Women and Children First?

'Costa Concordia in Rhodes 1' photo (c) 2009, Cyr0z - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario. Here’s this week’s.

The Costa Concordia, which ran aground last week off the coast of Tuscany, was, in part, a feminist tragedy. At the time of this writing, twenty-nine people are still missing and eleven are dead.

Why do I think feminism is implicated in it? Because, according to some passengers, when it became clear that lifeboats were necessary, some crew pushed past women and children to get to the lifeboats first, while many burly male passengers did the same thing. By some passenger accounts, it came down to the waiters and servers, who were not trained in operating the lifeboats, to help people off the ship. Even the captain abandoned his passengers, leaving pregnant women behind him.

When the Titanic sank, the men followed the “women and children” first rule. In fact, you were more likely to survive as a third class female passenger than a richer male one. But that was a century ago. We have progressed since then. Now it’s every man—and woman—for themselves.

In the comments I’ve been reading on the news reports, people seem to agree that children should be given priority, but there’s a heated debate about the women. We’re equal, so why should a man lose a place to a woman? Why should a man have to help a woman when he’s in danger, too?

And, as disgusting as I find that question, it makes sense. In 1912 it was a different world. Personal responsibility was still the main ethos of the day. People took care of their neighbours; they did not wait for government to do it for them. And people had a code of honour that included helping others when you could.

Heaven Is For Real Somehow we have lost that. It is no longer about honour and what we should do for others; it has become what others should do for us. We’re supposed to snatch from life everything we can get, not give up things to help others. Perhaps it’s part of the demise of religion. In 1912, most believed in God and an afterlife. They knew this was not all there is. Today many believe our lives are comprised of just these few short years we get on earth. So we had better to take what we can.

This seemed to have been the philosophy of the European staff on the ship. By passenger reports, it was the “Third World” waiters and housekeeping staff that helped in the tragedy, while many from Europe, including the captain, fled. Obviously there are exceptions, such as the British dancers who formed human chains to get passengers on board the lifeboats, but those who were supposed to help largely did not. The wait staff tend to be the cream of the crop from their countries, and they still have honour. And so they stayed.

Honour and integrity are integral to a healthy society, but they will not coexist in large measure with constant demands for rights, and privileges, and special status. That’s why feminism largely destroyed chivalry. If women are as good as men, then why should men be honourable to help us? In fact, by helping men can too easily be criticized, because they are implying women are weak.

Here’s a news flash: we are. On the whole, women are weaker than men. That’s why women and children were supposed to go first. It was a recognition of reality. The stream of feminism that says the genders are the same—and granted, not all feminists believe this—is an attempt to distort reality to achieve a political aim. Many female passengers this week are disgusted with the males on board, as well they should be. But we should not be surprised, because it is the society that we created that shoved aside honour in the first place.

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UPDATE 1: Thanks for all the links, people! I know some of you think I’m way too easy on women, but perhaps you should read this (about why husbands don’t always meet their wives needs) and this (Just say Yes!) about my philosophy about marriage.

UPDATE 2: I wrote the column before the recording was made public of the Coast Guard captain yelling at the Concordia captain. I thought it was really interesting, because the Coast Guard guy was actually concerned about women and children, and trying to do things right. Plus, the whole thing is just mesmerizing in how awful Captain Schettino’s cowardice was. If you haven’t seen it yet, just listen:


  1. Honour and integrity are integral to a healthy society, but they will not coexist in large measure with constant demands for rights, and privileges, and special status.

    Completely agree with that statement. Men also open doors for women. They want to protect women, but women let them know loudly and clearly that they didn’t want to be protected. I sure still do! I like the fact that we are different than men…
    Lori recently posted…Girls Going To CollegeMy Profile

    • I know! I’ve always liked it when a man held the door open for me. My husband has lately taken to always opening the car door for me, and it’s really sweet.

  2. I meant to say that “men used to open doors for women.” This showed a certain amount of respect. And I believe it is in their nature to want to protect women…
    Lori recently posted…Girls Going To CollegeMy Profile

  3. Excellent post! I thought the same thing when I first heard the news, and I too, was surprised to hear the Cost Guard asking about the women and children.
    Erin @ A Full Heart recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Seven! (of a Different Sort)My Profile

  4. I haven’t been following this story, and I’m utterly appalled at what you describe.

    In this feminist world, I understand men saying “why should I die for a woman? I’m getting off this boat.” I do not understand the captain and crew, who had accepted responsibility for the passengers, getting off before all of the passengers (male, female, young, or old) were off. Even aside from chivalry and old-fashioned views of honor (which I share), that’s just a matter of integrity.

    And I absolutely do not understand how any adult could see a child and leave that child potentially to die while the adult makes his–or her!–way to safety. Every child (and one accompanying parent, of either sex, I don’t care) should have been the ones who were prioritized to get off first. I understand that feminism has removed “women” from “women and children first,” but really … how low have we sunk as a society that adults save themselves at the expense of *children*?
    Deborah recently posted…Frustration and SuccessMy Profile

  5. I saw a great status on facebook to do with precisely this… I’ll just go find it…

    April 14th 1912:
    MAN: “Women and children first please.”
    25 years ago:
    WOMAN: “Women want sex equality”
    15 years ago:
    WOMAN:”Women to fight sexism”
    5 years ago:
    WOMAN:”Women winning on sex equality”
    4 days ago:
    WOMAN: “It was unbelievable, men were trying to get into the lifeboats before women”
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  6. The behavior of many of those on board who were supposed to be “in charge” was appalling. And it is my hope that ‘captain’ Schettino gets everything that is coming to him under the law.

    Sheila, I’ve been telling my wife for several years to keep her hands OFF that door… it’s MY job to be the gentleman and open it for her… whether it be the house, the car, the grocery store… whatever. And she grins and says “Yes dear!” 😉

    Thanks for the post today!
    Jason (@SongSix3)

    • That’s sweet, Jason! And I was actually surprised to know that “abandoning ship” is a real crime. So they have something they can actually charge him with.

      • Yes, abandoning ship and manslaughter (at the least) should be on his arrest orders. I’m sure there’s more maritime “technical” stuff too… like sailing too close to shore, deviating from his company’s programmed route… etc.

