Pastor Scott Andrews | October 10, 2021
The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, made some waves last week with the following tweet:
“People across the country are lighting candles to honour Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people who are missing or have been murdered. We must continue to work together, raise awareness, and advocate to end this ongoing national tragedy.”
It wasn’t the attention he was giving to missing or murdered people, I suppose in response to the Gabby Petito news which captured our nation’s headlines over the past few weeks. No, it was the very long string of letters referring to, in his estimation, the marginalized population of gays and transgenders, among others. Now, Trudeau received a fair degree of mockery on social media, not for the sentiment, but for the acronym, one suggesting he just headbutted the keyboard, another suggesting a cat walked across said keyboard. But what do all of those letters mean? One of his cabinet members, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett helped us out, and followed Trudeau’s tweet with one of her own:
“I urge all Canadians to take time today to honour the Indigenous women, girls and Two Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual (2SLGBTQQIA+) people who are missing or have been murdered.”
Again, we don’t want missing or murdered people, of any kind. So, I bring this to our attention, to neither mock nor disparage Trudeau or those in the LGBTQ camp. That is not my intention. To be clear, I do believe the Scripture has definitive things to say about sexual identity, purpose, practice and purity, but my intention is simply to highlight the massive confusion that reigns in our world, our country, our community, and in the church regarding gender issues. Many don’t know who they are, how they should identify, what their preferred pronouns are, whether biology has anything to do with gender, and how to relate physically with people – let me just say it that way to retain a degree of modest decorum, how to act as men or women, if you are cisgendered – that is, your gender matches your biology. It’s all very confusing.
Are there differences in gender? I think so. It’s funny – as I was writing this introduction, I walked out in the hallway where a line of little four and five year olds in Mom’s Morning Out were walking down the hall with their teacher, Mrs. Lloyd. One of them was wearing a yellow hard hat, so I went to my office and put on my white one – our builders gave me one so I could walk into this room when it was under construction. Well, they all wanted to try it on – it was lots of fun. And then, of course, they proceeded, unprompted, to tell me what they wanted to be when they grew up. One little boy said, a policeman. Not to be outdone, a little girl said she wanted to be a policewoman. There was a future king, a queen, there was Cinderella, and a knight. Here’s my point: these four/five-year olds understood gender distinction. When the social elite in Hollywood have a child and say they’ll wait till the child decides before they reveal their gender – our society is messed up.
Are there gender distinctions? yes. Are boys, boys, girls, girls, men, men, and women, women? The Bible says so. Further, God’s Word tells us how to act or behave as people, whether men or women, young or old. Many of the expected behaviors are the same, some are different, corresponding to what is expected of old men, old women, young women, and young men.
We are in a study of Titus. Paul wrote Titus, as he did Timothy, to tell him how people should conduct themselves in the household of God – called the church. Starting with, Titus, appoint elders in every church. Now as we saw last week, one of the primary reasons elders were needed was because false teachers existed in the church. Elders should be shepherds who lead, feed, and protect the church. Remember, verse 9 of chapter 1 said elders should be “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict.”
So, after talking about the teaching and character of false teachers, Paul turns his attention back to the people of the church. This is how you should act as followers of Christ – not only in the church, but at home and even in your communities. And he divides his instruction among certain groups of people: old men, old women, young women, young men, Titus himself, and bondslaves. Don’t be bothered by that last one – we’ll get there next week. This week, let’s look at the first four – men and women, young and old, in chapter 2:1-6 – read that with me.
As for you, Titus. Paul just said there are false teachers who claim to know God but by their deeds, they deny Him. Then he lowered the boom, as result, they are detestable, disobedient and worthless. Earlier, he had said, they teach things that should not be taught, filled with empty words. But as for you, Titus – the word you is in the emphatic – But you, Titus, speak or teach things which are fitting – which fit with, are appropriate to sound doctrine. Remember, the word sound could be translated healthy. Speak things that are fitting to healthy teaching/doctrine – to produce healthy, godly living. Please note the connection – sound doctrine necessarily includes and leads to godly living.
Paul goes on to say specifically what he wants Titus to teach to different groups in the church. Now, Paul gives a number of household codes – Ephesians and Colossians, for example. Usually they are in appropriate pairings – husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters. But this one is formed by gender and age, which forms our outline:
- Instructions to Old Men (2)
- Instructions to Old Women (3)
- Instructions to Young Women (4-5)
- Instructions to Young Men (6)
Again, you will notice the instructions, while similar, vary according to who they are – men or women, old or young. Starting with, Instructions to Old Men. The text actually does say old men. We don’t like that, so we translate it older men. But it’s actually old men – presbutes, in the Greek. I’m going to suggest this is one of the challenges of our society – people don’t honor and value old men or old women, so even old men and women prefer to be called, older. The point is, the Scripture always places a high value on the wisdom that comes from age, and the fact that we should honor and value old people.
