The Feminist Movement in America, which began in the 1960s, opened the floodgate for a deluge of women who, for the first time in history, began working outside of the home by choice and not just out of necessity. Women were told working in businesses of all varieties showed liberation from the constraints of an archaic, patriarchal society. A generation of liberated and empowered women went to work, dropping their children off at daycare on their way to the office.
A generation later, those children are having children of their own. Like every other generation of parents before them, they are passionately dedicated to giving their children all the things they did not have as children. The only difference is that the children of the 1970s and 80s, the ones that had every material possession available to them, are determined to give their children the stable and nurturing environment that they often did not experience themselves.
Today more mothers are opting for fewer toys and gadgets and smaller budgets in exchange for staying home and being full-time wives and mothers. But as more women choose to make their families their primary focus, a new problem has emerged; they have no idea how to be homemakers. As children they were raised by day care workers and fed by McDonald\’s. Many young wives and mothers are facing the daunting task of on-the-job training for the most demanding full-time job that exists: motherhood. Many feel they are on their own and must learn the job through the exhausting and often overwhelming task of trial and error. While the cultural pendulum (at least in the church) seems to be swinging away from the extreme of the Women\’s Liberation Movement and back towards a more balanced and conservative view of womanhood, the prevailing attitudes of the movement are still very present. Behaviors have changed as more women are choosing to stay home, but the hearts of many are still stained with the \”I can do it myself\” attitude of a generation ago. At best, this attitude can lead to a stressful and lonely existence for mother and children as these women set out to prove that they are more than capable of doing this job of mothering on their own. But at its worst, this prideful isolationism can lead to a spiral of depression and despair for the woman who feels she is simply unable to be the perfect wife and mother she believed she should be.
While the results of the last forty years of history and culture can be complicated and even devastating, the solution to the problem has been laid out in a clear and simple manner in Scripture. Author Lucy Mabery-Foster goes so far as to say, \” Many marital problems would be avoided if godly older women fulfill the biblical mandate of Titus 2:4-5. … Many of the problems our society faces today are the direct result of our failure to fulfill this divine mandate –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>.\”
The first concept all people must grasp is that, contrary to the message of today\’s society, humans simply were not created to be able to live this life independent of all counsel and assistance. From the moment that God created Adam, humanity has required help. Author Paul David Tripp aptly describes humanity\’s need for assistance in his book Instruments in the Redeemer\’s Hands:
Immediately after creating Adam and Eve, God talks to them…God knew that even though Adam and Eve were perfect people living in perfect relationship with him, they could not figure out life on their own. They were created to be dependent. God had to explain who they were and what they were to do with their lives. They did not need this help because they were sinners. They needed this help because they were human… Our culture tends to think that we need help because of something we did or something that was done to us—the result of bad biology or bad personal chemistry. But Genesis 1 confronts us with the fact that our need for help preceded sin. We were created to be dependent. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
God created humanity with the need to be taught. Contrary to what some people think and what many television shows and movies portray, no one was simply born knowing how to be a successful person, regardless of how success is defined. This basic concept must be grasped before anyone can be taught anything. God in His sovereignty did not give simply one example of His teaching humanity in the Bible. On the contrary, the Bible is full of instructions, examples, and guidelines for how people are to submit to the teachings of God. Christians are also instructed to submit to the teachings of the men and women God places in authority to carry on the teachings of successful, godly living. \”In 2 Timothy 2:2 we see the potential for four generations\’ worth of impact by [teaching] the Word of God: \’and what you (Timothy) heard me (Paul) say in the presence of many others as witnesses entrust to faithful people (third generation) who will be competent to teach others (fourth generation) as well.\’ –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\”
The simple fact is that even in matters of the household, the modern culture is in direct opposition to the words of Scripture. While society is now telling beleaguered mothers to get away from their families and focus on themselves, Scripture tells women to learn how to run a household in a godly and efficient manner. How are women to learn how to do this?
