rebelling against low expectations

Receiving Counterfeit Chivalry


website_header“All my life I have been overweight,” writes Amanda, in response to our recent post, The Big Misunderstanding, “I’ve been made fun of and used to consider myself ugly. When I went off to a private Christian college I noticed that all of the sudden there were gentlemen everywhere — for the other girls.”

Amanda goes on to share how throughout her first year of college she witnessed each of the thirty other girls on her dorm floor receive attention from gentlemen — the opening of a door, the carrying of bags, etc. — but that she never had a door opened or something carried for her. “I would love to say I’m exaggerating,” she writes, “but alas, I’m not.”

Disappointing, But Not Surprising

Amanda’s story should grieve us because it is an example men serving women based on a selfish criteria of attraction. It indicates that for some men chivalry is nothing more than respectable flirtation.

But, on the other hand, Amanda’s story should come as no surprise to us. We know that Satan hates chivalry because it enforces biblical manhood and womanhood and because it fights against self-centeredness. Therefore, we should expect that if Satan is unable to destroy chivalry his next strategy would be to corrupt it by infusing it with self-centered motives.

One of the greatest hindrances to true chivalry is the prevalence of counterfeits. Women are turned off to true chivalry because fake chivalry is ugly and base. Men are fooled into believing that they are gentlemen when in reality they are ladies’ men and show-offs.

The solution is for each of us to recognize the counterfeits, both in ourselves and in others, and to embrace true chivalry by laying aside self-centeredness and pride, and by serving one another genuinely.

Watch Out For Counterfeit Chivalry

Men, if we only show courtesy to certain girls on certain days when we are in certain moods, we are not gentlemen. If we show courtesy to women in public but fail to do the same for our mother and sisters, we are not gentlemen.

In fact, if our motivation for serving a woman is anything other than, “This is a woman that I have been called to serve and protect,” we have counterfeit chivalry. We must continually remind ourselves that women deserve our service regardless of their age or appearance.

Ladies, you can serve your brothers in this area by calling attention to any double-standards you observe. Do so gently, but if you see a man who is being selective in his expressions of courtesy bring it to his attention.

Don’t use yourself as an example of someone he has neglected, but especially if you observe inconsistencies between how he treats his female friends and how he treats his mother and sister(s), let him know that it casts doubt on whether he truly is a gentlemen.

This may be a hard, scary thing, but it will greatly serve your brothers. The wounds of a friend are faithful (Prov. 27:6) and you can prove yourself a faithful friend and a true lady by gently and humbly addressing counterfeit chivalry.

Is He Flirting Or Not?

Many young ladies have told me that the reason they turn down chivalrous offers is because it seems as if the men are flirting. These young ladies want to do the right thing by not encouraging this attention, and therefore refuse the service. Is that the right decision?

Well, there is no doubt that these ladies have the right motivation. Depending on the situation, however, it may or may not be the right response. For this reason I have two encouragements for the ladies:

First, be aware of your own tendency to read into the actions of your brothers. Unless the flirtation is obvious to everyone you should assume that this man is simply treating you as a sister in Christ, and nothing more. Many potential gentlemen are discouraged by women who welcome or refuse their service as if it were an offer of marriage.

Secondly, remember that you cannot judge the heart motivations of others. The only thing you can objectively judge is inconsistency. If you notice that a man only shows courtesy to you or a few select women it is likely that he is flirting. As mentioned above you should gently talk to him, not about flirting, but about being inconsistent as a gentleman.

The Solution For Our Hearts

In closing, we must all remember that without changed hearts we are hopeless as gentlemen and ladies. Apart from Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross our hearts are incapable of humble, selfless love and are enslaved to self-centeredness and pride.

If we try to love and serve one another while our hearts are dead we are destined to have our motives twisted by self-centeredness. It is no use trying to act as if we have Christ’s love in our hearts when in reality we don’t.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:27, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.”

The Gospel is the solution to counterfeit chivalry, because Jesus Christ took upon Himself all of our selfishness and pride and died the death our sin deserves. He endured the wrath of God, and rose from the dead so that by believing in Him and in the sufficiency of His sacrifice, we might “die” to our sin and live a new life of freedom — freedom to love others as we have been loved.

