The church I attended in California often had square dances — mostly to give singles something to do on Valentine’s Day. Singles, married couples and children all joined the fun, and I enjoyed watching and chatting with other spectators. Over the years, I learned that square dancing isn’t really that difficult if dancers simply listen to the caller. Callers always explain the calls before each set so that everyone understands how to respond to each call. Thus, even though I didn’t dance myself, I knew that the trick to square dancing comes from paying attention to the caller.
About that time (I’m guessing over 30 years ago) a friend of mine from another church had started a ministry to disabled children using equestrian therapy (she was herself a wheelchair user who had benefited from horseback riding). She always invited me to her fundraising events. When she called to invite me to a wheelchair square dance, I couldn’t resist!
Like every other square dance I’d attended, this one began with the caller carefully teaching us how to respond to each call. Because we all used wheelchairs, he also taught us how to adapt the calls to dancing in chairs. It really wasn’t rocket science, even with the added condition of wheelchairs, and everyone caught on pretty quickly.
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?
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 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.
For Christmas 2021, my husband gave me the complete DVD set of The Waltons (a TV show from the 1970s). If I recall correctly, we began watching it straight through sometime in February, finishing with the six epilogue movies shortly after Thanksgiving. We own several DVD sets of other TV shows, and had almost decided which of them to watch next. But as the final show closed with Earl Hamner reading the voice-over of John Boy’s journal entry, I knew I wanted to go through the series again.
John Boy’s character is based on Earl Hamner Jr., who grew up in rural Virginia during the Depression era. Like Hamner, John Boy is an aspiring writer, writing mostly about his family and Walton’s Mountain. He writes with simplicity, and yet with a poignancy that often astounds me. I especially love his descriptions of the mountain at night, with its sounds and smells intermingled with fond memories of his family as they bid each other good night.
As a child, oddly enough, I had no patience for descriptive passages. I much preferred dialogue. But Earl Hamner and John Boy had such a way of using words, that they transport me to their world of whip-poor-wills and applesauce cake and younger siblings who cause irritation and joy. Each time John Boy or Earl Hamner reads the prose that supposedly flow from John Boy’s pen, I find myself wishing I could make my words paint such beautiful pictures. Perhaps the exquisite quality of those brief moments inspired me to go through the series a second time.
As a Christian blogger, I feel a different sort of pressure at this time of year than most people feel, especially when other bloggers start writing about Advent and Christmas before I can even digest my Thanksgiving turkey. I scratch my head at my reticence to join their ranks, particularly due to my fascination with the Incarnation. Wouldn’t you think that I’d be chomping at the bit to blog about the wonder of God becoming Man? But honestly, I’m just not interested in writing Christmas themed articles right now.
A lot of the problem comes from knowing that I don’t have anything original to say about the Incarnation. Or at least feeling as if I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to the conversation. In my pride, I demand that I come up with a fresh angle on it to dazzle my readers — skillfully displaying both my cultivated talents as a writer (my college professors would be so pleased!) and my grasp of God’s Word.
Did you catch the phrase, “In my pride?” What an ironic attitude to harbor after my pastor, in preaching through Ephesians, recently did an entire sermon on humility! Look at this passage:
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. ~~Ephesians 4:11-6 (NASSB95)
My pastor focused his sermon on the first three words of verse 2: “with all humility.”
In the 1980s, Cyndi Lauper popularized the song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” I’ve never listened to the song in its entirety, nor do I intend to do so. But from what I understand from briefly looking it up (so that I’d spell Cyndi Lauper’s name correctly) it’s about a young woman who resists advice to be sensible about her life. She reasons that she can be sensible later in life; at her age, girls just want to have fun.
Yet the apostle Paul instructed Titus that older women should encourage younger women to (among other things) be sensible:
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 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 (NASSB95)
Okay, then what does it mean to be sensible? After reading several Bible Dictionaries, I learned that it pretty much means having the wisdom to control one’s passions (or emotions). Interestingly, most women’s Bible Study materials these days not only ignore this part of the text, but often encourage women to let our feelings dictate our behavior.
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:
I sat in the restaurant, munching my fish and chips. Almost out of nowhere, my friend complained, “Our church doesn’t teach enough doctrine.”
His remark startled me. I wasn’t so much startled because he said it for no apparent reason (we had been talking about the Welsh castle we’d visited earlier that day) as I was that he considered doctrine to have any serious significance. Looking back, I find it rather pathetic that I thought such a thing only a few weeks before graduating from a three-month Bible College (which incidentally didn’t teach much doctrine either), but in 1985 I believed that spiritual experiences were more important than dry theology. Being in a Charismatic school only reinforced my attitude.
The Lord has obviously corrected my erroneous thinking since that lunch in Wales. He’s brought me to a place of valuing sound doctrine as the very basis of a vibrant relationship with Christ. If we take another look at Titus 2:2-6, we’ll see that sound doctrine (or being sound in faith) is an important element of Christian maturity.
But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so the word of God will not be dishonored.
6 Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; 7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. ~~Titus 2:1-8 (NASB95)
Rioting seems commonplace these days. Whenever a group of people doesn’t get its way, you can count on mass protests that usually involve violence. On social media, rage is a dominant theme, and for decades psychologists have encouraged us to vent our emotions.
Meanwhile, the thought of saving sex for marriage (and then being faithful to one’s spouse) is met with incredulous stares and outright ridicule. In Western culture, people now expect to indulge in whatever pleasure they choose without repercussions. As we exit Pride Month and watch the meltdown over Roe v Wade being overturned, we can’t avoid seeing how desperately people want to enjoy sexual pleasure without any restraint. I still remember my ex-boyfriend begging me, “Let’s lose our self-control.”
To which, incidentally, I answered, “Let’s not.” But I digress.
Even most of you young ones have seen the I Love Lucy show, haven’t you? Lucille Ball, who played Lucy Ricardo had a wonderful talent for physical comedy that allowed the show’s writers to create outrageous predicaments that left audiences doubled over in hysterical laughter at her antics. As a result, her character often got herself into ridiculous situations at the expense of her own dignity.
While we have to admire Lucille Ball for sacrificing her dignity in order to portray the madcap Lucy, we realize that a woman in real life shouldn’t be known for such outlandish behavior. On the contrary, Scripture says that a godly woman should be known for her dignity.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future. ~~Proverbs 31:17 (NASB95)
So what does it mean for a woman to be dignified? Does it require her to jettison her sense of humor? Can she play with her children and grandchildren? What about joining neighborhood games of flag football or cheering loudly at a baseball game? Do dignified women get to have fun? I think we all understand that dignity doesn’t preclude enjoying life, but perhaps we ought to spend a little time pondering how we can lead dignified lives that honor the Lord.
We’ve all seen movies and TV shows portraying sour old women in dowdy clothes representing the local Temperance Union. Most of the time, these women represent some form of Christianity, purposefully implying that Christians oppose any form of enjoyment and work hard to make sure that everyone shares our life of misery. Thanks to the media, the very word “temperance” sends shudders down our spines.
Yet Scripture demands temperance from Christians.
Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. ~~Titus 2:2 (NASB95)
Since Titus 2:3 states that older women must likewise exhibit the qualities and behaviors expected of older men (with an apparent emphasis on moderation in drinking), we ought to make sure we understand the meanings of the words Paul uses. Therefore we need to think about temperance. What did Paul mean then and how should older women in the 21st Century apply those meanings? Discussing temperance is important in understanding how an older woman can live in a way that brings honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ.