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Call me unchivalrous.

January 21, 2019

After due consideration I have decided to adopt the label unchivalrous Christian.  The label is more accurate than anti-feminist Christian, or traditional Christian, because antifeminist and traditional Christians almost always stress chivalry as their strategy for fighting against feminism.  Yet chivalry is at the core of the problem and is the crucial enabler of feminism.  It is chivalry far more than feminism that has corrupted modern conservative Christianity.   Worst of all nearly all conservative Christians mistakenly believe that unchivalrous Christian is a contradiction in terms, when the reality is that chivalry as we know it is and was created as the antithesis of Christianity.  Adopting this term both identifies where my stance radically differs from other conservatives, and invites a much needed discussion on the astounding differences between Christianity and chivalry.

What am I rejecting by rejecting chivalry?

In both Christianity and chivalry we are redeemed and sanctified by love.  However, where Christianity teaches that Christ’s love (agape) and sacrifice/suffering is what saves and sanctifies us, chivalry teaches us that romantic love (eros), especially the romantic love of a woman, is what saves and sanctifies us.  In Christianity Christ suffered undeservedly on the cross to sanctify us.  In chivalry sanctification is achieved by the man suffering undeservedly at the whim of the woman.

Where Christianity teaches that marriage makes sex and sexual desire moral, chivalry originally taught that the only pure expression of sexual passion occurred within adultery.  Later this was further twisted to the modern Christian assertion that romantic love sanctifies married sex and this in turn created the logical case for no fault divorce.

Where Christianity teaches that wives are to submit to their own husbands in fear and reverence, chivalry originally taught men to submit to other men’s wives in fear and reverence.  Later this was modified to teaching men to submit to their own wives in fear and reverence (AKA servant leadership).

Where Christianity commends raw sexual passion between a husband and his wife, and even uses animal imagery to describe how this should look, chivalry teaches that romantic love is superior to the Bible’s sexual passion because it is focused on emotion.

Where Christianity teaches that sex outside of marriage is sinful and shameful, chivalry teaches that it is more noble than married sex so long as it is sanctified by romantic love.  Chivalry also teaches that women’s sexual desires are inherently moral, that a woman’s sexual desire for a man is proof of the man’s virtue, and that a good man will not slut shame.

What about our courtship rituals?

There are also a number of chivalrous courtship customs which are commonly mistaken as being Christian in origin.  This includes the custom of men picking a woman to pursue and boldly declaring their romantic intentions,  men giving women gifts and taking them on paid dates,  and men kneeling when proposing marriage.  Even where these rituals are in themselves morally neutral, like meat sacrificed to idols they carry the risk of leading us back into familiar patterns of sin.   As a result, we should be very careful about which of these we choose to embrace and must always be clear that they are not Christian rituals and at best carry no moral significance.

Does rejecting chivalry mean I have to slam doors in women’s faces and shove past them on the way to the lifeboats?

Chivalry has so warped our perspective to that of a 12 year old boy seeking grand romantic gestures that many struggle to understand how an adult man should think.  The doctrine of Women And Children First (WACF) is a prime example.  If you are ever on a sinking ship, your wife needs you to keep her calm and lead her to safety.  She doesn’t need you to abandon her and your children to the great unknown so that you can imagine yourself a dashing hero.  WACF has only rarely been utilized in practice, and for very good reason.  WACF injects chaos into a terrifying, difficult, and dangerous situation.  In the few times that it has been used women had to be forcibly thrown into lifeboats in order to get them to abandon the men who protected them, the men that they loved.

What healthy grown men understand is that at times men will have to make very difficult decisions in order to protect others.  This is noble, and we should not do anything to disrespect the memory of men who have done this or cheapen what they have done.  Yet this is precisely what we do when we romanticize WACF.  When the Costa Concordia sank, despite the captain going to great lengths to delay both evacuation and rescue, all but 32 of the 4,252 souls on board survived.  12 year old boys may look at that and imagine that the women and children banded together to overcome the chaos of a cruise ship sinking at night, despite several thousand selfish men who gave no thought to their safety.  But grown men know that the only possible way over 99% of the souls survived is if the men on board worked together to keep the women and children calm and get them safely off the ship.

