A friend sent me a copy of Doug Phillips’ post on honor, which was simply outstanding, and which included a paragraph that was pure gold. Here it is: “In examining Hebrews 12:5-13, I shared my own view that fatherless cultures produce men who do not understand honor, and therefore relate dishonorably to fathers, employers, pastors, and — most importantly — to God the Father. In fact, cultures dominated by prodigal fathers produce men and women who actually view dishonorable conduct as a virtue.”
Full disclosure here: some of the Vision Forum material (e.g. the picture for League of Grateful Sons) does strike me as hokey and sentimental. Okay, I admit it, but please hear me out. This is not a backhanded “compliment” to Phillips — delivered with a backhand. Rhetorical and stylistic differences between us notwithstanding, the substance of what Phillips wrote here was world-class, first-rate, and desperately needed. We have no commandment in Scripture that says “thou shalt not go into the red zone on Wilson’s hokey-meter,” and we do have the call given to us to render honor, as Phillips so admirably argues and shows, as a maxim for life.
All this came out of Phillips’ presence and comments at a conference at the Highlands Study Center (hosted, as you know, by RC Jr., Pinochet, Ivan the Terrible, and Tamerlane), and those who have advanced degrees in the study of Internet vituperation know that Phillips’ concerns were not theoretical. A minor cottage industry has arisen (over at scurrility.com), in which various men are routinely “exhorted” to be better next time. I have in mind Ambrose Bierce’s definition of exhort here, which means to put the conscience of another onto the spit, and roast it to a nut-brown discomfort. I myself have been exhorted, from time to time, to stop being such a sociopath. And I would, too, but it always makes me so tired.
Fatherless cultures produce men who do not understand honor . . . who actually view dishonorable conduct as a virtue. Anyone who would understand the culture around us in these times needs to understand this, almost in the first place. Phillips clearly gets this principle. It was a magnificent bit of work.