What Does Titus 2 Mean For Me?

What Does Titus 2 Mean For Me? // jessconnell.com // includes a helpful self-evaluation

Virtually all Christian women have read Titus 2. But practically speaking, what does it look like? What does it mean for you and me?

Last month, we attended a home education conference with keynotes by Dr. Voddie Baucham.

During the pastor’s luncheon, he took a few moments to address the “Titus 2 woman.” I want to share some of his thoughts (not quoted, but cited as accurately as my notes and memory allow) and then jump off from them:

  1. Titus 2 is not one woman leading a group class. 
  2. Older Christian women are to BE this. (Not just “a” woman, here or there. All Christian women.)
  3. It’s not a classroom setting being described. This is life-on-life discipleship.
  4. This is not a description youth group, because this is older married women teaching younger married women. Older mothers teaching younger mothers. Older women who are submitted to their own husbands training younger women to be submissive to their own husbands.
  5. Not a de facto “woman elder” (for all practical purposes, without the title)
  6. Age frame for “older?” Roughly 30, give or take (gauging from Jesus’ ministry age, as well as the life expectancy of the time.)

CAN TITUS 2 HAPPEN IN A CLASSROOM SETTING?

For my part, I’m not willing to live and die on #s 1 & 3. I see, definitely, that it doesn’t mean this HAS to happen in a classroom setting, but I also don’t see where it prohibits that setting from being used. The classroom is a common MEANS of worldview transmission, in our day and age.

For my part, I’m much more concerned about the specifications of the text being carried out than the setting. The setting described (as I see it) seems to be pretty much irrelevant, because it is the PARTICIPANTS and the IDEAS BEING TRANSMITTED that take center-stage in Titus 2.

To refresh our collective memories, here it is, Titus 2:3-5:

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

So, for my part, I certainly agree that Titus 2 isn’t describing a classroom setting, per se, and is describing lifestyle discipleship.

But more than that, I’d argue, it’s not describing a setting at all, but rather a sort of relationship and means of transmission of godliness that God intends for women in the Body of Christ.

I also definitely agree with #5- that this passage is not describing some sort of position on a pastoral-staff, with a “Titus 2 woman” who expounds the Scriptures to all women as if she is a de facto elder to the female portion of the Body of Christ. That is not the sort of thing being described in this passage at all.

WHAT AGE IS A TITUS 2 WOMAN?

He said age 30-ish and up. I am so thankful to have Dr. Baucham weigh in on this. I’d previously only heard one other person (Carolyn Mahaney) actually be willing to put a number on it (she said 60, because of the age given in regard to the  widows list in 1 Tim 5:9). Other people that I’ve seen address this topic tend to dance around the number by saying, “everyone should be a Titus 2 woman… even a 15 year old can have someone she’s mentoring!”

Well, yes… and no. Sure, we can all be discipling (a la 2 Tim. 2:2), at any age, but a 15 year old can not tell a 12 year old how to love her husband.

And while we can certainly talk about marriage with younger women of any age, I agree with Dr. Baucham’s #4- that this isn’t really speaking about an older woman being a youth pastor (or youth pastor’s wife) because it isn’t possible to “train” a 14-year-old how to be “submissive to her own husband.” We might could talk about the general principles of submission (as a believer, as a child, as an employee, as a citizen, as a wife), but this passage isn’t referring to youth ministry, or general discussion of the topic.

So, as far as age goes, I tend to agree with Dr. Baucham. I’ve always thought Mahaney’s number of 60 was really high, given the longevity (or rather, the lack thereof) of people in NT times. So, unless she is a recent convert, age 30-ish and up for “older women” is probably a good and helpful gauge for us.

By that time, a woman should have been walking with the Lord, is likely to have experienced enough trials to have found God faithful through hard times, and should be familiar enough with Scripture to be able to counsel from it with wisdom and discretion. 

