Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:4-5)
Sometimes, I think, we are so quick to react with cultural filters we miss the point of scripture. Obviously, there are those in our society who would see this morning’s verse as a dangerous attempt to put women in an inferior role.
But consider the situation if younger women chose a different way. They would withhold warmth and love from their husbands and children, creating an emotional detachment that would nurture a cold and thoughtless environment at home. Their lives would be undisciplined and prone to indulge in sinful practices, placing their husbands and children at risk. They would treat others spitefully, speak badly of them, and show favoritism toward those who had something they wanted. And in every way they would disrespect their husbands, seeking to undermine their authority at home and embarrass them in public.
As a result, this circumstance would reflect on the name of Christ and the Word of God. How could a family possibly grow healthy in this kind of atmosphere?
We should also back up a bit and remember Paul’s instructions to “Older” women in our last devotion. They were to be, “reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.” Only then could they have the credibility necessary to train younger women.
I personally understand the fear people have when someone starts to mix religion with domestic roles. In our generation we have seen the horrific results of religious fundamentalists who abuse, ridicule and even torture women in the name of God. It is more obvious to me than ever that the honor and opportunity a society affords women is a direct indicator of its progress.
But teaching younger women to love and respect family members, as well as practice the kind of morality that brings respect to God is not narrow fundamentalism. In fact quite the opposite is true. Rightly understood, and in the context of husbands who also practice love and respect, these characteristics make family an awesome force to be reckoned with.
And rather than malign God’s word, a healthy family is attractive.
A last thought on the word “train”: I have noticed we are always being trained by someone to view others and ourselves in a certain way. It seems to me those who train us to love and respect others are more inclined to have our best interests at heart. Those who encourage us to do otherwise are often cultivating a relationship they hope to use for their own purposes.
But that’s just the way it seems to me.
Dear God, teach me how to have healthy relationships. In Jesus’ name, Amen.