Part 3: Self-Serving Chivalry (A Warning to Christian Guys)



I know this third part installment of SK’s Chivalry series has been very long in the coming!  I apologize for that.

Since writing Part 1 (True Chivalry) and Part 2 (A Girl’s Response), I’ve been totally surprised at how popular these posts have been with readers.  According to the WordPress blog stats, they’ve been the most popular posts on SK, partly because of many searches with phrases like “chivalry” (one of the top searches that brings folks to SK), “ways to show chivalry”, etc.  Apparently women want and appreciate chivalry (and men want to be chivalrous) more than pop culture would have us believe!

This last part of the series is really an admonition to guys…so pass it on to your brothers if you think it would help them.  My purpose isn’t to bash anyone or to judge, but only to share something I have noticed.  And that is false chivalry…or, as I like to call it…self-serving chivalry.  That’s when a guy tries to “flirt” or get a girl to notice him by treating her with deference and respect…or when he shows a chivalrous attitude only to women he finds attractive or interesting.  This is perhaps one of the biggest stumbling blocks and temptations when it comes to chivalry, but guys need to realize how truly hurtful and repulsive self-serving “chivalry” can be.

Teen writer Brett Harris puts this issue clearly in his article, Counterfeit Chivalry; “Men, if we only show courtesy to certain girls on certain days when we are in certain moods, we are not gentlemen. If we show courtesy to women in public but fail to do the same for our mother and sisters, we are not gentlemen.  In fact, if our motivation for serving a woman is anything other than, ‘This is a woman that I have been called to serve and protect,’ we have counterfeit chivalry. We must continually remind ourselves that women deserve our service regardless of their age or appearance.”

True chivalry is not acting gentlemanly in order to get attention, or by being “selective” with who you chose to treat with respect.  If you open the door for a pretty girl at church, you better be willing to do the same for the elderly woman in the store.  Chivalry is treating women of all ages and types and appearances with deference and respect…not because you can get anything out of it, but because it is what Christ would have you do.

It’s easy to offer a young lady you are interested in a seat when she’s standing.  It’s impressive and looks good.  And there’s nothing wrong with being kind to her in that way.  The question is much more elusive…it has to do with the position of your heart and what your motive is.  It’s not as easy to let your sister have the new book first.  It’s a little more tempting to ignore the less attractive girl at youth group who is struggling with a heavy load.  But that is when you are truly being a man…when you are not expecting anything in return, not a thank-you, not a higher opinion in the eyes of others, nothing…and yet you still do the right thing, knowing that the Lord sees and does not forget.  Remember what Jesus says…when you do it for the “least of these”, He sees.  He is watching.  And that is all that matters.

You may not get thanked.  No one may notice your little acts of courtesy.  But the rewards found in cultivating a truly manly heart will outlast any human praise…and you will reap them in your friendships, in your family, and one day, in your marriage.  And more precious still, you will store up for yourself treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and thieves cannot break in and steal.

Because I am a girl, you may be thinking “easy for you to say”.  I know it sounds like I’m preaching something that doesn’t apply to me.  However, the lessons of courtesy and self-sacrifice regardless of who to and who sees, apply to both men and women.  This is something that every single Christian must learn…not just men.  But I do think that chivalry and flirting are so sadly entwined many times in our culture, that it deserves a special note to remind the Christian guys out there that chivalry is not “God’s way of flirting” or something like that.  When you love a girl, you want to cherish and protect her, and treat her with extra-special care and respect.  But as Christians, we are demanded to love everyone.  So shouldn’t you treat all women this way?  And when you meet the girl you want to marry, you’ll be glad for the practice, and she will feel privileged to have a man who serves others so selflessly.

I’d like to close on a personal note.  In the first installment of this series, I mentioned a time that a couple of my guy friends helped me out of a big predicament, and how much that touched me.  To this day, I remember that action as the sweetest thing any guy (outside of my family) has done for me.  What made it all the more special was the feeling that they were treating me that way because they cared, not because they wanted anything in return.  They never made me feel bad for my mistake, or brought up their actions like they wanted praise.  These guys never made a big deal about their incredibly selfless actions.  They never asked for anything in return.  They were sixteen year-old boys, juniors in high school, fun-loving guys in the middle of football season, without a care in the world.  And yet they acted like mature gentlemen at a time when I felt truly miserable and needed help, and I will never forget what they did for me.

Guys, you may never know what effect your actions have on the women in your life.  But when you follow Christ’s example of love and self-sacrifice faithfully, even in the little things, you can know and trust that He will use those actions mightily, when you fearlessly chose to be a light of Christian chivalry and selflessness wherever you are.

Part 1 “True Chivalry”

Part 2 “A Girl’s Response to Chivalry”


2 Responses

  1. […] Part 3: Self-Serving Chivalry (A Warning to Christian Guys) […]

  2. Great post! “Chivalry is not God’s way of flirting.” So true. Guys in general tend to put up masks and facades when interested in women, but is it just me or do Christians do this more than unbelievers? Why do honesty and reliance upon grace hold less sway within the church than without?

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