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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Older Women Need Instruction Too

Titus 2:3-5 seems to have become the definitive passage for determining the entire sphere of Biblical womanhood. It’s foundational, certainly, and a necessary corrective to the damage feminism has caused in recent decades. As Biblical women, you and I must obey its teaching, especially when it comes against the rebellious standards imposed on us by the world.

At the same time, some people react to feminism by making overly narrow applications of this passage, usually zeroing in on younger women working within the home. That assumption needs to be addressed at some point, as a few verses in Proverbs 31 provide qualifications that we have to consider. But as I’ve thought about taking you through Titus 2:3-5, it’s occurred to me that I’ve also gotten sucked in to the narrow discussion of a woman’s place being in the home. So I want to back up a bit and look more carefully at the passage. Specifically, I want to say a few things about Paul’s commands to older 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)

Yes, the passage clearly says that older women are to teach younger women with the goal of encouraging them to be wives and mothers who work on managing their homes. But that just isn’t the sum total of these three verses. Look at the first few clauses.

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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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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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Two Ways To Crush Godly Women

Leslie A has a wonderful talent for turning my brain into a five lane highway. Often, she’ll accomplish this feat by writing something that exposes a subtle sin in my life — like my television viewing choices. In those instances, I’ll initially try to ignore her points until the Holy Spirit forces me to see that He’s used her to work on my sanctification. Over the years, I’ve grown to love her blog precisely because the Lord uses it to challenge me to live in holiness.

Last week, however, the five lane highway Leslie put me on had little to do with sin on my part and everything to do with a topic I have been wrestling with since last September. Her blog post this week didn’t address the topic at all, and in fact my application of it hadn’t occurred to her. Leslie wrote A Warning (and a bit of encouragement, too!) as a response to the overall disintegration of our world. And she certainly hit the nail on the head all the way through her article!

As she wrote about the Hegelian Dialectic, lightbulbs started flashing in my head, sending me racing down all five highway lanes at once. To explain my mental traffic, let me offer a brief definition of the Hegelian Dialectic:

The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution.

https://christianobserver.net/what-is-the-hegelian-dialectic/

The Hegelian Dialectic will pit parties into extreme, polarizing positions on a given topic until a third party can help them arrive at some sort of consensus that said third party wanted from the beginning. Essentially, it manipulates the opposing parties into seeing their mediator as a final authority. Once consensus has been achieved, dissent is not allowed.

Upon reading Leslie’s explanation of the Hegelian Dialectic, I began driving down the highway on which feminism and extreme patriarchy currently drag race.

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Assigning People To The Wrong Box

Have you ever noticed how people with strong opinions tend to push those who disagree with them into opposite extremes?

While the Patriarchy Movement actually covers a large spectrum of approaches to the Biblical roles of men and women, an extreme wing of the movement sees any sort of variation from wives being full-time homemakers as feminists. And, in trying to reason with them, sometimes I feel pushed into a feminist box.

Adherents of the extreme Patriarchy Movement insist that feminism has invaded the church. This feminism, according to them, manifests itself in women going to college and working outside the home. Apparently, such behavior violates Titus 2:5, which tells older women to teach younger women to be “workers at home.”

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