    • Jason:

      There’s a difference between a man holding a door for his wife, and holding the door for a stranger woman. He has moral obligations to protect his wife. He has no obligations, moral or otherwise, to the stranger.

      It used to be that men came to the aid of women — any women — who obviously needed help. Any man who does this now might find himself scolded, excoriated or even accused of harassment.

      No one should be surprised that it has come to this. Feminist society has made sure that men feel wary of ever interacting publiclly or privately with any woman they are not related to. And frankly, the church has done scant little to combat this, instead in many instances joining forces with feminism to promote female “equality” over biblical principles.

      • Deti, I’d disagree with your assessment that he has no obligations to the stranger. By saying that, then you’re giving in to the feminist mentality.

        If honour and respect are universal, then we do have moral obligations to each other, even strangers. We have obligations to honour and respect them, and one of the ways to do that would be to hold a door open. If feminists get mad about that, that’s really their problem, because they’re the ones who are forgetting the universal and timeless principles, not the one holding the door.

        Yes, feminists have created this society, but that does not mean that we have to give in to it.

      • I certainly will NOT give in to the feminist mindset… if any woman were to ever scold me for opening a door for her, she’d get a very cheerful “have a nice day!” and I’d very quickly be on my way. I wouldn’t even give her time to finish the rant. Why should I let her bad attitude ruin my day?

        Phl 2:3 says “Do nothing *from *selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”.

        Should I therefore obey someone with a sour outlook on life, or God’s Word?



  7. Liz Winterburn says:

    Excellent post Sheila, I agree with you that feminism had a part to play.

    I think also, how we are raising our children, boys especially, has a part to play. I have a little boy and I have to say I find it shocking how many people are trying to raise boys to be like girls. I don’t mean dress them up as girls, but they expect them to behave as girls do, to deal with things as girls do. Here in the UK the educational system is designed for girls to succeed and is quite frankly failing boys (though the current government are addressing this issue). No wonder we have so many emasculated men, who are unsure of their role and in some cases have no idea what their role is as a man. It’s a very sad state of affairs :-( We need to raise our boys to be men.

    • As another UK resident, I have to agree with much of what Liz Winterburn says.

      It is not only the educationsal system, but also the systems of law enforcement that are weighted heavily against males. I am old enough to have suffered from the first wave of feminazism in the 1970s and been sworn at for holding a door open for a woman, by the woman herself. I live in a town with a reputation regionally as ‘a great place to go get wasted’ and I am now thankful that I am married and not a young man trying to find a woman to marr. Unfortunately, with few isolated exceptions, the church is not up to the mark in the UK to provide the teaching and leadership missing from the institutions of the state.

  8. Sheila, not sure if you will post it because of possible ethnical overtones involved, but I have found this comment from Winston Churchill profound as it comes true about 50 years after he said it:

    He was asked why he, a British prime minister would take a cruise on an Italian cruise ship. His reply:
    “There are 3 things I like about being on an Italian cruise ship. First, their cuisine is unsurpassed. Second, their service is superb. And then, in time of emergency, there is none of this nonsense about women and children first.”

    • Seriously? I never thought of Churchill that way… :) But then, the women were awfully brave during the Battle of Britain….

      • the WOMEN were awfully brave during the battle of Britain ……….?????

        Eff the men who died to stop the bombing.

        • Fidel, I just meant that the women who drove the ambulances and helped clear the rubble were brave. Of course the men were the pilots, but the women also did play a part. Not as large a one, but Churchill was always talking up how brave the women of England were during the war. I was just thinking that perhaps that’s where his comment came from, that’s all. There really is no need to take such an antagonistic tone.

          • Sheila, thanks for the answer.

            I do, however, feel very antagonistic at times when I read of what I perceive as indifference to the ultimate sacrifice that men have made to benefit us all down the line.

            We are reviled in this Western World, for being born male, and somehow evil, and the incredible good done by most men every day is totally ignored.

            Just a sore point, apologies for the tone…….

          • Apology accepted–and by the way, The Battle of Britain is one of my favourite war movies. I do really love all the male pilots :)!

  9. Along the same lines and under the heading of “Chivalry is dead” I had to take my computer to the repair shop last week. I took it to the Apple store in our local mall and, not knowing that there was a “secret” entrance close to the store, I lugged it all the way through the parking lot, and then all the way through the mall and then BACK because I decided to take it somewhere else. I don’t know how much it weighs, but by the time I got all the way back to my car I was nearly in tears because it was SO heavy and I was SO frustrated. And here’s my point: I cannot even tell you how many able-bodied young men I passed while I was carrying something that was OBVIOUSLY too heavy for me. When I finally got to my car I called my husband and told him that my boys will NEVER pass someone who needs help and not offer to help them. I was so disgusted that not one single man offered to help me! So so so sad. I can’t influence any of the men who passed me by, but I can certainly influence the 3 young men God has entrusted to my care and if I have ANYTHING to do with it, they WILL put women and children first!!!
    Britiney @ Consider the Lilies recently posted…Art Wall & Summer FunMy Profile

    • Britiney,

      While I understand that you are upset by that, what benefit will your boys receive from this? I myself am a Christian male, but I live with 100’s of entitled women at my church who believe it is their right to have a man’s assistance whenever and wherever they want it. In fact, culturally speaking, our worth as a gender is based in large part on what we can do for women. I do not mean to sound crass with this next statement, but until women in church and society decide to step back into their God-given roles, I will actively fight you in this by retraining your boys after they come of age. Their lives should be dedicated to God’s work and not to caring for the women around their immediate area. Women, for some reason, believe that even if they themselves have left their naturally defined roles that men are not allowed to as well. Until the women change, it’s every man and woman for themselves (after the children are cared for).

      P.S. And helping children is not automatically done by helping women.

  10. I am always thankful when a man opens a door for me, and I make sure to let him know I am appreciative. It is shameful that our society has taught men to ignore common courtesy just because men and women are equal.

    I’ve discovered an interesting phenomenon, though. I am seven months pregnant and that seems to bring the gentleman out in almost every man I meet, especially when I have my two children with me or am pushing a stroller. On the other hand, I’ve had women purposely ignore my need for an open door.

