Stephen Measure

On Honor
February 12, 2015

These words are directed at men. Society today offers us uncertainty in how we should live our lives. Concepts such as honor have been discarded by the wayside. My purpose here is to stand against that uncertainty and explain how a man can be an honorable man. Women should be honorable women as well, of course, and I'm not saying that the responsibilities discussed here don't also apply in some ways to them. But I don't think it's my place to tell a woman how to be a woman, so I won't. I feel no such unease, however, in telling a man how to be a man—more specifically, in telling a man how to be an honorable man.

21st-century feminism and the hookup culture
As I said, society today offers men uncertainty on how we should live our lives. There are numerous ideologies and lifestyles competing for our attention, but many of them are contradictory and few of them are good. Consider 21st-century feminism and the hookup culture. These two are entangled in a bitter conflict over sexuality, and men are caught in the crossfire. Some people support one side. Some people support the other side. Frankly, I hope they both lose. There is no point in putting a thin veneer of respectability over the noxious hookup culture, a lifestyle fixated on momentary pleasures; and there is no time to waste on the nonsense offered by 21st-century feminism, an ideology that views men as a threat and seeks to diminish them. Must a consent form be signed and notarized prior to every one-night stand? That's not a fight I care to participate in. Too many are wasting energy fighting about whether males should be permitted to urinate on newspapers laid down in the corner of the room or if they should be trained to go outside on the lawn. I have a higher vision for men. The hookup culture only appeals to overgrown boys, and 21st-century feminism can only produce housebroken males. But I'm not interested in overgrown boys or housebroken males. What I want—what we need—are honorable men.

An honorable man
What then is an honorable man? Let me start with one word: work. An honorable man's focus in life is work and productivity, not comfort and leisure. He is as self-sufficient as he can be, constantly striving to not be a burden on others. Disability or severe hardship might prevent this from being fully possible, but an honorable man will do the best he can. Yes, all of us have to lean upon others for help at some point in our lives—there is no dishonor in that—but an honorable man is a worker. He is a builder. An honorable man is a net positive on the world around him.

Now for another word: integrity. An honorable man is a man of integrity. Whether alone or in front of others, he is honest. People might have many different opinions about him. Some of them might dislike him. (Honorable and popular are not synonyms, after all.) But all of them will know they can trust his word.

An honorable man is brave. He might feel as much fear as an ordinary man, but an honorable man chooses to ignore it. He chooses to place his duties in front of his fears. And one of the duties that an honorable man feels is the duty to protect others—his family above all, but his neighbors as well, his community, his nation.

An honorable man is a man of humility. He is not filled with pride, nor does he waste time with vain boasting. In our culture today, many seem to believe that men should be flashy show-offs, but such men are nothing but immature boys. May they one day grow up and become the men they were meant to be.

An honorable man respects all women. His respects them in how he looks at them and how he thinks about them. No looking at pornography or otherwise thinking of women as sex objects. In addition, an honorable man respects women in how he treats them—his wife, daughters, mother, and sisters especially, but all others as well, even those who do not want to be respected and who revile him for showing them that respect. He shows it to them anyway. How they react is up to them. How he acts is dictated by his honor.

If he is able, an honorable man will marry a wife and they will have children together. It doesn't matter if his children are biological or adopted, either way they are his. What matters is that he sacrifices time and energy in raising the next generation, his portion of it. May that generation be an honorable one. May we strive to ensure that it is. If misfortune prevents an honorable man from having children, surely he will still be involved and provide service and direction to the extent that he is given the opportunity. There is much work to be done in leading youth on to become honorable adults, and many hands are needed for that labor. An honorable man would never turn his back on such an important duty.

An honorable man accepts responsibility to ensure his family is provided for. Whether through his income, his wife's, or both, doesn't matter. What matters is that he feels the ultimate responsibility upon his own shoulders and that he does what it takes to ensure it is done.

An honorable man leads his family, and an honorable man knows what that actually means. Leadership is not fancy suits or corporate boardrooms. It is not bending someone to your will. Leadership is teaching your daughter to ride her bike. It is helping your son build his Pinewood Derby car. That is what leadership really is, and that is what role an honorable man plays within his family. Someone who incorrectly thinks of leadership as coercive interpersonal power might be bothered by the leadership role men have within their families, but honorable men know it's not about interpersonal power—it's about responsibility.

An honorable man understands that the roles and responsibilities of his wife are no less important than his own. He defers to her in some things just like he expects her to defer to him in some things. The division of household responsibility is between a man and his wife, but when all contributions are tallied, an honorable man would never be comfortable knowing he is doing less for home and family than his wife is doing.

An honorable man expresses his sexuality only with his wife. No pleasuring himself to porn, no sex or anything similar before marriage, no cheating on his wife, no same-sex sexual relations. There are many reasons why sex should be reserved for marriage: it ensures a man's relationship with his wife will be unique and more powerful than any other, it provides a man motivation to keep that relationship healthy and happy, it ensures that children, the natural result of sex, will be born within an environment of love, responsibility, and commitment. But for honorable men, only one reason is necessary: because that's the honorable way to live. Attractions do not matter; actions do. An honorable man will feel improper desires just like any other man—there is no shame in that—but an honorable man will choose to reject those improper desires. That is what honor demands. Many of us have made mistakes in this area, but dishonor in our past does not have to continue into our present and future. May we all resolve today to live honorably.

An honorable man does not inspire fear in his wife or children. He inspires respect. There is never any doubt that he loves them and that he is striving to be the best husband and father he can be, putting his duties ahead of his own personal wants and needs.

An honorable man would never harm his own flesh and blood and pretend it was done to preserve his family's honor. That is not honor. That is perversion. Those who commit such acts are the vilest of creatures, undeserving of even being called men. They are lower than the worms that will consume their flesh once the corruption of their bodies matches the corruption of their souls.

An honorable man understands that the standards do not bend to his will; he must bend his will to the standards; and he is honorable whether alone or in front of others. He understands that honor is not just a show he puts on. Honor is what he is, and he lives accordingly, whether in public or private.

Everyone makes mistakes. We all have. We all do. But an honorable man turns his back on his mistakes. He doesn't excuse them. He rejects them and tries to do better.

Rest and recreation
We have spoken much of duty and responsibility, but what about rest and recreation? Should they also be part of our lives? Yes, they should. There is a time for rest. There is a time for recreation. Indeed, our bodies and minds need both, and an honorable man will be responsible enough to take care of the body he was entrusted with. But where is that man's focus? What is his purpose? Rest and recreation should not be a man's goal; they should be the fuel used to achieve his goal of work and productivity.

The ideal
While what I have written above is a good start, it is not everything that honor requires. Yet, even this incomplete list of responsibilities might seem overwhelming. Any man reading it will surely see areas where he currently falls short. I know I certainly do. (One benefit of writing with a pen name is it allows me to offer counsel to myself.) But knowing that you fall short in some ways is no reason to give up. The role of an honorable man is an ideal. It is a direction we should constantly strive toward. Yes, we are imperfect. Yes, we make mistakes. But an honorable man will not allow shame for his imperfections to block him from improving. Everyone is meant to fill the measure of their creation, and for men that means being an honorable man. None of us will do so perfectly in this life. What matters is that we try.

The role of men is in a state of upheaval today. Do not pretend that the demands of honor are the only demands pulling at you and telling you how to live. Consider the different beliefs and decide which vision of yourself you prefer. Will you be an overgrown boy of the hookup culture? Will you be a housebroken male ruled by the dictates of 21st-century feminism? Or will you reject such negative lifestyles and ideologies and strive instead to be an honorable man? It's your life. It's your choice. What then will you choose?

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