This week I have the enormous privilege of teaching at Future Teacher Training Camp in Owasso, OK. Spending this week with my sisters, my friends who are amazing encouragers and students of God’s word, spending this week with teen girls who are willing to give a week of their time to learning how to study and teach God’s word to others, is absolutely one of my favorite times of the year. However, as you would expect, during this week Titus 2:3-5 is typically plastered all over the building and our study materials. I love this so much and every time I see this passage plastered around I smile and I think, “Yes!” But yesterday, as I looked at this passage on several walls around me, I had a different thought: how are we living this passage the rest of the year?
Titus 2:3-5 reads, “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” This is a tremendous list of expectations that God has of Christian women! And the consequences for failing to do so are severe! If we are not actively teaching the young women around us, we are reviling the word of God!
As women of God, we are to be reverent in our behavior. This word literally means that we are to behave in a sacred manner, in a manner that is wholly dedicated to God. And this would apply not just to the worship assembly, but in front of our children and our co-workers every day. We are not to be slanderers, meaning we are not to make false accusations against those around us. This would be especially true for our sisters. Do we gossip or spread rumors? Do we question the hearts and motives of those around us? We are not to be slanderers! From here, he goes on to state that we are not to be slaves to much wine, we are not to be dependent upon intoxicating substances.
While this is a pretty heavy list of behaviors, and we can likely say, “Oh, I would never do that!” this passage also contains an entire list of what we are to do: we are to teach what is good, we are to train the young women to love their children and husbands, we are to be self-controlled, pure, to work at home, to be kind, and submit to our husbands. So how are we doing here, ladies? Are we teaching those around us? For those who are moms, I think it can be very easy to “phone it in” on this one. I often hear comments like, “Absolutely, I teach! I teach my children every day!” While this is wonderful, and necessary, and Godly, I don’t believe that teaching our children absolves us from our responsibility to teach others. Not all young ladies are blessed to grow up in a Christian home— what about them? The people at Walmart, your waitress at the restaurant— many times these people will not be from Christian homes. What about them? And as a Christian mother let me say, I want your help! Yes, I am doing my absolute best to raise my children in a Godly home. Yet first of all, I am imperfect and will fall short at times. But even when I am doing well, I love it when my brethren re-enforce what I’m already trying to teach my children. Who are you personally teaching right now?
We are also to train the young women to love their husbands and children. This automatically implies that loving our husbands and children does not always come naturally! We must learn how to be nurturers, and how can we learn if no one will teach us! The world we are living in is so selfish, so focused on “I,” so focused on our own wants and desires, that we must be taught selflessness and how to overcome those wants and desires, just as our families need us to. We are to be self-controlled, which here specifically means, “self-restrained in all passions and desires” (Strong’s Enhanced Lexicon). This doesn’t mean that I won’t struggle with my own passions and desires (for me, this would be my passion for good food and desire to not exercise). It does mean that those around me will see me fighting this fight. They will see me endeavoring to exercise more and eat healthier, rather than resigning myself to an unhealthy lifestyle. They will see me struggling to master my own passions and desires in order to dedicate myself more fully to God.
Along these lines, we are also to be pure, we are to be innocent and blameless. Once again, this does not require that we are perfect, however it does require that we conduct ourselves in a manner that others cannot find fault in our heart or our motives. I also believe this requires a tremendous amount of humility, and a willingness to acknowledge when we fall short and take action to correct our mistakes.
Next Paul instructs Titus that older women are to be workers at home. This short little phrase stirs all kinds of controversy among the brethren today. Does this mean that only women are responsible for housework? Does this mean that it is unbiblical for women to work outside the home? In the Greek, this phrase is actually only one word and it means, “A keeper at home, one who looks after domestic affairs with prudence and care” (Zodhiates 2000). This means that regardless of other factors, as women we are responsible for the care and upkeep of our home and those who are in it. We are to be prudent in the care of our home, meaning we are to do things efficiently and frugally. And we are to care for our home. We are to be good stewards and care for the physical blessings God has given us. (As a disclaimer, there are absolutely times that women are simply not physically capable of keeping their home, and that is an entirely different issue.)
We are also to be kind. This might sound self-explanatory and unworthy of further comment, however I believe it is something we need to seriously consider. When I am tired, when I am stressed, when I am frustrated, there are times that I struggle to be kind. I snap at my husband, I snap at my children, I grumble and complain. While I know I will never be perfect in kindness, God calls me to strive towards showing kindness at all times. Even on bad days, even when I am stressed or frustrated, even when someone has been unkind to me.
Finally, we are to be submissive to our husbands. Society does not like this one. Unfortunately, many of my sisters in Christ do not like this one either. I hear my sisters tell jokes and make fun of their husbands. I hear my sisters tell their children, “Don’t tell daddy!” I have sisters who are dishonest with the way they handle the family’s finances. I have sisters who grumble and complain about their husbands. I have sisters who argue with their husbands, or “submit” by giving their husband the cold-shoulder when he makes a decision they don’t approve of. This shouldn’t be, ladies. We are to submit to our husbands as we submit to the Lord (Ephesians 5:23). Our relationship with our husband and the respect (or lack thereof) that we show him, is directly indicative of our relationship and respect for God Almighty.
So now comes the big question ladies: how are we doing? We refer to Titus 2 constantly in the Lord’s church, but how are we doing with living it? How are we doing in our own growth and relationships, and how are we doing with teaching those who are younger than us what God expects of women who profess godliness (I Timothy 2:10).
Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.