Let the Women be Women
Titus 2—God’s design for every generation
At the turn of the century, the world’s most distinguished astronomer was certain there were canals on Mars. Sir Percival Lowell, esteemed for his study of the solar system, had a particular fascination with the red planet. When he heard that another astronomer had seen straight lines crisscrossing the Martian surface, he spent the rest of his years squinting to the eye piece of his giant telescope in Arizona, mapping the channels and canals that he saw. He was convinced the canals were proof of intelligent life on Mars–possibly an older and wiser race than humanity.
Lowell’s observations gained wide acceptance since he was so highly respected. No one ever thought of differing with him or trying to contradict him, because he was the contemporary expert. But what was strange about all his research is, we know today after space probes have orbited and even landed on Mars, that there are no canals on the red planet. Then how could Lowell have seen so much that wasn’t there? The reason was, we know now he suffered from a rare eye disease that made him see the blood vessels in his own eyes. The Martian canals he saw were nothing more than the bulging veins of his own eye balls.
But what Dr. Lowell did a hundred years ago by projecting and seeing his own illness as truth, happens all the time today–especially when one examines the role of women. It seems every group that has a voice today projects their own fallen weakness and proclaims it as truth. The world of high fashion, the women’s movement, the gay/lesbian movement–today’s gender confusion, the secular view of marriage and marriage failure today have made God’s design for women and men more difficult for believers. And this is not on accident.
Some years back now, eminent theologian, contemporary scholar, and sociological expert Cindy Lauper (the orange-headed singer) said in an interview that the three biggest oppressors of women are 1) the government, 2) the family, and 3) the Church. What I find interesting about her statement is unknowingly, Lauper shows whose side she is on by criticizing all three of God’s ordained institutions. As Christians, you must realize the role of women is not merely a cultural, political, sociological or sexist issue–it is a biblical issue. It is God who made male and God who made female. He designed the whole program. He made each sex unique and gave each sex a role to play. He designed them both.
It is essential you see what He has designed for each individual sex–otherwise you might find yourself confused or competing, instead of convinced and complementary. Like the little girl who asked her daddy, “Did God make you, Daddy?” to which he answered, “Yes.” Then looking in a mirror she said, “Did God make me?” He replied, “Of course, dear.” Then after a little thought she said, “God sure seems to be doing better work lately.”
It is not easy to be a single woman who would like to be in a biblical relationship which might lead to marriage to an authentic man in Christ. If she waits, she could be labeled as desperate. If she gets a low-paying, part-time job so she can wait for her man to show up, in two years, when he hasn’t checked in, she will not only be poor, but also hating her job and everyone there. If she pursues a career, it’ll be tough to give it up once she starts having kids.
If she prepares for homemaking by reading all the wife and mother books, she’ll get frustrated. If she seeks to be content with her singleness, it won’t stop her friends from asking her five times a week, “When are you getting married?” If she pursues ministry, she might become so spiritual she’ll intimidate all the men around her, or she’ll be so out of circulation, she’ll never meet anyone.
Add to that dilemma, men often have unrealistic expectations. I read an article titled, “The Ideal Wife Every Man Expects”. According to it, she is . . . “always beautiful and cheerful . . . could have married movie stars, but wanted only you . . . never sick–just allergic to jewelry and expensive clothes . . . insists moving furniture by herself is good for her figure . . . favorite hobbies are mowing the lawn and shoveling snow . . . she hates charge cards . . . thinks you have Einstein’s brains but look like Mr. America . . . and her favorite expression is, ‘What can I do for you, dear?’” Seems reasonable, yes?
But what does he actually get? The article continues, “She speaks 140 words a minute with gusts up to 180 . . . a light eater–as soon as it gets light, she starts eating . . . where there’s smoke, there she is—cooking . . . she lets you know you only have two faults–everything you say and everything you do . . . if you get lost, open your wallet–she’ll find you.”
So what is a woman to do today? For the answer, examine God’s character qualities for women in Titus 2:4 and 5. The book of Titus was written by Paul to Titus after his first imprisonment in Rome. Paul left Titus on the island of Crete to set things in order, and one of the things that Titus was to set in order was to instruct each of the various groups in the Church as to their design and their function. What Paul has done for you at the same time is to describe the essential qualities of a godly woman.
