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)
Today we approach the last of two exhortations on the lessons that women are to teach us as the people of God. As we consider Paul’s admonitions to the younger women we see two primary concerns expressed. First, Paul is concerned that younger women be oriented in a specific direction. Second, Paul is concerned that younger women possess a certain character.
So let us take the second concern first. Paul wants younger women to possess a certain type of character. Whether you are single or married, young or old, the character qualifications that Paul places before us help us to see what it means to be a real woman. Our modern culture has made a full frontal assault on femininity and so women are terribly confused. And this frontal assault has been aided and abetted by abdicating men who would like nothing better than to shun responsibility for the women in their lives.
Paul commands younger women to be discreet, chaste, and good. He wants them to live lives grounded in and oriented around the Triune God. So God is the Creator of all; therefore, Christian women are to be discreet – to order their lives in a way that reflects how God designed the world. God is Holy and therefore Christian women are to be chaste – distinct from the scandalous behavior of the women around them. Cretan women were the ancient equivalent of skanky Hollywood actresses and Paul wants the Christian women to be separate. Finally, God is goodness itself and so Christian women are to be good – embodying the character of Jesus in their own lives by the power of God’s grace.
Each of Paul’s admonitions puts the Triune God at the center of our life and consciousness. In order to be discreet, chaste, and good, Christian women must know who God is and what He is like. Your minds and hearts must be engaged and attune to God Himself. And this necessitates that Christian women know and understand the Word of God for this is where the Triune God has revealed Himself.
Contrast this mindset with what Eugene Peterson calls the Replacement Trinity of modern culture, a Replacement Trinity that women in particular are greatly tempted to worship and obey:
…the three personal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is replaced by a very individualized personal Trinity of my Holy Wants, my Holy Needs, and my Holy Feelings… The time and intelligence that our ancestors spent on understanding the sovereignty revealed in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are directed by our contemporaries in affirming and validating the sovereignty of our needs, wants, and feelings….
It is clear that we live in an age in which the authority of Scripture in our lives has been replaced by the authority of the self: we are encouraged on all sides to take charge of our lives and use our own experience [our own needs, wants, and feelings] as the authoritative text by which to live.
The alarming thing is how extensively this spirit has invaded the church. I more or less expect the unbaptized world to attempt to live autonomously. But not those of us who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior. I am not the only one to notice that we are in the odd and embarrassing position of being a church in which many among us believe ardently in the authority of the Bible but, instead of submitting to it, use it, apply it, take charge of it endlessly, using our own experience as the authority for how and where and when we will [submit to] it.
One of the most urgent tasks facing the Christian community today is to counter this self-sovereignty by reasserting what it means to live these Holy Scriptures from the inside out, instead of using them for our sincere and devout but still self-sovereign purposes [serving our Holy Wants, Holy Needs, and Holy Feelings].(Eat This Book, 31,32,59)
So how are you orienting your life? Are you orienting it around the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Or are you orienting it around the Unholy Trinity of your Holy Wants, Needs, and Feelings? Paul challenges you to put the Triune God at the Center – to be discreet, chaste, and good.
Reminded that this is our calling, let us kneel and confess that we have often fallen short.