Titus 2 Women
Lesson 11 – Under Study
Titus 2:3-5 (CEV)
Tell the older women to behave
as those who love the Lord should.
They must not gossip about others
or be slaves of wine.
They must teach what is proper,
so the younger women will be loving wives and mothers.
Each of the younger women must be sensible and kind,
as well as a good homemaker,
who puts her own husband first.
Then no one can say insulting things about God’s message.
Who (besides God) is number one in your life?
- My kids
- My spouse
- I’m #1
Bring up “wives, submit to your husbands,” and you’re sure to get some passionate responses. Very few folks have a take-it-or-leave-it attitude when it comes to the hierarchy of marriage.
This lesson covers a controversial topic. I don’t pretend to be the final word on the subject. I direct your attention to God’s Word.
The Greek word in Titus 2:5, hypotássō, has two parts: hypo (under) and tasso (arrangement). It means to rank below, be subject to, to obey. Wives to husband. It is quite clear.
And we 21st century American women bristle and sputter and call out, “it cannot be!”
I am a feminist in terms of equal pay for equal work. I believe that women should have the right to vote and that a woman can be a President (of a company or a nation). I believe that a woman should be able to make it on her own and be self-supporting. I believe that a woman’s identity is more than her connection to her husband and children. I believe that God loves women just as much as God loves men. I am a child of God in my own right.
But there are limits to my sense of equality. I think there are jobs men—in general—do better than women, jobs that require a level of human strength more common in men, jobs that require a level of emotional ruthlessness more common in men (I don’t like to see women in combat). And there are jobs that women—in general—do better than men, jobs that require the nurturing spirit more common in women.
Men make better fathers; women make better mothers. In general. Not all men are good fathers, and not all women are good mothers. A woman may be better at fathering than an absent, angry, detached father. A father may be better at mothering than a self-absorbed, narcissist, emotionally-distant mother.
And men make better husbands, women better wives. In general. Here’s my take: the husband is the head of the household, the wife is the heart. In general. And before folks get all huffy about “headship,” let me remind you that brain-dead or cardiac-dead, you are equally dead. Your body needs both, and so does your marriage. But that’s just my opinion. You decide for yourself.
We know that Satan is a deceiver. He spins lies at both ends of marriage. At one end, women are devalued, mistreated and disrespected (a wife is a possession, and her husband can do whatever he wants with her). At the other end, men are devalued, deemed unnecessary and disrespected (“a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle;” this “wisdom” brought us a generation of father-deprived children (according to the Pew Research Center, one in four fathers in America now live separately from their children; see http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/06/15/a-tale-of-two-fathers/2/).
It occurs to me that we are dealing with a very important truth, as evidenced by the effort the enemy puts forth to distort it.
Let’s look at this word, hypotássō, in different biblical contexts:
Luke 2:51 (CEV)
Jesus went back to Nazareth with his parents and obeyed them.
The 12 year old submitted. A decade later, he said this:
While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and brothers came and stood outside because they wanted to talk with him. Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside and want to talk with you.”
Jesus answered, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “These are my mother and my brothers!”
Paul’s advice included obedience to the governing authorities.
Obey the rulers who have authority over you.
We learn in Acts that there are times to disobey.
When the apostles were brought before the council, the high priest said to them, “We told you plainly not to teach in the name of Jesus. But look what you have done! You have been teaching all over Jerusalem, and you are trying to blame us for his death.”
Peter and the apostles replied:
We don’t obey people. We obey God.
There are times to obey our Christian leaders.
1 Corinthians 16:15-16
You know that Stephanas and his family were the first in Achaia to have faith in the Lord. They have done all they can for God’s people. My friends, I ask you to obey leaders like them and to do the same for all others who work hard with you.
And there are times to question them.
1 John 4:1-2
Dear friends, don’t believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, and you can know which ones come from God.
What message do we gain from these passages? I see a hierarchy of submission: submission to parents, government and religious leaders is good, until such time as it interferes with my submission to God. Obedience to God trumps obedience to all else, including husbands.
Perhaps all other submission is just practice for the real thing, the big event, for eternal life.
Ephesians 5:22-25 (CEV)
A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord. A husband is the head of his wife, as Christ is the head and the Savior of the church, which is his own body. Wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first.
A husband should love his wife as much as
Christ loved the church and gave his life for it.
How often have you heard that this is the pattern for marriage? Certainly it is true. And it applies to marriage for love, marriage for convenience and even to marriage arranged by the parents. God’s plan transcends earthly culture and traditions.
Let’s shift your viewpoint ever so slightly. Consider your marriage a testimony, a witness to others, of Christ’s relationship with his Church.
Suppose you were someone who knew very little about Christianity and Scripture. Imagine that you stumbled on this passage, and thought, “The Church submits to Christ the way Shirlee submits to Wade. Christ loves us the way Wade loves his wife” (fill in your own names or the names of other married couples). Does it reflect well on Christ?
There is a lot of mystery surrounding Christ’s relationship with the Church. Paul wanted people to understand that Jesus brought God’s love to a new level. We have a child-like relationship with God the Father. God the Son offers us a more mature and intimate relationship. The mutually submissive relationship between a loving husband and a caring wife is the closest thing this side of heaven to the intimacy we can share with Christ.
When we act like submission is a bad word, we undermine the message of salvation. When our actions scream self-centeredness, we testify that God doesn’t care about our needs. When we elevate independence, we denigrate our Lord.
I joke, “I submit to my husband every bit as well as the Church submits to God.”
That may well be true, but it isn’t really funny.
God: It isn’t a joke. It’s a sin.
Me: Sin? Rebellion? Selfishness? Yes, I can see some sin there.
God: In the eternal scheme of things, how important are the issues behind your rebellion?
Me: These issues—how we spend our money, what we do with our free time, who does which chores—these issues are important to me. Besides (I say to myself), I’m right, and Wade is wrong.
God: “When you’ve been here ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,” will getting your way today matter? Knowing the value of submission will matter. Forever and ever, without end.
Those of us meeting together for this study discussed how Christians need to speak up for godly, committee marriage. It is important for us older women to set the example, but how else can we teach our young women the value of putting marriage and husband ahead of self?