    As for the ship’s captain and crew, the entire incident is shameful and utterly inhumane. Regardless of whether women and children were let off first, the entire crew should have stayed until every single passenger was off. I am appalled.
    Vinae recently posted…My Mother’s HeartMy Profile

    • Absolutely! They should have stayed. A lot of the info wasn’t out yet when I wrote the column, but I’m just amazed that they left ship.

      As for helping pregnant women, I try to do that as much as I can. :) But that’s itneresting that you find women don’t help. I don’t doubt it, though.

  11. Women and children do not go first because they are weaker; they go first because lets face it, you need more women than men to keep the population going (men can make millions of babies in a day, women can only make 1-2 per year at best and our fertility is limited)and children are our future to continue the human race.

    That being said, I was just thinking of this topic last night. I was sharing an elevator with a man about my age. When the elevator stopped, I automatically started to get off and he almost ran into me! I am so used to men letting me get off the elevator first, it hadn’t occurred to me that he wouldn’t. Once I righted myself, I got thinking about it and why would he let me off first? I am his equal. I started to think if there was a scientific reason, and I could not come up with one. In fact, I thought maybe the man should go first to let him see if it’s safe (I’ve watched too much late night drama and seen too many people get attacked getting off elevators).

    The thought process led to thinking about the “women and children first” policy and I do still think that applies, unless the child who is getting on the life boat is only accompanied by his/her father. I think then the dad should be able to get on the life boat with his child(ren).

    As for door holding and elevators, my thought is, whoever gets there first gets the door for the other person UNLESS one of the people is handicapped, elderly or has his or her hands full(then the less burdened person gets the door). And elevators? Well, I can’t really come up with a reason why I should get off first…..I guess 😛

    • To clarify re: my comment on doors, that is not to say that I would ever, ever, ever be offended that a man held a door for me. I just find it actually sexist AGAINST males to think that I am too good to hold a door open for a man or I should stand there like a priss waiting for a man to hold the door for me. I don’t equate letting women and children off a life boat with having a door held open.

    • Keep the population going … I get it.

      Rachel, look up stats for abortion in America since Roe vs Wade ….

      • Fidel, what is the matter with you? Are you insinuating that Rachel doesn’t know about abortion? Of course she doesn’t support abortion. This is a Christian blog; many here have worked in the pro-life movement. If you want to participate in a conversation, that’s fine, but just insulting people is not helping anything, and is just showing that you want confrontation rather than a real discussion. To insinuate that Rachel is somehow ignorant of abortion is ridiculous. If you want to insult the commenters (and Rachel is a frequent one), perhaps it would be better for you to read more of this blog and see more of what she stands for.

        Are you saying that Christian women agree with abortion? That’s ridiculous, insulting, and speaking as a woman who was told to abort a Down Syndrome child and carried him to term instead, incredibly naive.

        • Sheila, OK, I’m new here, and I don’t know your individual backgrounds.

          The point wasn’t abortion, as such.
          The point was that keeping the population of a nation has no value to it, in terms of “women and children” first.

          Anyhow, thanks for publishing my comments, but I won’t comment here again because I do have very different ideas to you and many of your regular commentaters, and arguing like this is just going to irritate all of us.
          Go well.

          • Fidel, thank you for that kind and polite comment! I’m sorry if I came off as antagonistic, too. I appreciate your magnanimous (spelling?) response to my comment. Have a good day!

    • Let me preface my remarks here: What I am about to say applies to women generally in western society. It does not apply to all women or women who hold to biblical principles.

      Present company excluded, women writ large in western society don’t fulfill the function of reproduction. Before anyone gets up in arms, let me explain. The origin of WACF was that women had the babies. Well, to put it bluntly, women by and large just aren’t having lots of babies anymore. Yes, there’s abortion (I AM NOT saying that anyone here supports abortion. I am saying there are a lot of women our there who do.) There’s delaying marriage, premarital sex, infertility, and female careerism.

      So WACF only really holds when the society’s females AS A WHOLE are fulfilling the reproductive function. And many women in society (not all, but many) have abdicated their roles as wives and mothers.

      I disagree with this statement by Rachel:

      “men can make millions of babies in a day, women can only make 1-2 per year at best and our fertility is limited”

      This is true only in theory. Most unmarried Christian men I know can’t even find a real Christian woman who will have anything to do with them to even so much as have a cup of coffee with them, much less get married and make babies. The single women I know in church are really no different from their secular sisters.

      • Deti, I see what you’re saying, but I’m not completely sure that was the origin of WACF. I think it was more an acknowledgement that men were stronger, and that honour demanded it. For instance, it applied to older women, too, even those who were past childbearing age. I’ll have to think on that more.

        As for your comment about Christian single women, I find that very unneeded and, in my experience, totally wrong. I know so many single Christian women in their 30s who would love to find a Christian husband but can’t (Christian women far outnumber Christian men, which is a whole other problem). Several of my single friends have recently found a Christian husband online, through Christian dating agencies, and it’s actually worked quite well. But to say that Christian women don’t want to get married or aren’t interested in Christian men is completely off base, as far as what I can see. Maybe things are different where you live, but where I live, the Christian women will only date Christian men, and there simply aren’t that many around. I know a ton of single Christian women; I can only think of 2 single Christian men who have never been married over the age of 30 that I know right now.

        Your chances of being single and over 30 as a Christian are far higher for women than they are for men. In my church alone (a church of around 250, so we’re not large), we have 7 women over 30 who are single and no men that I can think of. That’s just one church. As the mother of daughters, I can tell you that one of my biggest prayers is that they will find Christian husbands, because there is definitely a dearth of males in our churches today (which is a whole other story, but I can tell you that my daughters and I are not responsible for that, so please don’t reply that it’s our fault in some way).

        • Sheila, none of my comments are personal in any way, shape, manner or form. I’m offering a different perspective. That’s all.

          There are lots of reasons why Christian men and women aren’t finding each other and connecting. I’d love to discuss my ideas with you, but I think there would be a lot of disagreement. I don’t think the western Church writ large pays nearly enough attention to how attraction works, human nature, or how the Bible addresses human nature. The Church should be out front teaching young men and women about this, but it isn’t. That’s not a dig at you; it’s just my opinion.

