Biblical Patriarchy Advocates Celebrate Titanic 100th with “Women and Children First” Theme

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, biblical patriarchy advocates, homeschoolers, and other devotees of Doug Phillips’ Vision Forum will travel to the Lawrence Welk Resort in Branson, Missouri, “to remember the heroism of the past and to embrace a fundamental principle of Christian civilization—that women and children are to be honored and protected.” 

“From the live music presented throughout the event, to our interactive events with re-enactors, to our vintage Edwardian Ladies Tea and more,” the promotional materials read, “you will have an opportunity to walk back in time and harvest pearls of inspiration from the providential history of a civilization that once rejected the notion of the ‘struggle for survival of the fittest’ in favor of the ‘strong sacrifice for the weak.’”

The four-day commemoration that begins tomorrow has Vision Forum written all over it. Like other VF events, there will be costumes (Phillips seems to just love to play dress-up), a souvenir program for autographs, a gala banquet, ballad singing, storytelling and, of course, chivalrous manly-men, biblically submissive women, and lots and lots of children.

Challenging “revisionist histories” based in “Marxist class warfare” Phillips idealizes the fateful night aboard the sinking ship to make a morality tale out of history:

Titanic is a testimony of God’s providence, and a reminder that even where the hubris of man may lead to judgment, there can be mercy when men respond by following the example of sacrifice patterned by Jesus Christ who died for His bride.

As is often the case with “providential history,” the actual history is distorted to tell make specific theological points. This time what is missing is real history that an equally important criteria for access to lifeboats, and thereby survival, was the price of one’s ticket. Phillips says:

If numbers prove anything, it’s that 71% of the survivors were passengers and 29% were crew, and that in raw numbers, almost as many Third Class (174) passengers survived as did a First Class (202) and crew (212)… Other than “Women and Children first,” there wasn’t any attempt to save one class of passengers over another.

Raw numbers? Really? By percentage, twice as many women in third class died as did women in first class; children in first class had nearly three times the survival rate of those in third. One would only use “raw numbers” if one was trying to make a point not supported by the numbers.

In biblical patriarchy, the refrain of “women and children first” hides an agenda whereby the women are “first” only insofar as they keep their place which is subordinate to men. I wrote about the fallout when they don’t in my book, Evangelical Christian Women. And in Quiverfull, RD’s Kathryn Joyce showed, tragically, a biblical woman is also “first” to take the blame for marital problems, “first” to be excommunicated as part of church discipline, “first” to serve her father and then her husband in his vision for dominion.

jingerso@unf.edu'

Julie Ingersoll is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Florida. She is the author of Evangelical Christian Women: War Stories in the Gender Battles and is currently writing a book on the influence of Christian Reconstructionism.