Read: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Brett,

    I liked your latest addition. I think, like you said, that on our own accord it is impossible to serve each other. Only when our focus is on Jesus, and what He would do (in each situation) will we learn to serve each other.Because when our focus is on Him, He is the one working through us. Plus we will be more in tune to the Holy Spirit and His urgings to do things for others. It’s very important that men make their actions consistent and self-less. I can relate to Amanda, in a way. I am 5’10…guys have no clue how to treat me. I am very strong in my convictions (and not afraid to says so!). This coupled withe height and most guys that are shorter than me look at me like I’m something from Mars. Some people treat me like a model (as long as their taller)…and others ignore me becuase if I’m taller than them they feel less manly and so the way they deal with it is to act like I’m not there. I readily admit that I have been guilty of being annoyed when any sort of gentlemanly offer comes along. But that is when my focus is on myself. If I am focused on Jesus then I treat everyone much better…and i am much better at accpeting things. I’m just trying to say that any good thing we do is going to be tainted with sin (without us even realizing it), unless we do it out of love for Jesus. We follow His commandment to love your neighbor (boy or girl) as yourself. If you do it to “be manly” it may come out wrong. Do it for Jesus, and His love will come through.


  • Great writting! This has answered many of my questions…except one.
    What if:
    You realize you’re receiving special attention, and nicely/half jokingly metion it to the guy, asking why he didn’t open the door for the girl after me. His reponse is thinking that I’m apreciating the attention, and am atracted to him…
    Then what do I do, besides nicely but firmly shut him down, and end up hurting his feelings? Should I have pretended not to notice anything?

  • Excellent post. This is my first visit to your site, and I am already amazed at how God is working through you to reach out to other teens.
    It was encouraging to read your post. Thanks.

  • […] You see, there is no offense in humbly offering to serve someone. Just like there’s no offense in lovingly giving someone a gift. If men and women can embrace an accurate understanding of the unspoken message of chivalry, gentlemen and their gifts will thrive. Read: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five […]

  • I was so relieved to read this article after hearing (and somewhat believing) that “Chivalry is so dead,” to quote the movie Uptown Girls. I am encouraged to hear of godly young men intent on treating ladies with courtesy.

  • Amen and amen!

    hey guys I just wanted to leave this comment
    I don’t know if you’ve seen this video clip or not but I sure that is was cool.

    and yes I think we could use more gentlemen and more ladies
    girls these days are not being lady-like in their manner.
    (I remember when I was little my mom would tell me to sit like a lady and I’d coss my legs.)

  • Timely article, Brett. I haven’t been subjected to false chivalry, but I’ve certainly seen it. It’s sad to watch. I love how you always boil it down to the heart of the matter–how we are viewing the Gospel. 🙂 Oh, and I’m printing out this series for my younger brother. I think he’ll really enjoy it. (No–I’m not manipulating, he really would enjoy it!)

    I’m currently in the process of switching over to WordPress (I hadn’t told anyone yet–you’re rather sneaky to find me early! 😉 ), and yes, I’m blogging again. As I said, the summer was crazy.
    Yes, I LOVED the Na session recordings! I was just two months shy of the age requirements, so I couldn’t go, but I got the mp3s from our pastor and they were SO very encouraging. I’m thinking I need to listen to them again. Truth is always applicable!

  • An excellent article guys. I appreciate the godly reminder.

    I believe I have both seen and preformed counterfiet chivalry. During a political camp we opened the doors for people because we could earn votes. It was a bit of a joke but it was still counterfiet and un-chivalrous.

    Thanks for posting,

  • Great thoughts, Brett, and thank you for sharing them. Chivalry is not quite dead, thankfully, and I am grateful to my father and brothers (all perfectly chivalrous) for teaching me how to respond when a gentleman offers his assistance. I now try harder to thank men with a smile and cheerful voice, showing them that their willingness to hold open a door for me does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Even while visiting family in France last month, I tried my best to communicate to the men there who gave up their seat on the tram for me, or who even chased down a runaway stroller when I was out with a very young family member. 🙂 I couldn’t always fully express my gratitude, but they always knew by the tone of my voice and the smile on my face that when I said “merci”, I truly meant it. And the gentlemen, whether they are French or American men, seem to be pleased when their assistance goes noticed and appreciated, thereby proving that it gives them pleasure to assist just as much as it gives me pleasure to receive their assistance. It simply gives evidence to God’s perfect creation ordinance revealed through humans despite what our post-modern culture has tried to repress.

  • Awesome post!
    I hadn’t visited this site very often before this week, but I’ve been blessed by the chivalry posts and am looking forward to continuing to read your site in the future. =)
    I was considering Gracie K’s comment…
    I think that sometimes part of the problem for us as girls is having the right demeanor when we talk to young men about things like opening doors.
    I know that I personally don’t enjoy confrontation.
    When correcting people, we shouldn’t come across in a harsh or condemning manner, yet sometimes it’s easy to admonish someone in a way that’s so much the opposite that it could be confusing to the other person. If a young man isn’t opening doors for all women without discrimination, it seems that we should speak to him in a way that’s friendly and pleasant, yet it’s vital to still be forthright and serious about what we’re trying to say. While we don’t need to make the situation into a huge issue, still we shouldn’t jokingly minimize it in a way that would make it seem that we really rather enjoy the extra attention that he’s giving to only certain girls. 😉
    Perhaps we can balance friendliness with earnestness in a way that would help the young man to understand what we’re attempting to tell him without his assuming that we’re attracted to him. =)
    Just a thought…