We live a youth culture – where only young people are valued – we think old people – past their prime people – are good to be visited, but put them on a shelf – they don’t really contribute anything to the ones in charge – the valuable ones, the young ones. We even joke about it – can’t get your Iphone or TV working? Ask an eight-year-old. And an 80-year-old feels less and less valued, needed, important. But nothing could be further from the truth. And this text highlights how old men and old women should act – and be used in the life of the family, community and church. They should not be sidelined nor put out to pasture.
Now, some of you think that I’m just sharpening my axe, because I’m older. Just kidding – because I’m old. I know – some of you are thinking, well, you’re not that old. Thank you. But when Paul wrote, the life expectancy was considerably younger – like 40. And so if you were 50, you were considered old, if you were my age, 61 – you were ancient. Here’s my point – let’s stop devaluing age – whatever the age of older is – and start recognizing the biblical value of being old. Let’s honor senior saints – who have much to offer. And senior saints, I’ll have more to say to you – okay, us – as well. Titus says, old men are to have the following four characteristics. They are to be:
- Sound – specifically, in faith, love and persevering hope.
Temperate means self-controlled, sober, clear-headed, having sound moral judgment. The root of the word means to be free from intoxication. Certainly, that’s true – even unbelievers see there something unseemly when an older man disgraces himself through intoxication. But the word here is broadened – be sober, serious, temperate in all of life. Years of life have seasoned the aged saint, such that he has learned what it means, walking in the power of the Spirit, to exercise self-control. Not just advanced physical age, but advanced spiritual age. The old man is mature – and demonstrates it with a sober, self-controlled, moral judgment.
Second, he is to be dignified. Which means to be revered – worthy of respect. Now, if an older man is to be worthy of respect – that means he is respectable. Nothing is as unbefitting of a senior than a lack of dignity – to lack a respectful lifestyle.
Third, he is to be sensible. It’s interesting to note – Paul uses this word many times in Titus – largely because the Cretans were not known for being sensible. Paul calls elders, young men, old and young women, and all believers in verse 12 to be sensible. To be sensible carries with it the idea of self-control. That’s interesting – the last of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control, meaning all these qualities for every person is Spirit-empowered.
But what is it to be sensible? It is to have spiritual, common sense. It is a sobriety about life – all aspects of life. It is balanced, not given to excess – especially those extremes of youthfulness. He is discreet, exercising good judgment as a result of a long life walking with Christ. It’s why, by the way, young men and young women need senior saints – to speak sensible truth into their lives – to keep them from the impetuousness that is often associated with youthfulness. There is a gravitas – a solemness, a sobriety, a seriousness, an understanding of the weightiness of life. Life is not just about fun and thrills, the latest and greatest fads and technology, the newest and nicest fashions – a sensible person lifts his eyes above the constant call of the culture. Have you ever noticed most advertising is directed to young people? The only thing they’re trying to sell us is medicine and those things you wear around your neck to call for help if you fall.
Last, the old man is to be sound, healthy in faith, love and perseverance. This is an important triad of the Christian Faith in Paul’s letters. There is a healthy trust in God, a love toward God and others, and a hope-inspired perseverance. As I think over this past year and a half or so, the old man demonstrates not fear, but sensible faith in God – not forsaking love for others in self-absorbed protection, and hope-inspired endurance, trusting God’s goodness, come what may.
Which brings us to older women – no, I’m not going to call them old women. He says older women likewise are to be – and he gives two negative qualities sandwiched in between to positive qualities. First, they are to be reverent in their behavior. It’s an interesting word – only here in the NT, and it’s actually related to the word priestess. From that, we get older women are to behave in a way befitting a holy person. They act like they are representing God to those around them – because they are. They are to carry out their daily lives – inner and outer lives – carry out their duties as one owned by and representing God to others. Think of it – she is to be a fragrance of godliness – of God within her – to people.
Second and third – the negative qualities – she is not to be a slanderer – a malicious gossip. It’s an interesting word – diabolos – it’s related to the word devil – the slanderer, the accuser of the brothers and sisters. Have you ever stopped to think that gossip, slander puts you in the same category as the devil – the one who accuses us before God. Thank God we have One who intercedes for us, when falsely or rightly accused.
Why does Paul say this of older women? We’ve all known women who can be busybodies. And in waning years, with children grown and perhaps less to tend to, if we’re not careful, we can degenerate into gossip. Paul says, don’t do that.
