The other day I stumbled across an article which essentially proclaimed “CHIVALRY IS DEAD: Here’s why.” Like a bright red flashing warning sign smack bang in front of my face, I saw the temptation to give in to that kind of defeatist thinking. And I get it, I really do! Pretending we don’t need strong men often hurts less than acknowledging the ways in which our desperate need for them can go unsatisfied.
For many women, this kind of self-defence mechanism makes it difficult to accept genuine romantic gestures or expressions of honor. For a long time I was one of those women: I didn’t see my own worth, so I didn’t trust that anyone else would see it either. I found it was easier to be tough and push people away than to be vulnerable and risk getting hurt, but it meant that I missed out on receiving the respect my brothers in Christ were trying to show me.
For others, chivalry seems old-fashioned and unnecessary because they feel the need to prove themselves. The last century has birthed a specific type of women who believe that being independent and self-sufficient is the ultimate measure of success, and the less input they need in their lives from men the better. As a result, men are often afraid of chivalry because they don’t want to be seen as patronising, sexist, or even disrespectful.
But I don’t believe that’s the end of the story!
I believe that…
… Women deserve to be pursued: I’m not content to pursue.
… When a man holds a door for me, lets me go first, gives up his seat, offers his jacket when it’s cold or carries something heavy for me, it’s honorable and courteous rather than patronising.
… Having a man offer help with those simple things is not a reflection of my capability, but of my worth. I can do it myself, but I choose to accept their offer.
… Being walked to my door doesn’t have to mean a guy is expecting something more.
… Men who have strong boundaries are showing me respect rather than being disinterested.
… Love notes are a sign of sincerity rather than soppiness.
… A man who is intentional and clear about his feelings is far more attractive than one who plays hard to get and fails to guard my heart.
… Submitting to my future husband’s leadership won’t make me any less of a woman: authentic masculinity nurtures authentic femininity, and vice versa.
And I believe there is a generation of women rising up who feel the same. Women who are so confident in who they are as daughters of the Most High King that they can simultaneously humble themselves in embracing their need for the complementarity of men and assert their own feminine dignity. They recognise that allowing a man to protect and provide for them isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of their infinite value.
These women are beautiful. They’re strong. They’re captivating. Above all they draw people in to the picture of Christ which they reflect. They know who they are and whose they are, and they trust in God’s plan for their lives. They embody true femininity and draw out true masculinity from the men around them. Women: you can choose to be one of them. Come and join the revolution.
Men: in the words of the great Saint John Paul II, “be not afraid” to treat women with the dignity and respect they deserve. If they reject your chivalrous efforts, remember that the unseen reality may be that they’re desperate to encounter authentic love but are so entrenched in the message that they’re unworthy of that love that they’re lashing out to protect themselves from the risk of being hurt. They need your prayers more than ever! Be the man your heart desires to be, and you have the power to point them towards the love of Christ and help restore their own view of themselves! Never underestimate that privilege.
Esther Rich has a bachelor degree in Psychology from Oxford University, UK, and is currently completing the Sion Community Youth Foundation Year, working on their youth ministry team. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”