Jonathan Last in an article on fatherhood, manliness and failure, A Dad’s Life (The Weekly Standard, May 25, 2015) asks whether there is anything that unifies the good parts of manliness. He maintains that the nuclear core of manliness is, what Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield identifies as chivalry.
“The chivalric nature of manliness reasserts itself through history, from the knight, to the samurai, to the soldier. Why? Because as Mansfield explains, ‘Masculinity must prove itself and do so before an audience. It is understood often to be an act of sacrifice against one’s interest, hence concerned with honor and shame rather than money and calculation.’”
Last goes on to write, “If you wanted to distill these two big, interlocking concepts, you’d say that manliness is chivalry, and chivalry is the impulse to seek honor by protecting the weak and innocent. What you have just described is the essence of fatherhood. We might even take this further: Fatherhood isn’t just manliness. It’s the purest form of the good side of manliness, the side that brings light into the world.”
I have always loved the stories of the knights of old: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Kenilworth, Prince Valiant and other medieval romances. I even collect editions of the books and comic strips. I am drawn to their tales of chivalry for some reason. I recently enjoyed reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s, The White Company.
Chivalry is regarded as being politically incorrect these days of equality between the genders and the advent of transgenderism. But fatherhood and manliness is more than a social construct. Its source is to be found in the paternal love of the Father for the Son through the Holy Spirit.
I am the proud father of two daughters and grandfather to four grandchildren. I love them fiercely and would do all that I could to protect them from harm and to provide for their wellbeing. I hope that I am chivalrous toward my beloved wife and other women. By doing so I am not implying that they are weak or unequal in God’s sight. I am affirming my responsibility to love them as Christ loves me.