Only with one of the most beautiful words in the English language: Honor.
In 1 Corinthians 7, St. Paul's exhorts us to "Live the life assigned to you." (7) We're just following a road, here, and trying to do it well without shirking our duties. So how's your level of honor measuring up in your life? There's a pretty easy indicator. What sort of daughter are you? What kind of son do you act like?
Honor is standing tall, or bowing down, or kneeling for peace, to authority, to our brother, to our enemy, to our sister, to a stranger. Whatever the moment calls for, we are ready for it. It reminds me of the Scout promise to Be Prepared. You’ve listened and considered God’s instructions in prayer and, as the ultimate authority in your life, you respond. You respond by preparing to make sure you have everything you need to answer His call, to do what He needs you to do at a moment's notice.
Honor is ready.
Honor is sacrifice and love, but it’s also practical. Honor is packing your courage and unpacking your fears.
Honor is transparent. It's what you think because you know those thoughts might come out of your mouth and into your hands. Your spirituality should be so authentic that the way you pray can be seen by the way you eat your food, comb your hair, drive your car, shop at the mall, and text your friends. Your life should be like a piece of glass… where your every action, every word, can visibly be seen as an attempt at holiness.
God calls us to perfection, never actually expecting us to attain it. Certainly not on our own. So what’s the opposite of honor? Dishonesty. Greed. Materialism. Where things, and lies, and superficiality, is placed before your soul. Vanity isn’t honorable either.
If you’ve ever felt like a hypocrite, if you’re ever thought, “If the people at Church only knew what I did last weekends,” or “If my parents only knew how much...."
Honor is kicking aside doubt, standing on your Father's love. You were made with dignity. You were worth suffering for on the cross.
For you were paid for by a high price, therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The root word for honor, obviously, comes from the same as honesty: honos, or honoris.
There's no room for duplicity in honor. History is punctuated by hypocrisy. Today we live in a culture that is centered on egoistic hedonism. The pursuit of one’s own pleasure. You may be honest with your spouse, or defend your spouse’s honor, as long as it brings you pleasure. If it doesn't bring you happiness it's okay to give up. That's not honest, loving or honorable. It's selfish and unrateful.
Honor is to stand by. At the start line. Not to step back. Not to cower. Not to become invisible or ashamed. Honor is to stand up. To claim responsibility even if it's not your problem but because it is your territory. Whether it's your school, your friend group, your mess, your homework. Honor is ownership.
In Roman Mythology, the deity Honos was the God of chivalry, honor and military justice. For every girl who’s ever swooned over a guy in uniform of any kind (heck, even Cub Scouts make me giggle), you can imagine what I’m talking about here with the stereotype of honor. St. John Paul II challenges the definition even farther. He says, you can tell how much true love there is by how much responsibility one feels for the beloved.
Honor is responsibility. Honor is reliable.
You can see the difference between what John Paul II proclaims, and the beliefs of egoistic hedonism. I’m not responsible for your peace. I’m not even responsible for my behavior. I’ve dated lots of guys who have resorted to “defending” their own pleasure over my dignity. This is even more disillusioned than instant gratification.
But we know that hope does not disappoint.
We know that God will come through if we stand still.
We know that our purpose is to know him, to love him and to serve him.
So what happens when our vocation to love another human being, sacrifices our honor?
What happens when we are trying to know God by reaching out to another person, and we are disgraced?
What about when we are “serving” God by giving ourselves away as a sacrifice, as a self-gift, to someone we know, and we receive nothing but a slap in the face? Rejection?
Then was it really love?
There is a difference between dating a guy who is not perfect, and a guy who simply doesn’t defend your honor or uphold your dignity. If he holds your door, but grumbles about it afterwards…. If he is charming to your mother, but disrespects you later? How do you tell an honorable man?
The truth is, if you are an honorable woman, you will bring out the honor in him. You will call him forth. Like a soft breath on a timid fire, you have the ability to call out the man in him.
How do we know this is true?
And if God, who is love, can be ravished by you, then the boy next door can certainly learn to take a few notes out of Honoris’ book.
You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
with one glance of your eyes.
Song of Solomon 4:9
St. John Chrysostom suggests that young husbands should say the following to their brides:
“I have taken you into my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separate in the life reserved for us . . . . I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you.”
When Tobiah found out that Sarah was of his own family, believed in the same God and the same hope, he fell deeply in love with her and his heart was set on her.
Even when seven men had died at the hands of a demon that cursed her marriage bed, still Tobiah was in love with her, and took her for his wife, and prayed with his sister, his bride, the night of their wedding.
They say that you can tell how much you value something by how long you're waiting to wait for it.
When we aren’t honoring God we are impatient, reckless, impulsive, indifferent, ungracious, lukewarm, or we even start to hate Him. We fall into a spiritual sloth that refuses joy, neglects all God does for us, ignoring and refusing his love.
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Hosea 6:6
God doesn’t always call us to give up everything we want. But we must be willing to accept we are sinners, accept when something we want is sinful or has led us into sin.
We want you to be more than beautiful, desired and sought after. I want you to be dependable in a world that is flighty. I want you to be poised for selflessness in a world that binges everything. I want you us all to be a beacon of hope that is certain and confident in its redeemed past and inconceivably bright future.One time, a boyfriend and I stood by a shiny, sparkling fountain. He gave me a penny and we each threw one in. When we broke up, he told me he had wished to know what it really was that made me so different from other girls. My wish was for him to get to heaven, and I think that’s the little key that has kept me from being hurt from the countless relationships that haven’t worked out. You should only begin something that you are prepared to end. By that I mean, your wish should always be his salvation – and yours – even if that means you aren’t together. As we stood in that sunlit park together, even as I was holding his hand, I wanted more for it to be right than for me to get what I wanted.
And still, God’s ways are not our ways.
So many times we cry out to God:
I need a job.
I need an A in this class.
I need a better body.
I need more patience.
I need a boyfriend.
I need a group of friends I can trust.
I need someone to listen.
I need attention.
I need unconditional love.
What you need is a Father. Honor is knowing you are a first, foremost and always, God's child. Child of the Father of Lights who made every star and every planet that would take 1200 years to fly around, child of every Galaxy's Creator.
If only we could learn to stop trying to deserve what we already have. If we could only respond to the duties we’ve been given rather than the hungers we would rather satisfy.
You have the responsibility as a daughter (or son) of God to treat the body He gave you with respect. To look at the world around you and every person in it as your responsibility and your honor. You take care of it, them, us because it is yours - whatever it is - your country, your family, your grades, you career. It is yours because it belongs to your father. We wear a uniform at work because we're blessed to be stewards of a job at all, to have a job to do. So we wear the indelible mark of Baptism, and the ability to love in our skin and souls. Made to love, made to live, made to honor one another.
All is gift and the only response is honor.