IN THE DAY OF CHRIST honor was a forgotten virtue - as perhaps it is today in many quarters. Philosophers had made an art of lying. Diplomacy had become trickery by which great empires absorbed small nations and small nations held by bribery and shameless flattery some semblance of independent rule. Between men and women there was no honor; a man took what he could take; a woman gave what she could profitably yield. The gods were proverbial liars and philanderers. Governors were greedy of hand and ruthless with sword. Armies lived by looting. Justice was a matter of bribery. And truth was to the pagan Pilate a word hardly worth repeating.
Into that world came the incorruptible Christ.
The devil tempted Him to a loss of honor, guaranteeing Him the world.
A little flattery or convenient closing of the eyes - and the armies would have come to His side.
Had He pretended to condemn the woman taken in adultery, the scribes would have admired Him and the Sadduccees would have accepted Him as one of them.
A smooth answer to Pilate rather than a harping on the truth - and Pilate might have given Him His freedom.
But to Him truth was above all else. He was the way, the truth, and the life.
He never minced a doctrine to make it easier to digest, nor did He fit a practice to conform to small-minded men. He refused to compromise with vicious practices, even those of long custom and tradition. He broke the taboos of the sabbath in the interests of mercy. He called villains and scoundrels by their proper names, even though He thus won their implacable resentment.
To the Apostles, as He knighted them for their glorious mission, He cried aloud, "Teach!" It was truth and the honorable living of truth that would save the world.
So it has been that, where it might have conciliated a heretic by the shaving of a revealed truth, the Church has declined to lose honor. When practice has seemed hard, the Church might have compromised its honor slightly - on confession, laws against divorce, attitudes toward birth control - and won new adherents or held hesitant ones; but it could not betray its honor or sacrifice its truth.
Has any other age ever needed honor and truth more than ours does?
Can a knight do more for the world than maintain among the debased, the panders, the sycophants, the distorters of truth, among crooked tradesmen, greedy laborers, and unethical professional men the knightly honor of Christ?
- Daniel A. Lord