Friday, September 19, 2008

The Death of Chivalry

One of the worse disasters in the history of public transportation was the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Over 1500 died that night in the icy waters of the Atlantic. Many of the dead were fathers who said a final good-bye to their beloved wives and children. Lesser-known is the fact that dozens of cabin boys, no older than 16, gave up their lifeboat seats to save women and children they did not even know.

Why would fathers and young men willingly forfeit the only means of being saved, for the sake of women and children? Because they were motivated by a spirit foreign to much of modern society, a spirit of self-sacrifice, of the strong helping the weak, that is rooted in the Bible.

Chivalry is defined as “the noble qualities a knight was supposed to have, such as courage, honor, and readiness to help the weak and protect women.” The gallant men on board the Titanic demonstrated these qualities.

Today such a spirit has been squelched by the effort to bring equality to the relationship of the sexes in every dimension of life. The elements of society that proposed the so-called “Equal Rights Amendment” ultimately undermine the welfare of the weaker members. Thankfully, a sufficiently large minority of state legislatures rejected the ERA, after it was approved by Congress. But the same legislation has been reintroduced every year since 1982.

Scripture requires husbands to honor and protect their wives as the weaker sex. By extension, this principle applies to all of society, as illustrated by the sacrifice of men on the Titanic. Those who refuse to acknowledge the reality of more delicate members likewise destroy the basis for preferential treatment. In a world governed by the spirit of the ERA, it would be every man for himself, trampling the weaker in the struggle for self-preservation. A Christian spirit recognizes and protects the more vulnerable.

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