All men, duty-bound, onward must wend–even if trepidatiously. Momentarily, you will see why.

In most marriages there are times when frustrations build and quarrels are sparked. In the heat of such moments considerable energy is expended affixing blame; he said-she said, woulda-coulda-shoulda, and all the rest of that petty fuss. Petty, I say, for who did or didn’t do something ultimately misses the point. For there is more to this play than two actors (husband and wife) upon a stage. There is a scene behind the scene where spiritual warfare is at hand, and the enemy is hard at work influencing the thoughts of all those willing to listen, and always to our great detriment. And while this reality equally applies to both the male and female camps, it doesn’t excuse any of us. We each have to take responsibility for our choices and misdeeds, and in our relations there is much to sort out. 

To that end, seeing as I am inherently unqualified to relate to the full breadth of the women’s side of things, I’m not going to try to take up for their perspective here–that’s not for me to do. Instead, for the rest of this admittedly frightening foray into the so-called battlefield of the sexes, I’m committed to taking the easier route. Go ahead, call me a coward. Call me what you will. But I am, henceforth, taking the side of my fellow men-at-arms. And so without further delay, it is to them that I address my remaining remarks.

Alright men, ready? Lean in a bit. Are you listening? It’s all our fault! Mutinously unfair of me, I admit; but I also believe this statement to be true. So before you brand me as a traitor, hear me out: there’s light at the end of this tunnel. And, no, it’s not an oncoming train, for the most part.

It seems we have forgotten our way. Take a moment and try to answer the following inextricably related questions:

What does it mean to be a man? And what is chivalry?

If you’re like me, you struggled to come up with a clear response. It wasn’t always this way. Not too many generations ago, men could not only readily put forth a meaningful answer, but more foreign to us still, they routinely put those words into practice. Think back to the era of the old black and white movies (they still replay them on TCM)–back when the roles of the sexes weren’t blurred, but rather were refreshingly distinct. I recall one movie in particular (the name of which escapes me) where the starring couple were riding along in the coach of a horse-drawn carriage. The entire time they argued away, just having at it, and all through a torrential downpour. When the driver announced they had arrived at their destination, the rain abruptly stopped. Not too compelling so far, but pay close attention to the sequence of events that followed: 

Upon hearing the driver’s announcement, the man, who was in mid-rebuttal (and making a very good point I thought to myself at the time) got deadly quiet, opened his carriage door and walked around to her side, took off his coat and laid it on the ground over a large puddle. Next, he opened her door and with great care extended his arm to her; whereupon, with no outward acknowledgement whatsoever, she took his arm and very daintily stepped out and right onto the middle of his coat. As soon as she was safely across, he picked it back up and nonchalantly wrung it dry before again donning his now pathetic looking garment. Last but not least, turning to escort her into the building, he resumed his rebuttal exactly where he left off…without missing a beat! It was most impressive, I must tell you. What’s more, all this he diligently carried out with no exaggerated fanfare, no pretense, and with no reward in mind. He did it simply so she wouldn’t get her shoes wet. 

That’s a man, and that’s chivalry. Now I’ll grant you that this type of behavior is conspicuously outdated. But it shouldn’t be. 

“Nice story,” some will say, “but how does that connect to me and my marriage today?” Deep down we already know. For much like our friend with the wet coat, as followers of Christ, it is our duty in life–our raison d’etre–to sacrifice for the benefit of others. God sacrificed His Son for us. We are called to sacrifice for our wives (Ephesians 5:25)–and everyone else in sight for that matter–regardless of how they may, or may not respond. We don’t have to like it. We just have to do it. That’s the way it is. That means in the heat of the moment we are to collect ourselves and stop any petty foolishness on our part. We don’t get to hide behind the notion that we are rightfully defending ourselves or imparting much-needed wisdom. If it’s not done out of a spirit of love, it’s wrong and it’s not to be done. Period. 

Wait! rings out the protest (yours and mine, brothers, believe me), Overboard with him! We don’t want to be the first to give-in during an argument. We’ll look weak and lose our leverage. What leverage? What are we trying to accomplish here? God has the only leverage. And clearly He wants to use that leverage to make our marriages everything they’re intended to be, if we’ll let Him. 

Men, it’s not easy to admit, but for too long we’ve simply been getting in our own way by fighting the wrong fight. There is no battle of the sexes. It is a war with the spiritual dark side–the scene behind the scene. A war God fights everyday on our behalf and where the outcome is certain: just like in the old-fashioned movies, the good guys (and gals) win! 

I make no claim that it’s easy, and as I’ve said, in no way am I speaking for what the women should do; but as for us, it’s time to do the honorable thing. It’s time to fall on our proverbial swords and watch God claim His victory. We are not being called to arms in our marriages. The rally cry we hear is calling for our hearts. Listen carefully to God’s voice through Paul’s rousing words to the church of Corinth after they had fallen into all manner of sin: 

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor 16:13-14). 

Did you catch that guys? We are being summoned. Now I ask you, Are we not men?

I hope this encourages you to sacrifice today.

-Kevin Murray
© 07/22/2014 All rights reserved