          Suffice it to say my experience is vastly different from yours. I see men who have a lot to offer, but the women in my church completely ignore them.

          • Deti, you should send your men up to my church! Maybe then we’d have some success :).

            Personally, I do think the church has feminized far too much and made itself inaccessible to men. That’s Part A. I also think in the wider culture that we’ve feminized to such an extent that girls are pursuing education and careers while many twenty-something males aren’t doing anything with their lives, and hence the number of marriageable males are fading. That is not a problem simply in the secular world; it is largely a problem in the church as well because the church has not stepped up and told men that they need to be men and know how to support themselves. At the same time, we haven’t spoken enough to promote healthy sexuality within the church, and that has caused a ton of broken relationships among young people, which I can see just looking at my youth group. So there are three reasons why I think the church has not stepped up to the plate.

            The problem of the “revolving door” divorces, too, is a huge one, where a couple can divorce, and then move to a different church where they are accepted, instead of being censured for what they have done, is another issue.

            However, these are all macro issues. My problem is that often I am tarred with these things when I am not the cause, and I am working directly against them. I don’t have a problem with critiques of the macro issues of the church today; what I do have a problem with is people assuming that because I belong to a church that I somehow agree with these things, take part in them, or am not fighting hard enough against them, that’s all.

          • I should also have noted that part of the reason that men aren’t doing anything with their lives is that they no longer see the need for marriage, since marriage has become a liability to many, and unnecessary if women are also willing to forego it (in other words, if women are willing to have sex and cohabitate, why marry?). However, I do believe that this is a secular/church divide, at least here in Canada. I don’t know any young men in the large youth groups I volunteer in who don’t want to get married; I know a ton of young men who don’t go to church who have told me they don’t plan to marry. So marriage is still a religious goal; it’s becoming less so a cultural one (see Charles Murray’s excellent essay in the Washington Post this weekend about that). I don’t believe, then, that the reason that young men in church are often floundering is because they don’t want to get married; I think it’s more a function of the intersection of parenting and the education system which isn’t geared to the kinds of things that would motivate them (see Mike Rowe for that!).

    • @ Rachel:

      “I was sharing an elevator with a man about my age. When the elevator stopped, I automatically started to get off and he almost ran into me! I am so used to men letting me get off the elevator first, it hadn’t occurred to me that he wouldn’t. Once I righted myself, I got thinking about it and why would he let me off first? I am his equal.”

      No one should be surprised at this. This is what women writ large fought for. The man does not know Rachel as a Christian woman. He identified her simply as a woman. He’s heard the messages from society: Women need men like a fish needs a bicycle. Women are men’s equals in every way. “Don’t you dare treat me as weak!! Don’t you dare patronize me!!” He dare not even make eye contact with a woman he does not know, lest he be labeled as “creepy” or a “potential rapist”.

      “I started to think if there was a scientific reason, and I could not come up with one. In fact, I thought maybe the man should go first to let him see if it’s safe (I’ve watched too much late night drama and seen too many people get attacked getting off elevators).”

      The entitlement complex Rachel just set out above is endemic of today’s society: Women believe men exist solely and only to serve and protect women — even women who are total strangers. This runs so deep, it is so ingrained in her psyche, that even women like Rachel can’t see it themselves.

      Elevator Man and Rachel are strangers. They don’t know each other at all. Yet. according to the line of thought Rachel just set out, she fully expected this unknown Elevator Man to put himself in harm’s way and possibly lay down his life for her. After the past 50 years of feminism, why should any man do such a thing for any woman he does not know?

      • “After the past 50 years of feminism, why should any man do such a thing for any woman he does not know?”

        Because God said so (Phl 2:3)? I dunno… I guess I just think that’s a pretty good reason in and of itself.

        Peter said it rightly in Acts 5:29… “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

      • Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. It’s the same reason that the men on the Titanic let the women and children first. Because honour is involved. Yes, our culture has changed for the worst, but I still want people to have honour, and I will still fight for it. And given how vulnerable women are, I do think that men should watch over women if they’re in a potentially dangerous situation, in the same way that if I see a child under 8 walking around alone in a mall, I immediately stop what I’m doing and make sure there’s a caregiver in sight. That child is nothing to me, but what kind of person would I be if I didn’t check to make sure the child was safe? It’s just a matter of honour.

        Of course feminism has eradicated that; no one is questioning that. But I fail to see why we should permit that to happen, or not stand up for honour, that’s all.

        • This is exactly my point.

          There is much talk of how men are to act honorably and respectfully. But there is no reciprocal expectation that women act similarly, with grace, humility and submission. At least that was not mentioned.

          It pains me to say this as a Christian man, but the Christian church no longer dominates western culture. It’s been discarded in favor of secular feminism.

          • Deti, I understand your point, but here’s the trouble I have with the way that it is often phrased: I often hear people in the “manosphere”, or whatever you want to call it, criticizing the church for not teaching women to be submissive or graceful or whatever. But they say “the church” does it. How? There’s a very large female Christian blogosphere, for instance, and Darlene Schacht from Time Warp Wife came out with an ebook this week doing exactly that. All of the women’s Bible studies that I’ve read focus on developing godly character. In my church, godly character development and humility are taught. At the marriage conferences where I teach, run by FamilyLife, one of the largest family ministries in North America, all of these things are taught explicitly.

            So I guess I have to ask: who, exactly, are you criticizing? I think it’s an easy criticism to make, but I personally do not see it. I don’t see it in the women’s Bible studies that happen at churches all over the continent on Wednesday mornings, or Thursday mornings. I don’t see it in Christian books written for women. I don’t see it in the Christian blogosphere. But I do see the criticism often.

            Of course you’ll be able to come up with individuals, and that’s fine: those individuals need to be called out. But I do not see it in the church as a whole. That does not mean that every woman in those pews agrees with godly character, and more than every man does. But if you’re looking at what is being taught in the women’s Bible studies, women’s media, and women’s blogs, it’s very much that.

          • Or to put it another way, I think the more important question would be this: “why is that with all the women’s Bible studies and women’s media and women’s blogs and marriage conferences teaching proper biblical relationships and character, people are still not respecting marriage, not respecting each other, and not acting appropriately?” That’s a more important question, and one that I would love an answer to. I just think throwing out criticism in general at the church isn’t always helpful, because in my experience, pastors and churches are trying, they do see the problem, but people aren’t listening.

