In his book, “The Abolition of Man,” C.S. Lewis was prophetic in pointing out that relativism – the idea that there are no absolute truths – would lead to the decay of morality and a lack of virtue within society. Without a belief in universal moral laws, we fail to educate the heart and are left with intelligent men who end up behaving like animals or as Lewis puts it, “men without chests.” He likened an ordered soul to that of the human body: the head (reason) must rule the belly (the sensual appetites) through the chest. Since the chest is made up of “emotions organized by trained habits into stable sentiments,” it is the bridge between the man ruled by reason and the passionate man, ruled by his appetites.
A culture with men without chests is a frightening prospect. They are incapable of displaying such virtues as courage, honor, honesty and valor. Lewis observes, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” The lack of inner conviction and godly passion, without a submission to the Lordship of Christ, will produce men with no chests. They are “empty shirts.”
Men, we live in a day when the social commentary on the troubles of our culture will continue to be debated endlessly. Everyone has their expert opinion on specific issues, always with the motive of winning more adherents to their position. But every once in awhile someone is heard during all the debate, bringing light and clarity, born in a heart filled with passion for Christ. They speak with conviction; firm, yet respectful, honoring other opinions, but allowing the light of gospel to shine forth. Such a person is Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, and CEO of Samaritan’s purse. Now you might not agree with all he has to say, but you have to admire his clear, resolute conviction about America and the need for revival.
I believe God is raising up a whole new generation of men who have chests. They are the “tough and tender” types, who walk humbly and lovingly, yet with strong inner convictions, speaking confidently the truth of the gospel in the midst of much confusion. They are men of virtue and honor who have won the right to speak truth by their example. God is reassuring these men of valor, as he did the prophet Jeremiah, “Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land” (Jer. 1:18)
How do men ignite the passion to be live a virtuous life; to have a chest. We can’t produce the passion. It is given by Spirit of God invading our souls. John, the baptist said Jesus would, “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matt.3:11). My testimony after years of inconsistency in living with passion is this simple truth. I had to surrender first to the love of God. Receiving God’ s love in all my vulnerability and shame, brought motivation to serve God . In surrender a man empties himself, so that God might invade the depths of the soul. From that deep center comes a passion and energy to live a virtuous life. It is all gift, to be received. Passion for God can never be self-induced.