex kills the man’s ability to love a woman as if he has never been hurt before. If you want to be a knight, you have to be capable of chivalry and romance. If a man has casual sex with enough women, he will likely develop a low opinion of of the trustworthiness, wife-capability and mother-capability of women. He becomes cynical and predatorial. The binge-drinking hook-up culture does not build up faith in the opposite sex.

Causes women to doubt God’s existence

Every woman was made for a relationship with God. When a woman uses sex to try to get a man to pay attention to her, to love her and to commit to her long-term, it usually fails, causing her pain and suffering. Sex doesn’t make a man who doesn’t want to marry suddenly want to marry. Without a Christian worldview, the woman may not realize how to tell a good man from a bad man, and how to drive a relationship through to marriage. If a woman has sex with enough men, she may develop a low opinion of the goodness and reliability of men. She may think that she is handling men correctly and that the relationship should work out. But the trauma from failed relationships with unreliable men can cause her to suffer emotionally, and even to doubt God’s existence or goodness.  Christian men should therefore avoid casual sex so that they don’t push women away from relationships with God. Don’t be part of a process that drags women away from God. We need women to serve God, and we are not so long on resources that we can just throw them away to the other side. Every single one counts.

Conclusion

Now I haven’t actually experienced this problem of women throwing themselves at me to make me “love” them, but if someone finally did offer me drunken hook-up sex, I hope that I would remember my little list.

But I might also remember something else.

Consider this passage from “A Man For All Seasons“, a play by Robert Bolt. The lead character Sir Thomas More has refused to compromise with King Henry VIII over the legality of divorce, and now the King wants to have his head chopped off. More’s daughter Meg tries to convince to take the oath supporting the divorce in order to save his own life.

Meg: Then say the words of the oath and in your heart think otherwise.

More: What is an oath then, but words we say to God? Listen, Meg.
When a man takes an oath, he’s holding his own self in his own hands… …like water.
And if he opens his fingers then, he needn’t hope to find himself again.
Some men aren’t capable of this, but I’d be loathed to think your father one of them.

That’s how men should try to be with their chastity. I agree that it is almost impossible not to see things and to think things that are unchaste – but I am talking about doing something unchaste. Men need to avoid that, at least. The problem is that men don’t realize what they are giving up by being unchaste, because they don’t study these issues to know the costs, the lost capabilities to love unselfishly, or the virtues that give them honor with God. No one tells us. Instead of reading “A Man for All Seasons” or “The Faerie Queene”, we pick our role models off the bottom shelf of Hollywood or other crap in the culture. The schools are no help at all, most parents are busy, and the church just orders people around without any arguments or evidence. We are on our own, and by the time we realize who we want to be to a woman, we are often already in a hole.

But my main point is that even if there wasn’t a woman left in the world who believed in chastity, courting, marriage and family, that would still not be a justification for a Christian man to give up on his ideal of chastity. It’s better to be a hero and be alone than to make peace with the world as it is. Go down fighting, never give in just to fit in.

Filed under: Mentoring, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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