          • People aren’t listening because

            1. the dominant culture is no longer Judeo-Christian based in the West; and

            2. the desired biblical behaviors are not only not incentivized, they are discouraged.

            3. the Western Christian church writ large has not stood as a bulwark against changing cultural tides. Instead, it has given way and embraced nearly all of feminism’s core tenets besides the most extreme. About the only feminist tenet the Western Christian church has not embraced is abortion on demand.

          • I’d agree with points 1 and 2, but not point 3, which is part of my problem with critiques like this. When you say “The Western Christian church”, who are you talking about? There’s a world of difference, for instance, between the Episcopalians or Methodists and the Pentecostals, let alone the Catholics. And that’s why I find such criticism kind of empty. I agree that we have lost influence, but I think that’s largely the fault of mainline Christian churches, not the evangelical churches. And there are branches of the Catholic church that are very strong, too–even if Catholics as a whole aren’t. I just think saying “The Western Christian Church” means that you’re criticizing, in part, the only ones who are fighting for what you believe in. It’s better to identify who, more specifically, you’re talking about, that’s all. I don’t believe that most of the evangelical churches, for instance, are like that at all, especially in my native Canada, which would be considered the “Western Christian church”. I don’t mean to be picky, it’s just that I find that many of the blogs that talk about this keep faulting the church for everything, without specifying what the church is doing that is so bad. And the reason they can’t specify it is because they’re talking about “the Church” when there is no “church”. There are only churches, or denominations, and organizations. And many of those churches and organizations and denominations are fighting for exactly what you say, even if others are not.

          • We’re talking about the western Christian church writ large, that institution whose ethics, culture, mores, customs and traditions used to predominate in the western world, comprised of Christendom and Judaism; also known as the Judeo-Christian ethic.

            It’s great that women’s blogs, women’s bible studes and such are teaching Godly character to women. They have become countercultural, though, and don’t currently dominate the west’s political, educaitonal, industrial, spiritual and economic institutions.

          • Absolutely, Deti. I would absolutely agree with you there. So then the question becomes: are we all just preaching to the choir, or are we being effective in changing the culture? And I’m afraid we’re mostly preaching to the choir. And I’m not sure how to change that.

          • I don’t know, Shelia. Joseph made a good point above, today at 8:57 am. He pointed out that a lot of women are operating outside their God given roles, and until women do return to their God given roles, men should be trained not to help them. I am surprised this has not generated more criticism.

          • So because one side isn’t doing right, the other should do likewise? I cannot agree with that.

            Two wrongs do not equal one right. Pretty simple.

          • Jason:

            Scripturally, you’re right. But most men today won’t step up when women won’t do the same.

            It’s been suggested here that a man should–nay, MUST — volunteer to put himself in harm’s way for a woman who is a total stranger to him. He MUST literally offer his life to protect a total stranger woman. It’s suggested on this page that a man should do this because “it is the right thing to do” and that it is how a man must honor and respect women.

            Perhaps women should honor and respect men by:

            1. When these situations present themselves, do as the men say.
            2. Submit to the men’s reasonable directions, guidance and leadership.
            3. Accept the sacrifice with appreciation, grace and gratitude, and offer to repay the help.

          • Sheila:

            My criticism in this regard is not directed at the church, or at you, or at anyone in particular.

            You’ve said men have a duty to protect women from physical harm. You’ve suggested a man has a moral obligation to put himself in danger for a woman he does not know, because it’s the right thing to do and because honor and respect are universal.

            I am sincerely asking these questions. Absolutely no sarcasm is intended.

            Should women treat men who they don’t know with honor and respect?

            What does that honor and respect look like? Does it require any kind of submission, deference or humility? Does it require grace and composure? Does it require common courtesy or appreciation?

            If so, who teaches this? Where is it taught?

          • Absolutely. A woman should treat a man she doesn’t know that way. I would say Romans 12:16-18 sum it up:

            Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

            Or how about Romans 12:1-2:

            1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

            As to whether women should honour those who are strangers, Jesus answered that in the parable of the Good Samaritan, saying that we should look out for all, and everybody is our neighbour. The criteria for being a good neighbour is to simply show love to strangers.

            I don’t think the question is who teaches this; I think the question would be what Bible believing church DOESN’T teach this. I can’t think of any. This is really quite basic.

    • ” they go first because lets face it, you need more women than men to keep the population going (men can make millions of babies in a day, women can only make 1-2 per year at best and our fertility is limited)and children are our future to continue the human race.”

      That might matter if women weren’t aborting their unborn babies to the tune of a million per year.

      Perspective, please.

      • Tom, this point has already been dealt with. Did you read the comments? This is a pro-life blog, and just because abortion is now practiced (an abhorrence and a tragedy) does not give anyone else the excuse to not do the right thing. It looks like you’re advocating a race to the lowest common denominator.

  12. The whole thing is just appalling. Even if they’re not putting women first (and as you so clearly pointed out, “we” got we “we” asked for there), the captain should always be the last to leave the ship. And his crew as well. But it’s heartbreaking to see that every man for himself attitude.

    Brings to mind the contrasting story of Jim Elliott and the other killed by the Aucas, back in the ’50’s. One of the men (sorry, I forget which one) had a gun with him, and his son asked him if he would use it for their protection if they were attacked. But he said he wouldn’t. Because the missionaries were prepared to die, but the natives weren’t.

  13. Not to undermine your point, but when the Titanic sank, women and children were NOT put first. Sure, they started the evacuations like that, and there were men of honor, but there were also the men who locked the doors to the third class section so that those people wouldn’t take up lifeboat space, and the coward who pushed women and children aside in their haste to get into a boat.

    • Really, Amanda? Because I heard really different things. I heard an interview with James Cameron once when he said that when he made the movie, that was the one thing he changed. He said that there hadn’t been as much chaos as he portrayed in the movie, because he didn’t think people would believe it. I’m sure there were isolated incidents of people behaving horribly, but Cameron said on the whole, it was women and children first.

      • Well, it’s been a few years since I did all the reading I did on the Titanic, but I was pretty interested as a youngling, and the picture I got from the books was one of polite, subversive cowardice slowly escalating to outright anarchy and panic.

