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).
Those of you who are around me anytime at all realize my love for the country of Trinidad & Tobago. My heart aches especially for the pastors down there who have very little training on how to minister to their people and what training they do have comes from some very problematic sources.
What I noticed at the church at Mt. Beulah where we ministered previously was a row of elderly women who sat in very special seats up front. At first, I just thought it was how they were arranged, but then I noticed that for each of those women, Roddie Taylor addressed them as “Mother.” “Mother Jones, Mother Taylor, etc.” At the church in Siparia, these women sat in more prominent seats: right up next to the stairs. These women were the seasoned saints of the church who had poured their lives into that church for decades. They held a place of honor and influence for the things of God.
Although it’s been 18 months since I’ve been there, this fact ran across my mind given that Mother’s Day was approaching. I confess that I really debated on what to preach. While many may look on this day with much affection, for some this day is more difficult that one could realize for many different reasons.
I would like to use this day as an opportunity to address another difficulty that many churches deal with: what role do women play in the church? In a country where women have only been able to vote only since 1920, in a country where many TV shows from the 1950s and 1960s portrayed women as bubbleheaded ditzes, in a culture where the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s moved the long-established cultural lines of role of men and women— the churches came along and reacted one of two ways. One way was to go along with the culture and move the lines of the role of genders where the culture did. Another way was to overreact and move the lines even further than what was before. As a result, whether the churches were liberal or fundamentalist, the lines were ones that suited them but weren’t necessarily what the Bible spoke on.
This is Mother’s Day and we had the blessed opportunity to honor the mothers who were present. I will be honest: every year I debate as to whether to preach a Mother’s Day sermon, for various reasons.
- Some are struggling with conceiving. They have tried for months, even years, to have a child but for various reasons they cannot. Like many in the Scriptures (Sarah, Hannah, etc.) who could not conceive right away, they felt the societal stigma directed toward them. Barrenness had to do with sinfulness and judgment—which was not the case with either of them.
- Some have lost children along the way, leaving this day as a painful reminder.
- Some have wayward children, leaving one struggling with inadequacy and failure—the parents blame themselves for their child’s disobedience as evidence of their failure as parents.
My desire is that every single woman in this church would be a Titus 2 Woman. A Titus 2 Woman embraces the role God has established that complements other areas of life and ministry in the church. Also, a Titus 2 Woman takes time to invest not just in its own generation but in the generations that have gone before as well as the ones coming up. A Titus 2 Woman is not ashamed of God nor His Word. So let’s see what God has in store for us this morning.
1. A Titus 2 woman is an example of spiritual maturity.
Look at Titus 2:3. “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.” Titus was a young pastor who followed Paul as a disciple for a good while before ministering on the island of Crete. Titus oversaw a number of churches and sought to model the Lord’s teaching through Paul. Titus worked on two fronts: staving off the false teachers on one front, and stabilizing the immaturity of the faithful on another front.
But also the fact that Paul is even addressing women was quite contrary to that culture. Women were not highly esteemed. Older women and widows were virtually ignored and neglected. Yet here, Paul addresses them. That in itself was significant to many, but not to Paul. In Galatians 3:28, Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul understood from Christ that there was an equality of souls that could go before the Lord. There was an understanding even from Genesis 1:26-27 and God made both “male and female” in his image.
So Paul comes along and encourages the older women in the assembly to be “reverent.” The word used here in the Greek only occurs here out of the entire New Testament and deals with a notion of being priestlike and being a person of holiness. This ties in with 1 Peter 3:4 which says, “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).
Paul brings this up because older women, especially widows, who for the most part have more time on their hands due to retirement, children being away from home, etc., have certain temptation that may come along to fill the time. He notes that women should not be “slanderers.” This word in the English comes from the Greek diabolous which is where we get the word ‘diablo’ or Devil. The Devil is a slanderer and an accuser, specifically to the saints of God (Revelation 12). The temptation is to look at the world or even the church and spend time lamenting how different it is, how bad it is, how awful so-and-so is. When driving by Lexington Baptist Temple the other day, I saw a sign on their marquee saying, “Beware: if someone is gossiping to you about someone else, then they are also gossiping to someone else about you.”
