K.S. Rajan (26 Jan 2012)

Wisdom Cries out From a Sinking Ship
by Pastor Bill Randles

January 25, 2012
Wisdom Cries out in the streets... (Proverbs 1)
God's wisdom is always crying out to every generation, whether it be through the Scriptures, the church, or Israel, there is always a Divine witness to truth trying to get people's attention as life pushes them on to their final destination. I believe that one of the ways God's wisdom cries out to this generation is in certain current events.
It is true that for the most part the real message is lost on most people, due to the cacophony of other incidents, or the urgency of the mundane. Many of these events are like the writing on the wall in the book of Daniel, people know they are significant but not how to interpret them. I believe that God is speaking to this generation very specifically through the recent sinking of the Concordia, off the coast of Italy. What a statement it is to us about where we as a civilization have come from and where we are headed.
The way to hear Wisdom's message is by contrasting this event with another famous maritime disaster, the sinking of the Titanic, which is just three months short of a hundred years ago, April 14, 1912. Before we begin though, it is necessary to banish from your mind director James Cameron's anachronistic version of the Titanic.
When the Titanic began to sink, and it was discovered that there were half as many life boats as needed. Women and children were put into them first, as this survivor recounts:
No laughing throng, but on either side [of the staircases] stand quietly, bravely, the stewards, all equipped with the white, ghostly life-preservers. Always the thing one tries not to see even crossing a ferry. Now only pale faces, each form strapped about with those white bars. So gruesome a scene. We passed on. The awful good-byes. The quiet look of hope in the brave men's eyes as the wives were put into the lifeboats. Nothing escaped one at this fearful moment. We left from the sun deck, seventy-five feet above the water. Mr. Case and Mr. Roebling, brave American men, saw us to the lifeboat, made no effort to save themselves, but stepped back on deck. Later they went to an honoured grave.(Elizabeth Shutes, The Sinking of The Titanic)
The world of the Titanic crew and passengers was yet steeped in a Judeo Christian outlook. The self sacrificial actions of the men on the ship were informed by the chivalric ideal of the strong bearing the burden for the weak and helpless. These ideals came straight out of the Bible and Christianity. Women and children first, even to death!
Again from Shutes,
Sitting by me in the lifeboat were a mother and daughter. The mother had left a husband on the Titanic, and the daughter had left a father and a husband, and while we were near the other boats those two stricken women would call out a name and ask, 'Are you there?' 'No,' would come back the awful answer, but these brave women never lost courage, forgot their own sorrow, telling me to sit close to them to keep warm... The life-preservers helped to keep us warm, but the night was bitter cold, and it grew colder and colder, and just before dawn, the coldest, darkest hour of all, no help seemed possible...(ibid)
Contrast this with the reactions of our feminist, post Christian passengers on board the sinking Costa Concordia, from an excellent article by Mark Steyn:
On the Titanic, the male passengers gave their lives for the women and would never have considered doing otherwise. On the Costa Concordia, in the words of a female passenger, "There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboat." After similar scenes on the MV Estonia a few years ago, Roger Kohen of the International Maritime Organization told Time magazine: "There is no law that says women and children first. That is something from the age of chivalry."
If, by "the age of chivalry," you mean our great-grandparents' time.
In fact, "women and children first" can be dated very precisely. On Feb. 26, 1852, HMS Birkenhead was wrecked off the coast of Cape Town while transporting British troops to South Africa. There were, as on the Titanic, insufficient lifeboats. The women and children were escorted to the ship's cutter. The men mustered on deck. They were ordered not to dive in the water lest they risk endangering the ladies and their young charges by swamping the boats. So they stood stiffly at their posts as the ship disappeared beneath the waves. (Mark Steyn,The Sinking of The West)
Once again these are people steeped in a Judeo Christian worldview. I am not saying they were all Christians in the truest sense of the word, but that the western ideals, leadership, sacrifice, heroism, the male as the protector, the female as someone to be protected all come out of the gospel, and the Torah of God's Word. These virtues are routinely scoffed at by our cultural influencers.
Modern people vainly imagine that we through our science and technology and our recent social revolution (i.e., the rejection of the old moral and religious constraints), have constructed for ourselves a much more just, equal and compassionate world. That illusion can be maintained as long as the ship of life is cruising, the buffet table is open, tennis and yoga classes are in session, and the sun is shining on the deck. But what happens when the ship starts sinking?
There isn't anything sacred about a woman in post Christian society. Motherhood is just one option among many, a woman can be anything a man can be, for our cultural shapers have constructed an allegedly 'gender neutral' society. In the new, godless society there will be no more, "women in the life boats first." It is now, "only the strong survive." As another eyewitness on the Concordia reported, "Big, strong men were knocking over women and teenaged girls to get in the lifeboats."
Children also have been debased in this 'brave new world." The acceptance and practice of abortion alone has murdered the sense that children are special and worthy of special protection that Jesus insisted upon in his warning about millstones. Of course there were in the Costa Concordia some exceptions to the rule, for the Christian ethic hasn't been completely eradicated. Witnesses observed a Hungarian violinist who took the time to help several crying children get their life vests on. He was not able to make it off the ship because of it.
There is much more to this such as the absurd behavior of the captain -- who sent people to their rooms knowing his recklessness had caused him to strike the rock that ruined the ship -- who ordered dinner as the ship sank, and who eventually jumped ship leaving the ship and passengers to their fate. Could this be some kind of metaphor about our reckless, unprincipled leaders these days?
Perhaps we should consider Lady Wisdom's full admonition:
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:(Proverbs 1:20-29