In Uncategorized on February 18, 2011 at 7:31 am defines the word honor as “honesty, fairness, and integrity in one’s beliefs and actions…high public esteem, fame, glory (which is earned)…a source of credit or distinction.”

Honor is a word that used to carry preeminence in our culture. Not too long ago we used to have an honor-based culture, until we started accepting the contemporary social mores based on what we prefer to view as our more enlightened thinking, but really is just magical thinking that violates the natural order of things.

Regardless of what you think of Linn-Marr wrestler Joel Northrup’s decision to forfeit his opening match at this week’s annual state wrestling tournament rather than tussle with a girl, this teenager should be commended for reminding the adults in the room that it’s our job to instill honor in the emerging generation, not theirs.

Northrup – whose father is a pastor – claims he forfeited his match for matters of religious conscience, which forbids him from manhandling women in a way that wrestling demands you do to your opponent in order to win.

“Wrestling is a combat sport and it can get violent at times,” Northrup said in a statement released by his high school. “As a matter of conscience and my faith I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner. It is unfortunate that I have been placed in a situation not seen in most other high school sports in Iowa.”

Let me just say as a father of two daughters who encourages their competitiveness and drive that Northrup is exactly correct. You may ask what I would do if my daughters came to me wanting to wrestle with boys, to which I have two answers. One, if I do my job as their daddy they won’t. Two, I would try to encourage that drive and competitive ambition by simultaneously channeling it in a way that doesn’t require my girls to give up their God-given femininity to be validated.

Naysayers will say Northrup is just covering for the fact he doesn’t want to risk losing to a girl, but if that’s the case he’s still correct. Those naysayers indict their own magical thinking since if they’re admitting there is a supposed stigma in losing to a girl doesn’t that then also reveal the lack of honor in beating one in such a pursuit?

There is no honor in winning like this, and a culture that encourages its males to pursue victory without honor is setting a very dangerous precedent indeed. Men who have sought victory without honor have often committed the worst atrocities in human history. Furthermore, with that history as our guide it’s ironic to note that in cultures that do this very thing women are the most subjugated and restricted—not the other way around.

Why? Because women have a sense of honor as well as a source of “credit and distinction.” In the moral tradition that founded this country it was believed that men and women were created equally. Granted, much of that equality had to be attained in areas of life where it should’ve been the natural order of things, but violating the natural order of things in order to obtain some flawed notion of equality equally has no honor. Or, as my mama used to tell me growing up, two wrongs don’t make a right.

No other religious tradition in the history of this planet gives as much equality to women as does the Judeo-Christian one. For Moses to state that God created them, male and female, equally in His own image was not just a revolutionary thought to the ancient world but remains one to the majority of the world today.

However, equality does not equal sameness.

Before God you and your boss have equal merit as each being created in His image, but you don’t each have the same authority or responsibilities in this life, and when you attempt to usurp his authority or responsibilities there are consequences. Similarly, my lovely bride and I are of equal merit in the eyes of God and are to treat each other that way. Nonetheless, we don’t each have the same authority and responsibility.

To the egalitarians reading this, or women who unfortunately grew up without a real man as a father or are currently married to a scoundrel or a wimp so they struggle to trust masculinity, what I just wrote seems old school—but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

If you’re one of those aforementioned types of skeptics let me ask you a simple question: was taxes higher or lower, was crime higher or lower, was children’s literacy higher or lower, and was the divorce rate higher or lower when our culture still embraced what I believe than it is now that we embrace what you believe?

That’s what I thought.

This is because this isn’t just my belief at all. Instead it is the natural order of things—or the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.” To align with the natural order brings harmony. To violate it brings chaos, which in our day often manifests itself in all the societal ills the so-called “Great Society” (see that as the taxpayer) is asked to pick up the tab to clean up.