This points to the next topic–

ALL CHRISTIAN WOMEN ARE TO BE THESE THINGS

This admonition is an excellent one. Here’s a bit more that he said (this is a rough quote):

“If you’ve been a disciple for decades and don’t know theology, have you really been a disciple? In what other sphere do we accept that logic?” (You can’t be a plumber for decades and not have mastered the subject enough to answer a variety of questions and be considered a reliable, successful plumber. You can’t be an accountant, but twenty years in, still not have the ability to teach people the basics of math and bookkeeping.) 

“Mediocrity should NOT be normative.”

I share Voddie’s concern that, in Christian circles, we have inadvertently adopted an idea that the “Titus 2” sort of woman is an extraordinary one. But she should not be. We should all be this woman, or be on our way to becoming this woman.

This passage should not describe some rarely-seen woman around whom we all gather and try to take notes as much as we can. We should be able to look to virtually ANY mature woman in the church and see a close similarity between her life and this passage.

EVERY Christian woman, unless she is a recent convert, should be accurately described by Titus 2.

A TITUS 2 SELF-EVALUATION:

  • Am I reverent in my behavior? Respectable? Appropriately behaving as a woman of God?
  • Am I a slanderer? This word is archaic, but the meaning is relevant for us today. Do I pass on stories that defame or make others look bad? Am I quick to believe and repeat things that are negative about others? Do I like to know stories that highlight bad qualities/events in the lives of people around me?
  • Am I a slave to much wine? This has become a popular thing to joke about, even in some Christian circles. “Can’t wait to put the kids to bed and chill out with a nice glass of Merlot!” Am I living for mental numbing that won’t actually satisfy? Am I dependent on anything– food, Facebook? Is there anything aside from Christ that is enslaving me?
  • Do I teach what is good? Does the counsel that bubbles from my mouth come from Scripture, or… from a mothering forum? …from ungodly sources? …from psychology-based thinking? …from a feminist heart? …from self-promoting, worldly thinking? Do I teach wise counsel from God’s Word, things that are right and noble and encourage others to see the world through God’s perspective and what He calls good?
  • Do I “train” (faithfully discipline/teach over time) younger women to be affectionate and loving toward their husbands and children? Do I commiserate with complaints, or fan the flames of love and affection for family in the women around me?
  • Do I “train” (faithfully discipline/teach over time) younger women to be self-controlled? Do I encourage others to govern their own spirits and feelings according to God’s Word, or do I massage feelings and encourage women around me to give free reign and full license to their anxieties and emotions?
  • Do I “train” (faithfully discipline/teach over time) younger women to be pure? Are the women around me edified to have pure minds, pure hearts, pure consciences, pure eyes, pure words, or by my example and influence, do I encourage people toward worldliness?
  • Do I “train” (faithfully discipline/teach over time) younger women to submit to their own husbands? If a friend comes to me with a disagreement she’s having with her husband, is she more likely to be encouraged in her “rights” or to be encouraged and reminded to adapt herself to and align herself under her husband? In regard to marriage advice, do I actively seek the obedience to God’s Word above obedience to culturally-popular attitudes?
  • Do I “train” (faithfully discipline/teach over time) younger women to be kind? Are women around me being influenced toward a good-natured and contented approach to life?
  • Do I “train” (faithfully discipline/teach over time) younger women with the overarching goal that God’s Word would be given greater credit and honor in the hearts and lives of those I influence? Is this the motivation that drives my interactions with younger women?

(I found the Amplified Bible particularly helpful in illuminating a more full meaning of this text.)

THOUGHTS?
PUSHBACK?
QUESTIONS?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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19 Responses

  1. Jess,
    For what it’s worth your notes sound accurate (as far as I can remember) to what he said.

    I appreciate the balance you struck between life-on-life versus classroom. Jesus Himself lived life with the disciples, while also spending plenty of time teaching them verbally.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Very interesting. I do think 30 seems on the young side. At 30 I was still very much in need of lots of Titus 2 mentoring and was not at all ready to mentor anyone else but now at 35 I find that I am much more able to share and encourage younger women (and I still need the encouragement from older women). Maybe it just has to do with my Christian walk and where I was at 30.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Could be.

