A Portrait Of Humility That Speaks To

Years ago, a church John and I attended did a series on Christian marriage unlike any marriage teaching I’ve heard before or since. The pastor used passages about Christian relationships in general and applied then to marriage in particular. Although his approach seems novel, it actually makes a great deal of sense if we want to teach younger women how to love their husbands and children. Being childless, however, I’m uncomfortable saying much about dealing with children, so I’ll follow that pastor’s example by showing you a few Scriptures that you can use to love your husband in ways that reflect Christ.

In considering where to begin these discussions, I couldn’t get away from the familiar passage in Philippians 2.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.~~Philippians 2:5:11 (NASB95)

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Teaching The (Usually) Easy Part

John, although he has his moments, is very easy to love. The thought of needing an older woman to teach me to cultivate affectionate feelings towards him amuses me, because those feelings come without much effort on my part. Hopefully most of my married readers can say the same thing about their husbands.

Sadly, many wives don’t have this sort of testimony. Sadder still, even Christian marriages can struggle, with wives experiencing difficulty maintaining affection for their husbands and children. We’ll get to reasons for such problems momentarily, but first we need to go back to Titus 1 for a look at the culture in Crete. Understanding the people Paul originally directed his instructions to gives us clarity on how his instructions apply to 21st Century Christian wives.

In Titus 1, Paul commissioned Titus to appoint elders across the island nation of Crete. These elders would need the ability to deal with troublemakers, whether those who taught false doctrine or those who lived in self-indulgence. Paul reminded Titus that the inhabitants of that island generally lived in flagrant rebellion against God’s laws.

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Introduction To Love

According to Titus 2:3-5, older women are to teach younger women to love their husbands and children. We may think that’s a rather strange instruction. In our culture, we almost universally marry for love, and we can’t help feeling an incredibly deep affection for our children. The Greek word translated “love” in Titus 2:4 does in fact mean to have feelings of affection, which makes us wonder about this imperative. Why on earth, then, would older women need to teach younger women to love the very people whom they would love quite naturally?

As I’ve pondered this matter, I’ve begun thinking about love in general, and Christian love in particular. Loving husbands and children as the Lord would have us love them must go beyond the ways non-Christians love their husbands and children, it seems to me. As believers, we learn how to love by studying the ways that our Lord expresses His love.

This Holy Week directs our attention to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross — the most powerful display of love in human history. Although none of us can ever hope to love anyone as powerfully as He loves us (because of our inability to atone for the sins of another person), we can still develop an understanding of love that we can approximate to a lesser degree in our relationships.

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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.

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Teaching What Is Good — Comma, Colon Or Both?

I nearly failed Latin in college, so I easily decided against taking classes in Classical Greek. Therefore, I don’t claim to know much about the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. As I write this series on Titus 2:3-5, I sort of wish I did know Greek, since the construction of the sentence would probably deepen my understanding.

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)

Verse 3, after describing the character qualities older women should exhibit, commissions us to teach what is good. The translators of the New American Standard Bible 1995 indicate that teaching what is good includes the topics listed in verses 4 and 5 by using the phrase, “so that.” This rendering helps us determine that the primary purpose for older women to teach younger women to focuses on encouraging those younger women to be wives and mothers who honor the Lord. Most definitely, we should maintain this goal at all cost!

But does this passage limit us to teaching domestic skills? If Paul had written Titus 2:3-5 in present day American English, would he have placed a comma or a colon after the word “good?”

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After 20 Years, I’m Ready

Maybe getting married for the first time at age 48 has something to do with it, but I’ve felt uncomfortable about using this blog to teach women how to be godly wives. Writing articles on false teachers and theological matters seemed more up my alley. And there’s a place for women teaching other women such things.

Scripture also says, however, that older women should instruct younger women particularly on domestic issues. Look with me at the passage in Titus 2:

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)

I liked focusing on the phrase “teaching what is good,” taking it to include teaching sound doctrine, I still believe that’s a legitimate application of this phrase, and I think women sorely need such teaching because of all the false teachers that prey on women who aren’t well-grounded in the Word. But I tended to ignore the bulk of what older women should teach younger women because I felt inadequate.

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Pigs’ Snouts And Beautiful Women

Walt Disney and Looney Toons popularized the idea of pigs as cute and lovable critters. But Jews of ancient Israel despised them as one of the species that Yahweh declared to be unclean (Leviticus 11:7). Therefore, you can imagine their shock and horror at this proverb of Solomon’s:

As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout
So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion. ~~Proverbs 11:22 (NASB95)

As you can see, Solomon contrasts lovely things with things which completely ruin their beauty. Golden rings, even today, are precious and highly valued, so naturally Jews would deem them as incongruous with the noses of filthy swine. If the image repulses 21st Century Gentiles, surely it would have repulsed Solomon’s original audience. And consequently they would have seen his point even more vividly than we do. Plainly, a lack of discretion destroys any beauty in a woman.