  • Thanks so much for posting about this (it is interesting to note that most of the comments here were left by women). Having grown up in an otherwise good, solid church, I am all too familiar with constantly being overlooked as my male peers practice selective chivalry, which often goes so far as completely ignoring, even for simple conversation, every girl save a few really cute ones. It is often a struggle for me, because they say that they appreciate godliness, yet when the new pretty girl appears, many other girls once again fade into the background. It’s frustrating because most of the time I can’t even be their friend because they are always running off to talk to the aforementioned new girl. BUT God is so faithful – not all of the young men I know are like this, no guy I know is like this all the time, and God is steadily changing those who have their moments. 🙂 So thanks for bringing this topic front and center.

    I would love to hear more thoughts from guys on this!

  • Alex and Brett,
    This is my first time to visit your site. I must agree on this topic, because I have noticed that most young men do not hold doors for young girls, do not seat them, ect. But then again, we can not totally blame them. In this time and day girls are being taught to be independent and tough! I am homeschooled and most of my friends have had to learn to be tough and to defend themselves, because they grow up around four brothers. Every time my brother tries to be courteous to one of them they usually will dismiss him; it’s like they don’t want to be treated nicely. I don’t understand it! I grew up in a courteous family(on my mom’s side) and were always taught to do polite things for people, whether we knew them or not. So it is really wierd for young men not to be polite.
    Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know that I liked this post, and was really interested in The Rebelution!

  • Hey there,
    I read about you in a magazine today an thought I would check you guys out.
    You guys are truly amazing how you’re on this mission to stop this lazy streak of teen we are seeing today. God bless and keep it up!

  • Sarah Camille:
    Did you happen to read about The Rebelution in WORLD magazine? I am asking because
    today I read about it in WORLD and my post (and my first name) could accurately be written identical to yours! It just struck me as funny and worth noting. 🙂

  • Thank you for this post. Too often I’ve read various Christian sites where the message has always been about the wife supporting her husband but it is very rarely mentioned, at least as far as I have read, about the man doing anything for her! I think that is the one thing that stops many girls from getting close to God, they are used to having equality in society and on some sites the message seems to be that she will not get it at home, which isn’t what they mean!

  • good post… it’s something that I’ve been thinking about alot in the last couple months. I met several guys recently who went beyond false chivalry, and really exemplified a servant’s heart. I was impressed, to say the least, after observing them over the course of several days to several weeks and always seemed to see them serving someone, especially ladies. The fact that they were gentlemanly with every young lady (not just the ones they particularly liked) made quite an impression on me…. their gentlemanly ways stunned me a little bit. I’m not used to such things as someone waiting for me to walk all the way across a courtyard so they could hold the door open for me, or extending a hand to help me climb down a hill. That kind of regard was refreshing and comforting. But it meant so much more to me because I didn’t feel that I was singled out for special attention…

    on this note though, I have a question. Will there be a series on how young women can serve their brothers in Christ without it being misconstrued as romantic attention?

  • Sarah(both of you),

    I just read about Brett and Alex in WORD today as well. God has a cool way of doing things.

    Guys, thank you so much for your post. Being a true lady of virtue is just as hard as being a true gentleman(I speak from experience). In both cases it takes a dying to self and a true humility.
    Chivalry, as has been said before is not totaly dead, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold(or be a recipient of). Two years ago when I went to WordView Academy a friend and I where late for a meal. The girls eat first, so by the time we got there all the guys where in line. My friend and I went to the back of the line. One of the guys turned around, say us standing there and told us to go to the front. Hesitantly we made our way forward, but felt like it would be rude to go to the front considering it was our fault; so we settled in the middle. Another guy then turned around and saw us,a nd told us to go up front. Before we could argue, he turned to all the other guys in the line and shouted:”make way, girls coming through!” I’m not kidding, the line parted like the red sea! It took some humility and dying to self to go up to the front, and probably just as much for the guys to let us in. I just want to say thank you to all you guys out there who have not forgotten what it means to serve; and to the girls who aspire to be true ladies. Thanks.

  • That was amazing.

    A teacher/mentor/friend who I esteem greatly (Lynda) said it best when she was telling us Rhetoric class kids about chivalry and courtesy:
    “When I first met [my husband], one of the first things that caught my eye was the fact that he treated all young ladies the same. He gave them the same respect, dignity, and love that he would give a sister. And that’s what truly attracted me.”

    Sometimes I really wish I’d been born in a time when women expected to be treated as ladies, and when men were expected to treat them like ladies. I guess that God put me here and now for a reason, though, and I’m not complaining.

    It’s here and now that we need to make a difference. It’s here and now that it matters to pay attention to these things.

    Blessings, and many thanks!

  • Thanks guys for posting on chivalry. Too often it is easy to think that chivalry is dead, I thought that all through college. I’ve moved south since college and found it again though. While it is still lacking in my opinion I think it is important to look to the older generations as examples. I have run into folks here in Mississippi that have great models of chivalry and women who have been great examples for me as I learn to let the men be more chivalrous.

  • Thank you so much for doing this series, I have benefited greatly.

    I have always been taught to show respect to my elders, and I was wondering if you have any thoughts about how that should be balanced with accepting chivalry. Should I (as a sixteen-year-old girl) give up my seat for a thirty, fifty, or seventy-year old man out of respect, or should he give up his seat for me because he is a man and I am a woman?

  • I can’t imagine any polite person refusing an opened door. Most men I know DO open doors for women and I run in fairly liberal circles. I say “thank you” and sail through, but I feel this ritual is about making the MEN feel comfortable more than it is something from which I benefit.

    But here are the things that make me nervous about small ritualistic gestures reserved only for women:

    — I worry that both women and men place more stock than is warranted in mere symbolism. As this series points out quite nicely, it is not the gestures that count but whether they convey REAL respect. I care a lot more about whether a man will listen to my ideas than whether he will pay for my meal or open a door for me. And with regard to a potential spouse, another important thing is whether he will do his share even when it doesn’t make him feel manly or strong. Will he pick up his socks and change the baby’s diaper? If not, it really doesn’t matter how many doors he opens.

    — In a professional setting, chivalrous gestures directed only towards women can sometimes seem disrespectful. If all the men leap to their feet when I enter a conference room, the effect is to single me out as somehow different from the other professionals. Suddenly, we are no longer on an equal footing. (Be that as it may, I am not going to protest if my male colleagues open the door for me. That’s less ostentatious and I can live with it.)

    Here are the things that REALLY count in terms of good manners, regardless of your sex:

    — You see someone struggling to carry something? Offer to help.
    — See a pregnant woman or elderly person on the subway? Give up your seat. (If you are worried that the person may not take kindly to being considered in need of a seat, just stand up and make the seat available without explicitly offering it to him or her. You don’t need to get credit for being chivalrous.)
    — You see a person in a wheelchair waiting for the elevator? Let him get on first to make sure he has enough room.
    — Don’t ever patronize anyone. Take people’s ideas and feelings seriously.
    — If you are in a position to do so, be willing to leap in and help if someone is in danger, even if it means risk to yourself.

  • A friend of mine recommended this site to me; I’d never heard of it before. It has been good reading what Brett and Alex write; God bless you.

    I’m noticing that a lot more girls commented about chivalry than guys. Why do you all think that is?

    To the guys out there who are worried that being chivalrous will cause others to label you a flirt: My brother Peter is one of the most gentlemanly guys I know. No one takes him for a flirt, because he treats me with the same chivalry that he shows to other girls. In fact, he treats me even more nicely. I trust him highly and he is one of my best friends, and as his sister I can grin at him, say “thank you” in expressive tones, and go out of my way to do whatever I can for him, without being misread or risking him or me being called flirts. Peter is my friend, and everybody knows it.
    Because everyone sees Peter treating me with courtesy and chivalry, it is far less likely that any girl will misread his “gentlemanliness”.
    What about guys who don’t have a sister? Every guy has a mother. Mothers are not a species separate from other women. They deserve and appreciate respect and love.
    I have a friend who has two brothers and no sisters. This guy is one of the most courteous gentlemen I know. No one calls him a flirt because not only does he treat every girl with real chivalry, but he has a special relationship with his mother. He listens to her, respects her, and is attentive to her needs. I’ve heard it from many girls – “That guy? Oh, he doesn’t flirt. He’s a GENTLEMAN.”
    So, to all you guys – true chivalry starts at home. And true chivalry will reveal itself as such no matter what labels are placed upon it.

  • It is implied here that flirting is a bad thing. I disagree. Granted, there is such a thing as harmful flirting, in which a person is trying to seduce another; or in which a person is leading another on, with no intention of following through, relationally. Those types of flirting are dishonest. But God created us as sexual creatures, and those who have been called to singleness are just as much sexual creatures as those who have been called to marriage. Sex is not just for marriage, although the sexual act is. Sex is a part of our emotional, physical and mental makeup. It is one of the things that make life more complex, interesting and fun.

    Too often, young people deny their sexuality, thinking that is a way to maintain their purity. Denial is one of the worse ways to maintain anything. Accepting yourself for who and what you are, and establishing healthy boundaries, is the right way to maintain your purity. The right kind of flirting, at the proper time and place, and with the proper person, can be fun. I have great aunts (women the age of my grandmother) that have flirted with me my entire life. I know their intentions are not to seduce me. It’s a form of playful teasing, I suppose.