      Do you think, though, that that’s an indictment of both our culture ( marrying later & later, expecting less and less of older teens/young adults than was the case 2000 years ago), and our church culture (that we’ve had a series of generations of virtually undiscipled, or poorly discipled, disciples), than an issue of age?

      Because truthfully, by age 30, for centuries, there’s been a LOT of expectations on that person… the ability to be well-trained and hold down a job, the likelihood of marriage and parenting by that age.

      I mean, we say people can be PRESIDENT at age 35, so to be a wise and biblically thoughtful (at least in the practical things), woman by age 30 maybe isn’t so far out of reach as we might think on the face of it?

      Is this a thing like what “Rebelution” was all about, that our culture has systemic low expectations that we should be rebelling against?

      • Stephanie says:

        I tend to think it is an issue of people marrying later than they did in biblical times. If you marry at 25, at 30 you are still very newly married and not ready to offer a lot of advice. That may be a product of the church we go to– the young people are well discipled (we have many 3 generation families that are very strong in their faith). However, I did not grow up in church and got saved in college so that may play into my thoughts on not being mature enough at 30 too. But I agree that we need to rebel against low expectations and always be ready to serve and encourage. We dont’ want to use age as an excuse not to mentor but if we aren’t mature enough in the Lord then we need to focus on that growth first (which you did a great job of pointing out what to grow in).

        • Jess Connell says:

          Definitely, Stephanie; that’s what I see too. A lot of people are taking on responsibility later than they used to.

          From my view, that’s more a function of culture than of capability. At age 21/22, my pastor was given a position as an officer with command over troops… at age 21, I was hired as the associate director of a political office… and by their mid-20s, someone who put their nose to the grindstone could be nearing completion of a medical degree and be licensed to advise and have our trust as medical professionals.

          It seems a bit absurd, then, compared to those things, that we would think that a 30-year-old wouldn’t be able to be a mature disciple. Perhaps many *aren’t* but I think that goes hand-in-hand with Voddie’s challenge. We really *should* be.

          And I agree with that part for sure. It shouldn’t be unique for a woman to be a mature, wise counselor of God’s Word to other women by the time she’s 30.

          Thanks for adding your thoughts!

  3. Carrie says:

    This is a really great post on this topic. Often, I’ve found myself saying that when my children are grown and gone, I would like to be a Titus 2 woman to those younger than me. But your post made me realize that I don’t need to wait for that time as I can teach the younger wives and newer moms now. Thank you!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Thanks, Carrie. It was a good nudge for me too.

      I’ve always felt a little awkward, or at least started out wondering if I was wrong, about speaking up about Titus 2 type things because I’m not yet close to Carolyn Mahaney’s proposed age of 60. This helped me crystalize the idea that I’m not erring to do so, and also left me challenged to be sure I’m teaching “what is good” and not just my own opinions or preferences about things.

  4. Great word! Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Kacie says:

    Great discussion, thanks for posting! Recently I’ve been thinking about Galations 6:9 and reaping what I sow, thinking about what I want to reap. I’ve been thinking about this in regards to parenting but this verse encourages me to think through what I want to sow in my life. Like who do I want to be and how can I be that person. I’ve really been wanting to reach out to new moms and encourage them but wonder what I can offer, and don’t want to seem pretentious. I do feel like now at almost 35 and 3 kids into this parenting thing I’m qualified to at least encourage others who are in the trenches of motherhood as well! The last point, about age 30, really resonates with me, like by age alone I’ve perhaps had enough life experience to mentor/disciple someone. Great questions to ask for a self evaluation.

  6. I studied this passage in depth when I wrote my book (His Ways, Your Walk), and the Greek meaning of “aged” is “mature.” In context, it means a mature Christian. Though every Christian is maturing as a Christian, a mature Christian is one who understands and lives the basics of the Christian life. That DOES mean that someone in their twenties could teach younger women (mothers teaching daughters, for example) and ladies as young as thirty, too. I believe it has to do with the Christian’s walk in the Lord–probably not a brand new Christian, as Paul calls a man a “novice.” It is our duty to mentor, starting at home, and to mentor in the church.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Wonderful, thanks for weighing in with your thoughts and studies! That makes good sense.