Third – not enslaved to much wine. We could use the word addicted, because that’s exactly what addiction is – enslavement. Certainly not addicted to much wine includes not addicted to any drug or alcohol. But interestingly, again, Paul cites this among older women. Is it because it, too, is to be found in older women, simply seeking to pass the time, with little to occupy her time? I’m not giving excuses, but is it possible it’s because they’ve been sidelined, not valued, not important. Kids move, giving little time to aging parents – and grandmother or grandfather, who would love to be involved in grandchildren’s lives are marginalized – except maybe on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’m not suggesting in our very dynamic, mobile society that you should live next door to older parents or grandparents – but perhaps seeking their counsel and wisdom more than an occasional phone call – maybe a little more that a turkey leg or a wrapped present under the tree may be appropriate.
The last quality – older woman is to teach what is good. What specifically? He tells us as we get to the young women in verses 4 and 5. Teach what is good so that they may encourage – the word is actually train. We don’t really like the sound of it, pedantic, so we change it to encourage. But training in godliness is what we all need. It’s why Paul told Timothy – All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. We all need to be trained by the truths of the Word of God.
Teaching what is good so that older women can encourage young women – stop right there. We hear that, and everyone thinks older woman, younger woman, I need to go out and get a college girl. And it certainly includes that – for sure. That’s why we have a mentoring program in our college ministry. But anyone younger than you can learn from you – from what you’ve learned as you follow Christ. Young women in their 20s, trying to balance career and her walk with Christ. Young married woman, trying to figure marriage out. Young mom, trying desperately to learn motherhood.
Moms of students – grade schoolers and teenagers – they need help. It was Mark Twain who said, when your child turns 13, put them in a barrel and feed them through the hole. When they turn 16, cover up the hole. Moms need help, through every stage of raising children. Want to homeschool – you need other moms to help. What about when children leave – how do you handle that? What about aging – how do you do that gracefully. Older women – find someone younger – 5 years younger or 50 years younger and pour into them what you know.
Listen, not only does our youth culture sideline those most experienced and wise among us – we allow them to. Further, we do it – we withdraw into our own senior gatherings and relationships. And we allow those younger to flounder and fail when we have godly, biblical wisdom that might just help.
Many in our culture look forward to their senior years as an opportunity to live for themselves –in frivolous self-absorption, as one said. But the Christian doesn’t see his or her final years as one last chance to have fun before dying. No, senior saints know that eternity, with joyful rest in the presence of Christ, draws near. While they live, they see their lives as an opportunity to make an impact for the kingdom, especially toward those younger. They see and seize the opportunity to train those coming behind in the faith of our Christ.
By the way, it’s interesting to note, Paul tells Titus to teach older men, older women, and younger men. But here, he tells older women to be the teachers of young women. That doesn’t mean that pastors and elders cannot teach women under a certain age. But, I think there are lots of reasons for older women to teach young women. First, they’re smarter. They know what it means to be a young woman – they’ve been there, and the wisdom of experience is a great teacher. Further, older women have the grace of age to speak gently and wisely into younger woman. They’re earned the right to be heard. Further, there is a certain propriety to be observed – younger Titus really had no business mentoring a younger woman in her marriage our child-rearing or household duties. That’s best left to those who know what they’re talking about. And, remember, we do believe in gender differences – and for propriety and godliness, it most appropriate.
Susan Hunt calls this spiritual mothering. Listen to how she defines that, “When a woman possessing faith and spiritual maturity enters into a nurturing relationship with another woman to encourage and equip her to live for God’s glory.” That’s really good. Ok, so older women are to train younger women in the following seven ways – the first six kind of pair up (love husbands and children, be sensible and pure, work at home and be kind):
First, train them to love their husbands. Many times we go to Ephesians 5 where husbands are told to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. True. And the same passage tells wives to respect their husbands. True. But wives, you’re not off the hook. You, too, are to love your husbands. How do you do that? Paul is not just talking about romantic love – although most can be encouraged in that. But love is often also expressed in action and there are loving actions of wife to husband that she can be taught. Listen, I’m not going to wade into that – that’s what you older women are supposed to do.
One author said, “Many young women long for more mature women to take them under their wings and to teach them how to live the Christian life, especially since many lack godly role models in their own families.” (Kostenberger)
Second, she is to be trained to love her children. Notice that loving their husbands comes before loving their children. I don’t know if there is an intentional priority here, but many know that often, when children come along, husbands take a backseat. Love your husbands – don’t let anything, even children, come between husband and wife. Now, while there is such a thing as maternal instinct, young women need to be trained in the best ways to demonstrate love toward their children in instruction and discipline, not indulging them.
Third and fourth speak to Christian character: older women can teach young women to be sensible – there’s the word again. Serious, self-controlled. Fourth, teach them to be pure – that likely speaks of marital fidelity. The cry of the culture and temptations of youth need to be resisted – and older saints can help younger ones to be pure.
Fifth and sixth have to do with a domestic focus, with the right attitude. Train them to be workers at home. The word means just that – home workers – diligent homemakers. I know, that flies in the face of culture. But, if you read the description of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, you find she worked outside the home – but here’s the catch – for the good of the home.
