Let’s Ask Why

Titus 2:3-5 gives pretty straightforward instructions on older women teaching younger women, doesn’t it? And like it or not, Paul emphasizes teaching younger women domestic duties in the context of marriage and motherhood. Look again with me at the passage:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (NASB95)

As I wrote last week, that phrase “what is good” does broaden the scope of what older women can legitimately teach our younger sisters. Soon after I wrote that post, I saw another blogger post a quote from a lesser known Bible commentator reasoning that, since the Titus 2:3-5 passage lists predominantly duties of wives and mothers, older women shouldn’t presume to teach anything outside that sphere. Obviously, I believe that his assertion too narrowly interprets this Scripture.

Certainly, I agree that the end goal is to train younger women to be godly wives and mothers. Furthermore, those two roles are the greatest roles a woman could fill. Speaking for myself, I’m sorry that my disability prevented me from having children, though the Lord blessed me with opportunities to teach Sunday School a few times over the years. Loving a man and working with children satisfies me like nothing else can!

Yet simply telling a woman to love her husband and children doesn’t really constitute adequate teaching, does it? Young women also need to understand why and how God calls them to love these people. Such understanding comes through learning sound doctrine.

In this article, let’s think about why women should love their husbands.

From our 21st Century Western perspective, it strikes us as a little odd that a young woman would need any encouragement to love her husband. In our culture, love is the primary reason people get married in the first place. But Paul wrote his epistle to Titus in the First Century Greco-Roman culture, when many marriages were arranged by the young woman’s father. The bride had little say in the matter. Because of this situation, a young woman probably didn’t experience the romantic love that we associate with marriage today. Thus, young brides very much needed encouragement to love their husbands, who were pretty much strangers to them on their wedding night.

Although times have changed to the degree that most women enter marriage filled with romantic feelings and tremendous eagerness, they still need to learn the type of love to demonstrate once the butterflies stop fluttering and he leaves the toilet seat up for the 97th time. Loving a husband grows challenging when he says that those Valentine flowers were his gift, not (as had been anticipated) a precursor to the main gift. Just as in ancient Crete, present-day women need a theological understanding of love in order to love their husbands as Christ commands.

So older women must teach a Biblical doctrine of marriage, beginning with Ephesians 5:22-33.

22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (NASB95)

On the surface, Paul wrote this section to delineate specific postures that Christian husbands and wives should assume, and his delineation is certainly necessary in order to demonstrate a Christian testimony. The world rejects male leadership, sometimes even linking it to spousal abuse. When couples joyfully live within these Scriptural parameters, however, we learn so much about how Christ loves His Church.

Paul stated clearly that wives should submit to their husbands, recognizing them as our authorities in the same way that the Church recognizes Christ as her Authority. But to really understand what that means, younger women need some instruction on why the Church submits to Christ. Women need a solid understanding of the atonement, the deity of Christ and His Lordship. Making the correlation between their earthly marriages and the relationship between Christ and His Church helps them see the reason for submission in marriage.

Obviously, then, teaching wives to submit to their husbands requires explaining Christ’s love for the Church. Yes, I realize that Paul connected Christ’s love for the Church with his instructions to husbands, but the implication, as we consider the context of this passage, is that wives should submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ. In fact, ladies, verse 27 talks about His sanctifying work on the Church, indicating that wives should must grow in holiness as we respond to the care of our husbands.

Thus we see just one example of older women needing to teach doctrine as they equip younger women to be godly wives and mothers. Merely running our younger sisters through a baptized home economics course can’t give them adequate reason to resist the lure of feminism that would distance them from loving their husbands and children in godly ways.

Biblical doctrine provides the foundation for being a godly wife and mother. Older women do younger women a terrible disservice if they don’t teach the whole counsel of God.

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