Read verses 4 and 5—speaking to the older women beginning in verse 3, Paul tells Titus, “that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5to be sensible, pure, workers, at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.”
The main issue Titus was dealing with on Crete was, the Christians were having a problem living out their faith. The Cretans had a problem putting their beliefs into behavior. So what Paul describes are seven essential qualities of the young godly woman that are to be a part of her lifestyle. For you single women, these are the qualities you are to begin to live in order to manifest what God has designed for you and to prepare for what is ahead for most of you. And for you single men, this is the woman to look for.
Maritally–she is to love her husband, maternally–she is to love her children, mentally–she is to be sensible, morally–she is to be pure, domestically–she is be a worker at home, socially–she is to be kind, spiritually–she is to be subject to her husband.
#1 MARITALLY, she is to love her husband
When Paul says this to Titus, he knows on Crete there were basically two kinds of marriages–those that were arranged for political reasons, and those that were arranged for the procreation of male offspring. Note–neither had anything to do with love or romance. In light of that culture, even an exhortation to a Christian woman to love her husband was not an easy task. But Paul even takes it a step further.
Not only is the first duty of the Christian woman to love her husband, but her love is to be more than merely a duty or sacrifice. It involves her whole life. The Greek word for loving husbands is not agape, but phileo. This is not the type of love which is totally unselfish giving without expecting any return–not here. The love addressed here is love which cherishes and has a tender affection for another. Phileo is the love of relationship, comradeship, sharing, and friendship.
God’s goal for the young woman is to have a love for her husband that is more than doing all that is required. But the wife is to like, cherish, and be friends with her husband. That wasn’t easy in Titus’s day, and it’s not easy today. How many truly happy couples do you know? What are some ways a young woman can love her future husband now? Be the kind of gal who develops a godly reputation. First Timothy 5:10, widows were to have “a reputation for good works.”
Proverbs 31:31, “Her works praise her in the gates”–she is known. I had heard about my wife before I met her. I heard she was godly, fun, gifted in ministry, super-cute and a servant. Boaz knew about Ruth–be known as one who lives for Christ. Be the kind of gal who has a biblical lens toward young men. I’m not saying play hard to get–but don’t be the gal who falls for the first guy who pays attention to her.
Don’t partner off with a guy you can’t or shouldn’t marry. If he’s not a believer, not sound in doctrine, or not proven–proven is faithfulness to Christ and His Word over time, meaning faithful in ministry, loyal to a local church, accountable to older men, lives a life of Spirit-filled self-control and is a servant. “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” Don’t date a guy just because he has puppy dog eyes, wears a blue jean coat, and has the same name as your favorite childhood toy—Tonka. College gals used to tell me, “He’s gotta be 6’2”, blond hair, and drive a Porsche.” What they ended up with was 5’1”, bald, and drives a scooter. Make certain he’s proven–that is the man who is easy to like as a husband.
Paul reminds Titus to motivate the older women to train the younger wives to like their husbands. What’s not being said is this—what is it about men that requires an older, godly woman to train the younger wife to like them? Don’t believe the lie–the lie of the Christian single is this . . . when you walk down the aisle and say, “I do”, you are automatically/mystically prepared for marriage. That’s a lie. You must get ready now as a single.
Even when married, this verse tells young wives they need discipleship in order to like their husbands. How much more do singles need discipleship now in order to make marriage work later? Build relationships with older, godly saints. Singles–get adopted by a biblically-solid older couple. Start asking questions and taking steps to be prepared.
For you men, the right woman for you is the Christlike woman. God says, “The best wife is the woman of character, not the charmer, nor the natural beauty.” Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Stop looking merely external. She should be attractive to you, but the ultimate woman is the authentic woman of God. And that’s the gal who loves Christ more than you. That’s a woman you can trust and respect. Older women, train the younger to like their husband.
#2 MATERNALLY, she is to love her children
Next to loving her husband, the godly woman must love her kids–which to most future mothers seems easy. How can anyone not like kids? They are so entertaining. My youngest confused the words depravity and deprived–he used to say, “I am so depraved.” And we said, “Yes you are!”
