Some Thoughts On "Titus 2 Women"

by Mary E. Stephens
Oct. 2018

Some time back I found this statement on a blog about being Titus 2 women:

"Mature women have so much they can teach younger women; homemaking skills, cooking, keeping a home, decorating, budgeting, how to shop, and the list goes on." [Source withheld for her privacy.]

This sparked some thoughts in me. While the author did talk about passing on spiritual knowledge and wisdom, this sentence caught my attention as she seemed to be emphasizing these earthly things to some degree. Furthermore, I've seen plenty of women who do focus on such things, sometimes to the exclusion of the spiritual.

So, let's consider this a moment. Here is what the three verses in that chapter actually say relating to women:

Titus 2:3-5 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.

Does it actually say in the passage that the aged women should be teaching homemaking skills, cooking, decorating, etc.? The only place I can see where we might force that thought into the text is "teachers of good things..." However, the very next verse continues about the teaching and it appears to me to be defining what those good things should be, and it isn't general house keeping skills.

I don't have a problem with older women teaching younger women to be effective in homemaking skills, cooking, and so forth - it can serve a useful purpose; but it seems to me that the Holy Spirit was mostly interested in spiritual and heart issues, not the daily chores and necessities of life.

Why would this be? I think the answer lies in what Jesus taught during His ministry on earth.

Matthew 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.

Matthew 6:31-34 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  

In the modern Christian movement of a "return to keepers at home" there has developed this thinking that the ideal wife and mother is baking her own bread from whole grains that she purchased from a co-op and ground into flour herself, making her own laundry detergent, keeping her house immaculate and decorated with things she made herself, doing DIY projects, "couponing" or buying wholesale from some specialized seller, homeschooling her children, using cloth diapers for her baby, using supplements and serving the perfect diet to maximize her family's health - all on a budget of 149 dollars and 62 cents a month. Yes? Well, I'm going a little overboard on purpose. And I'm not saying that those things are intrinsically bad or something.

But seriously, my family heard of one group where every wife was reportedly expected to make all her family's food from scratch without the aid of bread machine and possibly a mixer, because it would "keep the women busy and out of trouble." This is based on an age-old idea that spans multiple cultures. It is this - that if left to themselves, women will only get into trouble and therefore they need to be kept busy with many homemaking endeavors (and often "barefoot and pregnant").

Is that what the Holy Spirit was talking about when He inspired Paul to write those things to Titus? I don't think that was the point.

Consider this:

Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Martha's complaint that she was busy serving while her sister was "wasting time" listening to Jesus was not met with a rebuke to Mary, but rather to Martha. It was a kind rebuke, but it was a rebuke. She was troubled with many things - about serving and housekeeping and hospitality (and her personal suffering). But those were not the needful things. I suppose I may begin to sound like a broken record on this, but there is so much emphasis in some circles on the "much serving" that Christian women are "supposed" to be doing. Based upon Jesus Christ's own words, this is in direct conflict with what He identified as needful.

If you will look at the list of things in those three verses in Titus 2 again you will see that almost all of them are about the internal things, not external. Almost every one of them starts on the inside and works its way out. Even the "keepers at home" might be argued to fall into this definition, although it is the most external one in the list.

How do the aged women become knowledgeable in behavior that "becometh holiness"? One guess. Sitting at Jesus' feet hearing His word, whether that be through their own study of scripture, family worship, or church meetings.

I want to really encourage us all to think wisely about where we put our efforts. What is the most important thing to us? Is it finding the perfect diet to solve all health problems? Is it finding the perfect home school curriculum for each child to make them as smart as possible with book learning? Is it doing another DIY project to post on our social media or impress our friends? Is it decorating our house just the way we like it so that it's all "just lovely"? Is it serving the perfect meal to friends who come to dinner?

Let's just pick one to talk about here.

What if using frozen pizza or "take out" for dinner when guests came made it possible for you to be fresh in your mind and spirit so that you could have more meaningful and edifying conversations while they were in your home? Yeah, it wouldn't measure up to Mrs. So-much-more's succulent dinner and perfect dessert, and if we're honest, that hurts our pride. We want people to go away and say something about the food or the house or the yard or the entertainment or SOMETHING we did.

But, what if it isn't about us? What if when they left our home our guests carried away with them a thought from God's word that would go with them through the rest of their lives? What if they learned something that the Lord could bring to mind years down the road and it would save them from some disaster or life mistake?

Oh, my friends, I don't know about you, but that thought thrills me; because I have those things in my own life, things that were planted there by people who valued the privilege of passing on knowledge to the glory of God. I know from personal experience how incredibly blessed we are when someone puts a valuable spiritual tool into our life toolbox that we can use again and again throughout our life on this earth. This is what we should be hoping for, aiming for, and striving for in our hospitality, in our interactions with others, in our teaching of the younger women who are coming up after us. This is what Titus 2:3-5 is about - equipping, edifying, and encouraging those younger women in the things that will bring lasting rewards, not the things that will only meet the needs of this temporary life.

1 John 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

The objective is "that the word of God be not blasphemed." Is that not explanation enough?

Continuing with our chosen example of using prepared foods, we see that we don't blaspheme the word of God by buying pre-made food. I know some might take issue with that on the grounds that we need to eat healthful foods in order to have good strength to serve the Lord. But, if we stop and think about it realistically, we would realize that in some situations someone may be forced to live this way, is that then sin? It cannot be and it is never forbidden in scripture, so to try to imply that eating prepared food is sinful is misleading at best. And, this applies to a number of other things as well, things that are declared by some to be "wrong" which are never called "wrong" by God.

No, the objective is to honor Jesus Christ, the living word of God, and to live out the written word in our daily lives so that others may see Jesus in us.

There are many things of this life that we enjoy doing that really have little or no bearing whatsoever on eternity. We all need to consider wisely and carefully what we are doing and why. Many things that are good in a small way in that they make our lives better and more productive, can be allowed to become distractions and obsessions that keep us from the important and eternal things, as Martha learned. The things that start inside and work their way out into our actions and daily lives are far more important. Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Passing on earthly life skills may have it's place, doing the comfortable things that make life more pleasant may have its uses, but the emphasis should be on the spiritual, the things that glorify God's word in our lives. Let's make an effort to focus on things that have truly lasting value. Let's work on building up others in the Lord so that there will be fruit that remains beyond the end of this life - both in our own lives and in theirs.

John 15:16-17 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.


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graphics and background by Mary Stephens
Vintage graphic origin unknown.