Last night, Jenn and I were fortunate enough to go to the movies (thanks Grandma and Bampa). Throughout the movie, the character that Robert Deniro plays shines in a rare way. It is rare because he is not driven by self-glory but cares more about the owner (played by Anne Hathaway) of the company he is interning for. The further you get into the movie, a clear contrast starts to take place between Deniro’s character and the other younger interns he works with. Where he is characterized by making Hathaway’s character better at running her company, loving her family, etc.; the younger interns are characterized by passivity, self-glory, and a lack of drive whatsoever.
After one of the most hilarious scenes in the whole movie, Deniro, Hathaway, and the other intent end up at a bar to celebrate a hilarious heist to save Hathaway’s character from ruining a relationship with her mom. It is the moment in the bar where the contrast between Deniro’s chivalry and the other intern’s character is put on display. Hathaway calls them “boys” and goes on a rant wondering why men are no longer called “men” or “gentlemen.” She then puts the spotlight on Deniro and makes much of his chivalry and manhood. She tells the “boys” to be more like him because he is respectable, classy, and cares for others. The camera then focuses in on the other interns as they stand silent in their tight pants and sweater vests. The point of the scene is to show that chivalry is the long lost art of man. So, what has happened to chivalry?
In Joe Ringey’s book, “Live Like a Narnian: Christian Discipleship in Lewis’s Chronicles,” he has a whole chapter titled, “The Lost Art of Chivalry.” Not only does Rigney show how C.S. Lewis purposely created characters that modeled chivalry, but shows that modernism has caused our men to look and act more like boys. Quoting Lewis, Rigney writes,
“The knight is a man of blood and iron, a man familiar with the sight of smashed faces and the ragged stumps of lopped-off limbs; he is also a demure, almost a maidenlike, guest in hall, a gentle, modest, unobtrusive man. He is not a compromise or happy mean between ferocity and meekness; he is fierce to the nth and meek to the nth.”
Lewis was trying to show that a man who understands chivalry uses either his fierceness or his meekness depending on every situation and circumstance. It is an art driven by honoring the Lord and caring for others. It stands up for the weak when treated unjustly. It honors women and treats them rightly as image bearers of God. At it’s core, chivalry is joined intimately with humility.
So what’s the point? I have had the honor of discipling younger and older men for ten years now. It is a rare occasion to find a chivalrous man. I often look at the church (worldwide) and see many women whose character surpasses those of men and it has left the church without leaders and women (who don’t settle) being single until they are 40. I am not saying this is all men, but it is the majority. I myself want to improve in character and chivalry. I have also repented many times for my frustration and the lack of men with chivalrous character in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-13).
Is there hope for today’s “boys”? Yes! It is not a hope that come by necessarily “manning up.” Although I do believe we have babied today’s boys in the home, church, and world, the one thing that will change boys to gentlemen is Jesus. The more we gaze at who he is, the more we are changed from one degree of glory to another (2 Corinthians 3:18). Jesus was and is the purest picture of chivalry. Joe Rigney closes his chapter by saying this:
“Our ultimate model is the Lord Jesus himself, the one who protects the accused from the stones of hypocrites, who washes the filthy feet of Galilean fisherman, and who drives the wicked from his Father’s house with zeal. Having served others and given his life as a ransom for many, he promises to return in wrath and repay with affliction those who have assaulted his people. For he is the true embodiment of chivalry, the perfect Knight above all knights. It is he that truly combines in himself the paradox of ferocity and meekness. He is the Conquering Lion of Judah and the Humble Lamb that was slain.”
So boys, are we ready to imitate our Savior and grow in our chivalry? Or are we content with being boys? Let’s be marked by our love for Jesus, his church, and the world.