How about little Tommy, who told his teacher every day about his soon-to-be-born younger brother? Then at home, Mom let Tommy feel the baby kicking in her womb. Tommy’s eyes bugged out and his mouth dropped open in surprise. Suddenly, at school Tommy stopped talking about the almost born brother. When the teacher asked him two weeks later what happened to the yet-to-be-born brother, Tommy burst into tears saying, “I think Mommy ate it.” Kids are fun, and grandkids are even better. Yet nothing can be more difficult than loving children.
After all four kids wake in a bad mood, eat all the cookies but one, only talk in a whine, only scream their questions, refuse to eat any meal without complaint, stick the remaining cookie in the DVD, break a window, torture the neighbor’s cat, eat the houseplants, and write on the wall with a permanent sharpie–all before 10am . . . that’s why Paul doesn’t command wives to love their kids, but exhorts young women to be trained by the older women to learn how to love their children.
The root for love is also phileo–this is a love for children that cares, likes, cherishes, and enjoys them. Because raising kids in the 1st century was a mother’s duty by marriage arrangement, children were often a burden, since they meant busier lives, and more mouths to feed. In Roman society, people often lacked natural affection. Weak, deformed or female offspring (other than a firstborn female) were often killed, rather than cared for.
Our circumstances are similar, with the sin of abortion and a society which views the function of a mother as second best to a career–pushing kids away in daycare. Yet according to God’s Word, being a fulltime mother is the highest privilege and a mother’s greatest potential influence for the kingdom of God. First Timothy 2:15 illustrates a mother’s importance. After discussing the design of women in public worship, Paul says, “But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”
Paul says a woman’s greatest impact for the kingdom of God will be her influence on the lives of children. That’s why Paul tells Timothy motherhood would be her salvation/saved or preserved. Her role is to impact the Kingdom from the bottom up–through children. Why is it that when on camera, a football player says, “Hi, Mom!”? Because Mom has shaped him. Learn now how to be a mom, through the discipleship of an older, godly woman, and through your discipleship of other believers.
It’s important you understand that parenting is discipleship–an intentional relationship for the purpose of coming to Christ and becoming like Christ in the context of the Church. How do you know someone you’re interested in will be a great parent? Are they discipled and do they disciple others now? Discipling is parenting. Learn now to disciple others—now. The next goal of women is to be . . .
#3 MENTALLY, she is sensible
That means God expects a young woman to be in her right mind–she isn’t one French fry short of a Happy Meal. Her mental stability is never questioned. Sensibility means she rarely panics or loses control over her emotions. Sensibility means the woman exercises common sense, using her mind to make biblical decisions. Basically, to be sensible means she is a thinking woman.
The quality of sensibility is the most repeated quality in the book of Titus. Turn to Titus 1:12 to 14. Not only was the Christian community on Crete not living out their doctrine, but the entire Cretan society battled with living sensible. “One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ 13This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.”
The “Cretans are always liars,” meaning they exercise no control over their speech. They are “evil beasts”, meaning they manifest wild and insensible behavior. And they are “lazy gluttons”–literally lazy bellies, having no control over their appetites nor desires. They “pay attention to myths”–tickling their ears with men’s opinions, instead of spiritually directing their lives by obediently following the Word of God. Just like our society teaches, it can’t be wrong because it feels so right–let it all loose tonight, just do it, think different, try it you’ll like it, I’m loving it. Our culture is weak on sensible living.
That’s why Paul makes sensibility his number one character quality when he writes to Titus. In the letter to Titus, Paul reminds him that elders are to be sensible, older men, then older women implied, younger men and younger women on Crete are all to develop and exercise sensibility. Sensibility is essential. The sensible women will learn to discipline her thinking over her feelings. Philippians 4:8, “Brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” The sensible discipline their thoughts.
A sensible believer practices biblical stewardship with their money—budgeting, not abusing credit cards, controlling their spending, and avoiding debt. Sensible couples are careful what promises they make, what gifts they give and how much time they spend together. You don’t talk marriage on the third date. You don’t give her a diamond just cause she’s nice. You don’t say, “I love you,” unless you’re ready to back it up. You don’t spend more time together than a married couple. Use your mind–learn to live sensibly from older saints.
