Blueprints for Being a Godly Woman
Last week Terri Stovall wrote about the importance of a woman-to-woman mentoring relationship. In this article, she addressed the importance and purpose of a mentoring program. Women, both young and old, are seeking someone to come alongside them and show them how to live a life of godliness in a very ungodly world. Over the last several months, God has allowed me to do some research on Titus 2, and I have begun to see this passage in a whole new light. One thing I know to be true is that God’s Word is timeless and sufficient to teach us how to live out a life of godliness. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul gives six parts, God’s “blueprints,” that every woman needs in her pursuit of godliness
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. Titus 2:3-5
1. Love Their Husbands and Children
The first part of the Titus 2 model of discipleship involves the family. Concerning the marriage relationship, Paul uses the Greek word philandros to explain the type of love a woman is to have towards her husband. This word is rooted in the Greek word phileo, meaning “brotherly love or affection.”[i] It may be surprising that Paul does not use the word agape or God-like love in describing the love a woman is to have towards her husband. Certainly, there is a need for a woman to display a sacrificial love towards her husband, but the phileo type of love calls for a love and respect that goes with making a house a home. In using the word “brotherly love,” Paul reminds his readers that sometimes a husband needs his wife to come alongside him and be his helper and friend.[ii] There is a time and place for romantic love, but that type of love does not see a marriage or a family through the tough moments that will inevitably come. Raising children and learning to love one’s husband is a difficult challenge, but it can be made sweeter as a woman rests in Christ as her foundation and completely gives herself to love and respect her husband.
2. Be Self-Controlled
An older woman in the faith is to teach younger women in the faith how to live a life of self-control. This command is related to verse 3, when Paul instructs the older women not to “be enslaved to much wine.” How can someone teach self-control if they are not living a life that models self-control? It is also important to note that this term “self-control” has the meaning of sensible or “discreet.”[iii] In America, women are taught and encouraged to be overbearing, independent, and to seek their own way in life. Though there is nothing sinful about a strong woman who is firm in her convictions, a mature woman knows when to balance strength with tact. Paul encourages the older women in the faith to teach and model discretion (self-control) to the younger women in the faith. There are appropriate times to speak and appropriate times to hold one’s tongue. There are appropriate times to act with swiftness on an issue, and there are appropriate times to wait. Younger women need to learn and understand the difference between when and how to act.
The third part of the Titus 2 curriculum is purity, specifically sexual purity. Sexual purity in and outside of the marriage relationship is crucial to the life of a Christian. Sexual purity is more than just ceasing from an unsanctioned physical relationship, but it also involves being pure in one’s thoughts and emotions (Matt 5:27-30). Women are much more likely to fall into emotional affairs before physical affairs. Therefore, a Titus 2 woman must be careful in what she reads, watches on television, looks at on the computer, and what conversations she entertains with friends and co-workers. The world condones and encourages “free love” and free sex, but Christian women must act differently from the rest of the world. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matt 5:8)
4. Workers at Home
Older women are to model the art of homemaking to the younger women. The art of homemaking is a lost art in America. Yet, in recent years, there has been a slow return of younger women into the home. When Paul wrote this letter, the home was the central focus for women, and he was encouraging women to use their homes as a place for hospitality, ministry, and the center for all activity.[iv] Who would not want to be in a home that was inviting? Paul is often characterized as a man who wanted to limit and chain women to the home. But, how would a woman’s life be different if she used her home for ministry? Think of the conversations she could have with a hurting woman as they drank coffee. Think of the influence a mother could have on her children and other children as she made an afternoon snack for them. Think of the decrease in stress in a home when a woman is already there to greet her husband and children as they return home from work or school. God has no desire to limit the educational or creative pursuits of a woman. Instead, God desires for women to not forsake their first priority, the home.
5. To Be Kind
A woman who seeks to be a Titus 2 woman must be kind. Kindness is one of the demonstrations of the fruit of the Spirit laid out in Galatians 5:22-23. Kindness goes deeper than being nice because kindness is a state of the heart and not dependent upon another’s actions. It is difficult to be kind in a harsh world, and older women in the faith need to model kindness to the younger women.
6. Submissive to One’s Husband
The last part of the curriculum is the command to be “submissive.” Biblical submission can only occur between two equals, and it is a voluntary action. In this passage and in other passages, this command does not denote inferiority of women and superiority of men. God desires that the marriage relationship reflect Christ’s relationship with His Bride, the Church (Eph 5:22-33). Older women in the faith are called upon by God to teach and model biblical submission to younger women in the faith.
I cannot end this article without the warning found in Titus 2:5. Older women in the faith are to model and teach the younger women the above curriculum in order that “the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:5b). The Greek word blasphemeo, translated “reviled” in the ESV is transliterated “blasphemy” in English. Blasphemeo is a word that is used to mean “to speak against God so that you cast through or make null and void God’s word and His truths.”[v] God is jealous of His name and His glory (Exod 34:13-14). This is why it is so imperative that Christian women obey the commands to be self-controlled, pure, kind, submissive to their husbands and etc. Disobedience to these commands can confuse non-Christians into assuming that Christianity does not change a person’s heart and behavior, but instead causes them to remain the same or become a worse individual. A woman must also resist the temptation to obey the commands she deems worthy of obedience and then disobey the ones she considers culturally irrelevant.[vi] God’s Word is timeless, and it must be respected and obeyed in its full context.
God is serious about discipleship. Older women in the faith who do not display the listed characteristics are in violation of God’s commands. Younger women are looking to older women to model to them what a godly woman looks like in a godless world. I certainly do not want to be guilty of blaspheming God’s name. And I know you don’t either. Instead, my prayer is that you and I would be obedient to obey the Titus 2 model of discipleship. Ladies, God desires to use each one of us, regardless of our weaknesses, in order to draw women to Himself. Are you willing to take on the challenge of mentoring the next generation for Christ?
[i] Thomas D. Lea and Hayne P. Griffin, Vol. 34, 1, 2, Timothy, Titus, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Bradman and Holman, 1992), 361.
[ii] Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, eds., Women’s Evangelical Commentary: New Testament (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2006), 735.
[iii] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), study on Titus 2:3-5.
[iv] Larson Knute, Vol. 9, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2000), 362.
[v] Patterson and Kelley, Women’s Evangelical Commentary: New Testament, 736.
[vi] George W. Knight, The Pastoral Epistles: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1992), 309-310.