What happened to the knights?
Today, we use ‘chivalry’ to describe a gentlemanly act that a man does for a woman. Common practices are things like holding a door open for a woman or helping her carry books or groceries. However, acts of chivalry are by no means limited to those 2 acts.
But today, the simple gesture of opening a door for a woman is a rare thing among young men. I once read a quote that said, “Chivalry isn’t dead; men just choose to ignore it.” In some cases that may be true, but I would guess that young men today aren’t gentlemen because they are letting fear or their own comfort stop them. I think also that many young men today are not being taught by their fathers how to be gentlemen. Children are going to imitate what they see their parents doing, and if they don’t see their father leading and being a gentleman, chances are pretty high that the son won’t be a gentleman either.
There are also many young ladies today who will take offense to an act of chivalry. Some may think a young man offering to carry their groceries is implying they are too weak to do it themselves. Other young ladies will turn down an act of chivalry simply because they don’t want young men to inconvenience themselves by giving up their chair. Either way is the wrong response, but I’ll talk more about that later.
Regardless of why ladies and gentleman are hard to find today, they do still exist. I can proudly say I am blessed to know a few gentlemen, and I strive to be a lady who welcomes it and encourages it.
A Lady’s Advice to Gentleman
I might not be able to relate or understand the trials and struggles of being a gentleman in our generation, but I can offer you some advice as a girl who does appreciate chivalry and would encourage young men to not give up on it.
1. A real gentleman is a gentleman to everyone.
A true gentleman has the heart and the attitude of a gentleman. He does not pick and choose who he serves based on what he can get out of it. You don’t have to wait for a pretty girl in order to open the door for someone.
Everything you do can be applied to more than just young women. You can offer up your seat on a bus to an older lady or gent, or give a woman juggling little kids a place to rest. Chivalry goes beyond impressing the girl you like. It is a character quality that says you are looking out for the needs of others, instead of yourself. If the girl is smart, she will be looking to see how you not only treat her, but other people. I believe actions speak louder than words, and your actions will show whether or not you are striving to be a selfless gentleman.
2. More than holding the door open
Being a gentleman goes beyond just holding the door open for someone. Keep your eyes open. Chances to be gentlemen come in many shapes and forms. If a lady asks for your help, take that as an opportunity to not only help her but make a note of what it is you are doing. Maybe she is showing you a way you can serve others that you hadn’t thought about before.
3. Be a man and lead the relationship
Asking a girl for her number or to hang out with you can be intimating, but if you hope to have a friendship with her, you need to step up and lead from the start. Of course, unless you marry her you won’t be her leader and provider, but you can still practice leadership and service in smaller ways. Simple things like initiating conversation or being the one to ask for her number are ways that you can lead in the relationship.
If you decide to take the relationship deeper, you need to be the one to tell her. Do not make her do it. As the man and leader, you need to be the one to express interest and talk to her father. All of these things are helping you learn to be a better leader and, one day a better husband.
4. Raise sons to be gentlemen and daughters to be ladies
Children may not be on your mind right now, but chances are you may one day have kids. If you do, you will have the perfect opportunity to raise up the next generation of ladies and gentlemen. Teach your sons how to be gentlemen, not only in what you tell them, but how you live. If your sons see you treating your wife with honor and respect, they will learn from that and respect both you and their mother. Show your daughters what it’s like to be treated by a real gentleman. Take her on dates and treat her like a princess. Teach her how to be a lady and show her what kind of man she deserves to one day marry.
5. Pray for Christ to mold you into a godly gentleman.
In the end, it is only through God’s strength that you can become a godly gentleman. Pray that He would show you what that looks like and mold you into a young man who reflects Christ. Also, pray for the young women in your life, asking God to show them what a godly lady looks like.
Encouragement for Young Men
I know the struggle with chivalry often comes when you do find a way to help and the girl turns you down. I can understand it would be extremely discouraging if you continually heard the word ‘no’ every time you offered up your seat. My advice is to be patient with us girls and never give up. Please don’t give up. I think most girls don’t understand how much damage they are causing just by saying ‘no, thank you’. I didn’t realize it until I read Brett Harris’s article on chivalry written to girls from a guy’s point of view. (Girls, I would suggest you read it too, and you can also read my post on how we should respond to chivalry. It’s called 5 Ways Girls Can Save Chivalry. In today’s world, chivalry can take some work on our part too.)
Girls may not want to inconvenience you, and sometimes a girl may not want to sit down. Other times, girls may just be too prideful to accept the gesture. We live in a world where feminism is promoted in many different forms, and it isn’t always under the label of feminism.
If you do find yourself tempted to give up, think about why you are doing it in the first place. Are you doing it to impress that girl you have a crush on? Or are you doing it because you want to honor all the women in your life? We are called to constantly strive to be more like God, and learning to put others needs before ours is one way we can do that.
Your sister in Christ,