According to Titus chapter two, women are to learn from those experienced in the work required to run a household and maintain a godly character; mature women. \”As women, we draw strength from others who have survived tough times. We benefit from those who have walked longer with the Lord… We need to see how life has been handled by others who can be examples for us to follow. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\”
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 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 2:3-5, NIV
Paul wrote this passage to Titus, a fellow missionary, whom Paul had left on the island of Crete to \”straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” In the instructions given to Titus, Paul sets up a system of teaching, which is to be implemented in the churches on Crete. Titus is instructed to appoint elders to \”encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” They are also to rebuke sharply those whose minds and consciences are corrupt. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
Paul then gives Titus specific instructions about what he is to teach the congregations: sound doctrine. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> While Titus is to teach the people sound doctrine, Paul gives the older, more mature Christians in the congregations the responsibility of teaching the next generation of believers how to live their daily lives in a manner that exhibits the fruits of an active life in Christ. Paul gives the character qualities of those whom he sees as being qualified for carrying out such a huge responsibility. Titus is instructed to both teach the older men and to encourage the young men, –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> but he instructs Titus to gather the older women and instruct them to teach the younger women. Paul understands that \”an older woman will be able to expand upon a pastor\’s input, applying God\’s truth in a way unique to younger women. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” Author Kelley Mathews continues to explain this system further:
Who\’s going to model godly marriages if not those who have been doing it for a while? What does it mean to be kind, to work diligently at home? How do we love our husbands better? Our children?… God knew that only women who have been there can speak with authority to those coming behind. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
So if it is the older, more mature women who are to teach the younger women, what qualifies a woman as being older or more mature? Most will agree there are two areas that qualify a woman as being more mature: More mature in age and more mature in faith. Age is important simply because more life experience grants a woman more authority in many given subjects. It would be highly unusual to see a sixteen-year-old girl leading a Bible study on being a godly wife simply because she would not be equipped to teach women how to do something she herself has never done. Logically, a young mother would want to seek out a mother of middle schoolers to ask advice on raising children through the elementary school years. A mom with kids in high school will want to find a woman who may be a recent empty nester to find out how to prepare for such life transitions. Advice often comes best from the mouth of experience, and many experiences can only occur with passing age.
Age is the indicator for practical advice, but often spiritual advice can come from someone who is older in her faith. A twenty-one-year-old woman who has been walking with the Lord most of her life may have some deep spiritual insights and devotional tips for a new Christian who is in her forties. Regardless of age, however, Paul points out several characteristics that should be present in the life of a woman who desires to be a mentor in the lives of other women. The ability to be a mentor \”does not come with educational degrees, age, or other accomplishments. Instead, you are qualified in your heart. Christ qualifies you… Serving as an effective mentor does mean you are open to Christ, learning and growing, and actively pursuing your own wholeness. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\”
The first guideline Paul gives is a foundational point for any Christian: a woman seeking to mentor others should live her life in a reverent manner. In her book The Titus 2 Woman, Martha Peace describes a reverent life in the following manner:
The Greek word for reverent is hieroprepeis…. Heirps means sacred or services. Prepei means proper, to be fitting. Behavior is the word katastema meaning demeanor or behavior or deportment. In other words, you behave in a proper manner…. Matthew Henry described this type of woman as one whose \”behavior becomes a woman consecrated to God.\”… She should be outwardly different from the world and holy within. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
The woman desiring to have a godly influence in the lives of other women should simply be living her life in a manner that speaks Christ to all who are in contact with her. This is mainly accomplished, according to Mrs. Peace, in three key areas of a woman\’s life: in her dress and attitude, in her actions, and in her words.
In his writings, Paul has much to say to women concerning their behavior, dress, and interaction with others. God has told His people that \”man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” This directly correlates to Peter\’s directions concerning how godly women should appear: \”And let not your adornment be merely external… but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” Peter is essentially telling women that it is more important to have a spirit that is beautiful in the eyes of the Lord than to have a beautiful appearance and nothing more. \”Her true beauty comes from what is on the inside—a \’gentle and quiet spirit.\’ This kind of gentleness is meekness. …In addition to a gentle heart, she has a quiet spirit; one that is peaceable and tranquil. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\”
Mrs. Peace continues giving practical advice for applying this Scripture to life by describing for the reader the qualities of a woman who acts in a reverent manner.
