Last week we were stopped at a red light and Selah saw a car beside us with one of those magnetic yellow ribbon stickers that says “Support Our Troops.” She asked what it was. So, being the patriotic mom that I am, I started explaining that a troop is a soldier… “What’s a soldier?” If you have kids you know that these question sessions can be endless, so as I dug deeper and deeper into this hole I end up talking about governments, nations, human anger, freedom, war, guns, bombs, death, etc. Ten minutes later, we arrive at this question: “But why would a soldier want to die?” Fortunately for me, we had arrived at our destination and the subject changed: “Why do we have to wear mittens?” “Does God’s mom make Him wear a scarf?” “Why do snow plows make so much noise?” “Why is that snow so dirty?” “Why? WHY? WHY!?”
Well, three-year-olds are not the only ones who want and need to know “why?”. It’s an age-old rhetorical question. As Christians, we ask why all the time when studying Scripture. But when Paul wrote Titus with those seven specific instructions for women to teach younger women (remember?) he also explained why. The reason was simple -- “…that the Word of God may not be dishonored.” (Titus 2:5)
The Greek word for dishonored is blashemetai. It means to “speak of with irreverence, to revile or abuse.” It’s a very strong word from which we derive our English word blaspheme. It is not merely remaining neutral towards God’s Word. It is an affront to His Word when women violate any of this passage. It is an affront to God’s Word when any part of God’s Word is violated.
Having worked in the professional world with many non-Christians, I’ve heard countless arguments against the Titus 2 passage and against God’s design for women in general. Some of them silly. Some, just ignorant. You probably have too. What’s important to see here is that in Titus 2, the Apostle Paul is giving instructions not just to women, but to the church as to how it is to conduct itself. He directs his instructions to older men, older women, younger women, younger men, selecting every category within the church and giving direct and specific intructions to each. Paul was of course speaking directly to Christians in this passage. That’s easy to forget when reading any passage of the Bible. We need to remember to whom the passage is directed.
So when we look at those instructions for women in Titus 2 (having behavior that is holy; teaching younger women to be sober and to love their husbands and children; being discreet; chaste; keepers at home, and obedient to their husands), we have to remember that these are instructions for Christians. This passage is so important to the life of a church, not only for its own internal well-being, but for the sake of its witness. And in verse 5 Paul answers the “Why?” question: “…so that the Word of God may not be dishonored.” He goes on in verse 8: “so that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us…” and verse 10: so that we may adorn the doctrine of God in every resepct. The virtuous woman does not just live out Titus 2, she honors all of Scripture.
Let me try to explain a concept I learned in a class last summer. It’s called the Hermeneutical Spiral. (It’s not as dense as it sounds! Really.) Most of the women in the class were on their way to ordination so the seminary wording is complex, but it pretty much boils down to this. Before any of us open the Bible, we have our own ideas about the world around us. The Bible also has God’s ideas about the world around us. As we read, we see where our ideas are different from those in the Bible and we change ours. Rinse, dry, repeat… or in non-washing machine terms, start the cycle over. Read… compare… change… read… compare… change. With each cycle, your views align a little more closely with those of the Bible. After years of this, you’ll be surprised at the kind of person you’ve become. It’s called maturity. I’m still in the spin-cycle. (Ask Pastor Mark.)
Back to that three-year-old “Why?” syndrome. Selah is maturing. Everyday she asks “Why?” and everday she gets answers. Her knowledge and verbal skills amaze me sometimes. How amazing would it be if Christians matured as quickly? The easiest way to Christian maturity is to honor God’s Word. Ask yourself more “Why’s?”and get into your Bible for the answers. Schedule time every day to read His Word. God still speaks – He speaks through His Word. -
(This article originally appeared in Windows - The monthly church-news & ministry newsletter of Crane Community Chapel.)