My dad comes to mind with this rule. Maybe it was his growing up with three sisters or maybe it was just his Jimmy Stewart era. Either way, I was drilled that opening the door, not being mean in speaking to the fairer sex, and taking the high road was just the way it was. As I have grown older, I now understand both the practical and spiritual benefit of this approach to life. My wife reminds me that I still need some work in the communication aspects of being a gentleman. Amen.
I now understand the term implies two instincts that are opposed to each other. Being gentle rarely gets attached to the instinct of being a man. The gentle is soft, kind, easy going; manly is rough and tough, aggressive, macho. Yet, being a gentleman bestows the honor that comes with marrying the best of both terms. Not an easy task, which is why I suppose it’s so increasingly hard to find.
To be a gentleman requires a man to control his baser instincts and look out for those with less strength, not just physical strength but also character. A gentleman seeks to take advantage of no one. This is easy against a comparable opponent. When presented with an opportunity to take advantage of a weaker person of either strength or character, the gentleman chooses the right action rather than the easy action. Not taking advantage of situations is the way of the gentleman. Lance Corporal Dawson, in A Few Good Men, said it best when answering Private Downey’s question of why they were found guilty of court martial, “It’s not that simple… We were supposed to fight for people who couldn’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willy.”
On the flip side, being a man requires one to stand up for what is right even when adverse consequences result. Being a man includes doing the big things and the little because you can and should. Big things include providing for your family and demonstrating to your children of both sexes how a man should behave to other men and especially to women. Nothing shows more respect for a woman than allowing her the option of choosing how to live her life. A gentleman doesn’t require his wife to work to maintain his lifestyle.
In addition to the big things, a gentleman does the little things, like opening doors, carrying groceries, spending time with the kids, and even going to events that his wife prefers. Finally, the gentleman communicates in tone and words with his wife in ways that show his love and respect for her. This is both a little thing and a BIG thing to her.
Without God’s help I do not know how to stay a gentleman. I daily quote the Psalmist in asking God to “create in me a pure heart, and renew a right spirit within me.” Only with the Holy Spirit can I maintain the proper approach to dealing with family, friends, and business acquaintances. Of course, the apostle Paul reminds me that with the right spirit, I may display the fruit of HIS spirit, gentleness.
So go ahead, be gentle and be a man.
PS - A writer friend suggested I share the backstory on the last seven, and next two, blogs. Years ago I taught a study of the book of Proverbs to a group of middle and high schoolers. Only 4 out of 25 completed it because I used Proverbs to determine the class rules. As a graduation plaque, I came up with 10 Rules to Live By. These blogs represent the chapters I started on my first E-book. Today I share them as they still ring true to me. Enjoy:)