Modesty, Violence, and Rest: An Immodest Ramble

Violence is the burden of men. Everywhere we go, we either carry it ready to use, or stoop under its weight. There is no escape from violence for men; the world is a violent place. Many of you have heard me speak of the need for Christian men to hold to an ethic of violence...whatever that might look like, the ethic of violence must take certain principles that will be in place until Resurrection Day into account.

The bizarre culture of manhood America displays is not the product of too much or too little violence. It is the product of a false choice. Men are told that they must put violence aside at all costs or become monsters. Most men choose the first. A few choose the second, and prey on the first.

Christian men must pick violence up. They have no choice. Although violence is a fruit of evil doing, it is not in itself evil. Satan was violently thrown down from Heaven when he tried to violently overthrow the Right Throne. Evil violence is the imposition of the will of the stronger over the will of the weak, to the detriment of the weak. Good violence, proper violence, is the preservation of the will of the weak against the will of the strong, to the benefit of the weak.* This is why judges must be vindicators and avengers. That sounds more personal and violent than Americans would like, but that is their calling. They are there to save the widow from the ruthless man.

Good, evil, and violence are complicated things. Any ethic of violence is bound to be complicated, and bound to dwell in gray areas where questions of authority haunt every decision. But the Christian man must be willing to use violence...he has his wife, his children, and his neighbors to consider. Every Christian man is in some small, limited way, an avenger and a vindicator. He must be a modest avenger.

This is one of the reasons the modesty of women is so important to men. Modesty has only a tangential relationship to clothing. It is the exercised combination of purpose, place, and contentment. The modest person knows what he ought to be doing and where he ought to be, and finds joy in it. The lack of any of those things leads to immodesty, to which we are all at least occasionally subject.

It is modest for a man to wield violence. He does this in a way that seems contradictory. He is wise in his violence. He is discreet in his violence. Though it is proper, it is a great burden...the greatest burden men bear.

The modesty of women encompasses, among other things, the promise of rest. A knee-length skirt is modest because it promises that the wearer will do nothing violent while wearing it. Long hair is modest because it tells others that its wearer is not interested in fighting, in fact, that its wearer is unprepared to fight.

When a man behaves modestly toward his wife, he promises to keep trouble away from her home. When he behaves modestly toward others, he helps his brothers shield what they must...including his sons.

When a woman behaves modestly toward her husband, she assures him that there will be peace at his home while he is away, and when he returns (adultery is violence against the home). When she behaves modestly toward others, she provides an oasis of rest to any who live with her or happen by.

Men must do the hard work to keep violence outside the home. Women must do the hard work to keep peace in the home. When they do these things, they affect the mission of the other directly and concretely. And they bring up children who know their purpose, their place, and their joy. They bring up modest children.

*note that there is nothing referring to physical violence above. Violence is simply the imposition of one will over another. A nagging wife is violent, for example. The bulk of the playground bully's work is verbal.

My oldest son wields a nearby weapon. He is the gentlest boy I know.