The other day I found myself sitting at a table with seven co-workers. They were all women ranging in age from twenty-five to fifty-five and I was the token male. The subject of tattoos and piercings came up, and I listened as they related their stories. One young lady who is about twenty-five years old said, “When my father found out I had pierced my navel, he didn’t speak to me for a month.”
The conversation made me wonder. When is it appropriate to change with the culture, and when is it appropriate to preserve the values of the past? So I threw the question out to the group, and I was amazed at the response. What about chivalry? I asked. Is chivalry dead? Should we teach our young men to treat a woman like a lady, or do women feel patronized when we do that, and don’t want to be treated that way anymore. The response was unanimous. PLEASE teach the young men to treat us like ladies, we love it!
First of all you don’t have to look like Fred Astaire to be a gentleman. William Wallace in Braveheart treated women with respect. The apostle Paul told Timothy to treat older women as mothers, younger women as sisters. (1 Tim 5:2) In other words, treat women the way you want men to treat your mom and your sister. When I think of my mom, my sister, or my wife stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire, I would want a respectful, helpful man to change her tire; and protect her from unscrupulous men who would take advantage of the situation. But most of life is not that extreme. Everyday life provides opportunities to offer to carry a heavy box or open a door for her.
I Peter 3:7 exhorts us to…give honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel… This much misunderstood passage does not undermine the fact that men and women are equal. But we are different. God wants men to treat women with honor and respect. He does not want us to treat them like we treat another man: “Carry your own luggage!” God wants men to treat their wives like fine crystal, and not like a 99 cent tumbler.
One of the young ladies at our table told of how she had traveled to a South America as a single gal. She was so impressed with the polite way she was treated by the men, that she came home, broke up with her American boyfriend, and began dating a Peruvian, whom she would soon marry. Then she related how she had to train herself to wait for him, and allow him to open her car door for her. It seems to me that there is a delicate balance couples must learn, in order to give their spouse the opportunity to serve without projecting an attitude of entitlement.
Another lady expressed how much she appreciates it when her husband walks on the “traffic side” of the sidewalk. “But he doesn’t always remember to do it,” she added. A word to women; you can communicate to the men in your life that you are receptive to us being chivalrous, by pausing at doors or making it your practice to walk on the inside of the sidewalk. Also by graciously accepting these courtesies from men, you are reinforcing others-centered behaviors that strengthen the fabric of our society and make us better men. Thank you!