A few years ago my best friend and I were having a conversation about spiritual matters. She was recently shaken up and wanted my opinion on the issue. She had a problem. What was it? She recently was around some other guy friends who were accustomed to hanging out with her from time to time. Everything was normal. They were merely shooting the breeze. In the midst of conversation, something strange occurred. The men began talking in what is known as “guy talk.” Guy talk is when men get together and talk about things they would not typically say in front of the opposite sex, their pastor, or their dear, sweet mother. It is a mixture of a loose tongue, an animated tone, and an unconcerned attitude. To our dismay, most guys do it.
What struck me about the conversation with my friend was her reaction latter. She was visibly upset. To my amazement, her grief came not so much from them but at herself. I will never forget what she said as she lamented the situation. “What have I communicated about myself so that they thought they could treat me like I wasn’t a lady?” What had she done or said that conveyed to those guys (good, Christian guys) she was not worthy of the respect typically given to other women? Was she not a lady? Did she not have the same level of value and dignity as others? Was it her clothes? Was it her appearance? What had she communicated about herself that made it so easy to disregard the fact that women are not to be treated like you treat a “bro”?
I do not remember what I said to her but what she said has stuck with me to this day. I think there are two lessons for us today. First, we ought to control our tongues. James 3:9-10 says, “With [our tongues] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” Why is our speech to others so important? They are made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-27). A person is of immense worth and dignity even if our culture does not agree anymore. There’s a difference between an animal and a person. There’s a difference between a person and an object. There’s a difference between a machine and a person. Recognize the immense weight of glory that exists within another human being. Let this be evident in our speech (Eph. 4:29).
Second, we ought to recover the virtue of chivalry. For all the failings of the Deep South, there’s some good to be celebrated. Growing up in Alabama, I was raised to say yes and no mam, to open doors for the opposite sex, to not say certain things in mixed company, to go help bring in the groceries, and to not treat a girl like you would treat a guy. This is what I mean by chivalry. Chivalry is the virtue of recognizing the immense significance and worth of the opposite sex and treating them with honor. Even if some loud voices in our culture protest, this is not derogatory but dignified. I am suspicious of voices out there that argue equality is the wholesale elimination of any gender distinction. They do not know what they are asking for with such pleas. C.S. Lewis is right to say, “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” Far from wanting men to be boys, it is my experience that women want men to be men. Brothers, make a concerted effort to recover chivalry in our day and let it have a place in our speech and actions.