Chivalry is always in style

Last month, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in China, many world leaders gathered to participate in economic talks. During a dinner and show hosted by the Chinese, the Russian president Vladimir Putin made a chivalrous gesture to China’s first lady by putting his coat around her shoulders to take the chill off. An aide for First Lady Peng Liyuan quickly exchanged Putin’s coat for one of her own, but video and photos of the gesture went viral. In a clash of cultural rules, Chinese officials censored the video on state TV, but it reignited a discussion in many circles about gender roles and chivalry. Should Putin have known his chivalrous act could cause offense to the Chinese? Should he have offered his coat anyway?

With the advent of the feminist movement in many Western countries, chivalry was declared dead decades ago. Feminists argued that they did not need men to protect them or help them and that by doing so men were trying to hold back women from gaining equal rights, status, or power. Yet, after more than a hundred years of seeking justice for women in all areas of life, there is still ambiguity surrounding gender roles. The rules have changed as the times have changed, but plenty of men and women still prefer a more genteel social order in which “ladies first” is part of the code of conduct.

Chivalry was most popular and codified in Europe in the Middle Ages and was associated with military bravery and knighthood. Eventually it became part of the social order also. However, long before that the ancient Egyptians and then the Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle identified virtues to which humans should aspire. Later, the apostle Paul wrote about the desires of the flesh versus the Spirit, urging believers to live in the Spirit and shun the vices of the flesh.

Regardless of our cultural confusion over the roles of men and women, there is no spiritual confusion about how we are called to treat one another. Male or female, we all are created worthy of love, and we all are called to love one another as God loves us.

Question of the day: Is chivalry outdated?
Focal Scriptures: Galatians 5:16-26; Ruth 3:10-13; Matthew 1:18-24

For a complete lesson on this topic visit LinC.

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