Purity Isn’t Only About Sexual Attitudes

The first thing we think about when we hear the word “purity” is sexual impurity. Maybe that results from our sex saturated culture. Or maybe it exposes the depth of our own preoccupation with sex. Either way, it is the first thing that comes to our minds, isn’t it?

Perhaps we do need to begin with that connection when the subject of purity comes up, precisely because sex permeates so much of our consciousness. Sexual purity has fallen out of favor even among evangelicals. For the first time in history, evangelicals openly live together outside of marriage and see nothing wrong with that practice. Obviously, fewer and fewer professing Christians believe that sexual behavior should be confined to marriage between one man and one woman until death. In this regard, I agree that purity in sexual conduct can’t be emphasized too often or too strongly.

Was the apostle Paul thinking about sexual purity when he told Titus how older women should mentor younger women?

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)

Certainly, teaching women the importance of modesty and chastity would have been a key reason for women to teach other women. It would have caused incredible temptation for a man to counsel a woman on such intimate matters. Women can (and sadly do) fall into sexual sin just as easily as men do, making it necessary and crucial to address this type of impurity. Therefore, we cannot and must not neglect this area of instruction.

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Thanksgiving With Bing Crosby Is Nothing Like Thanksgiving With The Apostle Paul

One night last week, I had trouble sleeping. As the clock edged toward 1:30, I reluctantly woke John up and asked him for a pill — which took longer than it should have to do anything. As I lay there feeling exasperated, I thought of that Bing Crosby song about falling asleep counting your blessings. Those of you old enough to remember Bing Crosby will enjoy this clip from his movie, White Christmas, while you younger gals need it for a little context to this article.

All right, I decided to give it a try. Since my pastor has been preaching through Ephesians and I’ve been watching Susan Heck teach her series on Ephesians, however, I thought it would be cool if I counted my spiritual blessings that the Bible lists. Don’t get me wrong, I praise God for all the temporal blessings He’s lavished on me. But the sermons and teachings I’ve been hearing from Ephesians have given me an even broader perspective on His goodness towards me.

So I thought I’d take you through some verses in Ephesians 1 that reveal a few of the blessings that belong to every Christian.

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“But Jesus Hung Out With Sinners”

Very often these days, professing Christians will defend their affirmation of the LBGTQ community, cohabitation, casual use of recreational drugs or other sinful practices by arguing that many friends of Jesus lived in openly sinful lifestyles. They strengthen their case by adding that He reserved His harshest words for members of the religious establishment. Their hope is to shame us into affirming sinful behaviors, implying that Christlike love would never so much as suggest the idea of repentance from desires that feel so natural. Indeed, they demand that we can show Christ’s love only by condoning those desires and their consequent actions.

Their strategy usually works because we know that the Pharisees delighted in calling Jesus out for dining with sinners and tax collectors. We certainly don’t want anyone to equate us with the self-righteous Pharisees! So we hem and haw, trying to find ways to soften our stance (or, more accurately, protect our reputations). After all, our critics rightly say that Jesus hung out with sinners.

So we must agree with them to some degree. But then we must ask them whether or not Jesus actually gave His approval to the sin of the people in His company. If so, He compromised His Father’s righteous standards, giving us license to disregard everything He taught about holiness. If our critics maintain that He really did lend approval to the sin of those at table with Him, we should open our Bibles to Matthew 9 to provide a little context to Jesus’ actions.

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“I Don’t Need To Be Taught To Love My Husband And Children!”

Like most 21st Century brides, I was totally in love when I wheeled down the aisle in that white gown and veil. Being almost 49, I didn’t cultivate as many romantic illusions as younger brides do, but I definitely enjoyed the euphoric anticipation of spending my life with such an incredible man. How could loving him be anything but easy? And actually, 20 years later, I still find it easy to love him most of the time. In fact, it often puzzles me when people say marriage takes a lot of hard work — it has been relatively effortless for me.

Although I couldn’t be a mother, I was pretty close to my two nieces while they were growing up. Occasionally I’d inwardly grumble about playing with Barbie dolls or teaching them to lose graciously at checkers, but mostly I savored my time with each of them. Loving these little girls came effortlessly. I treasure memories of tender conversations and funny remarks, and I’m proud of the beautiful young women they’ve become. Loving them is difficult now only because marriage took me 3000 miles away from them. If I have such strong feelings as a mere aunt, I can only imagine the incredible love mothers have for their own children!

Doesn’t a women’s love for her husband and children come naturally? In one sense, it does. But let’s go back to Titus 2:3-5, focusing on verse 4.

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)

Why would younger women need encouragement to love their husbands and children? Was Paul really that ignorant of female emotions? To answer that question, let me take you to the two Greek words translated as “love,” and then discuss how to apply them as we relate to our families.

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When Scripture Dismantles My Blog Post

I pretty much knew what I wanted to say, so I started writing the introduction to my latest post on Titus 2:3-5 Monday. My back hurt from having to spend the weekend in bed due to a lack of Personal Care Attendant coverage, so typing was slow and painful. I knew I needed to check the Greek for the word translated as “love” in verse 4, although I’ve always assumed it was “agape.” I promised myself I’d look it up Tuesday, when my back would feel better.

