We are living in a time of sexual bedlam, sexual madness. The frenzy that has captured the Western world has many manifestations—open marriages, pornography, same sex mirage, robo-sex, trannies, and worse. My point is not to get into all these deviations in order to attack or refute them point by point. My point is to acknowledge that we are surrounded by it all, and in that context declare the only alternative to the madness, which is faithful Christian monogamy, and to highlight Scripture’s idea of what constitutes a faithful sexual testimony.
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3–5).
Summary of the Text
I want to work through what is mentioned here, but with a particular emphasis on what the world is seeing as we obey passages such as this. The older women in the church need to be holy in their behavior (v. 3). They need to guard themselves against speaking false accusations. In addition, they should be careful to avoid “much” wine. In living this way, they should be teachers of good things—meaning that they should be in a position to teach the younger women how to behave (v. 4). They should instruct the younger women in sobriety (v. 4) and the arts of domesticity (v. 4). This is how I take the instruction on loving husbands and children. There are two words underneath that instruction, which are philandros and philoteknos. The word for love here (philo) is the word for warm affection, and in both instances it is a compound word, together with the word for man and the word for children. I would render it in a paraphrase as “teach them to be into husbands and into kids.”
The older women are also to teach the younger women to be discrete and chaste, to be busy at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, so that the Word of God not be blasphemed.
A Few Other Examples
So older wives are expressed taught to teach younger wives to subordinate themselves (hypotasso), so that the church not get a bad reputation. Young men are commanded to be sober-minded also, doing good in all things, and again for the same reason—so that the one who is opposed has no evil thing to say about you. And slaves are commanded to be diligent and obedient also (hypotasso again). Why? So that they might adorn the doctrine of God (v. 10).
Which Direction to Lean?
We are not just supposed to do what the Scripture says to do—although that is always important. We are also supposed to do it for the reasons that Scripture gives.
In other words, we must let Scripture determine how to head off what false ideas the pagans might have about us. Paul says here that the unbelievers should see the wife’s submission and obedience. That is what is to be in the foreground. Paul does not say that submission and obedience must be there somewhere in the background, but make sure what they notice is how educated or witty you are. No, Paul says that your unbelieving friends should notice what a sweetheart your husband has. Let them find out how educated you are after they become Christians.
I am not saying that Christian women should hide their light under a bushel. I am saying that God tells us what the light actually is—the light that shouldn’t be under that bushel. Being into the kids is the light that shouldn’t be under the bushel.
This is because God knows better than we do what kind of thing will be attractive to unbelievers living in the midst of sexual and marital chaos. He knows what they need, and He knows what behavior on our part will stir them up inside. He knows all that, and He has told us all about it.
And if unbelievers are not attracted to it, but rather are in rebellion against it, this kind of testimony remains potent. If you are out at the park with your small tribe, and you get cold stares from angry lesbians, you are not bringing disrepute on the gospel. God says the opposite. God is in charge of what constitutes a good testimony in an age like ours. We have our marching orders.
Take this another way. Suppose God told Christian women to be modest (which, come to think of it, He did). Suppose further that all the women outside the church, or at least all the women who were au courant, were flappers. There are two ways to approach this. One says “I obviously need to be a flapper too, and so I need to figure out a way to include modesty in there somehow. And hope nobody notices.” The other is to simply do what God instructs, and let the other pieces fall where they may.
Gospel and More Gospel
When we try to “gray out” the Christian forms of marriage that we practice, we are actually trying to “gray out” the gospel. Christ is the Bridegroom, and the Church is His Bride. Christian husbands are told to love their wives sacrificially, the way Christ loved His Bride (Eph. 5:25, 33). Christian wives are told to submit to their own husbands (Eph. 5:22, 33). Why would we try to hide this from the world? If they kick, let them kick. This is the good news of salvation.
Husbands, your task is to model for the world what the objective gospel actually looks like. And, in case you have forgotten, it looks like blood, sweat, and tears. You are the hands of Christ as He preaches His salvation to the world, and never forget that those hands are pierced. You are husbands—you are to be pierced.
Wives, your task is to model for this lost world what a subjective and personal response to the gospel looks like.
As I have noted before, we are all limited, and we cannot duplicate what Christ did. But even though we cannot duplicate it, we are commanded to imitate it, and we are to imitate it as best we can.
Husbands, the world is watching you. You are to model what the saving looks like. Wives, the world is watching you. You are to model what salvation looks like.