    Perhaps older people undestand this more than younger ones. But I would consider anyone who discouraged all forms of flirting as cold and aloof, out of touch with themselves, their feelings and other people. A person can be playful without having evil intentions. When the Bible talks about the things that are wonderful, and names “the way of a young man with a maid,” I don’t think it’s referring just to married people. There is something wonderful about the way a young man talks with a maid that he’s interested in. It’s what all great romances are based on. It’s something God designed, and it’s not to be discounted. The effect a young man can have on a young woman, and vice versa, is truly wonderful. And flirting, like it or not, is a big part of it.

    A man can be honorable, godly and chivalrous and still flirt. As a matter of fact, I would think that a young, unmarried man would have to be immature, unhealthy or distracted not to flirt with a pretty girl. It’s a part of how God made us as men. If you women are put off by it, then you’re being put off by something God made – either because you don’t understand it or because you’re afraid of it. This is where chivalry can run amock. If you expect people to be too noble, to the point that they are no longer human, then you’ve turned chivalry into something it was never intended to be. Let men be chivalrous, but also let them be everything else God made them – healthy, red-blooded males. Discourage them from dishonest, demeaning behavior, but don’t discourage them from enjoying the beauty and grace of women.


  • This series is great! I wonder though, to parallel these essays on being a gentleman, have you written anything on being a lady? If so, I would love to read it! Thanks!

  • Kimberly Says:
    “Thanks so much for posting about this (it is interesting to note that most of the comments here were left by women). Having grown up in an otherwise good, solid church, I am all too familiar with constantly being overlooked as my male peers practice selective chivalry, which often goes so far as completely ignoring, even for simple conversation, every girl save a few really cute ones. It is often a struggle for me, because they say that they appreciate godliness, yet when the new pretty girl appears, many other girls once again fade into the background. It’s frustrating because most of the time I can’t even be their friend because they are always running off to talk to the aforementioned new girl. BUT God is so faithful – not all of the young men I know are like this, no guy I know is like this all the time, and God is steadily changing those who have their moments. So thanks for bringing this topic front and center.

    I would love to hear more thoughts from guys on this!”

    I say: “Yeah.”

  • BRAVO!!! Although I have not had that happen to me, I know that I shall be ready for it. Thank you Brett for writing this. Question: Brett, have you ever been tempted to act against what you have written in this article? I’m sure it is hard not too show favoritism to certain women, especially the ones you know. Perhapes writing what you believe then doing it is more of a challenge then for us who read them and do them, eh?
    God bless you Brett, and Alex.

  • Great post! I remember once when my family was out to eat, the young male (not man) in front of us bolted with great eagerness to open the door for his “girlfriend”, yet immediately let the door slam shut in my sister’s and my face! I have thoroughly enjoyed your articles on chivalry and am gleaming much from them!!! Thank you!

  • Yup. That is my main reason for refusing Chivalrous gestures. It sometimes seems like, “Can I carry that bag for you?” has become the new Christian pick-up line. But when I sense a true gentleman, I relinquish my bag. (Even though it’s so darn awkward!:))

  • When Satan cannot destroy something good from without, he resorts to trying to destroy it from within. Sadly, this is usually the method that works the best (think about how martyrdom strenghthened the first century church, but then the church was weakened and corrupted once it became legal and “fashionable” to be a Christian). Same thing goes here. Fake chivalry is probably the worst enemy to true chivalry, because it can be so hard to detect sometimes. I never really thought that I was being subjected to false chivalry, but after reading this and thinking back on some things I realize that I have been. I guess as I got older I began to see it more, but this post was a real eye-opener. Thank you for this bit of wisdom, and the advice as to how we girls can respond to it in a Christ-like way 🙂 These posts (and this whole website) are a real blessing!

  • The intentions of this site are honorable and commendable. And wouldn’t it be wonderful if genuine, honorable gentlemen were everywhere. But here is a word of caution to those young men who would attempt to be known by this coveted title:
    Being chivalrous will make a lady fall in love with you. Now, this may sound great to you, but let me continue. Her eye will be caught by how differently you act from other young men—how exceptionally courteous and tactful and strong you are. Then, if you befriend her, her admiration will grow into affection. As was mentioned in an earlier post, it is natural for men to flirt with pretty girls. So you will flirt with her, without intention, and this, coupled with your courtesy, your protection, consideration and any good looks will mark you as a rarity—a Prince Charming. And, in this day and age, the lady will take your chivalry as signs of your returned affection, even if you do convey chivalry to every other woman, and ESPECIALLY if she sees that you treat your mother and sisters in this exceptional fashion. It will be understood as a sign of closeness. However, in response to you, the lady will become discrete and chivalrous as well, and keep her feelings to herself. She will become good at this, for she will understand that the chivalrous man wishes to take the initiative.
    And then the day will come when you realize what has happened. She will probably tell you somehow (not directly) that you have hurt her; that she expects something. Being a gentleman, you will desire to clear the air and set everything straight so that she will know where you stand—that you’re not interested. You will tell her frankly, and if she is brave, you will find that she has fallen in love with you, because you are so admirable and wonderful. But you had made up your mind long ago, because this is not what you had planned, and so, frankly, in a clear-cut gentlemanly way, you will tell her that it is not possible. And she will find that a great, knightly man does not love her—cannot love her—has decided not to love her. That she has been misled. But she cannot fall out of love with you, because she still admires you so. But such a knowledge will crush her.
    And so, young men, be cautious! Please be cautious! And then, when the time comes DON’T be cautious! For one of the marks of a great man is his heart, and his willingness to give it. Do not be selfish. Be perceptive! You may save someone from a grave heartache.

