What is a Virtue?
A Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do the good. It allows the Man not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. The virtuous Man tends toward the good with all his sensory and spiritual powers; he pursues the good and chooses it in concrete actions.
That’s a pretty good definition from folks who have been defining Virtue for about 2000 years.
The Twelve Righteous Virtues are Virtues that a Man needs to habitually and firmly dispose himself to doing in order to be a Man. They are Righteous because “Righteous” means morally right or justifiable.”
You most likely recognize these, as they are a combination of the Cardinal (or “Hinge”) Virtues first espoused by Socrates (Prudence, Justice, Temperance, Courage); the Heavenly Virtues diametrically opposed to the Deadly Sins (Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, Humility); and the Theological Virtues proclaimed by Paul of Tarsus (Faith, Hope, Love).
Philosophically, Temperance and Charity bridge the virtues together to form the Twelve Righteous Virtues: Temperance is both a Cardinal and Heavenly Virtue and Charity is a Heavenly and Theological Virtue. Charity comes from Latin “Caritas” translated from Paul’s original Greek “αγάπη” (agápi̱), which is “brotherly love, charity; the love of God for man and of man for God; self-giving love,” defined as the Greatest Love: that being giving one’s life for someone else.
“Charity” has become synonymous with non-profit service or donating time or money to specific causes, which pigeonholes the original idea of selfless Love, so ManHusbandDad follows the original definition of the word “Charity” with the modern lexicon word, “Love.”
A Man is Courageous.
Courage is the willingness to act in the face of something that is frightening; strength in the face of pain or grief.
John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling u anyway.”
Mark Twain said, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.”
Courage is not to be confused with bravery. Bravery is the action that Courage inspires. Courage comes before bravery, and is a decision to do the right thing.
A Man is Courageous when he stands up for what is right and does not tolerate what is wrong.
C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”
Courage is the starting point of every other virtue, because it takes Courage to live by these virtues and take virtuous action.
He is thoughtful, methodical, and considerate of consequences for his action and inaction.
This means he does not go off half-cocked, thinking that what he does only affects himself, no matter how isolated the incident or even thought might be.
There’s a great Libertarian idea that “If I’m not hurting anyone, then it’s okay.” Oftentimes you see this in regards to drug use, claiming that if one does it in one’s own house, they are not hurting anyone so it should be okay.
Well, the Prudent Man knows that is stinking thinking. The drug user may well be in their own home – but what if the bong they light catches the apartment complex on fire? What if their neighbor has a heart attack and they are so wasted that they cannot perform CPR? What if they are passed out stoned and a child knocks on their door being pursued by a kidnapper?
All of a sudden, such imprudence is hurting someone.
Engaging in activity and thinking it does not affect anyone else is imprudent, stinking thinking. No Man is an island unto himself.
A Man is Just.
Justice is impartial, objective treatment.
A Man does not play favorites in his judgment. He does not assume as valid facts or evidence that are circumstantial or based on rumor, opinion, or hearsay.
A Man instinctively understands that Justice is an outcome of Natural Law – that there are consequences for actions. He does not mitigate those consequences as an act of Justice – he reinforces and upholds them, and first and foremost sees his own culpability to Justice in all the he does.
Justice is not neutral.
Justice should not be confused with or diluted by Mercy. As Mercy tempers Justice, so does Justice inform Mercy.
A Man is Temperate
Temperance is moderation and self-restraint.
Often this virtue is associated with the consumption of alcohol or food, but to a Man it regards everything in his life. Moderation and self-restraint are essential to a Man’s virtuous living, because extremism leads to forcing oneself to have to resist temptation instead of avoiding it. Extremism can be in drinking and eating, certainly, but it can rear its ugly head in daily activities, hobbies, athletics and everything else a Man encounters, including his work, his faith, his sex life and his relaxation.
A Man is Perseverant
Perseverance may be described as stick-to-it-iveness, diligence, or tenacity. It’s pushing forward and not giving up. It is not quitting just because something is tiring, tiresome, or one is tired. Perseverance is careful and persistent work or effort.
Perseverance is not to be confused with stubbornness. Stubbornness is borne from one’s desire to do something; perseverance is borne from the need for something to be done – external to one’s own desires.
