The Unpopular Thing That Older Women Must Teach Younger Women

We all cringe at the idea of wives submitting to husbands, don’t we? Even those of us who know what the Bible says and wholeheartedly believe that the Holy Spirit inspired it to be written should honestly admit that we wish He had not included that instruction. It doesn’t do any good to pretend that we’re always delighted to let our husbands have the final say in making decisions. God knows our hearts, so He’s well aware that there are times when we’d rather have our husbands submit to us.

Yet Paul told Titus to have the older women encourage younger women to submit to their own husbands.

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. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (NASB95)

Rather than write an article detailing the mechanics of wifely submission today, I think I want to circle back to the responsibility older women have to encourage this attitude in younger women. Future articles may address the topic of submission itself. Indeed, as an older woman, I must deal with the matter, and deal with it more than once. But it occurs to me that the mandate to teach and encourage younger women to submit to their husbands poses a threat to older women. Teaching submission goes against so many aspects of our culture that most of us simply don’t want to do it!

We live in a culture that has been heavily influenced by feminism. Even churches now adopt egalitarian models, rejecting the idea of male leadership by calling it a human construct that has become antiquated. In fact, male leadership has come to represent oppression, and therefore must be obliterated. Egalitarians convey the idea that women must cast off the shackles of male dominance. As I listen to egalitarians, I get the sense that any acquiescence to male leadership opens the door to the abuse of women.

Have men abused women? Of course they have! I’ve seen men demand submission in dastardly ways, and no one ought to deny that reality. However, it’s dangerous to make too strong of a correlation between the abuse of women and God’s role of leadership for men. Such a correlation usually leads women to be suspicious of any male who has authority, as if abuse would be the logical outcome of leaving power in the hands of men.

Nevertheless, egalitarians capitalize on the reality of abuse to advance their agenda. Although they usually have a sincere concern for women who suffer abuse, their concern morphs into a desire for power. And at that point, they begin viewing submission to husbands as a threat to their power. Consequently, they must dismiss Scriptural commands to submit. In their minds, submission makes them vulnerable to abuse. Only if women gain power, their reasoning goes, can they protect themselves against abuse.

Admittedly, such arguments are hard to refute. When I’ve taken stands for male leadership, I’ve been belittled, often with the unspoken (but obvious) implication that I’m merely parroting the talking points of the crowd I follow. In other words, egalitarians assume I can’t think for myself. I’ve been told that my husband is oppressive, and some people have questioned my compassion for abuse victims. All too often, I experience chastisement because I believe God calls for male leadership.

In one conversation a year or so ago, a woman smugly informed me that she didn’t need to submit to her husband because they always discussed everything until they reached a consensus. That approach sounds all well and good. Certainly, there’s room for discussion between husbands and wives that hardly anyone would deny. But when I said that my husband makes the final decision, my opponent concluded that I lived under a dictatorship. To her, consensus always trumps submission.

Older women feel pressured by the argument for consensus over submission, as if we’re being asked to teach our younger sisters that wives can’t express opinions or disagree with their husbands. We know that our teaching will generate backlash. Many of us have been called names and have had our character assaulted simply because we stand for male leadership. Egalitarians accuse us of believing that we blindly obey our husbands without discussing any differences or sharing our perspectives. As a result, we can feel downright afraid to even mention submission.

And if we do mention it, we usually do so with an attitude of apology. We feel embarrassed that Scripture would place wives into the position of submission. Teaching women to submit to husbands means that we will receive scorn and ridicule. Therefore, we’d rather avoid the topic of submission in marriage. As much as we get flack for calling out false teachers, people tolerate that aspect of discernment ministry much better than they tolerate encouragement to submit to husbands.

Older sisters, I understand that teaching submission causes progressives to attack you. This past week, as a matter of fact, I’ve gone through an exhausting online debate with two egalitarians who had no intention of considering my perspective. But may I encourage you be faithful in teaching Titus 2:5 regardless of the pressure egalitarians put on you? Remember that our responsibility is to obey God’s Word, not to accommodate the prevailing culture. You can do it! You must do it!

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