  • Alydia-

    Something I would like to point out is that the hypothetical lady is not in “love.” This is infatuation. As cold and cruel as this may sound, that young lady was asking for it. Misreading his chivalry and allowing herself to fanaticize and become infatuated with “puppy love.” If a young man does not want to get married, I think it’s his choice, nowadays…

  • Alexander…

    I don’t think that’s true at all. It is possible to fall in love with someone who doesn’t return your feelings. Of course a young man can choose who he wants to marry, and so can a young woman. That has nothing to do with it, really. This is about being careful not to flirt, to be cautious that women are more emotional and tend to read into things, to be sensitive of their hearts. Part of true chivalry is desiring to protect a woman’s heart. A man may feel that he is completely above blame, but without being careful to guard his actions, he may mislead the emotionally weaker girl to believe that he means more than he does. That is Alydia’s point, I think, and a very good one. Not only must women guard their hearts, but men should also take measures to treat girls as sisters and nothing more. Please don’t discredit Alydia’s good warning, but rather, be humble enough to consider that women are different than you, and take that to heart. It may not be infatuation, in may be love…just love unreturned and unfounded in genuine affection by the other individual.

    Excellent article, by the way. As always, so much to think about!

  • I have witnessed false chivalry. There is this one girl at our church who the guys never ceace to adore. They are all nice too her and are always offering her things. It is knid of hard to watch, especially after reading this article.

  • You guys have greaat insite. I feel like you have said what a lot of poeople need to hear. And that note to ladies not to read into the actions of guys who try to be gentlemen is a good reminder. Thank you so much for your work on this site and your insite.

  • I want to encourage girls to build up younger guys in your life. I am very involved with the group CYT (Christian Youth Theater) and I am friends with almost all of the freshman boys. I honestly thank God for giving me these boys as my friends, because I know that through me and my best friend Kat, some of these guys have grown so much closer to God, and so much more respectful of other girls in CYT too.

    Girls – I know how frustrating it is to have guys ignore you for the “pretty” girls, especially since I’m not exactly the skinniest girl out there. Don’t be afraid to encourage younger brothers and members of your youth group/homeschool group/whatever group to be more respectful of girls. God put those little men in your life for a reason! Do something about it – no matter how hard it seems.

  • Reading this article, I felt more than a little of my conscience…ouch!

    Reading the replies, I count four men out of forty-two comments…double ouch!

    It is easy for the Christian young man to pick out the (s) (triple ouch!) he likes, but refrain from the usual flirtations. This would be far too overt, selfish, and ful for him (okay, me). So, I indulge those feelings by displaying false chivalry, excusing it as proper and respectful. But it is just my self-righteous expression of the same heart that engages in any other kind of flirting.

    This was a challenging, insightful post.

    Guys, let us rise up to be men who are not controlled by our selfish desires, but who humbly honor every woman!

  • I definitely agree with the guys on this one: a man is not a gentleman unless he treats a woman like a lady whether she acts like one or not. And the same goes for the ladies. We are not supposed to discriminate in our love for one another-otherwise it is not love, but rather harlotry by which we sell our services and apparent affections for our own benefit. Even the most debased criminal knows this kind of “love.” Yet we are called to a love that is unusual and strange and that demands an explanation- a love that screams “not of this world” and points to a Savior who turns the way that we live upside down. In this way, chivalry is not just a courtesy, it is a weapon that distinguishes a soldier of the Lord’s army in a battle for a love that conquers the disappointments of this world: gentlemen raise your swords!