The word “discretion” generally denotes a sense of modesty and appropriate behavior. Scripture teaches that Christian women should cultivate those qualities. For example, take a moment to look at 1 Timothy 2:9-11 and1 Peter 3:1-6. It’s interesting that both passages indicate a relationship between how women ought to dress and how we ought to act.

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Fairytale Weddings And Happily Ever After Marriages

A romantic proposal and a sparkling diamond ring have a way of filling the mind with thoughts of a long white gown and a church full of flowers. Most girls dream of their wedding day, usually taking mental notes as they attend weddings of friends and family members. Once they say yes, they have a thousand things to plan and organize. Her day to be a fairytale princess is finally arriving, and she has so many details to work out to make her special day perfect.

Weddings indeed should be beautiful. Throughout the following years, couples should look back on their wedding days and remember both their vows of commitment to each other and the joy they experienced as they looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love, honor and cherish as long as they both shall live. In the weeks leading up to her death, John’s mom repeatedly showed me her wedding album, wistfully recounting her happiness. John and I watch our wedding video each year on our anniversary to laugh about his struggle to lift my veil, to relive the intense romantic feelings and to recall the promises we made before the Lord. Certainly, weddings must be such special events that we never forget their wonder.

Sadly, many women invest so much thought and energy into weddings that they neglect to prepare for marriage. Oh, they attend the required premarital counseling sessions with their pastors. Usually. But they don’t always really pay as much attention to those sessions as they pay to the wedding coordinator. After all, the Lord has brought them the perfect guy. What could go wrong? Better to focus on orchestrating the perfect wedding…right?

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Flashback Friday: Butterflies Might Be Pretty, But They Flutter By Quite Quickly

Sorry for another Flashback Friday, but my week has been crazy. Too much has been going on, leaving me unable to write a full article. I found the following blog post, which I wrote on May 15, 2019, and thought you’d enjoy reading it again:

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The early years of my relationship with John overflowed with euphoria. I can remember sitting at my computer and feeling thrilled when an instant message from him popped up on my screen. The first time I visited, we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other.

The day after our wedding, we sang, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” to each other. We were giddy! People told me that the butterflies would eventually subside. Intellectually, I knew they were right,  but my emotions told me a much different story. I simply couldn’t imagine looking at John without feeling butterflies.

I’m not sure when the butterflies flew away. One day I just realized that they had given way to a much more satisfying love. This new love satisfies me even more, for it roots itself in commitment to John and to the Lord.

Loving a husband definitely includes romantic feelings, but we do ourselves a terrible disservice if we limit our understanding of love to butterflies and fireworks. As fun as those things are, they lack the splendid depth of mature married love.

Butterflies don’t stick around when the finances force your husband to cut back on meals out. They flutter away when he can’t stop coughing, and they shy away from his hospital room after cancer surgery. His annoying habits put butterflies to flight — or at least turn them into dull brown moths.

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Usurping A Husband’s Authority

Let’s begin by affirming the Scriptural model that a wife must submit to her husband unless he demands that she disobey God’s Word.

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. ~~Ephesians 5:22-24 (NASB95)

Paul leaves no wiggle room for any Christian wife to rebel against her husband, and I don’t want anyone to misconstrue this article as a subtle encouragement toward feminism. Indeed, I pray people will come away from this article with a deeper conviction of a husband’s authority over his wife as well as how sinful it is to interfere with his authority. I have discussed what I’m about to write with my husband, and we completely agree on the perspective I wish to present.

For almost a year, I’ve seen discussions on Twitter promoting an extreme version of patriarchy. Now, patriarchy in and of itself simply means male leadership in the home, the church and society. Society, however, no longer operates on Christian principles, so we really shouldn’t expect non-Christians to adhere to patriarchy. By and large, therefore, wisdom dictates that we limit our conversation to male leadership within Christian marriage and church structure.

Lately, advocates of extreme patriarchy have been tweeting their belief that, if women vote at all, we must vote exactly as our husbands vote. They reason that, because the man is the head of the household, the wife must follow his political convictions in order to preserve family unity. And I see some merit in their argument.

Yet I seriously question whether or not they take the command to submit beyond the boundaries of Scripture. Does the Bible prohibit wives from having convictions that differ from those of their husbands? More importantly, does Scripture allow strangers on social media to impose their views about a couple’s voting decisions on Christians at large?

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