But 12 year old boys, including grown men stunted in the thinking of a 12 year old boy, want more than to save over 99% of the lives involved.  They want a grand romantic gesture, the Full Titanic Experience.  This requires large numbers of men to die, even if this means more women and children have to die in the process.   After Concordia sank, Rich Lowry of National Review complained that the rescue of over 4,000 souls was terribly dissatisfying because it lacked chivalric flair, a “grace note”.  Where were the grand romantic gestures?*

The Titanic went down, they say, to the strains of the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as the band courageously played on. It lent a final grace note to the tragedy. Today, we don’t do grace notes.

Lowry fantasizes that the men on board Concordia were cowards who left the women and children to fend for themselves:

A century ago this spring, as the Titanic entered its death throes and all its lifeboats had been launched, Capt. Edward Smith told his crew: “Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Now it’s every man for himself.”…

“Every man for himself” is a phrase associated with the deadly Costa Concordia disaster, but not as a last-minute expedient. It appears to have been the natural order of things…

Guys aboard the Costa Concordia apparently made sure the age of chivalry was good and dead by pushing it over and trampling on it in their heedless rush for the exits. The grounded cruise ship has its heroes, of course, just as the Titanic had its cowards. But the discipline of the Titanic’s crew and the self-enforced chivalric ethic that prevailed among its men largely trumped the natural urge toward panicked self-preservation.

Grown men know this is nonsense.  If men (as a group) had done anything of the sort there is no way that over 99% of the souls would have survived a night time shipwreck in cold waters, when the captain of the ship told local rescue teams they weren’t needed and waited until the ship was badly listing to order the launch of the lifeboats.

More Questions and Answers:

    • Q:  Sure chivalry was corrupted in the later part of the twentieth century, but wasn’t the original form pure and good?
      A:  No.  From the very beginning chivalry’s teaching on men and women was a parody of Christianity.  All of the worst parts of chivalry (as we know it) go back to the twelfth century seminal works, including Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart and De Amore.
    • Q:  Sure the literary genre of chivalry sold sexual perversion from the beginning.  But in historical practice in the UK wasn’t chivalry primarily about masculine virtues such as valor, and not obsessing over women’s sexuality or currying favor with women?
      A:  No.  The oldest and highest order of chivalry in the UK is the Order of the Garter.  The order was established in the mid 1300s, and commemorates the time a woman dropped an undergarment in front of the king and the king graciously returned it to her with a warning to observers not to judge her.  This wardrobe malfunction and the king’s response was deemed so important that to this day all British passports have an image of the garter on the cover along with the king’s admonition not to judge.
    • Q:  By “chivalry”, do you mean Song of Roland or Japanese Bushido?
      A:  No.  I mean chivalry as we know it, as the term is all but universally used.
    • Q:  Do you reject all virtues that chivalry promotes?
      A:  No.  Chivalry claims to promote Christianity even though it is a parody of Christianity.  I also don’t reject the virtues of courage, keeping your word, being polite, and protecting the weak.
    • Q:  Why don’t you use the term courtly love instead of chivalry?
      A:  Courtly love is a term academics invented to describe the core teachings of what we call chivalry hundreds of years after the fact, and most people wouldn’t recognize the term.  Moreover, what academics call courtly love is what nearly everyone today thinks of as chivalry.  Lastly, unchivalrous is an existing term that accurately communicates a rejection of the morality of courtly love.
    • Q:  Is there a problem with men kneeling to propose marriage?
      A:  This tradition flows from chivalry’s inversion of the role of man and woman in marriage.  In this ritual the man kneels (submits) to his lady, replacing and mocking the biblical image of a wife submitting to her husband and calling him lord (1 Pet 3:1-6).

*It is worth noting that the Concordia sank because it ran aground after its captain changed course in order to make a grand romantic gesture, although he denies that it was to impress his lady fair.

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Post Information
Title Call me unchivalrous.
Author Dalrock
Date January 21, 2019 7:16 PM UTC (4 years ago)
Blog Dalrock
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