  • […] Teen writer Brett Harris puts this issue clearly in his article, Counterfeit Chivalry; “Men, if we only show courtesy to certain girls on certain days when we are in certain moods, we are not gentlemen. If we show courtesy to women in public but fail to do the same for our mother and sisters, we are not gentlemen.  In fact, if our motivation for serving a woman is anything other than, ‘This is a woman that I have been called to serve and protect,’ we have counterfeit chivalry. We must continually remind ourselves that women deserve our service regardless of their age or appearance.” […]

  • Brett and Alex,
    I have very much enjoyed reading your articles and commend you for your attitudes and commitment to Christian and chivalric ideals. I’d like to offer you and the other aspiring gentlemen who visit your site a little help with how to approach a woman who is obvious need of assistance. The motivation for this was an incident with my son, whom I raised to be a gentleman, in which the woman’s reaction (she offered to ‘mace’ him) offended him so deeply he swore he would never again offer assistance to any woman, but I think by now he’s calmed down enough to realize that while his motives were pure, she had no way of knowing that and that his approach in the circumstances was extremely threatening. Simply, in a parking garage, she had a flat tire and he walked up to her and asked her if he could help her. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong, very wrong. The parking garage was dimly lit, it was night, they were the only two people there and my son is very tall and very well built. My reaction in her situation would have been the same-fear and hostility. She was already on the edge, I’m sure, with a flat tire in a dark, isolated place and with this stranger conveniently on hand offering to help her. That she carried mace was an indication that she already was greatly fearful about her safety, whether from previous experience, a friend’s experience, media coverage of such events or exhortation from an instruction course of some kind. I don’t know if you and your male readers are aware, but such sources and experiences make women think and feel like the ‘natural’ relationship on the whole between women and men is that of prey to predator. How would you react if you believed that every one of the half of the human race that was generally stronger than you that you met was more than likely as not wanted to cause you grievous harm? You’d be a little twitchy too. Charm, soothing words and assurances of pure motives won’t help, either. We all remember how charming and harmless Ted Bundy appeared to his victims.
    The correct approach in such a situation is to stand where you are clearly illuminated to the woman’s perspective by whatever light is available, far enough away from her that you are not an immediate threat but that you can still talk to her by raising your voice a bit and asking her how you could assist her. Offer to call a service station or the police if you have a cell phone with you or offer to walk to an available phone and do so. Whatever she asks you to do, do it. If she requests that you leave, leave. At no point attempt to approach her if she doesn’t expressly indicate that you may do so.
    I hope this helps to show to offer assistance in this kind of situation and clarify why some women may react less than favorably to offers of aid from men in circumstances. You wouldn’t, I hope, blame an injured or panicked animal for biting you while you were try to give assistance. Someone who works with animals has learned how to approach them in such circumstances so as to lessen their fear before seeking to help them. A gentleman, likewise, needs informed as well as good intentions. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration on this subject.
    By the way, I always accept gentlemen opening doors, offering seats or to carry items with “Thank you so very much.”

  • I find it easier to offer help than to wait for someone to help me. Many times I will open the door for a guy, or whoever whether male or female. If I were to ask a man in my school to open a door for me, it would be no shock to get the response, “Why can’t you do it yourself?”
    Yet, in light of that, encouraging my brothers to be chivalrous is a great idea. It would take some courage on both parts to risk rejection.

  • These are wonderful articles Brett!

    I have a story I would like to share though. There was a new boy at our church recently that was driving me insane! Every time I walked into a room he was in, he would follow me with his eyes. Every moment I turned around, there he was staring back. After a few weeks I was getting pretty tired of it. One Sunday evening I was was talking to a friend of mine when my mom called from outside to say it was time to go. I gathered up my things and turned to the door. “Oh no!” I thought. For there he was standing in the doorway. “Just brave up and go though” I told myself. I neared the door, he moved to the side and opened the it wider, while staring at me with one of his smiles. Instead of smiling back and saying “thank you”, I just walked right through and ignored him. Was I wrong? Should I have smiled back and politely said “Thank you so much”? I knew he was flirting, he never did that to any other girl, even his girlfriend.(Yes, he still treated me like that while she was there) So was I still wrong? Can anyone tell me?

    God bless!

    Sarah. 🙂

  • Only three guys have ever held a door open for me. My loving Father, my boy scout brother, and like Sarah, a guy who was flirting big time. My brothers have been raised, all four, to open doors for any one going behind them, or the elderly… But alot of this about guys carrying things for girls, opening their doors, or walking them home is like something out of an old story. I think if someone honestly was just being nice, and opened a door for me I might have a heart attack.

  • wow this article is so true:

    i’m one of the ugliest girls among the people I hang out with, and i used to see this all the time from in my youth group and among other guy friends – they would open doors for hot girls, but not the rest of us. In the past few years though, through the influence of our youth leaders and other girls, like me, who noticed it, they’ve really matured and are now extremely courteous to all girls.

    I say this because it think it is easy to get cynical about chivalry, and all aspects of “low cultural expectations,” for that matter. But it doesn’t have to be that way, so thank you, alex, brett, and everyone who has read or commented on this, because you are helping to change that.

