The Right Side of the Sidewalk

At a very early age my dad wove into his training with me that “the boy goes down and the girl goes free.”

It was never articulated this way until I heard Matt Chandler preaching the sermon series ‘A Beautiful Design’ using this very recall.

This teaching isn’t only vital to authentic manhood it is the literal DNA that encompasses manhood altogether.

This is not an anti-feminist post in any regard. Especially given the timing of everything going on in the world I wanted to give that disclaimer. It is however, an enlightening answer to the natural pull each one of us feel regardless of the chromosome we were born with.

Pastor Matt Chandler also used this story, so forgive my regurgitation of it if you’ve listened to his message. You can listen to that message here.

Friday, July 20th, 2012 in Aurora, CO a coward (I refuse to use his name) entered a movie theater and opened fire on unsuspecting movie patrons. Not surprisingly, everyone reading this knows about that horrific event. Universally, regardless if you have faith in God, or another god, or no god, this is an event that would widely be characterized as horrific and demonic.

Numerous media outlets tells the story of three boys who immediately upon recognition of gunfire threw their girlfriends (not wives, not moms, not sisters), onto the floor and shielded them with their bodies.

It was instinctual. We’re talking girlfriends. All three mothers of these young men conveyed pride in their sons for protecting those young women.

All three of those young men were struck with bullets from the coward gunman. All three of those young men lost their lives. All three of those young women lived because instinctually in their guts those young men knew, “the boy goes down and the girl goes free.”

The fact we are wired this way doesn’t delegitimize the incredible contributions women bring to this society. It doesn’t delegitimize the significant importance that women bring to industry, technology, education, church leadership, mentorship, and so on…

Those three young men in Aurora were widely heralded as heroic, loyal, and examples for all men, young and old. I didn’t read or hear one person say, “those young men took the right to die away from those women!” That would be absurd.

For those who have ever been on a cruise ship they tell you in the beginning safety meeting that women and children get on the lifeboats first. This is a societal normalcy. I’m not quoting the bible here. I’m simply stating a societal norm here in America that it is widely understood that, “the boy goes down and the girl goes free.”

Recently, my oldest son Carter turned seven. A couple of months ago we were walking on the sidewalk and he asked me why I always walk closest to the road. He is a very astute little boy.

I told him, “son when I walk on a sidewalk with you, your brother Jack, or your mother I will always walk the closest to traffic to be able to protect you if we ever get put in danger.”

In my two trips to Japan our guys were incredible about being in front of the group and in the back of the group. This didn’t mean our girls in our group were scared or they couldn’t “handle” themselves.

It did mean though we cared about them and we were going to make sure everyone was together and we knew what was going on around us.

I was contacted by someone at Carter’s school a couple of weeks back. They usually get put in specific lines while walking to recess or lunch or specials. They were outside walking on a sidewalk and Carter kept switching places with the little girl next to him. One of the classroom aides told Carter to get back in his spot.

She told me he looked at her and said, “I simply can’t do that. I have to protect her from any cars that could jump the sidewalk.”

I cried when she told me that story and I’m crying here typing it right now.

You see, the boys goes down and the girl goes free…

I don’t even know who that little girl is. However, that doesn’t matter because the pride I have in my son for understanding that is literally impossible for me to articulate.

As men we have a responsibility. Society has played a role in muddying our understanding of that responsibility but, I truly believe it’s interlaced into our DNA. It’s what drives men in the military and law enforcement to protect complete strangers. I thank God for this weight.

I need Him however to continue to show me how to demonstrate and teach my son the same. I think we’re off to a pretty good start.

In His Grip,

Joshua Koch

4 Comments on “The Right Side of the Sidewalk”

  1. Josh that does not suprise me at all. It’s how they are taught as well as the materity in Carter. He has always been a very smart and curious little man. His progress will continue without a doubt with yours and Amys tutelage. I hope I spelled all of the words correctly and expressed my thoughts efficiently.

  2. I love this as a mom. My husband feels the same way as you do and models this type of behavior as well as other things for our 16 year old son. I just forwarded this to him to read. I hope it speaks to his heart and mind. Hopefully it will reinforce what we’ve been teaching him, especially since he knows of you and the positions you hold in your professional life.
    Thanks so much for writing it!
    Kim (from Van Buren)

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