No civilized culture in human history I can think of sent its women off to war or encouraged its women to physically compete with the men as we are doing today. In fact, I’m not sure I can think of too many uncivilized savages who did, either. Even in those barbaric cultures the men still had enough honor to protect their own women, even if they weren’t very kind to the females in the tribe they just conquered.

Why is it that if you were walking down the street after school and saw two boys wrestling with each other, even if they were a little rough and sweaty, you wouldn’t think of separating them unless one was bleeding?

Why is it that if you saw a girl and a boy in the same situation you would?

Why is it that when my son gets rough with his sisters I pull him aside and teach him that he has to protect them from other boys, not treat them like other boys?

Why would a father be comfortable with a teenage boy manhandling his daughter, including her most intimate areas as wrestlers often do, when if he saw a teenage boy doing that to her in a parked car on a Friday night he might be inclined to take advantage of his Second Amendment freedoms?

The answer is simple, because men and women are different. They are separate and distinct, and to treat them as such not only is honorable but bestows honor on each. It is not the girl’s job to live out her daddy’s misspent regrets that he never had a son, instead it’s her daddy’s job to give her the unique honor as his beloved princess she deserves. Nor is it mommy’s job to encourage her Princess Boy, but instead give her prince the honor of learning how to protect her and provide for her so that he may adequately do that for another man’s princess one day.

If there is no honor in losing to a girl in such a pursuit, then there is no honor in defeating one, either. The Iowa High School Athletics Association doesn’t allow boys to compete in girls’ sports, and no father in his right mind would have his son do it even if he could because there is no honor in it. The ridicule rightly outweighs the reward.

For years I’ve done a lot of good-natured jesting at the expense of the sport of wrestling, mainly because it was the source of some of my most embarrassing moments as a youngster. Nonetheless, I’ve always had a lot of respect at the honor that is a part of the sport’s subculture. It’s a rigid sport that frankly I wasn’t tough enough for that in this state has turned many a boy into a man with the adversity one must overcome to engage in it successfully.

It seems to me the one that is living out that life lesson on a very public stage is the child the adults are supposed to be teaching it to, not the adults who are supposed to be doing the teaching.

  1. There is no honor in claiming that fathers that allow their daughters to wrestle are bad parents and their is no honor in stating that girls that wrestle are giving up their “God-given femininity” in order to be validated. My daughter is offended that you think she has given up her femininity nor has she. I highly doubt you could walk into her school right now and tell the difference between her or any of her classmates.

    I actually didn’t encourage my daugher to wrestle nor do I care if she does or does not. My son wrestles and I feel the same way. My daughter loves the sport. She grew up watching her brother wrestle and her father coach and she wanted to wrestle and began wrestling boys while at practice. If she quit at the end of the season, I would have no issues. This isn’t a father living through their kid nor do I see that from most girls that wrestle. Wrestling builds self confidence, teaches how to deal with adversity, and personal responsibility. It teaches kids how to overcome fears and ultimately that they are responsible for their own actions. Those are things that are lacking in today’s society. Those are things that other “team sports” do not instill. More times than not if a kid fails in a team sport, them and their parents blame the coach or their teammates. Team sports have been about everyone winning and the blame game. Not so in wrestling.

    For those that worry about the inappropriate touching, I urge you to educate yourself on wrestling. I wrestled for 18+ years and was never inappropriately touched. Never had my privates fondled, never. The assertion that “wrestlers often do” this is absurd and insulting and really shows your lack of knowledge of the sport.

    Let me ask you this Deace? If you had a son, how could you allow him to be “manhandled and especially in the most intimate areas.” Fact is, it doesn’t happen. As a matter of fact, he would have a greater chance of this happening in a Catholic church as he would on a wrestling mat. I say that as a Catholic and a christian.

    Your views seem amazingly uneducated

  2. Thank you Steve for an eloquently worded defense of my friend Joel Northrup’s conscienscious stance. I have written an article on this called “How Joel Touched a Nerve” which isat if you are interestes in the perspective of Joel’s pastor. Thanks again Steve!

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