  • First of all girls, sorry from all of us guys. Please be patience with us, we are trying to go against the tide with this whole chivalry thing. Second, a big thank you to all real women out there.

    Great job Brett

    P.S. just because the majority of posts are by girls it does NOT mean the guys are not paying attention, guys just take longer to process it all sometimes.

  • When it comes to the issue of flirtation I often do nothing for fear of people taking it the wrong way.

  • This was very motivating, and I really agree with the part about flirting. I definitely have to work on being more gentlemen like, but sometimes I don’t do something courteous because I am afraid that this person or others might take my help the wrong way.

  • If a gentleman is using chivalry to flirt, then he’s not being a gentle man. He’s use and abuse God’s plan for him.

  • great post its time for me to start acting as a consistent gentleman instead of a flirt wich has no purpose

  • Thank you for this post, it’s so true, I have often felt treated like this before. Once, after breakfast in (boarding) school, a guy went out of his way to open a door for me and a few friends, something we wouldn’t have usually expected from this guy. As we walked separate ways, we heard the conversation between this guy and his friend:
    friend “what are you doing mate?”
    door opener “oh, I just wanna get laid”
    I guess that’s why I sometimes don’t like chivalry…
    I have come to really appreciate my brother and dad through reading these posts, my brother is always trying to serve my sister and I, even through really small things like letting us choose the TV channel and making cups of tea!

  • My brothers in Christ,

    Just from this girl’s perspective, if you’re opening doors for me, carrying things for me, helping me with something, giving up a seat…AND are doing it consistently, for all the other girls I/you am/are around, it will be very clear to me that you’re not “flirting” or showing “special attentions.” You’re being a gentleman. That means a lot to a girl…I’d be more comfortable with you doing something out-of-your-way and kind when you’re doing it for everyone else too. I remember a guy carrying a box out to the car for me once…I did feel awkward just carrying the car keys, but I appreciated it more than I told him, for fear of coming across wrong. So thanks to you guys who persevere and are consistently kind – please know that it doesn’t go unnoticed, and we respect you for it! 🙂 Your sister in Christ, Katy

  • hey!

    brett: i really liked this post, and i agree with everything you said in it. unfortunately, i must admit that i have done “chivalrous” things, as a mask for flirting with pretty girls. but, that is not always the case. other times, i will open the door for some girls, and try to be polite to them, and they will turn “about-face”, and walk the exact opposite direction! i really cant stand that! plus, it is not just in the public school setting. it has happened to me in church, and even with christian home school kids! that is what saddens me the most! what is our world coming to?!?! haha

  • Marie,

    your comment is uplifting, revealing and powerful. Anything we do for Christ, will be imbued with the special unmistakable aura of God. Anything we do for ourselves is sadly lacking in comparison.
    Bret, thanks for the series. They have gotten me through a particularly bleak spell.

    God bless y’all

  • Well one incident I had a while ago has opened my eyes to what a lot of girls are dealing with. I was at a roller skating rink, and one guy who I had just met came up and used both of his thumbs to push me hard in the stomach to make me fall (some guys have the weirdest way of flirting–but it also showed me that he didn’t respect me!) That scared me. I mean this guy was huge! It seriously scared me! I had never been in a situation where a guy felt like he could do whatever he wanted because I was smaller and weaker. I told my older brother and he and his best friend stayed glued to me the rest of the day. I have always been taught to have zero tolerance for boys touching me, and I’ve actually had to get in a guy’s face and yell at him to never touch me again. (we were in a pool and he grabed me in a bear hug from behind and pulled me under) I have a black belt in karate, and it has really helped in my self confidence. But I think there are a lot girls out there who get touched in an inapropriate way and feel like they can’t tell them “No” or defend themselves because they feel like they’ll be overpowered. I have two brothers and three close guy friends who are brothers. It hasn’t happened often, but every now and then a guy will get in my personal space or just try to be rude and annoying to me. Almost every time (sometimes there not there to help) my brother or friend will step in to distract him so I can walk away, or my friend has actually had to tell another guy to leave me alone. Girls SO MUCH want to be able to rely on their brothers (even younger ones) and their guy friends for protection. Even tell them “I’ll stand up for you, or I’ve got your back, or even better I’ll protect you.” I can’t even begin to explain how it makes us feel, to know that there are guys out there who won’t just open the door for us or carry a heavy load for us. But that they’re willing to defend and protect our honor, body, and heart.

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  • Thank you so much for your posts!
    I have received a lot of encouragement!
    Quick Question…
    What are your policies on re-posting your posts? Our common practice for what we call “Guest post”ers are to put Guest Post by: under your original title, no editing to any text, unless we email the author first, put a link to the original post (the idea of having guest posters is to allow the readers to find more places to find Godly encouragement) and put the author’s picture and a short biography at the end.

rebelling against low expectations

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