Dear Parents,

I’ve set out to write about the way respect can be experienced between males and females. I realise that in the current climate, gender differentiation is not politically correct. I will write about it anyway, as the intention of this article is to simply high-light the Golden Rule:  Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. (Matthew 7:12).

One of the reasons for giving this attention is the emergence of research literature, and ‘average-person-on-the-street-concern’ regarding the impact pornography is having on society, especially our children. In a 2016 submission to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications (AHISA – March), I read the following:

‘Research on the level of exposure to pornography by young people suggests, ‘proliferation of pornographic materials and their ease of access are such that it is not a matter of whether a young person will be exposed to pornography but when (Bryant 2009)’. This has led to concerns in schools that young minds are being inundated with sexually explicit materials well before they have the mental and emotional maturity to integrate what they see within a healthy sexual identity. While there seems to be some evidence that children under 16 years of age, especially boys, were exposed to pornography prior to internet availability (McKee et al, 2008), research indicates that the easy availability and volume of pornography now proliferating online has increased the percentage of young people regularly exposed to images that might not have been viewed in the past. This has raised questions about the level and type of harm caused by regular exposure to pornography, although ethical concerns for child welfare prevent widespread research.’

There is a general accepted view that pornography is harming the quality of relationships between males and females. When reflecting on the issue, there was a natural word-association for me of ‘chivalry’. It may not be politically correct, but I was drawn to reading about its historical emergence as a phenomena. Before the word existed in Europe (pre-1170), it was known as the ‘noble habitus’; behaviour related expectations developed within society. Noble habitus included:

Loyalty: Noble warrior’s associated loyalty with prowess.

Forbearance: Knights’ self-control towards other warriors and at the courts of their lords was a part of the early noble habitus.

Hardihood: The quality of hardy aligns itself with forbearance and loyalty. It’s a military virtue.

Largesse or Liberality: generosity was part of a noble quantity, in particular, being offended and angered by bribes.

The Davidic ethic: This was the rightful authority based on protection for the weak and helpless (in particular the Church), respect for widows and orphans, and opposition to the cruel and unjust. The core of Davidic ethic is the benevolence of the strong toward the weak.

Honour: The loss of honour is a humiliation to a man’s standing and is worse than death.

This noble habitus evolved into the ancient code of ‘chivalry’ during military crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries. According to one historian, there were 10 commandments of Chivalry:

  • Thou shalt believe all that the Church teaches and thou shalt observe all its directions.
  • Thou shalt defend the Church.
  • Thou shalt respect all weaknesses, and shalt constitute thyself the defender of them.
  • Thou shalt love the country in which thou wast born.
  • Thou shalt not recoil before thine enemy.
  • Thou shalt make war against the infidel without cessation and without mercy.
  • Thou shalt perform scrupulously thy feudal duties, if they be not contrary to the laws of God.
  • Thou shalt never lie, and shalt remain faithful to thy pledged word.
  • Thou shalt be generous, and give largesse to everyone.
  • Thou shalt be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

I’m not about to recommend we educate our students (especially our boys) in the ancient art of chivalry. What I will do is apply the problem solving reasoning of a Franciscan theologian (1287-1347) known for the phrase ‘Occam’s Razor’ … better known as: ‘Keep-It-Simple.’  I advocate all of us continue to encourage and uphold respect.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “respect” as a verb that means “to consider someone worthy of high regard.”  The definition of the noun form includes words like “honour,” “deference” and “esteem.”  The word derives from the Latin respectus, meaning to look back, or to “regard.”  Respect is a way of looking at someone, and looking at them with “high regard.”

At SCBC, we teach, encourage, and require all students (males and females) to respect each other. As a college committed to sharing biblical guidance, we are drawn to applying the Golden Rule: Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.” Respect is reflected throughout the Bible,  including Philippians 4:8

‘And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.’

Des Mitchell