Paul also warns for older women not to be “slaves to much wine.” Why would this be a temptation? Simply put, to dull and take the edge off the pain. Most of the older women were widows, and even with the best of memories from the past, loneliness can be the most painful thing a person can endure. Also, many older women (and men) struggle with physical issues that cause great physical pain and the temptation is to drink “much wine” for medicinal purposes. The Apostle Paul advised young Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach issues (likely due to the pressure of pastoring a church).
What is the point here? Paul is lovingly admonishing the seasoned saints who have more time on their hands due to retirement, maybe loss of spouse and the empty nest syndrome to use that constructively building up rather than being destructive in tearing down. So how should the women use their time? Let’s look:
2. A Titus 2 woman trains younger women in three areas:
In Titus 2:4-5a, Paul advices Titus to challenge the older women to “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.” So Paul here gives not only a challenge to the older women but also to the young women as well. Another word for ‘train’ is the word ‘disciple.’ A Titus 2 Woman has a decidedly crucial role in discipleship in the local church. This is not a program, per se. This is a lifestyle use of time to help the next generation of women be, well, women. Why is this important? Because there is a confusion of roles in our day — some understandable, some not.
For instance, over half the homes in the United States with children have single parents, usually single mothers. In that case, moms not only have to be moms but dads as well. But even if both are present, when one person in the home abdicates their God-ordained role and function in the home, others have to compensate and disharmony ensues.
Older women are to come along and train the younger women, first, on how to have a godly marriage. Paul addresses two areas dealing with the husband-wife relationship. They are to “love their husbands … and be submissive to their own husbands.” First, let’s look at the love. He is not talking about what Gary Chapman of the Five Love Languages calls the tingles. You remember: you meet your potential spouse, feel the warm fuzzies and the tingles, and have those overwhelming feelings of where you can’t be without them. You get married. Then after two years or so, the tingles go away. Sadly, many believe that they do not love the other person because the tingles are gone. They miss an important aspect.
The word love here comes from the word philandros with the root word philo that is a friendship type of love, as opposed to the emotional sexual type of love depicted by the word eros which is where we get the word ‘erotic.’ See, some believe the marriage is over when that’s all there is. But in many ways this is when it’s just beginning. This type of love is a love of the will — a conscious decision and commitment not only to your husband but also to God who brought you both together. In this way, they are to stay “pure,” morally, biblically, and sexually.
What about the submissive part? Again, don’t let the culture tell you that this means that men are to walk all over you. For one, this is not saying women should submit to all men, just their own husbands. Secondly, while this may seem as if it gives men a blank check to treat their wives however, remember men that God called you to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:24). Women will not mind submitting to a husband that sees himself as a fellow servant fulfilling his role. This is what Paul means in that the young women are to be kind — why? — because they are driven by the Gospel. Ephes. 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
How to be a godly mother. One of the saddest articles I read was one by Linda Hirschman of Chicago. She had written a book urging mothers to go full-bore into the work force, especially those who had college education. Why? Because staying at home with the children deprives our society of their skill sets. While situations and circumstances may take women into the workplace, may it not be because of that. May it not be because you feel as if you are less of a woman and less of a contribution to society if you stay home. If that’s the case, someone forgot to send God a memo.
Paul tells the older women to train the younger women to “love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, and kind.” As un-P.C. as this sounds, God has wired the women to be the nurturers. And children see this, gravitating to their moms in a special way. What is Paul saying: he is saying to give children a sacrificial love that cannot be denied. Some couples want to keep their lives just the same even when they have children. But it just doesn’t work that way. Children bring about sacrifice. The husband and wife come together as mom and dad. What’s the goal?
How to be a godly model of the faith. The goal is to model, to live, and to train the upcoming generation (as the older women should be training you) in the very same things — especially in how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and how to live out the Gospel in every aspect of your life. Let’s flesh this out a bit more.
3. A Titus 2 woman is one who exalts the majesty of God and His Word.
Every person on the planet struggles with direction. Will we follow our own direction, someone else’s, or the direction God has for us as outlined in His Word. A Titus 2 woman has no qualms about following God’s commands, even if the world considers those demands repressive, oppressive or outdated.
A Titus 2 woman (like every other Christian) submits to the role that God has for her gladly. We must remember that while there is no difference in our souls, there is a difference in our roles in the Kingdom of God. God has wired us to function within the boundaries he has laid out for us, established even in the order of creation with the husband serves as the spiritual authority (as mentioned last time), so it is that a male leadership is in place in the household of faith. We have specific functions within that framework.