  14. I’ve been reading this with mixed feelings. I am of Sicilian descent, so I’m proud of the coast guard but embarrassed by the captain. That being said, he and his crew obviously needed more emergency training. Being scared is not a crime, but unable to put that aside for the demands of his position is (in this case). He should not have been a captain of anything.

    I would actually be fine if general courtesy had replaced the more specialized chivalry, but – alas – that is not the case. When I limped onto the bus after an injury, no one offered me a seat – man or woman. When I walk to work, women routinely walk me right off the sidewalk if they are in pairs gabbing. Courtesy is dead!
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    • You’re so right, Aimee. It’s interesting, but several commenters and several emailers have made the point that women are no better than men! I try to help other women with strollers and older women with heavy packages, but maybe that’s not the norm anymore.

      I guess the point, as you’re saying, is to not lose sight of what WE can do to make the world more pleasant–and safe.

  15. i don’t think anyone deserves special treatment (unless they are either injure, young or elderly) but i hold doors open for anyone, male or female. yes women are important to keep a population going… if we had a population problem

  16. Before 1852 (HMS Birkenhead) there was no such expectation that men should stand by and drown in order to save women who in most cases are strangers. The sense of entitlement so many women now have because of acts of incredible selflessness by men in the past is astonishing …

    If there is something in the Bible that commands or implies that men should sacrifice their lives and safety for women/children who are not wives/sons/daughters, I would be glad to read it. There are verses that speak of considering others better than yourself, but that is not woman or child specific. Thus, women should not expect special treatment above men based on such verses.

    • I got a little carried away while writing. I did not mean to imply children should not be protected or given special consideration by adults.

      • Thanks for the clarification. And I just want to point out in clarification to the readers that this J is not the same one who usually comments as J, from the blog Hot, Holy and Humorous!

    • I don’t think I’d agree with you there. It wasn’t a maritime rule, but it was assumed, for instance, in wagon attacks in the west in the 1800s that the women and children were stay in the wagons while the men formed a circle and fought on the outside. Similarly, on attacks in towns it was assumed the women and children would run for cover while the men defended them. So for history, men have defended women.

      I would agree with you that the Bible does not speak directly to that, but the Bible doesn’t speak directly to many things. What it does say in James that covers most things, for instance, is in James 4:17:

      If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

      I just think that we should be helping the weaker person. (There’s lots in the Bible about that, too). If you have the opportunity to help a weaker person, and you don’t do it, then yes, I think that’s a matter of dishonour, and that is what has been the case for millenia in our culture.

      Incidentally, there are also many stories in the Old Testament of men going to war to help women.

      • “I don’t think I’d agree with you there. It wasn’t a maritime rule, but it was assumed, for instance, in wagon attacks in the west in the 1800s that the women and children were stay in the wagons while the men formed a circle and fought on the outside. Similarly, on attacks in towns it was assumed the women and children would run for cover while the men defended them. So for history, men have defended women.”

        And in return for that protection, women:

        1. Expressed gratitude and appreciation.
        2. Submitted to their men and followed their direction, instruction and guidance.
        3. Served their families and society.

        We no longer live in a society in which women writ large are grateful for the protections men provide, nor submit to the men, nor follow men’s directions or guidance, nor serve families and society.

        “I just think that we should be helping the weaker person. (There’s lots in the Bible about that, too). If you have the opportunity to help a weaker person, and you don’t do it, then yes, I think that’s a matter of dishonour, and that is what has been the case for millenia in our culture.”

        We no longer live in a society in which women are considered weaker.

      • The men circling the wagons and protecting towns were defending their own wives, children and friends. Not volunteering to die for strangers that happened to be female. They were also fighting to protect themselves. How effective would the women and children have been if they had fought too? They might have made things worse.

  17. Purple Tortoise says:


    I understand the principle of men giving courtesy to women by holding doors, carrying heavy items, and “women and children first”, but how do women give courtesy to men these days? Before the advent of feminism, men received preference for jobs (to support a family), could have men-only clubs, etc., but that’s gone now. I think some of the poor reaction to chivalry on the part of men stems from the perception that courtesy is a one way street were men give to women and receive nothing in return. How can women be courteous to men?

    • That’s a good question. I would say that supporting men’s only clubs, or allowing men to be men, and supporting masculinity would be a start. Not demanding that men be women, but admiring them for what they are, and thanking them for their strength and for their effort and for their manliness, might go somewhere. Not demanding that children stop playing tag or be competitive in school and making boys bored out of their minds might help. And dressing more appropriately so that women aren’t trying to get unnecessary attention might help, too. I don’t think it’s respectful of men when women dress like sluts, for lack of a better word.

  18. And let’s face it. Feminism has trained women to treat men like dirt, or like expendable appliances created only to please them.

    Men respect the humanity of women.

    Women duhumanize men far more often than the reverse. Feminism has made women childish and selfish, and many Christian women have fallen into this attitude as well.

    • Jack, this was the point that I was making in the column, so I’m glad you agree. Feminism started the trend.

      What I really don’t appreciate, though, is all of the comments today saying “many Christian women have fallen into this attitude as well.” How? What are we doing? What am I doing wrong? I write this blog specifically to help Christian women understand men, validate, support, and respect the men they are married to, and to think of those men’s needs and to try to meet them. I write a lot about understanding that men are different than we are, and that we are to respect and honour that difference. And what I write is really no different from what is preached in the pulpit and what is written in the women’s blogosphere that I am part of.

      I just don’t want people slandering “Christian women”. If you want to say explicitly what you are upset about, then we can talk, but please do not slander those who come to this blog. :)

      • Sheila:

        I can’t speak for Jack or others. But respectfully, I think you are taking these statements personally when they are not intended in that manner at all. No one has said that you personally are doing anything wrong.

        Second, it simply is a fact that many Christian women act in the manner Jack describes. Perhaps this is not true of the circles you know of, write about or see, but it is true enough in the US. Perhaps it is categorically not part of your experience or what you have seen. But If Jack and I both see it, and I don’t know him or where he is, there must be at least some kernel of truth to it.

