Virtually everywhere we have lived, I’ve heard it– younger women lamenting the lack of wise women who can give them solid biblical teaching, & biblical encouragement.
Titus 2 describes an older woman who is:
- reverent in behavior (appropriate, respectful, respectable, godly)
- not slanderers (gossipy)
- not slaves to too much wine (drunks)
- able to train/teach younger women in these areas: to (affectionately) love their children, to (affectionately) love their husbands, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands
Again and again I hear godly younger women say, “where are they?”
And I’ve asked it. I’ve asked this question before, and felt frustrated by the seeming lack of reliable wisdom from women in the American church.
These may not be easy to read (especially if you are upwards of 35, pushing toward the “older woman” category), but after years of thinking these things through, here are some reasons I think Titus 2 women are hard to find:
- Feminism stripped the church of large portion of a generation of faithful women who could pass on things like submission, working at home, purity, what faithful mothering looks like, etc. A good portion of the church population battles feeling ill-equipped to teach what they were ill-equipped to live.
- Age-segregation-ism took hold of the church over the last 60-80 years. For decades, churches systematically separated younger women from older women, and vice-versa. Women of different age groups are unlikely to know each other well, and because most of us grew up in similarly age-segregated school systems, we are increasingly unskilled at developing deep relationships with people outside our age category. Before the Sunday-School-by-age model, (as well as the secular age-segregated school model that infected the church by proximity) church functions included the whole church community, and women were much more likely, I think, to know and spend time with women in other seasons of life.
- Many older women have gone back to work, too, so that’s another element playing into all of this. They are tired, too. Maxed out, between marriage and grandkids and work… they feel spread thin, just like younger moms in the thick of motherhood.
Worldliness in the church— Some women keep right on going, buying in order to achieve their perfect house, decorating and redecorating, while asking for prayer because their children and grandchildren aren’t walking with the Lord, their marriage is struggling, etc. They may use their free time to pursue their personal passions and hobbies and don’t have time left over to pour into younger women in need of their insights and teaching.
Many of them are divorced. This doesn’t mean they don’t have wisdom to share, but it does mean that the number of women who can give advice from a position of ongoing, decades-long, marital faithfulness is smaller than it once was.
- Younger women think of Titus 2 women as meddlesome. I really appreciated the observations in this article: “In yesteryear, your Titus 2 women were a part of the local congregation. You knew if an older woman was someone you wanted teaching you because she had proven herself. The entire community could see that fact. Young mothers knew they could count on her advice because they had seen her run her household day in and day out and they were able to observe the fruit of her labor. It was obvious she was for real. Likewise, the older women could see the needs of the younger women. They saw these woman with their husbands and children out and about and could readily ascertain many of the issues they were having. Now before you tell me those were the “good ole days,” I want you to consider how much you would welcome an older woman’s advice? Would you really be all ears or do you think maybe, just maybe, you might end up feeling cornered? Would that older woman come off as helpful or presumptuous and meddling? Would you only want her advice if you sought it? Would you be irritated if she kept a watchful eye on your progress? It’s tough to take criticism. It’s tough to be told something in your life needs to change. And it is beyond tough to be held accountable for the lessons you?ve been taught. When we do our Titus 2-ing online, we can lie about how we are doing or hide behind a passive-agressive Facebook status. We can even unfriend and walk away.”
- Lack of good biblical theology— many women now are going the way of squishy theology or even compromising on everything from marriage (divorce is OK, gay marriage is OK) to parenting (“spanking isn’t biblical”, giving Dr.Phil-like advice).
- Cultural despising of the aging process— Some women go the way of “eat pray love” sort of leave your obligations, chase a younger man (be a cougar!), and follow your heart sort of thinking (the ultimate feminist message), but many more focus on looking young, acting young, keeping up with the Joneses, working a job for extra income, following their hobbies, etc, rather than pouring into their local congregations. When ancient wisdom is despised, along with the gray hair, wrinkles, and weary bodies that come with it, many of the church’s women fall prey to cultural attitudes and gravitate toward choices that are culturally celebrated.
- The avg. Christian family 20 years ago had 2 kids and public schooled vs. the avg. Christian family now has 3+ kids and is rethinking school & secular commitments— My mom and dad’s life, raising my brother and I, feeling safe to sign us up for community activities in our (mostly Christian) small town, and cheering us on through practices, concerts, events, games, and competitions, is very different from my life of homeschooling our 8th, 6th, 4th, 2nd graders, and a 5, 3, and 1 year old. Even managing the basic things like cooking & laundry look so very very very different in our crew than someone with a couple children.
