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Posts Tagged ‘Titus 2’

Titus was a young pastor who served his people on the island of Crete.  Young Titus and his congregation found themselves in the midst of a pagan culture.  “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12).

How could Titus and the men and women of his congregation not only remain faithful to God in the midst of evil, but affect the culture?  Shine light?  Share hope?  Titus was in need of a model, something that his people could use in the midst of selfishness, unhealthy lifestyles, and false teachers.

St. Paul warned Titus away from the worldly influence, but also was inspired to give him a model for mentoring generations of hope.  That model is found in Titus 2:1-8.  That model — indeed, the wholeness of the Gospel — brings salvation and leads to self-controlled living.

Titus 2, however, is one of the least popular chapters of Scripture.  It is not particularly favored by Christian women.  There are at least three reasons.  Most obvious is the fact that Titus 2 speaks to men and women separately… because we were created equal, but not the same.   Painfully obvious is the part about women “submitting” to their husbands.  (Ouch.)  But, a third reason that Titus 2 may be dismissed or ignored is that older women are instructed by God to mentor younger women.  Oh my!  How is an older woman — who has not made right choices; who has had an abortion or lived with a man not her husband; who has been abused, or become addicted, or suffers depression — going to mentor a younger woman?

This weekend, at a Titus 2 Retreat, we’ll be talking about why an older woman (in age, experience, or spiritual maturity) might feel too intimidated to mentor.

I’ve heard older women say, “I can’t mentor!”  But, every one of us mentors… at any given moment… whether we realize it or not.  We are mentoring some kind of faith, lifestyle, or way of thinking.  We are being an example… of something.

There is a reason God calls an older woman to mentor the younger.

Let’s push aside all of her past circumstances, sins, fears, and failures.  If she is a new person in Christ, she is forgiven and set free to live in a way that glorifies God.  In 1 Timothy 5:9-14, we read that the Church was to distinguish older widows from younger widows.  The older woman is distinguished by her “faithfulness” and “reputation for good works.”  She is distinguished if she has “been the wife of one husband, brought up her children, shown hospitality, washed the feet (served) the saints, cared for the afflicted, and devoted herself to every good work.”

The younger widow, however, is different.  She is more easily drawn away from Christ by her romantic passions (v. 11).  She may be more easily tempted away from the “faith” (Greek: “oath” or “solemn promise”) if she had promised not to remarry, or to abide by the Christian faith and teaching.  The young widow (v. 13) without a father, husband, children, or a job might be prone to social problems such as being idle, falling to gossip and the behavior of a busybody, or losing control of her tongue.  The Church was to encourage young widows to “marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary (Satan) no occasion for slander” (v. 14).

In what way would the young widow, perhaps more easily influenced by the world, be helped?  By the mentoring of an older, experienced, spiritually mature woman.  A woman who had also been wrongly influenced, but was brought out of darkness into light.   Who was rescued from the mess of life and covered by Jesus’ robe of righteousness.  The older woman is not distinguished because she is sinless, but because she has learned to trust God.  Not be deceived by silly myths.  Have faith in God’s created order.  And keep her eyes on the Cross of Jesus Christ.

An older woman does not need to fear being a mentor.  Her very experience — from floundering and failing to recognition of her identity as a treasure of Christ — makes her an instrument in God’s hand.  Using God’s Word, she becomes an example of humility.  Service.  Patience.  Self-control.  Hope.

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Experts in New Zealand praise the healthy habit of self-control.  Those with common sense respond, “Well, duh!”

New scientific research shows that if adults cultivate the practice of self-control — starting early — in children, a great many could be saved from addictions, poverty, and crime.  Isn’t that just like scientific evidence?  Always lagging behind but, when pure, testifying to God’s order of creation.