        Respectfully, I see a picture of a modern church that is very different from your experience. I don’t know Jack’s faith. But I’ve been a Christian and attending mainline protestant churches and later evangelical churches, since the early 1980s. And I’ve seen the feminist atttiude seep into and percolate into mainstream protestant churches for 30 years now.

        Slander is a strong word. I don’t think saying “many Christian women” have adopted many tenets of feminism is slander — because it happens to be true. It’s also not slander to say that “many Christian women” are childish and selfish. And no one — certainly not i — has called all Christian women anything. But the problem is that enough Christian women are like this.

        It might not be true of present company. It might not be true of the women who come here. But it’s counterproductive to collectively stick our heads in the sand and pretend that many Christian women do not act like this. Because many of them do.

        Here are my problems with many (NOT ALL) Christian women. These are based on my research and my personal experience as a Christian man living in the United States.

        This is not bashing. This is not directed at you, It is not directed at the women who post here. It does indicate that the church is way, way behind on this and has its work cut out for it.

        1. There is a 38% divorce rate among Christians, at least in the US. The divorce rate for all first marriages has been around 50% for years now in the US. If we profess Christ, we should be doing better — MUCH better — than the world on this.

        2. Many single Christian women (NOT ALL, but many) are ultrahypergamous. Their expectations of men are so incredibly stratospheric as to be completely out of the realm of reason. There isn’t a man alive on the face of the earth who could possibly satisfy them. They don’t want a man. They want Brad Pitt, George Clooney, the Apostle Paul, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett rolled into one. He’s gotta be phenomenally rich, extremely good looking, sensitive and able to preach a sermon at a moment’s notice. They won’t even consider any man who falls even the least bit short of their ideal.

        3. Many Christian women unhappy in their marriages insist that their husbands are the entire problem. They blame it all on their husbands. They won’t even consider that they have any part at all to play in the deterioration of their marriages.

        These are criticisms I’ve personally heard from Christian women I’ve talked with about their husbands. If he works hard and earns a good living, he’s emotionally distant and “not at home enough to help me around here with the kids”. If he struggles to earn a living, he’s “not a real man”. If he is a “manly man”, then he’s “not sensitive enough”. If he’s a soft, sensitive guy, then “he’s not manly enough” and “I can’t trust that he will lead us in a Godly way”. If he stands up for himself and says “no” on something, he’s uncaring, insensitive and “not showing Jesus enough”. If he gives in to her and gives her everything she wants, he “doesn’t stand up for himself enough”.

        4. Many Christian women who choose divorce insist on divorce because of “unhappiness” or “we’ve just grown apart” or “he doesn’t understand me”.

        5. Many Christian women who have long sexual histories refuse to acknowledge the natural
        consequences of their past sexual conduct. I personally have known many such women who, after a long string of sex partners and coming to faith or returning to faith, honestly believe in their 30s that they will be able to pair bond with a husband and have children like 21 year old virgins. It’s just not true at all. They refuse to acknowledge their part in their pasts, they refuse to own it, and they stomp their feet and shriek “Judge not lest ye be judged!” and “let any of you who is without sin cast the first stone at me!” and “take the beam out of your own eye before you try to remove that speck from my eye!” I have personally heard these things from Christ-professing women at churches I’ve attended.

        6. Many Christian women absolutely refuse to acknowledge the meaning of Eph. 5:24. “Wives, submit to your husbands.” They won’t follow it and simply act as if it does not exist in Scripture, preferring instead to tell men that they must “love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”. Thus, many Christian women tell their men that their husbands must sacrifice themselves; yet wives need not submit. And that leads me to:

        7. Many Christian women seem to believe they have no obligations to their husbands. They believe they don’t have to submit to their husbands’ Godly leadership They believe they don’t have to give their husbands any physical attention (rather, they do so when they feel like it). They believe they don’t have to compromise.

        Sheila, I know you’re trying to do a good thing here. I know you’ve talked about some of these things on your blog. I hope you’ll accept this in the spirit which it’s intended, which is to offer a glimpse into the Christian world from just another Christian man’s point of view.

        • Okay, Deti, that is much more helpful! I have no problem with people calling out specific things, but I do have an issue with people saying that all Christians are somehow bad–when that isn’t my experience. I think I had my back up because I’ve been linked lately by many blogs in the manosphere who have been equating me with male bashing, and letting women off the hook, when if you read my blog you will see that this is simply not the case.

          I would agree, on the whole, with most of your points. I do think the 38% divorce stat is erroneous. I’ve looked at the research, and it pertains to self-identified “born again” Christians, as opposed to those who are actually attending an evangelical church. It’s thrown around a lot, but it’s not accurate. In Canada, for instance, I can point to surveys that show that evangelical Christians have a much lower divorce rate. And it’s almost becoming comparing apples to oranges anyway, since those who identify as Christians are more likely to marry, and thus you can’t compare the two groups really anymore. But that’s the subject for another blog post.

          I would agree that many women feel that they have little obligation to their husbands, or that they can escape marriage if they simply aren’t happy. I’ve written about this before. My issue, though, is that this is not what is taught. This is not coming from the pulpit, nor is it coming from women’s books. It is simply happening. And the more people go to church, the less it happens. So I don’t think you can entirely blame the church for this; you can blame the church for not doing more, or for putting up with it, but I don’t think the problem is with the teaching; the problem is that not everyone listens to the teaching. That’s why I have a problem with people saying that the “Church” is doing something wrong, because the leadership is not, and as far as I can see, most evangelical churches are teaching correctly about marriage (the revolving door with divorce is another story, and something that my church personally has had to deal with).

          Even the issue of promiscuity before marriage: are Christian young people having sex? Yes, though not in the numbers that is often reported. If you look at people who attend on a weekly basis and who profess a belief, the numbers really are much lower. But that doesn’t mean they’re still not too high. And yet every single youth conference I have ever gone to preaches very loudly against premarital sex.

          So that’s why I get a little defensive. The problem is that the people who are periodic attenders, and some who are regular attenders, are not doing what is being taught. But it is being taught. And I just want people to draw that distinction, that’s all.

          Thanks for your very thoughtful reply. I really appreciate it, and the spirit in which it was given. You are right; we have a long way to go. And if I could figure out how to help those who only nominally attend our church to really live out their faith, I would absolutely be exuberant.