      • Madely Lang says:

        My dear husband points out that there is a reason “elders” is translated “elders”. I don’t know the original word used, but there seems to be a strong implication of “older”, with accompanying wisdom.
        Certainly a young person can have tons of wisdom and we ought always to be “one-another-ing” throughout our Christian walk, but a mentor is more credible if she has walked through the experience she is advising on. I see this Titus 2 mentoring as an honored and special subcategory of Christian fellowship.

        • Jess Connell says:

          Great connection with elders. Since Titus 1 deals with elder qualities we should look for, that seems like the right context.

          Interestingly, Dr. Baucham was sharing about elders and how really that is what all Christian men should be like. He led us through the list and asked us, point by point, if we’d be glad for our sons to not possess any one of those qualities.

          And really it’s the same thing here. These qualities point to a larger reality of mature, wise living as a disciple of Jesus.

          Great thoughts Madelyn (and Madelyn’s husband)! :)

  7. Kondwani says:

    The age one is interesting. There is a problem in today’s society with ‘adultescents’, young adults who seem to refuse to accept they are adults. You see it in the church, you see it in communities. Look at some of the amazing godly people we learn from who did not live to 30. Robert Murray McCheyne is a great example. I think we can be ‘older’ in terms of our life experiences. If I am 28 and have been married for 8 years, I think I am qualified to mentor a 32 year old who has been married 6 months in marriage related matters. Personally, I had a child die. I often draw alongside those (younger and older, and bereaved grandparents) to encourage them to have an eternal hope and perspective. Biological age is not all everything.

    I think it does apply, in some way, to all of us. We should all be living lives which model and glorify God. Sometimes in fact that modelling can be done through real trials and hardships, and sometimes having to trust when everything is dark. I remember a younger friend staying with us for a week when I was two months postpartum and horribly ill, having all kinds of medical tests. I remember one evening sitting on the floor expressing milk to dispose of (I’d been given radiation that day) just crying because I felt so unwell. She told me afterwards it was so encouraging to see that marriage and children is not always idyllic (she is single and childless, and that can cause pain). She was encouraged by our faith and trust despite the trials.

    You see where I am going? I don’t think we need to imagine a picture of what we think we should be like and try and pretend to be that person. But (quoting Paul’s letter to the Corinthians) we are being transformed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another. We are treasures in jars of clay. It is through a Christ centred life, not through some superficial ‘perfection’ that we model godliness. Being patient with an irritable husband for example, or showing kindness to somebody who has been rude to you. Life is not perfect, but we are called to live godly lives. I think we teach more to those around us through our ‘walk rather than our talk’.

    I loved your personal challenge/ reflection on whether I am doing these things. I see some areas of weakness and temptation. I leave this blog encouraged tonight.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Great examples, K! I totally agree.

      Your examples reminded me of a lady who didn’t want to take advice from her friend because her friend was her same age. But there was a great difference between them! One had been raised in a Christian home, while my friend was a relatively new believer. The one had been married for well over a decade, in a happy marriage, with a number of children, while the other was both a new wife and new mom, in a hard marriage. The reason she didn’t want to accept counsel from this woman had nothing to do with wisdom, and everything to do with pride.

      She didn’t want to feel bad that she was the same age and yet lacked insight in areas that were new to her. It shouldn’t have made her feel bad, but it did.

      God help us all to heed advice from people who have gained wisdom in an area where we need it, no matter our ages!

    • Jess Connell says:

      It also makes me think of a sweet & humble 39 year old friend of mine who, upon the approach of her marriage, asked me (when I was maybe 30?) for marriage advice. She knew that, 9 years into our marriage, I’d have insight where she was needy even though she was an incredibly godly and wise and admirable in so very many areas (and had been a counselor/mentor to me in those things)!

      If we’ll be humble, I think we can learn something from every mature Christian woman around us, no matter her age.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Jess,
    Thank you for a great post. The self evaluation questions are right on target.

  1. June 10, 2015

    […] WHAT DOES TITUS 2 MEAN FOR ME? […]

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