Truth in Action Ministries (the religious group started by D. James Kennedy as Coral Ridge Ministries) posted a video this week that used the iceberg that Titanic hit in 1912 as an analogy for how the “radical homosexual agenda” will sink American society. The short film features a small army of anti-gay activists and preachers, all presenting a sordid picture of American culture of those horrible gays get their way and are able to claim equality.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “they’re half right.” The story of the Titanic disaster is a perfect example of how the church relates to the secular culture and to the LGBT community. I’ll even give the folks at Truth in Action Ministries an extra bone and say that the iceberg is a great image for the LGBT community.
Titanic, herself, has much more in common with American Christianity — and anti-gay groups — than it realizes. More importantly, the iceberg isn’t the enemy. It’s not even what sank the “Unsinkable Ship.”
If you’ve been living under a rock in the last 100 years, (and are one of the three people worldwide who hasn’t seen the 1997 Academy Award-winning film by James Cameron, now in re-release with the added bonus of 3D), then allow me to regale you for a few minutes about the most famous doomed ocean liner in the world.
It was early April of 1912. She was the second of her class, a new family of ocean liners that would be the largest, fastest, and most glamorous ships in the world. White Star Lines and Cunard were locked in battle to create the biggest and best boats around, a spirit of competition that held the world in awe of best of human engineering might. The Olympic class ships were White Star Line’s latest salvo in the great ocean liner war, and Titanic was to be the best of them all. Well, at least until Gigantic was finished (After her sister ship’s disaster, she was renamed Brittanic and later became a hospital ship during World War I).
She was definitely the largest ship of her day. At nearly 883 feet long, 175 feet high, and 92 feet wide, she was a sight to behold. At capacity, she could entertain more than 2400 passengers with a crew of nearly 900. She was indeed a titan on the seas.
She had the best art, the best china, and the best live bands of her day. Her grand staircase was as majestic as it was graceful. Every wall was adorned with exquisite woodworking, and she was one of the first ships to have a swimming pool. There was nothing more important in the design of Titanic than luxury. Her gymnasium was well-stocked, as were her turkish baths.
The best part was that she was unsinkable. With 16 watertight wells that could be sealed off, she could remain afloat if even four of those wells were flooded. No one could imagine anything that would sink this grand ship. Some even declared that God Himself could not sink the ship.
The world would be stunned at how wrong they all were, less than a week into her maiden voyage. In the end, it didn’t take God to sink the Unsinkable Ship. She was brought down by a perfect storm of arrogance, faulty engineering, bad steel, and outright negligence.
It all started with a man named Frederick Fleet. He was a small guy perched in a tiny crows nest high above the main deck. As Titanic barreled forward at her top speed of 22 knots, Fleet tried to keep himself warm. As he looked forward with his keen eyes, he struggled to see ahead of the ship. It was a clear, moonless April night, and the sea was a flat calm. It was like looking out onto a slate of black glass under a black, starry sky.
Fleet saw the stars beginning to wink out over the horizon. Then he realized what it was. It was a pale, blue mountain of ice, and Titanic was headed right for it. Immediately, Fleet called the bridge, where First Officer William Murdoch answered.
“Iceberg right ahead!”
“Thank you,” Murdoch said. He hung up, and ordered the engines to full reverse and to turn to hard port. The tiny rudder at Titanic’s aft barely moved the ship at first. They had less than a mile to go before the ship collided with her destiny, but she wasn’t turning. Finally, she began to turn away from the iceberg. She almost made it.
The impact wasn’t a collision, and it didn’t cause a 300-foot long gash. All it took was just enough pressure from the ice to pop out the rivets along the starboard side of the ship in the first six of those sixteen compartments. Instantly, icy water sprayed into the mail storage area, and into the boiler rooms.
Thomas Andrews, who designed the ship was immediately called to the bridge. He was at his desk when the impact occurred. Andrews might have felt the desk shudder from the impact, or might have seen the chandelier in his stateroom rattle. Either way, he may never have noticed the requisition order for a pair of binoculars — from Frederick Fleet.
That’s right. The one person on the ship that needed binoculars didn’t have them.
As it was, within ten minutes of the collision, Andrews knew enough about his design that she would be afloat for two to three hours at most.
Jack Phillips, the ship’s radio wireless operator, had received seven ice warnings that day. The last was received less than an hour before the final impact. It was sent by the Californian, a smaller ship that was less than four miles away from Titanic. She was stopped dead in a field of ice, and conveyed the warning to Titanic. Phillips, annoyed at the repetitive warnings, replied, “Shut up, we’re talking to Cape Race.”
Californian did exactly that. Their wireless operator shut off their radio and went to bed. Worse yet, they could see Titanic over the horizon. They saw Titanic’s warning flares, and assumed she was warning off another ship from the ice.
They never turned their radio back on. They never heard Titanic’s SOS calls. They didn’t know that Titanic only had enough lifeboats for less than half of the souls on board. And they certainly didn’t know that she was sinking. Californian could have saved everyone. As it was, the closest ship that heard the SOS calls (the first time that distress signal was used, by the way) was Carpathia, which wouldn’t arrive for four hours. Long after Titanic had slammed into the bottom of the ocean in two massive sections.
Those who hadn’t gone down with the ship or rescued in the half-filled lifeboats, tried to swim away. Unfortunately, the water was below freezing, and anyone not in a lifeboat was frozen solid in mere minutes.
After the mayhem, Harold Bride, who was Jack Phillips’ apprentice, was holding on for dear life with three other young men on an upside down lifeboat. One of them asked, “Do you think we should pray?”
What’s interesting is how the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking brings out this all-too-important conversation, and how — as usual — the right wing doesn’t get it.
I’ll give them a bone, and say that yes, the iceberg is a good picture of the LGBT community. That iceberg had no ill intent. It had no malice. It was just there. God didn’t send that iceberg to destroy a ship. It merely broke off of an ice shelf somewhere, and floated out to sea. It simply… was.
The ship, on the other hand, was fraught with arrogant assumptions, abject vanity, and deadly negligence. Its steel was substandard. Even after multiple warnings, she pushed through to her fate. If she didn’t hit one iceberg, she would have run into the same field of ice that stopped Californian dead in her tracks.
These anti-gay groups are very much like Titanic. They tried with all their might to ignore and avoid dealing with the LGBT community, but eventually, their fates collided. Now that their out-of-touch notions are becoming quickly dismissed as the false hysteria it is, they’re doing everything they can to keep their ship of hate and willful ignorance from sinking.
One by one, every single excuse they use to damn gays gets chipped away. The latest blow came from Dr. Robert Spitzer, who completely renounced his own paper from years ago that said a few “highly motivated” people can change their sexual orientation.
They can no more blame gays for their own failures anymore than those who built the Titanic can blame her demise on an iceberg.
Your ship, dear anti-gay groups, is sinking. It’s sinking because you built it based on lies, bias, self-centeredness, and by pushing away anything you don’t like. It’s sinking because you refuse to equip yourselves with even basic knowledge about the real world, and reject even the simplest tools to avoid disaster.
Your shortsightedness is what caused the impact. Your refusal to recognize your own failures will ultimately damn you to into the oblivion of a historical footnote. An Iceberg didn’t sink your precious ship. You did.
And the iceberg will just blend into the rest of society.
Full speed ahead.