Well, it shouldn’t be. At least not for Christian men.
We’re not talking about a medieval code of conduct for high-born knights! Or even its modern expression which was a given for our grandfathers’ generation: holding open the door, offering up a seat, or giving up a jacket in the cold.*
No, we’re talking about what lies at the core of the idea of chivalry: men taking their God-given role of responsibility and using it in self-sacrificial service of women.
Men being men as God intended. Not abdicating responsibility but assuming it. Not defaulting to our natural mode. That mode we men have inherited from our forefather, that first-whimp. Adam mode.
Genesis 3:1–7 is a devastating indictment on Adam and on us men, his spitting-image sons. There are four words at the end of verse 6 that could easily be missed but that act like a floodlight on Adam’s failure: ‘who was with her.’ Adam isn’t mentioned in the whole episode of Satan’s conversation with Eve. That is, until verse 6. ‘She took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her.’
But with those brief words, it suddenly becomes clear. Adam was there the whole time! The whole time that Satan was assailing his wife with lies, Adam was there. But he was silent. Instead of stepping up and defending his wife, instead of taking up the sword of God’s word and repelling the enemy’s lies with the truth, instead of taking responsibility and risking himself by taking the fight to Satan, he just sat back and stayed silent. He abdicated instead of assumed responsibility. Chivalry didn’t die in the 20th century. Chivalry died with Adam.
But, of course, that isn’t the end of the story. The true man has come. Jesus never sat back or stayed silent. Whenever the enemies of truth assailed him and his bride he stood up and spoke up. He wielded the sword of the spirit, the word of God. And it cost him his life. And that is the new mode for men who are no longer in Adam but in him. The mode where men follow their Master by laying down their lives in self-sacrificial service of women.
It isn’t natural for us. Pray that ours would be a generation of men who are men as God intended. Who steps up and speak the truth. Who assume and not the abdicate responsibility—formally and informally—to wield the sword of God’s word in our church and in the world. Men who with life and lip will take our God-given role of responsibility and use it in self-sacrificial service of women.
*That’s not to say that, if welcomed(!), these ‘old school’ kindnesses are obsolete! I’m sure they could be what sacrificial love by Christian men looks like in many situations.