How would you describe a Christian gentleman? In this culture, if a man attends church once a month he may be thought of as a good person. Let’s face it; to some degree we all put on our best Sunday attitude at church. I hope, however, this is not the only time a man is at his best. But the truth is, for guys; it probably is.
Men, how would the people who actually know you describe you? Would they say you are well-mannered and kind? Would they describe you as a good person to know because they enjoy being around you?
My concern is that there are too many men [not only] in America today who are extremely impatient with others. They are easily angered and often obnoxious. Just let anyone make a mistake in their presence or disagree with their cherished opinions – and an explosion of furious ranting goes off to the discomfort of everyone. They may be successful in academics or business, but their manner is arrogant and rude. Thus, civility is declining and obnoxious behavior continues to grow. How do we solve this problem? This article is a call to men to bring the art of living as a Christian gentleman back again.
First of all a man must be born again. (John 3:3) As Luke writes when speaking of Jesus, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) Also, Paul writes: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) However, even Christians are not perfect in their interactions with others. Many Christian men fail miserably at being a Christian gentleman.
It is a national tragedy that many American men seem to be untrained in the rules of simple manners. Perhaps I should provide some specific examples:
A gentleman is respectful of others. He is not soft, but he is polite and considerate. A gentleman is respectful of women and treats them all like ladies. He always holds the door for a lady and gives up his seat if she has no place to sit.
A Christian gentleman displays the fruit of the Spirit in his life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”. (Galatians 5:22-23) A gentleman puts people at ease in his presence. If a gentleman disagrees with someone, he does so with kindness and always avoids vulgar jokes, profanity, and negative gossip.
A gentleman remembers such ordinary things as to say “please” and “thank you”. He uses the words “sir” and “ma’am” when he responds to others. He demonstrates respect for those who are older. (1 Peter 5:5) Concerning his appearance; a gentleman does not dress like a clown. He is conscientious about what is appropriate to wear for the occasion, in public, or work. He also does not date women who dress like hookers. Enough said!
A gentleman shuns violence and the loose talk and actions that lead to violence. When I was a teenager, I took classes in the Japanese martial arts. I remember my sensei always reminding his students “when faced with violence, it is better to run.” According to Jesus, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39) This teaching does not mean that one should never be prepared to defend his life and health or that of another. It does mean, however, that you should never think your own honor so venerated that you are ready to fight at the slightest insult.
As an educator, I often heard my single female colleagues complain, and I quote: “No man is going to put his feet under my table if he cannot hold a job.” I recognize that bad health and our present economic conditions may make it difficult to find a good job and hold it. But consider what John Calvin said, “There is no work, however vile or sordid, that does not glisten before God.”
Men have become too willing to “pass the buck” to others; but a gentleman takes responsibility for his actions. If he makes a mistake, he owns up to it. If he sins against someone, he asks for forgiveness. (Ephesians 4:32) He deals responsibly with the results of all his actions. Another complaint I often heard from my female colleagues was, “There are no longer any ‘safe’ men around.” A gentleman should be a “safe man”. Think about what that means!
The Christian gentleman is a man of honor who keeps his word. He can be counted on. He is also highly family-centered. He is committed to his wife and children. He is conscious of the character he displays when interacting with his wife and children. He disciplines his children and goes with them to church. He demonstrates his love for his family openly.
A Christian gentleman is a man of the book – the Bible. He does more than simply read it; he studies it in order to apply its teachings to his life. As Jesus said, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
William Lyon Phelps has written, “The final test of a gentleman is his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.” This is best illustrated by Matthew 7:12, “whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. . . .” Too often, men in our society adopt the view, “It is better to do unto others, before they do unto you.” They think it is better to be labeled a wolf than possibly seen as a lamb. Well, consider this quote from Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt who history records as being a masculine “man’s man”: “Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.”
In conclusion, my message to men is a call to civic virtue:
Western culture and institutions have been in decline. The traditional role of men in our society has become confused and denigrated. Yes, we need “men’s men” but we need to redefine this concept beyond physical ability and sports. Within this idea we must incorporate living life as a gentleman, and I hope – as a Christian gentleman. The barbarians of cultural chaos are currently at the gate. Real men must step up to become gentlemen in the finest tradition of George Washington, Samuel Adams, and Robert E. Lee.
You can make a difference by helping to reform the character of the Christian male.
Man-up and change the future by resolving to be a Christian gentleman.