Saturday, July 18, 2015

Does Honor Still Matter?

So help me, all it takes for the world to crumble to nothing is for women to lose their virtue and men their honor.
—Andrew Klavan, The Identity Man

The word honor means to be honest, to be fair, and to have integrity in one’s beliefs and actions with a high level of respect for ourselves and others. It is an adherence to what is intrinsically right. Honor also entails having a nobleness of mind, character, or spirit—an exalted moral excellence, if you will. A man of honor is loyal, faithful, and true to his word. He keeps his promises and fulfills his duties.

Perhaps no character trait embodies healthy masculinity more than that of honor (healthy honor—other cultures and religions have forms of honor that may not agree with our version of honor in the West). Honor is the soul of masculinity. It is a code that a man lives by that lifts him above mere mediocrity and survival. It enables him to use the incredible power that God has endowed him with to lift the lives of others beyond what they could ever be without his broad shoulders to stand upon. Honor allows a man to stand tall among less honorable members of his gender. It inspires him to reject and ignore involvement in self-gratifying activities (like adultery, drugs, lying, or stealing) that sap his ability to live a life of integrity and wholeness. It allows him an opportunity to strive for greatness in life. It motivates him to live his life to a higher standard.

Our culture and the definition of honor have changed over the generations. Honor used to reflect a man’s outer image—the way he acted and how he conducted himself publically. Now it is more about whether a man has inner qualities such as integrity, honesty, and loyalty.

With these changes, the definition of manhood has changed as well. Masculinity was highly valued until a few generations ago. Prior to then, civilizations considered a man to be valued and encouraged men to be as honorable and excellent as possible.

One of the results of these changes has been that honor is no longer a valued character trait. Actually, it is in word but not in deed. We talk a lot about honor but seldom see it in action or praise it when we see it acted out. Perhaps this is because it runs contrary to our “age of the individual.” Honor requires us to put the needs of others ahead of our own. It requires that we place more value on others than on ourselves. Honor is the heart of authentic masculinity. It differentiates good men from bad men, leaders from loafers. It is the trait that inspires men to accomplish great deeds and make huge sacrifices for the benefit of others. Honor fuels healthy civilization. 



Perhaps one of the most profound statements about honor and nobility of all time was this one made by C. S. Lewis. While discussing the desire or propensity of modern society to remove the heart (honor, passion, and noble strength) from the young men of our culture, he predicted, “We continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. . . . In sort of a ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”  The very thing we crave and need most in men today is the very thing we mock and breed out of our young men.

Lewis’s prophetic work (written in the 1940s) has come to fruition as social and moral relativism has been adopted by modern thought—in religion, education, and government—opening the door to the post-modern claim that people are free to create their own reality through a sheer act of the will. 

Boys without passion become men without passion. Men without passion are like automatons or androids—robots trapped in human skin. Men without passion seldom lead noble or honorable lives. They are apathetic; unable or unwilling to lead their families and communities.

Honorable men and honorable expectations teach boys to become honorable. Being surrounded by men of honor and immersed in an environment steeped in an honor code integrates this trait into a boy’s heart.

Dads, teach your son what you believe to be important in life. Develop a core set of beliefs that, as a family, you believe to be foundational and unbreakable. Develop an honor code for your family.  Your son and our country need one.

Excerpted from Rick's book, A Man in the Making, by Revell Publishing.  Find out more at www.betterdads.net 

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