Noah needed Perseverance to complete the monumental task The Lord placed before him, after all. We know Noah Persevered not only because we are here today, but also because “Noah, a good man and blameless in that age, for he walked with God.” [Genesis 6:9-10] However, even if one were to say the Great Flood and Noah were allegorical stories only meant to teach a lesson, the fact remains that Perseverance was obviously an important Virtue for a Man to have, as it was written down perhaps as long as 3000 years ago after being orally transferred for perhapshundreds of generations before that; showing that Man has always known that Perseverance is a necessary virtue.
Perseverance seeks to fulfill a need.
A Man is Patient.
We’ve all heard that “Patience is a Virtue.” But do we pause to think about that, and do we actually practice it in our daily lives?
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry, frustrated or otherwise upset.
Patience provides opportunity. The more patient one becomes the more understanding, empathetic and peaceful one becomes.
A patient Man sees his frustration or anger rising as an opportunity to really explore in that moment the opportunity to think of the other person or the situation – to respond instead of react. As one practices this virtue, they get better at it relatively quickly.
A patient Man lets inconsiderate drivers into the lane after they pass him on the highway shoulder during traffic jams. A patient Man sees in this person the possibilities of their actions being a result of something other than inconsideration; perhaps an emergency.
Patience should not be confused with “tolerance.” A patient man does not tolerate consistently improper behavior, for instance. He corrects it. Patiently.
A Man is Merciful.
Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
That harm can come in many ways, not just “official” or authority-driven. All males have the capability to render vengeance upon someone for a slight or wrong, even if they cannot personally punish. Whether in their minds or actions, that vengeance is not what a Merciful Man does or entertains.
Mercy tempers Justice.
As an example, a Man may be wronged in a manner that permits legal recourse. If legal efforts do not mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually right that wrong for the Man, he may still feel a need or desire for vengeance. Mercy leads a Man to forgive and move on.and may even inform his conscience to not rush to the limit of the law in the first place.
As Abraham Lincoln said, “Mercy bears richer fruits that strict Justice.” Lincoln knew that Justice and Mercy walk hand-in-hand, and when Justice becomes strict it is most likely no longer governed by objectivity and Natural Law – and Mercy. This is why Mercy tempers Justice, just as Justice informs Mercy.
Mercy is not willy-nilly forgive-and-forget. In fact, Mercy can be practiced every day when somebody apologizes to us. If we say “That’s okay” we are ill-serving the individual and in fact encouraging them to do it again – mercilessly condemning them to a higher probability of repeating the offense or something similar.
Instead, show Mercy and Justice: Say, “I accept your apology, and I forgive you.” It will bear much fruit!
A Man is Humble.
Humility is a modest view of one’s own importance.It is a firm grounding in who one is; a self-awareness.
It is not self-deprecating to the point of insolence or obnoxiousness. It is not something to wonder if one does but instead tries to be.
This is a difficult virtue, because if a Man asks himself if he is humble, he probably is not. If a Man thinks he is humble, he probably is not.
Humility is a virtue born out of the other virtues before it. It is a result, not a symptom, of practicing the other virtues. It is difficult to pursue the virtue of humility – humility must catch you as you pursue the other virtues.
A Man is Chaste
This is what most males think about, justify in their own moral relativism, and fail miserably at while at the same time Men who knowingly fail pray for a way out. In fact, this is where boys choose to be Men or Slaves most. Interestingly, males tend to fail at this in their pursuit and misunderstanding of the highest virtue at the end of the list – Love. The sheer length of this brief summary below is a testament to the misunderstanding of and tragedy of the loss of the virtue of Chastity.
Chastity is more than just the abstention from non-marital sexual activity. It is, actually, closely related to the Virtue of Temperance, and is often cited as that virtue’s subordinate. To be a Man, however, we believe Chastity must be paramount. In fact, it is the keystone to keeping all the other virtues from collapsing on the foundation of Courage.
Here is what Chastity means to those big thinkers who have considered it for two thousand years:
“Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman. The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.
The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.
Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. Man’s dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end.”
Wow. Yeah, we know this is a mouthful, earful, and mind-blowing. You could spend weeks just deciphering the words and diagramming the sentences. It’s a lot, and that’s not all of it.
So let’s chew on that a little bit.
Chastity is the control of one’s passions; the mastery of one’s desires so that others, including the unknown others, are placed first before a Man fulfills his own pleasures. Chastity is the service of others in delayed or unrequited gratification in the face of self-gratifying pleasure of the moment. Chastity is abstaining from the pursuit of morally illicit thought or behavior.
