That the Women be Reverent

September 12, 2011 in Bible - NT - Titus, Ecclesiology, Meditations, Sexuality

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)

The women of Crete did not have a sterling reputation in the ancient world. Part of this was no doubt a consequence of the topless attire that they wore. But part of it was also a consequence of the conduct of some of Crete’s leading women.

One of the ancient legends associated with Crete that most people know is that of the Minotaur. What fewer now know is that the Minotaur was the offspring of the Minoan Queen Pasiphae who had mated with a bull. Pasiphae’s sexual perversions weren’t lost on her daughters – one of whom, seduced by the Greek hero Theseus, paved the way for the destruction of the Minotaur and the decline of Cretan power and the other of whom later married Theseus and then tried to seduce Theseus’ son, precipitating the son’s death when he refused her advances. Not to be outdone, another of the royal Cretan women was banished from Crete for her illicit behavior, rose through skillful use of her beauty in the court of the King of Mycenae, married the king’s son, and then assisted the king in murdering his own son so that she could become the king’s wife. These perversions led to the disgrace of Cretan women generally – their conduct became the example by which all were judged; even the upright were viewed with suspicion.

Paul is very concerned that Christian women cause no such shame for the Gospel of Christ. He states the motivation of all his exhortations quite plainly in v. 5 – “that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” In so doing, Paul indicates that the operative concern for our lives as professing Christians is not our happiness, not our ease or comfort, but preserving the Word of God and hence God Himself from being blasphemed.

And so Paul’s first command to the older women is that they be “reverent in behavior.” Literally his exhortation means that they conduct themselves in such a way as would be fitting in the temple of God; that they act as they would if they were in the presence of God Himself all the time – for this is, in fact, how we live. We all live coram Deo – before the face of God. And so we are to live reverently.

So women – how are you doing? What are you using as the measure of your actions? What determines the sacrifices you make? The way you spend your time? The way you speak to your children? The way you respond to your husband? The way you speak about your husband to your friends? Paul urges you to measure your life by the Word of God – don’t do anything that would bring shame on Jesus’ Name, that would give the enemies of God cause to blaspheme God’s Name. Suffer anything rather than shame your Savior.

And this is the same message that Paul gives to you men as well. We are all to live such that we adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. So how are you doing? Has your attitude at work adorned the Gospel? Has your thankfulness at home adorned the Gospel? Has your care for your children adorned the Gospel? Or have you brought shame on Jesus’ Name?

Reminded that our conduct as Christians inevitably reflects on the Name of our Savior Christ, let us kneel and confess that we have given occasion for the enemies of God to blaspheme.

Those in Authority

September 29, 2008 in Authority, Bible - NT - Titus, Discipline, Meditations

Titus 2:15-3:2 (NKJV)15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you. 1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.

Authority is not a popular subject in the Church today. We talk frequently of love and kindliness, of patience and longsuffering, of compassion and sympathy, but rarely of authority. As this text in Titus makes clear, however, Paul had so such inhibitions. He spoke quite freely of different authorities and our responsibility to them.

In the text today, Paul speaks quite frankly with Titus about his duty as an officer in the Church, his duty as one in authority, and about the duty of the congregation, their duty as those under authority.

So what is Titus’ duty as one in authority? He is commissioned by Paul to speak the truth, to exhort the people of God, to rebuke them with all authority, and to remind them of their duty. Paul commands Titus to let no one despise him. In other words, if Titus were to allow someone to despise him, he would be sinning. What does Paul mean “to despise”? The Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament remarks that to despise in this context means “ to refuse to recognize the force or power of something—‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’” It is the last sense of this word to which I want to draw your attention. If Titus were to allow someone to disregard his authority, rightfully delegated to him by God through the laying on of hands, then he would be sinning.

The same thing goes for others in positions of authority. Whether parents, employers, magistrates, or babysitters – those who have been entrusted with a measure of authority must exercise that authority. They must use that authority for the benefit of those under their charge and the glory of the one who gave them the authority in the first place. What does it look like to use this authority?

Well, Paul gives us some pointers. At the very least it involves instruction and exhortation. Titus is to remind the members of the congregation of their duty. He is to remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to show all humility to all men. He is to plead with folks to do what is right, to admonish them and beseech them to act in such a way that it adorns the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

But what if this fails? What if Titus admonishes and exhorts and pleads with a brother or sister and he still doesn’t listen, he rebels and refuses to acknowledge Titus’ authority? Once again we come to Paul’s words – “let no one despise you.” Let no one, Titus, disregard your authority. As any parent or magistrate knows – when you lay down the law and then fail to discipline when the law is broken, you get more disobedience. And so Paul exhorts Titus later in the letter:

“Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (3:10-11).

If folks failed to give heed to the voice of authority vested in Titus as an officer of the Church, then Titus was to proceed to discipline the fellow as any good parent would.

Notice, then, that Titus’ duty as one in authority is to use that authority for the building up of the body and the instruction of those under his charge. Simultaneously, the duty of those under authority is to honor the authorities that God has placed over them, showing all good fidelity and being well-pleasing in all things. This is the ideal relationship. Those in authority looking out for those under authority and those under authority honoring those in authority.

Unfortunately, this ideal relationship is often not the real relationship. As those in authority we frequently abdicate our responsibility and fail to shepherd those entrusted to us. As those under authority we frequently kick against the goads and disregard those who have been entrusted with our care. Reminded of our sin, let us kneel and confess it to the Lord.