This ezerwoman is a better helper — of men, children, and society — when I practice self-control.  Lest I forget (or resist), God consistently reminds me to be “self-controlled.”  The books of 1 and 2 Timothy refer to the virtue of “self-control” at least four times.  At least five times, the book of Titus instructs older men and women to practice and mentor “self-control.”  There’s good reason.  Self-control glorifies God.  It can result in more hopeful consequences.  It can even reduce depression

Self-control is the opposite of living our lives however we please.  Doing whatever makes us “happy.”  Insisting that our “needs” be met.  Serving self over others.   Perhaps this is what happens when times are good.  We give ourselves license… for whatever, whenever.   We have (in my American lifetime) “lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence” (James 5:5).  For sure, it is what happens when women are encouraged to let their emotions rule.

But, encouraging girls and young women to let their emotions rule has not made them happy.  It is widely reported, writes Dennis Prager, that women suffer depression at twice the rate of men.  If the clinical assumptions are true, Prager suggests that we consider the following:

“Wise cultures have learned that happiness is attained only when we conquer our nature.  This is true for male and female.  With modern feminism, however, came a belief in the superiority of the female nature.  The result?  Society was urged to suppress both the negative and positive aspects of the male nature with little or no suppression of the female nature.  Historically, societies and parents have always known it’s a good thing to teach boys to control two aspects of their male nature — their sexual desires and their predilection for violence.  Decent men were taught from youth to touch a woman sexually only with her permission and to channel physical aggression into sports or into helping fight evil by joining the police force or military.  Men who didn’t learn to control these aspects of male nature not only became bad men, but unhappy men.”

He continues, “Societies and parents also knew it was important to help girls control their natures — in particular, their predilection to be ruled by their emotions.  Women who allowed their emotions to rule them not only became destructive (to members of their families first and foremost), they became unhappy women.  But, while modern society continued to teach boys to control themselves, it stopped teaching girls to do so.  Girls’ emotions and feelings were treated as inherently valuable.  In fact, to repress a girl’s emotions or feelings was labeled ‘sexist’ and showed a ‘hatred of women.’ ”  (Excerpted from “Wanted by women: A few good old-fashioned men” by Dennis Prager, The Washington Times, 6-30-08)

Hmmm.  I’m reminded of the woman who showed up at an abortion clinic.  Why?  “He kissed me and I melted.  I was filled with passion and couldn’t help myself.  Now, I’m pregnant and must take control of my body.”

Lack of self control + unhappy woman = desperation and hopelessness.  Ugh.

There is another choice.   Mature men and women can be examples of self-control and mentor younger ones to do the same.  There is promise in such practice: Hope for living out our lives in anticipation of Jesus’ return (Titus 2).

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Dennis Prager is a favorite author of mine.  Here are a few observations from his recent commentary in The Washington Times. I selected these because they speak to areas of my concern.  Prager writes:

  • “The left owns the language.  Married women are not to be referred to as ‘Mrs.’ but as ‘Ms.’  And the words ‘lady,’ ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ have largely gone to their graves.”
  • “One can only speak of male-female differences if the difference shows the female superior.  Thus to say women are innately more intuitive is perfectly acceptable, but to say men are innately more likely to excel at math is ‘sexist.'”
  • “A woman may reveal as much of her body as she wishes.  But if a man is perceived by a woman as looking too long at what she reveals, or if he comments on what she reveals, he may be fired from his job and/or sued for ‘sexual harassment.'”
  • “A woman may wear a miniskirt and crop-top, but a man may not have a calendar of women wearing miniskirts and crop-tops on his desk at work.  That constitutes sexual harassment and a ‘hostile work environment.'”

Thank you, Dennis Prager, for including these examples in your commentary “Put Totalitarian Mind Control in the Cross Hairs” (The Washington Times Weekly Edition, 2-7-11).  The behavior that follows such twisted thinking is discussed at great length during our Titus 2 Retreats.  Then, we encourage one another to

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.  Rather train yourself for godliness . . . set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

(1 Timothy 4:7-12)

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