Some solutions I’ve found:
- I have to be open to it in whatever form it comes, willing to learn whatever it is that particular woman is able to teach.— No woman has it all together, but every woman who has been walking with the Lord for any length of time should have some things I can learn from her. In local church situations, I’ve had to be much more flexible in what I glean from those older women, holding their parenting advice up to Scripture (because much of it just isn’t biblical, it’s often either opinions from the world, or opinions from Christian teachers, but most of what I’ve been told has been opinion, not biblically-based), most of the time not emulating their marriages (I’m being honest here– there is a lot of marital weakness because unbiblical ideas about what was normal in marriage crept into the church through TV and culture). BUT when I am willing, I find that older women have some things that I NEED: great recipes, an attitude of welcoming hospitality, welcoming love toward wayward children, diligence in prayer.
- Look for women who ARE ahead of you on the road you’re on. Thankfully, in this community we just moved to, there are a number of women 10-20 years “ahead” of me on the road of loving their husbands/children, working at home, pursuing purity and self-control, etc. I am trying to build relationships with them and thankful that they even exist, knowing how many women I hear from that don’t have it at all.
- Supplement with books/blogs/internet for inspiration and encouragement to go the distance and not give up. This is one of the strengths of our generation. It *IS* a potential pitfall if you ONLY look online, or if you idolize women you don’t know (who are unquestionably imperfect & still sin), but I have found great encouragement to go the distance from women who are strong in a particular area that I need (Crystal Paine- thriftiness, Sally Clarkson- crafting a vibrant home environment, Elizabeth Krueger- giving faithful, loving discipline over the long haul).
- Keep opening my heart to let God meet this need, however He will. I have seen His faithfulness in my life in this area, and I want to encourage you: He is capable of meeting your need for fellowship and encouragement in a small backwoods church, in your non-Christian family, overseas, or in your non-Bible-belt location. He really can take what seems like a dearth of Titus 2 women and give you exactly the woman/women you need, to learn from and be encouraged. He can fill the voids that exist in your life, and mine.
I wonder, do you see a “lack” of this in your church community?
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:
Do you have older women teaching you and training you in these things?
Do you know older women who are able to model these things and have lived them?
19 thoughts on “The Elusive Titus 2 Woman”
I am fortunate to have several Titus 2 women at our church, one in particular. I think one reason it works is because we have lots of fellowship at church, we spend alot of time together. I also think it helps that we are a conservative church that stands strong on the Word of God. I think too many churches are watered down and don’t want to risk offending someone by pointing out Biblical Truth. The one woman at church has 9 kids that are mostly grown and all following Christ so she is a great person to get advice from.
That’s great! (And what a legacy– 9 kids, all following the Lord. WOW!)
I don’t yet have a Titus 2 woman like this, locally, in my life. There is however, one in our church that I am working on tracking down and getting to know more. She’s ahead of me by 10-15 years, but still has three homeschooled kids at home so not a lot of time to spare.
It’s so tricky, finding time together, isn’t it?
Even those who *are* or have been at home, once they reach an empty nest, are often busy with grandkids, working now that kids are out of the house, traveling to see children in various places, etc. It can definitely make it tough to have regularly-occurring Titus 2 type interactions.
Titus 2:5 portrays a positive consequence of obedience: “so that no one will malign the word of God.” Then, is it valid to explore the possible consequences of our culture not walking in Titus 2?
For example would it be valid to ask, “are there people in our culture today who malign the word as a consequence of setting aside Titus 2 in the past?”
My life situation gave an opportunity to visit many “modern / non-denominational / evangelical” churches over the past 5 to 7 years. There was only 1 single time I heard a church teach on household government and authority structure within a family. 1 single time.
The detail was this: a pastor took a swipe at husbands who wished that their wives walked in biblical family organization (the husbands probably felt grieved and pained as the they could visibly see their own family getting damaged). And that’s the only time I’ve experienced any teaching about household structure in a US church service that I was personally attending during a span of close to 7 years.
I haven’t interviewed pastors to learn their individual views. My sense is that Titus 2 and other passages are too “controversial” to teach in the west and some pastors may avoid the teaching due to the angry, fleshly, backlash waiting for the speaker. Also, I think there may be some pastors who themselves don’t even believe or take seriously this particular aspect of the word of God. 🙁
Wow, that’s really sad.
