Letters to Luthien

Letters to My Future Bride

#23: Chivalry

Dear Darling,

Chivalry is not dead.

I don’t care what they say. It’s not. It may be rare, hard-pressed and scarce, but you see, I’m still alive. As long as I’m alive, chivalry will be.

I like surprising people with goodness.

I like doing things randomly, just small things, to make someone’s day better. Today a co-worker at her desk grabbed a coke, commented that it was lukewarm and would need ice, and resumed her work. I got up, retrieved a cup of ice and set it by her. A full ten minutes later, she looked over and asked if I brought it. “Thank you!” she exclaimed, a little surprised. Later during a meeting, a woman came late and found no chairs. I immediately stood and offered my seat to her. The other day, I gave up my seat on the bus to a woman, much to her surprise.

It’s not dead because I keep it alive. Maybe the day I die, it goes with me. I don’t know.

Mind you, some of it is me trying to set a witness for Christ to the world. Part of me is trying to set an example, even for the older lads who may have forgotten or not seen chivalry in action. And I’m sure some of that is “stranger kindness.” You know, that outward behavior of cheerfulness you present to people you don’t know? If a loved one calls, you are less cheerful, because you trust them and have the freedom to be yourself; you’re not afraid to show the glum, dismal, less upbeat side.

I say that in recognition of the fact that I’m not always the cunning and noble cavalier to brothers, sisters or family members. Eventually, though it’s wrong, even I let my mother get her own car door now and again. All relationships see that descent into the comfortably familiar, which I daresay ventures too far into the realm of neglect and taking for granted.

You may have to help me guard against that. Because as long as you’re my lady, then I will be your man — a chivalrous man.

When we go out, or when it’s time to leave, I’ll help you with your coat. The man always gets the coat for the lady and helps her put it on.

I’ll pull out your chair and seat you first in the restaurant. Doesn’t matter if it’s the first date or our 500th, you sit first.

I’ll get your door. My mind really doesn’t let me just barge on through a door when a lady is behind me. I won’t hold it open at such distances as to force a lady to speed up out of courtesy to me, but if I pass through first, I’ll at least hold it, or glance back to make sure no one else needs it held. And when it comes to cars, we both go to the passenger side, and I open your door. You are seated first, because that’s what a gentleman does.

I’ll carry your bags. Yes, even the purse when necessary. (Don’t get too excited. I said when necessary.)

I’ll hold your umbrella.

I wouldn’t mind at all if our first kiss is me taking your hand and kissing the back of it.

I’ll try to set an example for the other fellows to stand when you come into the room. Used to, a man rose when a woman came or left the room. This is a tradition which is more out of place than most in modern society, and borders on disruptive. So I’ll use a little discretion. I won’t knock popcorn off the couch standing up just because you ran to the bathroom during a commercial break.

I’ll walk on the outside. Years ago, horses and wagons would fling road debris, street filth and rainwater up, and it was the man’s job to walk street-side and protect the woman from these hazards. It was also more likely for the outside to catch the runoff from awnings and gutters during a rainstorm, and woman’s place was walking beneath the shelter. Obviously, cars still splash, and besides which, I just like the idea of genuine, gentlemanly, old-time traditions of chivalry.

I’ll serve you. I’ll protect you. In some ways, although man is head of the family, I will be yours to command.

Does a modern-day reading of the Bible seem to imply God has commanded woman to “submit” to man as the head of the family. I anticipate you being too secure in your womanhood to chafe at these principles, recognizing their deeper principles. Yet remember Darling, man is told to love his wife with a self-sacrificing, life-on-the-line kind of love; the kind of love Christ had and gave for us. The kind of love that stares down the most efficient and brutal form of torture and death contrived by Romans, coupled with divine rejection and the weight all mankind’s sins, past, present and future — a task so ponderous and immense that our savior sweated drops of blood and required an angel’s hand to stay him.

It is with this love that I am required to love you. Surely if I draw anywhere nigh this standard, you will not think submission so onerous.

It’s not because you’re weaker. No indeed! It has nothing to do with personal estimations of strength, but rather of value. My role, my job, my calling is to treat you as having greater worth. The “better half,” the greater value.

I have always thought of you this way, and I always will. I want to be your knight and uphold that dying standard of chivalry.

I promise.

September 22, 2012 - Posted by | Promises

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