Sexually speaking (and Chastity as mentioned above is about more than just sex!) his means that a Man abstains, in deed and conscious thought, from sexual activity if he is not married, and if he is married that sexual activity is only with his wife.
Sexual activity? What’s that, you may ask, and maybe not out of curiosity but out of the hope that there is a loophole.
Well, loopholes in Virtuous Living do not exist, no matter how much one may imagine them or hope for their existence. And a Man does not look for loopholes in Virtuous Living – we cover that above in Prudence.
Sexual activity is anything having to do with a Man’s mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual stimulation that leads him to wantonness or arouses in him a conscientious consideration of pursuit of coitus, ejaculation or orgasm.
Illicit – meaning unchaste – sexual activity is the above, outside of the context of marital intercourse.
It seems we dance around a lot trying to define unchaste living as anything other than sex with one’s wife – so that’s it in a nutshell if you’d like:
Sexual CHASTITY is Sexual activity or thought with only your wife present and involved.
We hesitate to list out specific activity because if we leave something out, someone may think that it is okay; and if we add something, someone may get offended by the language we use. These are best listed in the fantastic book by Christopher West, “Good News about Sex and Marriage,” and we cover these more succinctly in talking about Husbands…which come after one decides to be a Man…just as, eventually, Augustine of Hippo decided over 1700 years ago. (Obviously, his is not a new challenge for Man and Augistine became a Saint and is a Doctor of the Catholic Church!) Chastity is a foundational part of the discussion in the series, “The Nature and Truth of Sexualism.”
Chastity s just a decision away.
A Man is Faithful and Faith-filled.
Faith means complete trust and confidence.
This is a two-way virtue. A Man is both Trustworthy and Trusting.
On the latter, males have a tendency to grow into a habit and lifestyle of forcing others to earn their trust before they trust them. This is a backward and even sinister approach to faith. The process should be reversed, trusting until someone abdicates that trust. And, when that happens, a Man must call upon his other virtues of Justice and Mercy to always permit Faith in someone to come back.
But a Man who does not Trust is often not trustworthy himself. He is not Faithful – full of faith…full of trust.
Faith begins with the Trust in God, understanding that He is in control. This makes it infinitely simpler to be a Man others can Trust and have Faith in if we first Trust and have Faith in God – because if we do, others will know that our accountability is to Him and since we have Faith in His infinite Mercy and Justice, we will always act accordingly. We will be Faithful and Trustworthy.
Faith is a gift we must willingly receive. It is not a blind acceptance of something. Blind Faith is a sin against the Creator, because it does not contemplate Him and get to know Him. Basically, it just says, “Okay, let’s move on.” Instead of, “Wow! I could consider this reality always and forever!”
Would you not be a bit suspicious if someone blindly trusted you at first glance with their life without first trusting you with less?
To do that would be like walking across a busy highway blindfolded.
Every male has faith. A Man has Faith. Trust in God to have made others with Good in them.
Faith is NOT Belief! For instance, you can ask someone to do something for you, and have faith that they will. However, based on their previous record, you may believe that they will not.
A Man is Hopeful.
Hope is expectation that a certain thing will happen. Hope is NOT wanting something to happen or wanting someting to be reality – that is a wish.
Hope cannot happen without Faith. A Faith in God elicits an expectation of eternity and infinity – it knows life goes on after death. Hope is a knowledge that can appear idealistic to those who do not have it. Hope is not fantasy, but grounded in Truth.
Hope is important because it allows a Man to be in this world but not of it. He knows his journey must be through life, and that he has obligations as a Man made in the Image of God, and it allows him to look at life “from 30,000 feet up.” He gets the big picture in space and time, and knows that historically humanity repeats much, because most humans look at things from a myopic point-of-view based on when he was born and the time he is living in.
Hope allows a Man to not get caught up in passions of the period – politics, entertainment, movements that when looked at over thousands of years and across thousands of miles are merely specs on the infinite realms of eternity and infinity.
Just as Faith is foundational to Hope, so does Hope combine with Faith to instill in a Man Courage, and Courage empowers a Man to be Chaste while he Prudently, Diligently and Patiently metes out Justice and Mercy with Temperance that naturally bestows upon him Humility, bringing him to the fulfillment of all Virtues: Love.
