Instructing Titus to lead the churches in Crete well, Paul explained how the members of the church should relate to one another. The older members should be striving to learn sound doctrine and to teach it to the younger. Through patience and love those who have more gray hair should be willing to control themselves so that they can guide and direct those who are younger than them.
After giving explicit instruction to the older, Paul directs Titus to give some admonition to the younger ones in the congregation. Through a pure lifestyle and holy conversations, the older ladies in the church should seek to teach the younger ladies. But the things that are supposed to be taught are not a list of things that make for a good housekeeper or cook. Rather, from the fountain of Titus 2:1, all of the things in this list flow from good doctrine.
In their instruction, the older ladies should teach the younger to be “sober.” This term means that the younger ladies should learn to live their lives leveled, well-understanding, not easily swayed by other doctrines (Eph. 4:14). There should be a distinction between a young woman or mother who is a believer and one who is not. The Facebook page of a believing woman should be “sober.” The latest gossip news, the latest conspiracy theory, or potentially false accusation should never find footing in the life of a Christian. Rather, in sobriety, each decision, each statement, each post should drip of seriousness and love.
The elder women must also teach the younger women to be “husband lovers” and “lovers of their children.” This seems like good family practice, but it is more than that. In Luke 10:29, a young man asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” This was in response to the command of God that “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” So who is your neighbor? If you are a married young woman, your husband is your neighbor, and your children are your neighbor. Often the relationship between husbands and wife and parents and children loses sight of this basic principle. Children should treat parents in ways that could be described as “loving them as myself.” The goal then of the older ladies in the church should be to teach and demonstrate what this “loving my neighbor” looks like in the home.
As Paul gives direction for the older women in the church, he encourages them to strive to teach. In no way does he cheapen the status of women, rather, by the very nature of this command, he is elevating women in general to a position of importance and purpose. So what were they to teach in verse 5? They were to teach the younger women to be pure and holy. That just as the God that they served was holy, they should be holy. (1 Peter 1:16) Further, Paul would continue by instructing the younger ladies to be “obedient to their own husbands, and to be keepers at home.” This view has been misunderstood to denigrate women. When we understand the scope of doctrine for men and women, we understand that wives who live in contention with their husbands or are constantly seen as negligent to their own families cause the same problem that husbands who are contentious with their wives and are negligent with their own families. The problem is that in the end, verse 5 says, the word of God is blasphemed. People see the brokenness of relationship in the home (whether caused by the man or the woman) and imagine that it is reflective of Christian doctrine. Rather, we should understand that when Christians follow “sound doctrine” the home will be a place of unity and self-sacrifice in the service of everyone else. A loving well-ordered house of service is not an archaic Middle Eastern notion, rather, it is the ultimate expression of Christianity.
Reflect: What are some principles that the older women were to teach the younger women? Where do we see these elsewhere in scripture ascribed to all Christians?