Saturday, November 7, 2009

What is Honor?, 2

Continued from "What is Honor?"

I have reproduced the definitions of honor from Merriam-Webster below to make it easier to reference as I discuss the meaning of the word.

The word honor appears 149 times in the English Bible (AV). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word commonly translated honor is kabod.

It literally means weight, and is often translated as glory. The Apostle Paul played on this term when he wrote "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." (2Co 4:17)

In this sense, honor is the weight credited by God or other people to a person's character. In other words, it is his reputation (definition #1, below), as borne out by Brown-Driver-Briggs: Hebrew Definitions which lists reputation among the word's meanings.

And the Bible confirms that a good name is a valuable asset:

A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. (Pro 22:1)

This leads to the matter of whether a person should fight (let alone kill) to preserve his honor/reputation. Scripture seems to indicate the opposite:

It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling. (Pro 20:3)

On the contrary, our King gives us specific instructions about how to handle those who slander us:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Mat 5:43-44)

And in another context, He says again,

Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. (Luk 6:26-28)

If you're like me, you have your own stories about how others -- either unbelievers or professing Christians -- have despitefully used you. I remember lying awake at night rehearsing the scenes in my mind, thinking of what I should have said to the one(s) who did evil to me.

Such thoughts robbed me of sleep and peace of mind, until I discovered the principle of praying for those who despitefully use you. When I started praying for my enemies, their evil words and deeds lost their hold on me and I started falling asleep praying for them.

This is not the same as praying at them. I'm talking about sincere prayer for their good (which may legitimately include repentance on their part and reconciliation with you) and for God's blessing on their service to Him.

This is not to say that there is not also a place for imprecatory prayers, especially when the slanderer dishonors that which is righteous or God's work and reputation. David prayed in this vein:

For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life. But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. (Psa 31:13-18)

To be continued.

1 a : good name or public esteem : reputation b : a showing of usually merited respect : recognition
2 : privilege
3 : a person of superior standing —now used especially as a title for a holder of high office
4 : one whose worth brings respect or fame : credit
5 : the center point of the upper half of an armorial escutcheon
6 : an evidence or symbol of distinction: as a : an exalted title or rank b (1) : badge, decoration (2) : a ceremonial rite or observance c : an award in a contest or field of competition d archaic : a gesture of deference : bow e plural (1) : an academic distinction conferred on a superior student (2) : a course of study for superior students supplementing or replacing a regular course
7 : chastity, purity
8 a : a keen sense of ethical conduct : integrity "wouldn't do it as a matter of honor" b : one's word given as a guarantee of performance
9 plural : social courtesies or civilities extended by a host
10 a (1) : an ace, king, queen, jack, or ten especially of the trump suit in bridge (2) : the scoring value of honors held in bridge —usually used in plural b : the privilege of playing first from the tee in golf


The Warrior said...

Excellent series, as always. I always so enjoy your series.

I've mulled this over in my head a thousand times, and perhaps you might have as well. If you have, you likely have a good answer for it.

Hypothetical. You are out shopping with one of your womenfolk one day, and for whatever reason, an orc-ish character begins a verbal attack. Imagine the nastiest words you can use against women (we both know enough to not have to list them here). He slanders and slurs with violence and hatred. This can or will seriously hurt/upset your woman.

Clearly, you would need to intervene. But on the other hand, the orc would likely become angrier and at you as well. Violence might ensue. What is your views on the justifiability of fighting at this point?

This scenario can be adapted slightly for many different variations, but the general principal is the same. Can we legitimately use force, if absolutely necessary, to protect the honor of our women?


Merrianna said...

Hey there, Spencer. Pardon my bluntness, but I think you might have this idea that women are delicate flowers. I think most women are stronger than you give them credit for. And I'm not being feminist here. Think of all the women in the Bible who had strong wills and minds that they used for God's kingdom. Deborah. Jael. Ruth. Esther. Need I go on?

Also... In my case, at least, the verbal abuse wouldn't be a very big concern. I would probably be more hurt by disapproval from an acquaintance than false insults from a complete stranger. I would be more afraid that the verbal abuse would turn into violence, and a male protector "defending my honor" really would not be helping to prevent the violence I'd fear. I think in such a situation it would be best to just leave the area as soon as possible (assuming it's safe to do so).

My father will probably want to answer you more thoroughly, but I thought you might also like the perspective of one of the womenfolk on the subject. :)

The Warrior said...


Thank you very much for your input. I paid close attention to your POV and thank you for providing it.

But on the other hand, I must apologize for ever giving that idea because I did NOT mean to at all. For purposes of my unlikely hypothetical, I chose to use the personality of such a young woman (have known one or two). I've known many strong women and applaud them for that, truly, so I apologize if you misunderstood my question. As one interested in being prepared for anything and everything, this situation is what I chose to illustrate a picture for analysis by your good father (or anyone else for that matter).

I simply do not have this idea, and therefore apologize for giving the appearance!

God bless,


Gravelbelly said...

Thanks for the question. I planned to address the issue of "fighting for a lady's honor" in the series.

The Warrior said...

Aha! Excellent! Sorry to jump ahead there. (To be clear, I realized I missed my intent of saying the orc's verbal attack involved degrading sexual insults.)

I'm playing devil's advocate a bit here, so I don't want anyone to think I am necessarily saying such and such should be done, I'm just raising questions that I feel should be discussed. I hope I'm not coming off wrong here.

Also, I'm interested to see if your opinion (whatever it might be) would change if the orc touched a lady in a sexual manner? If he got physical, should we as well? A mere grip, a shove, or a full-on decking? What do you think? Anyways, I will await the answers in your series.

Once again, I thank you for believing in what so many don't.


Randall Gerard said...


My son recently had a situation at work with a young co-worker who was paying a little too much attention to my son's wife. He also wondered aloud, and in her presence, what she might be like in the intimacy of the bedroom. He used much cruder language of course. Needless to say, my son's wife was greatly embarrassed and my son wanted to pile-drive this fool on the spot.

My son ignored it initially, escorting his bride out to her vehicle and encouraging her to leave, and telling her all will be well. Then he called me. When he related this event to me, I told him he needed to confront this clod with his bad manners - but not during working hours or on the premises. 'But can I hit him Dad, I really WANT to hit him.'

I told him I would not escalate this event to violence unless he doesn't respond well to a verbal rebuke, and then only if he starts it. For one thing, I said, you have to work with this kid day in and day out. (he's the boss's son!) If you can get him to see his mistake and repent of it, then perhaps you will make a friend from what appears to be an enemy. Try to appeal to him using his own female relatives; how would he feel if someone said something so bone-headed to his sister, mother, girl-friend, etc.?

Well it worked, and violence was avoided. But this guy also understands that it better never happen again.

The Warrior said...


The best outcome, of course. Recently did something of the kind (although the other person's actions were much less offensive).