#4 MORALLY, she is pure
Pure in Titus literally means to be chaste, or sexually pure. For the first century wife, Christianity brought freedom. A believing woman was no longer a slave locked up in her house, but she was free to minister from house to house. But along with freedom, she was expected to live pure. That was a problem on Crete and a problem today. Don’t misread purity–for the believer, purity is not accomplished first by what you don’t do, but first, by keeping your heart focused on Christ.
Anticipating His soon return, 1 John 3:2 and 3 says, “We shall see Him just as He is. 3And every one who has this hope fixed upon Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Purity starts by remaining intimate with the only pure one. Purity is not first developed by keeping external rules, but purity starts within–your inner person. Jesus said in Matthew 5:27 and 28, “You have heard it said , ‘You shall not commit adultery’; 28but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
According to Christ, purity is an inner attitude that issues forth in holy behavior. So the issue with purity is not how far you can physically go before you sin, but how intimate you are with Christ and how disciplined you are with your internal thoughts and desires. And finally, purity is also maintained by sensible fleeing. Second Timothy 2:22, “Flee from youthful lusts.” First Corinthians 6:18, “Flee immorality.” Strong, young desires demand some running away. A biblical response to intense drives is to get away. How do you do that? How do you flee? All P’s . . .
1. Flee by Preparing for situations
Like Joseph, the believer is prepared to escape a tempting situation in advance. No one is above strong desire, so determine what you will do now.
2. Flee by Planning your environment
Stay public, stay in the light, stay active, don’t stay up late, don’t go to the beach to watch the submarine races at night.
3. Flee by Picking your people
First Corinthians 15:33 says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Don’t go out with a flirt. The only people who flirt in the Bible are harlots. Don’t bind yourself to anyone who will corrupt your character or purity.
4. Flee by Pondering your appearance
Clothing choices make statements–what are you saying and what is the potential message received? Ask the older, godly women about modesty.
5. Flee by Pouncing on your thoughts
Turning from evil thoughts and concentrating on healthy thoughts—again. Philippians 4:8 “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
6. Flee by Paralyzing your glances
Like Job 31:1, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?” Make a covenant with your eyes not to look long at anyone or look lustfully at anything–don’t take the second look. Turn away–change the mental channel.
#5 DOMESTICALLY, be a worker at home
The Bible is clear. The Greek word for “worker at home” gets its meaning from two words–to work and at home. First Timothy 5:14 contains the same idea. Paul says, “I want the younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.” The Greek word for “keep” is despot–they’re to keep house or work at home.
God’s truth is an offense to today’s culture. If you are in any way a feminist, this will step on your air hose. The world pictures the “worker at home” as a less than best option–a confining of potential, a boring and frustrating choice, a decision made only by the less intelligent. God pictures the “worker at home” as a woman’s busiest and best priority, where she fills out her commitment to be a godly wife and mother.
With all her new freedom as a born-again believer, the New Testament woman was not to go about from house to house being a busy body or remaining at home lazy. She is to work when at home and do her work at home. Paul is telling Titus–the young wife’s goal is to make her home a place of contentment, intelligence, and peace. She is to manage the affairs of her household in such a way that her husband and children are blessed in countless ways. Her work of housekeeping, picking up, cleaning, budgeting, hospitality, shopping, cooking, washing, investing, nursing, chauffeuring, helping the poor and caring for her family are viewed by God as spiritual ministry.
In her lifetime, the average housewife will spend 99.6 hours a week working around the house. In her life, she will cook 35,000 meals, make between 10- and 40,000 beds, vacuum a rug a mile long and a tenth of a mile wide, and she will clean 7,000 plumbing fixtures–all spiritual work. Why? Because she is a “worker at home”, keeping her home a place where Christ is honored and proclaimed.