Tuesday my PCA didn’t feel well, and didn’t want to come in case she had COVID. (Thankfully, it’s just a very mild cold, so she came back Wednesday.) My backup PCA had car troubles, so I spent Tuesday in bed, mentally revising part of my introduction. Of course, Wednesday I had pain from spending another day in bed, and unexpected company ate an hour that I’d planned to use for blogging. When I finally got to my blog, I chose to rewrite my second paragraph before looking up the Greek. Again, the pain slowed my typing, and consequently I was simply too exhausted to do research.

Thursday, I actually did look up the Greek word rendered “love” in Titus 2:4. To my surprise, Paul used two Greek words — one for loving husbands and one for loving children. That’s very interesting, and I will restructure my article according to the correct definitions of those words. But of course I’ll need to first think through the proper application of the verse in light of those definitions.

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That’s Good!

Have you ever eaten a exceptionally delicious meal and remarked on how good it was? How about reading a particularly satisfying novel or watching a movie with just the right ending? We call these things good because something about them gives us a deep sense of gratification. Strangely, superlatives like “awesome,” “wonderful” or “fabulous” seem less appropriate than the word “good.”

For Christians, the word “good” takes on a special meaning because is applies uniquely to the Lord. Consider this exchange between Jesus and a man who came to Him:

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Before Teaching Younger Women HOW, Let’s Teach Them WHY

We generally fall into one of two ditches in applying Titus 2:3-5 to how we conduct women’s ministry.

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)

The more common ditch (and the one I usually fall into) condenses the passage down to nothing more than women teaching other women. It’s certainly commendable that people recognize that Christian women can use their gifts of teaching without teaching men in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12, and I praise God that women want to obey the Lord. Yes, as godly women, we must be careful not to step outside the boundaries prescribed in God’s Word. In a time when far too many women have declared themselves to be pastors or have taken co-ed Bibles Studies and/or Sunday School classes, it’s refreshing to see women stewarding their teaching abilities appropriately.

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A TULIP Repost: Mary Knew Where To Sit

Originally published September 17, 2018:

Learning

I know you’ve heard this Bible story a million times. Every women’s ministry gets to it eventually — usually with warnings against becoming like Martha.

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” ~~Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)

But I’m not bringing the story up today to scold you if you’re an overly diligent housekeeper or pat you on the back if you neglect your house in favor of studying your Bible. Again, you’ve heard both those applications a million times, and you’re certainly not interested in hearing them from me. Furthermore, I’m equally not interested in writing about them!

But I thought about this passage in the context of our painfully evident preoccupation with secondary matters. Most of those matters desperately require attention, just as managing a household requires attention. Longtime readers undoubtedly know that I believe it’s absolutely crucial to examine trends within evangelicalism that seriously damage the Church and distort people’s understanding of Who Christ is.

All the issues we look at on this blog, from the problems with false teachers to the Social Justice Movement, are as important as cleaning the bathroom and serving nutritious meals. Neglecting them causes problems that usually harm us spiritually. Poor Martha only wanted to attend her legitimate responsibilities, just as Christians who address hot-button topics only want to attend to legitimate concerns.

But sometimes we get so caught up in dealing with secondary matters that we obscure the Lord from our conversation.  When that happens, we need the same rebuke that the Lord gave Martha.

If we’re too busy with whatever issue dominates our thinking to open our Bibles and enjoy God’s revelation of Himself, we’ve made a lesser choice. Martha was, after all, giving her all to serve Jesus because she genuinely loved Him, but Mary chose to sit at His feet and soak in His teaching.

I don’t want you to neglect the issues that cause trouble in the Church today. But neither do I want those matters to end up distracting you  from the Lord Himself. Mary knew where to sit. Do you?

Will I Have An Occasional Glass Of Wine?

If you want a lively debate with other Christians, just mention alcohol! You’ll get impassioned responses from people on all sides of the issue, and you may even damage one or two of your friendships in the process (I say that mostly in jest).

Alcohol consumption among Christians has always required a careful reading of Scripture and an understanding of Christian liberty in the light of exhortations towards temperance. It’s a sensitive topic, requiring extensive study coupled with prayer for wisdom to apply God’s Word accurately and lovingly. Therefore, this small blog post can’t thoroughly examine the matter.

Truth be told, I really don’t want to blog about alcohol. But we can’t work through Titus 2:3-5 unless we deal with Paul’s command to older women women regarding this topic.

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Why I’d Rather Not Blog About Matt Chandler And His Online Conversations

Firstly, Matt Chandler has never been more than an occasional blip on my discernment radar. I’ve vaguely been aware that he has some questionable theology, so I’ve kept him at arm’s length. But, as I’ve said before, I no longer have time nor energy to research all the celebrity pastors and teachers who populate the evangelical landscape. So in that respect, I really don’t care about the online conversations with a woman that led to him stepping down from his ministry position. So much about that situation remains unclear at this point that I just don’t feel knowledge enough to formulate an opinion. Actually, I see no valid reason for me to formulate an opinion.

My invalid reason for formulating an opinion would be to reinstate my discernment blogger status. My article on God’s wrath didn’t attract many readers, even though such articles on Christian doctrine develop discernment much more effectively than articles exposing false teachers and evangelical celebrities. If I’d dig up some juicy dirt on Matt Chandler and add in some speculation, I’d draw attention.

This matter ties in with my ongoing examination of Titus 2:3-5:

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