In Why Chivalry Is the Catholic Solution to Toxic Masculinity John Horvat II teaches us that Christian manhood wasn’t invented until the Middle Ages. This would mean that for roughly the first 1,000 years after Christ, Christian men had no rulebook to follow (emphasis mine):
The Church Proposed Chivalry
The problem of toxic masculinity is not new. When men are given over to their passions, it will always create toxic situations of savagery and barbarity. What is new is the depths to which postmodernity plunges men deeper into sin. The new solutions not only go against man’s true nature; they annihilate it.
It was the Church that tamed the human passions and proposed models for men that elevated them to unimaginable heights. The Church proposed chivalry giving men an ideal to channel ill-regulated passions. That ideal would capture the imagination of countless men throughout history that persists even today. Moreover, the Church provides the means of grace which makes the practice of these high ideals possible.
For the first time in history, being a man meant admiring and striving for virtues such as mercy, courage, valor, chastity, fairness, protection of the weak and the poor. Being a man meant adopting an attitude of gentleness and graciousness to all women, a practice unknown to the ancient pagan world that often treated them as chattels. It introduced the idea of honor, service and abnegation even to the point of giving one’s life.
If this were true, imagine how much better the Apostles could have been had they only known chivalry. But then again, I don’t think they were nobility. Does this mean they weren’t suited to Christian manhood?
The link to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on chivalry in the quote above describes chivalry as evolving in form across four periods. The version of chivalry modern readers will naturally think of is the modern remnant of the later two periods, which the encyclopedia explains were not Christian:
Third period: secular chivalry
After the Crusades chivalry gradually lost its religious aspect…
The amorous character of the new literature had contributed not a little to deflect chivalry from its original ideal. Under the influence of the romances love now became the mainspring of chivalry. As a consequence there arose a new type of chevalier, vowed to the service of some noble lady, who could even be another man’s wife. This idol of his heart was to be worshipped at a distance. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the obligations imposed upon the knightly lover, these extravagant fancies often led to lamentable results.
Fourth period: court chivalry
In its last stages, chivalry became a mere court service. The Order of the Garter, founded in 1348 by Edward III of England, the Order of the Golden Fleece (Toison d’or) of Philip of Burgundy, dating from 1430, formed a brotherhood, not of crusaders, but of courtiers, with no other aim than to contribute to the splendor of the sovereign. Their most serious business was the sport of jousts and tournaments. They made their vows not in chapels, but in banquet halls, not on the cross, but on some emblematic bird…
Note that the Catholic Encyclopedia article tells us that idolatry of women is good to the extent that it imposes obligations on men:
…vowed to the service of some noble lady, who could even be another man’s wife. This idol of his heart was to be worshipped at a distance. Unfortunately, notwithstanding the obligations imposed upon the knightly lover, these extravagant fancies often led to lamentable results.
Horvat doesn’t even bother offering a hint regarding which model of chivalry he has in mind to stop weak men from screwing feminism up. But surely the modern incarnation of the courtly love model must be the one he has in mind, where Christian men are taught to submit to their wives in fear and reverence, and where romantic love sanctifies sex and marriage. For it would be absurd if he were proposing to tame modern men by reinstating the feudal system and anchoring our society on the martial customs of Medieval heavy cavalry (but this time making all men knights).
H/T Adam Piggott