So get ready now by cleaning your dorm room . . . organize your desk . . . clean out your car so you can see the floormats . . . and arrange your trunk. Cultivate the skills of managing a home now through godly examples and older woman discipleship. Clarify your life direction. As a single woman, God commands you in 1 Corinthians 7:35, “Secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” Drink up this time for His glory–minister unhindered by family, get an education, even work in a career by God’s strength. But (if you are not a celibate) prepare for marriage, motherhood, and running a household now—be a “worker at home”.
#6 SOCIALLY, she is to be kind
A godly young woman is not only Christlike in character, but she pursues doing good deeds motivated by mercy and grace for her family, the saints and the ain’ts. Like Dorcas in Acts 9, the “kind” woman is to be known for all the gifts she has given away to the needy. This was a major weakness on Crete–believers were not living out their faith, so six times in this small 3-chapter letter, Paul charges Titus to pursue good deeds. Look at them.
The false believers in 1:16, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him.” In 2:7, “In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds.” In 2:14, “Zealous for good deeds.” Then 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds.” And 3:8, “Those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds.” Finally 3:14, “Let our people also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs.”
Since our Lord is kind, His followers are to be kind. The only way I drink coffee is if I can destroy the taste. My wife, on the other hand, is a coffee snob. So here we are at the airport at 5am last week–we haven’t slept and she is buying a cup o’ drugs so three or four brain cells will work. A wiped-out stewardess off an all-nighter flight is just ahead of her, trying to buy her cup of Christian cocktail, when the barista says, “Cash only”–but the stewardess doesn’t have a dime. My gift of giving bride uses her last $5 and immediately pays for her cup of liquid life–why? Because she’s kind (a fellow addict).
Young godly women are to be kind–filled with good deeds motivated by mercy and grace. Actions that put Christ on display–kindness strengthens marriage, parenting and witnessing.
#7 SPIRITUALLY, she is subject to her husband
Paul adds, “So that the word of God may not be dishonored.” The world hears subjection and shouts, “Doormat!” But the Word says, “No, subjection,” and shouts, “Dishonor.” The world views being subject as hateful, and the Word views being subject as holy. Verse 5, “being subject to their own husbands”–a young wife literally ranks herself under, like a private does for his sergeant. Not to every man, but her own husband–so that God’s Word, and the Lord’s reputation, are not injured, slandered or insulted. How could he be insulted?
Christ designed men and women–Christ created marriage, and in it Christ designed authority and submission. Why? Not because of culture, nor primarily the created order, but because it reflects His nature. The triune God consists of three equal persons–each person unique, yet also one. And after the incarnation, Christ submitted to the Father.
Marriage is made up of a man and woman who are one, yet each person is unique. And in God’s design, reflecting His character, the wife submits to her own husband. As Paul confronts women who’re not functioning by God’s design in Corinth, he begins by making this statement in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”
Just like the authority submission of the godhead, so God’s design for husbands and wives is to reflect the Trinity. Submission does not mean men are better or smarter. But like a great play with two actors–both equal, but one in a supporting role. Or a doubles tennis team–each with a side of the court to defend. A pilot and co-pilot, each with specific responsibilities. God is the one who designed authority and submission—then for a wife not to put herself under her husband’s authority is to attack the character and wisdom of God. When a woman submits, she is actively expressing trust in God and in her husband. She is laying out an expectation for him to fill out his role and actually priming the pump for him to be the leader he needs to be.
What about the men? Their design is equally difficult. Young men must become responsible. Young men must reject passivity and follow God’s Word. Young men must lead courageously. Young men must live for God’s approval and not man’s. They have a tough job–what is it? Both men and women must be born again, filled with the Spirit, walking according to the Scripture and denying self in order to live out God’s design–you can’t do it in your own strength.
Ladies, will you live by the Word or by the world? Are you delighting in God’s design or disliking God’s design? Are you pursuing God’s will or pursuing your will? You’ll have to paddle against the riptide of this world in order to thrive living by His Word. Don’t wait–pursue discipleship with an older, godly woman. Or for guys, an older, godly man at church–get discipled, ask questions, practice skills now. Godliness in marriage does not magically occur at, “I do.”
Marriage does not have to be a three-ring circus–it starts with the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, and ends up with the suffer-ring. God’s design for you is designed for His glory, your good, and your joy. Let’s pray.