In 1 Timothy 2:7-12, Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote:
For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle ( I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.  I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;  likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire,  but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.  Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
Is there controversy over this text? Absolutely. It is good for us to look at what this passage is and is not saying:
This passage is saying that women should be known for their godliness, not their goldliness.
This passage is not saying that women should avoid all sorts of make-up, jewelry, the fixing of the hair, etc.
Sadly, many women want to use their appearance to draw attention to themselves. In the process, they may be unaware of how much of a stumbling block they may be to others, especially men. “What is proper for women who profess godliness” is that their “good works” draw attention to the glory of God and His kingdom, not to the glory of their looks.
This passage is saying that the created order applies to the household of God in regards to men being the governing spiritual authority.
This passage is not saying that women are second class citizens nor are they to obey men in every segment of society.
Ligon Duncan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, insightfully observes that while in our day this may sound condescending and constraining, “to the recipients of this letter it was an innovative invitation to learn.” Women came from a background in which they were considered second-class citizens who could not be entrusted with the Word of God.
They were to learn quietly, causing no disturbance in their newly given freedom to learn the Word of God. They were to model (as were all Christians) as 1 Peter 3:4 says regarding this very topic: “[L]et your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Kent Hughes rightly notes:
It must be noted that these instructions have nothing directly to say about teaching and authority in the marketplace or the academy or the public square. They are about order in the church. Neither do these directives allow any man within the church, by virtue of his gender, to exercise authority over women in the church. Such more generally explicit authority only exists within the sacred covenant of marriage and family, and then it is only to be exercised with the self-giving spirit of Christ.
So women are not simply to submit to men in general. They are (like everyone) to, as Hebrews 13:17 says:
17Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
As in our personal households, there is a model of male headship in the household of God because God created it in this model.
Those who object to these conclusions bring up 1 Corinthians 14:33b-35:
As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
Those who claim that this is merely contextual must notice that Paul says, “As in all the churches of the saints… .” This is not merely for the Corinthian church.
Secondly, the context of this passage is necessary to understand. Paul here is discussing prophecy. Prior to the New Testament’s canon closing, God would give revelation of His Word to leaders in the church who would then report (prophesy) what God revealed. At that point, having a women be in that type of authoritative position would fall outside the parameters of God ordaining men as the spiritual head under Christ’s headship. It is in this aspect, that women are to remain quiet.
John S. Hammett concedes:
It is difficult to match Paul’s understanding of teaching and exercising authority to contemporary situations. Does a female teacher of youth violate it? How about a female associate pastor, choir director, or seminary professor? These are difficult questions, for which Scripture gives no explicit answer. Perhaps the best approach is to consider the popular perception of the position: is it seen as involving an authoritative position of teaching and leading men?
So the ultimate point is, in the framework of ecclesiastical government and leadership in the church, women may serve in a myriad of functions and contribute greatly (in fact, many churches’ doors would have closed long ago had it not been for the contributions of the women), God has clearly spoken in regards to authority: as with the created order in the home, so in the household of God, that men are the ones to serve in the teaching, preaching, and governing capacity.
In our time together, we have brought to bear the biblical principles regarding being a Titus 2 woman. In this, we have seen her as a spiritually mature discipler, submissive to the Word of God, willing to come alongside other women to disciple and to be discipled. There is no sense of a consumer-oriented understanding governing this woman (“What does this church/person have to offer for me?”), but a servant-oriented follower of Christ (“What can I do to advance the Kingdom of God under the glorious boundaries of the Word of God?”).
May God grant us a vision to develop and equip Titus 2 women.
Matthew Perry serves as pastor of Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky, where he has served since September 2003. You may access his church’s website at http://www.boonescreekchurch.com or his blog at http://www.grippedbythegospel.com which serves as the launching point of his Gripped By The Gospel Ministries. He would enjoy hearing from you, so send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This sermon was preached on Sunday, May 11, 2008 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, for our Mother’s Day Service.
John MacArthur. Titus. p. 77.
J. Ligon Duncan, III, and Susan Hunt, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 72.
R. Kent Hughes and Bryan Chappell, 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (Wheaton: IL, Crossway Books, 2000), 69; quoted in J. Ligon Duncan, III, and Susan Hunt, Women’s Ministry in the Local Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 74.
Theology for the Church, ed. Daniel Akin (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2007), 359.