Listen, I’ve never said a woman’s place is in the home. I have repeatedly said, a woman’s priority is in the home. Young women need to be taught that – because being a wife, being a mother – loving your husband and children – is not a very high value today. Love yourself, and give what’s left to your family. Here, most agree that older women should teach young women to do the opposite – to be committed to your homes, to be domestic, to value their homes, to be the queen of the domain. Your focus should be there.
Sixth, they are to be kind when carrying out these domestic and familial responsibilities. Yes, of course that applies to husbands and fathers as well. But Paul’s focus is on young women, the mistress of the home. We’ve all heard the saying, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Wives and moms have the ability to set the emotional and relational climate of the home. Yes, husbands are to be the leaders, but women, by their character and actions, have unbelievable influence. Wives and moms have massive responsibilities, so as you carry them out, fight irritability, and pursue kindness. As you are focused toward home, do so with goodness. It’s for the good of your family, and the glory of Christ.
Finally for young women – I know, it’s a lot for the young ladies – teach them to be subject to their own husbands. We talked about this a couple weeks ago. Both the creation order and Paul’s and Peter’s teaching in Ephesians, Colossians, I Peter and here teach that a man is to lovingly lead his home, and a godly wife is to lovingly submit to her husband’s godly leadership. I’ve said this before, but please note the wife is to willingly submit – it’s what she does before the Lord. It is not the husband’s job to make her submit.
I said it this way a few weeks ago: I believe God puts in the heart of a godly woman to follow, come under, a godly man. There are lots of corresponding adjectives there – godly, loving, humble, faithful – those all must be present in order for the marriage to work rightly – not perfectly, but rightly. Marriages aren’t perfect, but they can be good.
I shared this with the Core Class on Wednesday evening – Tana and I and Michael and Laura went to a pastor’s conference at the Cove this week. It was wonderful – the speaker was Dr. Erwin Lutzer, former pastor at Moody Church in Chicago where he pastored for about 36 years. He turned 80 last Sunday – so his teaching us – younger men and women – was seasoned with grace and kindness and wisdom and gentleness.
At one point, he stopped and said, “In one sentence, I’m going to teach you all you need to know about marriage counseling. Ready – here it is: Marriage is two people working through problems together – problems they never would have had if they’d just remained single.”
Don’t miss why wives are subject to their own husbands. Notice, it’s to their own husbands they submit – not yours. They subject themselves so that the word of God will not be dishonored. As followers of Jesus, we claim that our lives have been changed – we’ve been made new creations. And nothing is more attractive, winsome, to an unbelieving world than a beautiful, God-honoring marriage that works. It is the picture of Christ and His bride, the church. I always tell the bride and groom when I’m doing a wedding that their marriage is a testimony to an unbelieving world of the reality of Jesus Christ.
Many suggest this statement, so that the word of God will not be dishonored, should actually be applied to all he says about both men and women. Think of it this way – our behavior as men and women actually has an impact on the witness of the gospel to an unbelieving world.
Finally, we save young men for last. Verse 6 – likewise, urge the young men to be sensible – and some suggest that the beginning of verse 7 goes with that, be sensible in all things. Young men then were considered from late teens through early thirties. The word urge is parakaleo – to call alongside and encourage them is the idea. Urging young men requires close proximity, for example and accountability. Urge them to be sensible in all things. That’s it – that’s all he says, but it covers everything.
If there is any age demographic that needs to be called up – to spiritual maturity, to responsibility, to purity, to self-control, to be sensible in this world – it is young men. One commentary said this:
“We are living in a generation that encourages young men to avoid responsibility and even in early adulthood to shun the commitments of mature life…. Instead of training themselves for useful roles in society, many young men cling to the skirts of their parents and indulge in a life of video games and even sinful indulgence. Paul would have young men think and act differently. Tim Chester writes, ‘Young men need to grow up, to take life seriously, to take their faith seriously and to be responsible.’ Instead of indulging in sexual sins, abusing alcohol, or getting addicted to technology, young men should be guarding their hearts and learning godliness that will ‘flee youthful passions…’”
I’m out of time. This is practical church and family living, 101. And yet, many while accepting the truth of the Christian faith, want to reject these less than comfortable things. The same authors wrote:
“Many Christians hold the false view that while it is vital for us to believe in Jesus and receive the Bible’s teaching on salvation, its precepts for men and women are more negotiable. Yet the clear and insistent teaching of the New Testament on gender identity, marital relations, and sexual conduct carries the same divine authority as its teaching on justification.”
It’s all God’s inspired, inerrant Word, revealed for His glory, and our eternal good. One final thought: I trust you notice from all this – we are to be a family. Dads and moms to those younger, brothers and sisters to one another. Urging one another on in the Christian faith.