She shows love to others by remembering that \”love is not rude\” (1 Corinthians 13:5). She has good manners…. She is not loud and obnoxious and rolling over people like a steam roller. Plainly put, she behaves herself. She is a proper lady at home and in public. … [W]omen who are actually reverent in their behavior enjoy life. They laugh and speak loudly enough for others to hear. They do not have a false idea of spirituality. They have fun and love the Lord. They want to make others feel comfortable. They show love to others by acting properly as they rejoice in every day that the Lord has made. Their dress, attitude, and behavior are pleasing to the Lord. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
After discussing an older woman\’s reverent attitude, Paul lists two behaviors that specifically indicate the spiritual health of a person: They are not to be slanderers, nor are they to be \”addicted to much wine. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” The Women\’s Evangelical Commentary states that in the Greek, \”slanderer\” is diabolous, or \”devils.\” \”This word is a compound form with dia, a preposition meaning \’through or by means of,\’ and ballo, a verb meaning \’to throw.\’… Spiritually mature women who are going to be leaders must not cast through or gossip. Their words are to be encouraging and uplifting and instructive. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” In addition, Susan Hunt has pointed out that, concerning the speech of women, \”A critical and complaining spirit is devastating on those who come under its effect. A reverent inner-life will enable a woman to \’speak with wisdom, and faithful instruction… on her tongue\’ (Proverbs 31:26). –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\”
Not surprisingly, Jesus had similar instructions for those who would listen to his teachings: \”The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” The condition of a woman\’s heart will greatly affect her ability to minister to those around her. Paul recognized this and instructed Titus to teach the existing members of the church the doctrine of Christ that would create an inner change. Titus was then instructed to ask those people to teach younger Christians how to behave in a manner that showed the world the impact Christ had on their souls. While actions can speak louder than words, often the words a woman speaks offer a window to her soul\’s true intentions. The ideal mentor is one whose actions, attitudes, and speech all coincide with a life described in Scripture as being fruitful. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
The final qualification Paul gives for a woman who desires to be a mentor is to not be addicted to \”much wine.\” Matthew Henry says, \”The word denotes such addictedness thereto as to be under the power and mastery of it. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” The Cretan people were well known for their drunken reputation, so for Paul to mention this stronghold specifically would make sense in the context of his audience. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> While this was an issue of direct concern for the churches in Crete, the concept can be transferred to any behavior that can become a powerful and addictive force in the life of a woman. \”Addiction is enslavement. We must be free from habitual, compulsive behavior in order to live disciplined lives for God\’s glory. Self-control, as opposed to self-indulgence, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” To say that Paul is only speaking of addiction to alcohol would be a rather limited instruction for women today, but Martha Peace addresses this by pointing out:
Many of you are probably not plagued by drunkenness. However, there is a secondary application. You can be enslaved to other things such as television, food, romance novels or prescription drugs. Just because something may be \”lawful\” such as prescription drugs does not mean it is profitable…Being mastered by anything other than the Lord Jesus Christ is a serious sin…. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
To be a godly woman and a qualified mentor, Peace goes on to give this timely advice: \”Instead of pursuing wine or food, use that same energy to think about God—His goodness, mercy, and holiness. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\”
The need for spiritual mothering has rarely been more obvious than it is in the church today. Thankfully, God used the negative situation in Crete as a blueprint for future believers concerning how to deal with a culture fraught with sin and ungodliness. A look at the beginning of Titus gives a description of Crete that sounds very familiar to the situation facing the church today. Paul describes the Cretans as being \”rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” \”liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons, –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” and \”detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” Paul desired these believers to live lives contrary to the reputation of Crete, so he gave a standard for the women who would help other women strive toward godliness. God used Paul to deliver a message specifically to the women under Titus\’s authority, a message that is repeated and reinforced throughout Scripture; the heavenly Father expects his children to live out their faith as a walking testimony of their belief in him. \”Women who want to be teachers and mentors of other women are to be held to the highest standards.\” –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Like their male counterparts, the lives of women in positions of leadership are to be lived as an example of how a godly life should look.
Through the remainder of his instructions regarding the teaching of women, Paul gives an outline that these mature women should teach the younger women. A woman who is teaching other women how to successfully live and work in the home will not be accepted as a respected teacher if her own home life is in disarray. If these women are teaching these concepts, they should also be exhibiting them in their own lives.
Paul says these women are to \”teach what is good. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>\” There is a great difference between actively doing good and simply avoiding evil. Paul encourages the women of the Cretan church not just to teach a list of behaviors to avoid, but he challenges them to go a step further and actually pursue what is good. According to the Women\’s Evangelical Commentary, the word Paul uses to explain what they are to teach is used only in this one instance in the New Testament and other ancient Greek manuscripts. –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
Perhaps Paul coined this word to describe a unique method of teaching, which would combine both example (character) and behavior (lifestyle). Actually, the apostle showed a prophetic edge as he offered a timely word for subsequent generations. How can you warn against evil effectively when the pattern for what is good and godly has been lost? –>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–>
This question can still be asked today. To expect people to act in a \”good and godly\” way when they have not been taught what a good and godly lifestyle encompasses is difficult. Often people come into a church knowing what specific behaviors in their lives are ungodly, but they are never taught godly behaviors which can replace those ungodly ones. It has been proven countless times that the best way to teach a person a skill is to model that skill and then allow her to try it herself. Living a victoriously godly Christian life is no different, and Paul\’s challenge to the women of the churches in Crete survives to challenge women in churches across the globe today. If there is to be a new generation of women to rise up and actively to pursue righteousness and holiness in their daily lives, women must answer God\’s call to model lives of righteousness and holiness and in turn encourage those coming behind them to come alongside and learn the ways of an actively good and Christ-like life.
