As I write about the Old South, I pray that people will not misunderstand me.  It was not all bad.   As is true with people anywhere you go or anywhere you look in history, there is a mix of good and bad in their customs and values.  Since we are made a little lower than the angels, we have so much capability to reach the heights of accomplishment in whatever endeavor we choose, but since we are born into sin, there is also great capability for evil, even reaching to monumentally low places of sin, for example the actions of Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin.  Some of the values of the Old South were actually good, worth maintaining, and did accord with Christianity.  For instance, the old southern chivalric view of women, putting them on a pedestal and honoring them as treasures, was generally a good thing, although it occasionally had a tendency to go too far, which is true of all value systems that originate with man.  But this was a tradition that did not originate in the south.  Southern chivalric worship of women was an adaptation of medieval courtly love. 

In our southern version, you always treated women and girls respectfully.  You let them shine.  You highlighted them at social functions.   They were an adornment, an artistically beautiful object to be admired and even showed off.  And every woman had some beauty in her, maybe not your version or preference, but beautiful nonetheless.  You protected them.  You honored them.  You opened the door for them.  You treated them gently as a valued object that was fragile.  You pushed their chair in at the dinner table when you were dining out.  You flattered them, respecting their beauty.  You treated every woman like a lady of good social status, assuming that they were.  A man could even have a deep platonic love of a married woman, keeping her in an honored, unreachable place, flattering her publicly, essentially flirting with her, although in an approved manner.  Being that we are all human, however, I would not be surprised to discover that some or even many of those “platonic” relationships stepped over the line, with everyone looking the other way as they did with other issues in this legalistic morality. 

We know from history of the Old South that there were occasionally relationships between white males and black female slaves on the sly, probably more about lust than love.  So people probably just got in the habit of looking the other way, with children told, “That’s just the way it is.”  It was the original good old boy system.  Additionally, I guess, in the eyes of men, there’s always been a dichotomy of values between viewing women as objects of lust versus honoring, valuing, and loving them in a more idealistic fashion.  But in general, women were highly valued and honored in the Old South.  Before my grandmother died in 2004, she told me a story one time that must have taken place during Reconstruction, immediately after the Civil War, about a relative of hers that was shot by the KKK for beating his wife.  In its beginning, the KKK was not purely about enforcing the feudal caste system which kept blacks “in their place,” although the organization would become more racist in time, with lower status, poorer white men filling the ranks and worrying over losing their place in the caste system, which then led to the violence against blacks.

More on this tomorrow.  I pray you have a blessed day. 

 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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