A Man Loves.
It is an Action, not a Feeling. Love is a verb, not a noun.
Love is patient, Love is kind. Love is not jealous, Love is not pompous, Love is not inflated, Love is not rude, Love does not seek its own interests, Love is not quick-tempered, Love does not brood over injury, Love does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, Love believes all things, Love hopes all things, Love endures all things.
As Paul of Tarsus wrote, above, in the first century, Love embodies all of the Virtues:
Love is Patient…
The virtue of Patience is mentioned first. Patience opens a Man up to the other actions of Love. He can take a deep breath and DO them.
Love is Kind…
Love acts with Justice and Mercy, manifested through kindness.
Love is not Jealous…
Jealousy forms from a lack of Chastity in living and thought, the desire to possess someone or something that one does not have. Jealousy comes from living without Temperance, expecting and pursuing things that are extreme.
Love is not Pompous…
Anathema to pomposity is Humility. Prudence and Patience combine with Perseverance to inform a Man to a lower level of pompousness – the more these virtues are present, the less pompous a Man is.
Love is not Inflated…
A Man of Chastity, Justice, Mercy and Patience conducts himself in a Temperate way, not an inflated way.
Love is not Rude…
Rudeness comes from not practicing Patience and Temperance and an unwillingness to act with Justice and Mercy.
Love does not Seek Its Own Interests…
A Man of Humility seeks out the interests of others and exercises Patience in the pursuit of the interests God has for him.
Love is not Quick-Tempered…
Patience and Temperance work in a Man as he exercises Prudence, Justice and Mercy to mitigate reactions that are ill-fitted for a situation.
Love does not Brood Over Injury…
Mercy and Justice prevail in a Man who does not brood over injury. He understands that Justice belongs to God because his Faith gives him that Hope, and that Mercy in forgiveness aids his own place in eternity and infinity. This may bring up the idea of Vengeance – why does God who is Perfect get to have vengeance but a Man who is supposed to be Perfect does not. Well, that may not necessarily be true, if you are willing to study what Saint Thomas Aquinas has to say about the virtue of Vengeance.
Love does not Rejoice Over Wrongdoings…
Temperance prevents a Man from rejoicing over wrongdoing, because he know such joy is not joy but evil intent.
Love Rejoices With The Truth…
A Man of Faith, Justive and Mercy instead rejoices that he knows, through Hope, that God will ensure the righting of wrongs through HIs vengeance. See what Saint Thomas Aquinas has to say about the virtue of Vengeance.
Love Bears All Things…
A Man knows there is an eternal, infinite Plan, even though he does not know what that Plan is. He is glad to be a part of that Plan, and has Faith that his part is as necessary as any other, so whatever he is called to bear, he bears with Courage, Temperance, Perseverance, Patience, Humility, and Chastity.
Love Believes All Things…
Faith prevails in a Man who Loves. Belief is Trust that God is in control. That is the crux of Faith, and a Faith in an all-Loving God causes a Man to believe that things happen WITH a reason; because God always ALLOWS things to happen with His foreknowledge of what they will engender. A Man does not think things happen FOR a reason, as God does not necessarily always MAKE something happen to cause other things to happen or make someone do something.
Love Hopes All Things…
A Man expects things to happen that are in accordance with God’s Plan and Natural Law. His Hope is a manifestation of his Love for God; a Love so pure that he is willing to die for God, because he knows death is the doorway we must all pass through to be in the eternal and infinite presence of God. Hope replaces servile fear.
Love Endures All Things…
Unlike bearing all things, which as stated above indicates a burden, enduring all things means doing so without a concern for time. However long the burden must be borne, Love empowers a Man to endure it while he bears it.
Through all of this description of what is and what is not Love, it is important to realize that this was originally written in Greek, and there were fifteen verbs of what Love is and is not:
What we can be assured of, as some of the verbs were translated to adjectives in English, is that Love is an Action – not a feeling.
A Man knows that Love is not a feeling – it is an action.
And once a Man discovers this Virtue, and pursues it with all the other eleven Righteous Virtues at his command, he is able to contemplate the idea of Agape Love – the highest form of Love – which is to lay down one’s life for another.
Once a Man understands this, has discerned this, and is committed to this – then and only then – is he ready to become a Husband.