Akin, Dr. Danny L. \”God\’s Portrait of a Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mother: Proverbs 31:10-31.\” May 8, 2005. Transcript of a sermon delivered May 8, 2005 at Wake Cross Roads Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC. (August 18, 2006). The publisher of this website is the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC.
—. \”The Role of Men and Women in the Church: Titus 2:1-8.\” March 30, 2005. Transcript of a chapel message delivered March 30, 2005 at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. (August 18, 2006). The publisher of this website is the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC.
Agar, Frederick A. Help Those Women: A Manual for Women Church Workers. (New York: Revel, 1917)
Brown, Jamieson F. \”Titus 2:2-5.\” Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. (copyright 2005-2006) (accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published by the Salem Web Network.
Echevarria, Pegine. For All Our Daughters: How Mentoring Helps Young Women and Girls Master the Art of Growing Up. (Worcester: Chandler, 1998)
Ellison, Edna and Tricia Scribner. Woman to Woman: Preparing Yourself to Mentor. (Birmingham: New Hope, 2000)
Elwell, Walker, ed. \”Human Beings: Women.\” Baker Topical Guide to the Bible. (GrandRapids: Baker, 1991)
Gill, John. \”Titus 2:3-5.\” John Gill\’s Exposition of the Bible. (copyright 2005-2006) (accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published by the Salem Web Network.
Henry, Matthew. \”Titus 2:2-5.\” Matthew Henry Commentary. (copyright 2005-2006) (accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published by the Salem Web Network.
Hunt, Susan. Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women. (Wheaton: Crossway, 1992)
Kaemmerling, Charlene. \”Ordination of Women: Wrong or Right?\” The Theological Educator, No. 37 (Spring 1988): 93-99.
Mabery-Foster, Lucy. Women and the Church: Reaching, Teaching, and Developing Women for Christ. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999)
Matthews, Kelley. Women Training Women: What\’s the Point? (copyright 2005-2006) (accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published by the Salem Web Network.
Mauldon, Frank Louis. \”Pricilla and Aquila.\” Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Watson E. Mills, editor. (Macon: Mercer University Press, 1991), 712.
McBeth, Leon. Women in Baptist Life. (Nashville: Broadman, 1979)
Otto, Donna. Between Women of God: The Gentle Art of Mentoring. (Eugene: Harvest, 1995)
—. Finding a Mentor, Being a Mentor. (Eugene: Harvest, 2001), pp.
Patterson, Dorothy Kelley. Beattitudes for Women: Wisdom from Heaven for Life on Earth. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2000)
Peace, Martha. Becoming a Titus 2 Woman. (Bemidji: Focus, 1997)
Robertson, A.T. \”Titus 2:1-8.\” Robertson\’s Word Pictures of the New Testament. (copyright 2005-2006) (accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published by the Salem Web Network.
Women\’s Evangelical Commentary. Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, eds. (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 731-736.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Lucy Mabery-Foster, Women and the Church (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999), 5.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Paul David Tripp, Instruments in the Redeemer\’s Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2002), 40-41.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Kelley Mathews, \”Women Training Women: What\’s the Point?\” (copyright 2005-2006) http://www.crosswalk.com/faith/1415961.html, (accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published and maintained by Salem Web Network.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Titus 1:9b
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Titus 1:13, 15
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Edna Ellison and Tricia Scribner, Woman to Woman: Preparing Yourself to Mentor (Birmingham: New Hope, 2000), 5.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Martha Peace, Becoming a Titus2 Woman (Bimidji: Focus, 1997), 32.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> 1 Samuel 16:7
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> 1 Peter 3:3-4
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Peace, 33-34.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Ibid., 35.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Women\’s Evangelical Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2006) 734.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Susan Hunt, Spiritual Mothering (Crossway: Wheaton, 1992), 43-44.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> See Galatians 5:19-26 for a further discussion from Paul concerning the comparison of living in a sinful nature and living in the Spirit.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry Commentary (copyright 2005-2006) (Accessed August 18, 2006) This website is published and maintained by Salem Web Network.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Women\’s Evangelical Commentary, 734.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Peace, 43.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Peace, 44.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Titus 1:10
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Women\’s Evangelical Commentary, 734.
–>[if !supportFootnotes]–> –>[endif]–> Women\’s, 734.