        • I’m a born- again spirit filled follower of Christ. And I’m tired of the vast majority of Christian women (yes, even the evangelicals) being indistinguishable in the way they regard men.

          In fact, I have generally been treated worse by my sisters in Christ. They have convinced themselves that they are entitled (as one of God’s beloved daughters) to get the man of their dreams.

          Unfortunately, the Church does a very good job of teaching men the difference between love and lust, but allows women to confuse those two things.

          I have had many non-Christian women show interest in me, they being far more realistic about the world, since they don’t hang on to a mythical, religious notion of getting the world’s most perfect husband. But an nonbeliever is not an option for me, of course.

          If you really, really care about this issue and care about the men who have been left behind and damaged by this, the truth can be found if you want to.

          I have committed myself, in my 40s to living out my life unmarried. Better to cross life’s finish line alone and even celibate than to marry some woman who is sad and frustrated that she “settled” for the likes of me.

          Most of the attitudes of feminism have been adopted by Christian women, even though they are blind to it. Having believed the lie of feminism, they (and men like me) will end up like the Israelites who died in the desert. Some errors can not be fixed.

          The poisonous entitlement and demeaning attitude toward men has created a cancer that will only disappear when the current culture dies off and is replaced by younger people who see the error of the current generation. Many women have been led astray and will also end up alone, and that is sad too.

          • I would agree with you to a large extent–I think it will be up to the next generation to change things. The one good thing, I think, is that it’s those who truly believe in the Bible who seem to be having the most children–so perhaps our influence would be greater!

            I’m sorry you’ve given up on marriage. I know a ton of wonderful Christian women who would love to meet a good man in their 40s. I do think those women are out there!

            As for believing in a mythical perfect husband, yes, I definitely think that’s a problem, and that’s one thing that I speak against A LOT on this blog–giving up our unrealistic expectations and focusing on what we can do to change a marriage. I am sorry that you haven’t met more women like you, though, because I think a good Christian single man in his 40s is a rare breed, and one that would be very much in demand by some wonderful women!

          • Cosign, especially the part about being treated worse by Christian sisters. As a single man, my absolute worst dating attempts and dates were with women attending mainline Protestant churches and evangelical churches.

            1. I actually had one woman nuclear reject me in church — she laughed in my face, in church.
            2. I was actually told numerous times that I was unsuitable for dating by Christian women:

            –you’re too old.
            –you’re too fat.
            –you’re too bald.
            –you’re not good looking enough.
            –I think you’re creepy.

            These are direct quotes from women who profess Christ.

            Some wonen who did date me would immediately insist “where are you going to take me?” They obviously wanted free dinners and entertainment, because after one or two dates, they would refuse to return calls and pointedly ignore me at church.

            These were the same women who routinely talked in church choir, or in a Sunday School class, about how terrible their boyfriends were, how they were unemployed, good for nothings, would not come to church, only wanted sex, could not keep a job, or crashed their cars.

            Pastors routinely “sell” Christian women as “better than” nonbelievers. Pastors are always trying to marry off the Christian women, and lamenting how the women are single and can’t find “good men”. We are told that Christian women are not feminist, are not “worldly”, and that we should marry ONLY Christian women so as not to be unequally yoked. But the truth is, at least my experience, was that Christian women did not treat their Christian brothers any better. In fact, it was worse. At least nonbelievers were honest. Christian women were not as advertised — not at all.

            I would have liked to have known where the “good women” were in church.

          • I understand that this is your experience, and I am truly sorry for it. I’m just saying that I am not like that (and I am a Christian woman), and the vast majority of Christian women that I know are not like that. Perhaps the single ones are more likely to be (because the “good ones” have been married), but that is not what I have seen. As for being unequally yoked, if a woman is acting like that, then she isn’t really a Christian. Marrying someone just because they go to church does not guarantee that one marries a Christian. They have to have fruit in their lives to be equally yoked. So I would say that you’re talking badly about single Christian women, but I’m not sure those women really are Christian.

          • Sheila:

            Respectfully, I’m only here talking about my experiences because I think it might be good for your readers to see how Christian men see it and their experiences.

            Please don’t imply to me or attribute to me statements I did not make. Please do not take what I am saying personally. I have said that numerous times here. In commenting here, I have taken great pains and gone to extraordinary lengths to qualify my statements, and to make it crystal clear that I am not painting with a broad brush and that this is my experience in the US. I did not say you were like this. I did not say all Christian women are like this. I did not say that the vast majority of Christian women that you know are like this. I am telling you and your readers about my experiences.

            I know from talking to other men that I am not the only one who feels this way. I know that I am not the only one who has had these experiences.

            Perhaps these women were not truly Christian. They probably were not. The point is that one of the major selling points young Christian men are told, and something they are told to get them to church, is that there is a surplus of Christian women just dying to meet good, “nice”, kind, believing men. I was expressly told that if I wanted a wife, I need look no further than my local church, where there were “tons and tons” of available Christian women. Not only are there “tons” of them, I was told they are “different” from worldly women and that they are “nicer” and not as materialistic or consumeristic.

            It certainly was not true in my experience.

          • Let the women who see this in themselves and feel convicted do somethign about it then.

            Or let the good women take their sisters to task, as we are instructed to gently reprove our brothers and sisters.

            There are many, many men who feel as Deti and I do, and we are not going to suddenly change our outlook just because there are a minority of Christian women who “aren’t like that”.

            Good Christian women marry off early, and there are not enough of them to go around. There are plenty of 40-something Christian women who spent the last 20+ years trying to bag a bad boy ‘with a heart of gold’ and now are on the prowl for plan B. No thanks.

            If you would not have dated me at 25, I will not marry you at 40. If I was not good enough for you then, I will ensure that you never lower your standards and “settle”.

            By the way, Deti is right about rude rejections. The cruelest and most insensitive rejections come from my sisters in Christ.

            There is something about modern evangelicalism that tends to keep people in a sort of adolescence. And I say that as an evangelical.


  1. […] Giving our kids everything they want only makes our kids think they deserve everything they want. It creates a sense of entitlement. Then life happens twenty years down the road, and ships sink, and every man is for himself and no one is for anyone else. […]