I’m thankful to have consistently attended churches that do talk explicitly about these things, and have been quite encouraging about these issues. At some point, if a pastor is too intimidated by a basic and crystal-clear passage like Titus 2, perhaps it might be time to find a new church?
What an interesting coincidence – I just published a post today that I have been working on for a week or so titled, “I’m an older woman…so now what?” (https://barbarah.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/im-an-older-woman-so-now-what/) with thoughts for both older and younger women about the Titus 2 lady.
I think a lot of older women just don’t know how to go about this – particularly with a lack of respect for aging and the thought that they’d be seen as meddling or out of touch. Plus some just don’t feel qualified. Years ago when I was trying to get some middle-aged and older ladies together for a panel discussion about loving our husbands, I could hardly find anyone who would agree to (though it finally came together and was a fun and beneficial night). But most of them felt they didn’t have it all together enough to help anyone else. But, as you said, if we’ve walked with the Lord for any length of time, we should have something to share. Plus we don’t share from a standpoint of perfection but of faulty women needing grace.
I loved your post Barbara! Thank you for sharing! I will be sharing it soon. <3 Thank you!!
I love the point that different women will have different areas of strength for me to try to learn from.
I have a dear, older friend that I meet to pray with nearly every week. I have learned so much from her about faithfulness in prayer and time in the Word and faithfully loving your husband. She is (obviously) not perfect and I would not emulate all of her decisions. But I have been so incredibly blessed by spending time with her.
I have other ladies in my life that I look up to in certain areas (such as home management, education, etc.). Even though I may not agree with them on every area of life, there is still so much I can learn from them in their area of “specialty” if I allow myself to be humble and teachable.
Great encouragement. I have been SO impacted by a mentor God hand picked for my life I can tell however we talk via facebook messenger most days and her perspective has changed my life. We both wished we could be friends in person and we have met but we live far from each other. I also can barely get out to go to the grocery store and she has some disabilities also so I know that God can use some unlikely and hard circumstances and still give you a mentor. Just keep asking and seeking and keep an open heart and mind. He will provide. Now I’m looking for younger women to pour into. The one secret and key ingredient is HUNGER. The hungry get fed. Now I sense the younger women don’t want my advice but I’m sure that at some point the right women will be hungry and I pray I will be an encouragement to them! 🙂 It’s all about love!!
I think there is a generation of women who have not been well taught. Biblical headship and wifely submission does not mean the woman should be passive, but many seem to be. There are churches which do not teach individuals to study, discuss and delve into God’s word, but in fact seem to fear this and so even their ‘Bible studies’ are a short sermon delivered from the front, rather than a true discussion. I know many women aged around 60 who probably have loads to give and to share, but who just do not know how to handle and teach the word of God. They almost seem uncomfortable in this territory, maybe because they have grown up in churches where they feared saying ‘the wrong thing’. My mother in law is just like this – simply won’t engage in discussions about the Bible or its application, even though her faith is the most important thing to her (and she has raised 9 children all of whom seem to be walking with the Lord with occasional stumbles).
Then there is there ‘you can have it all’ generation who tried to do everything – work, have a family, keep fit, have hobbies, travel, have a perfect house (which as you say, has been redecorated so many times!) and so forth and discovered that actually you can’t have it all. Something has to go, and that can often be your ‘first love’, your love of Christ. Maybe our generation is turning against this, recognising the lie, and aiming to reclaim Biblical femininity.
I have been blessed with wonderful mentor type relationships, but these women live 2500, 5000 and 7000 miles away. We do not communicate often, and may not see one another for years (or at all); but they had a key impact on my life at a key time, and that is of eternal value. I try to tell them that, to encourage them that what they gave me was of far greater value as they simply welcomed me into their homes and shared their lives, letting me walk alongside them for a time.
My prayer is that I never become too busy to open my heart and my home to younger women, and that I can ‘correctly handle and rightly divide’ the word of God without being ashamed.
I found her when I joined bsfinternational.org
Wow, Jess. I have been thinking all of these thoughts (about the modern lack of Titus 2 women-mentors) for YEARS. You really put my thoughts into a perfect post, and I think you’ve really nailed it here. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say – I agree! Thank you for putting this into words.
P.S. Still praying for your daughter and hoping she continues to improve!
I can tell you that I long for the wisdom of older women. My greatest fear is that I will become a burden. I search and search for eye contact. I search for that opening question, that indicates a person is interest in the SLIGHTEST way in who I am. So often, they are not. They talk only about themselves. They rush off. They don’t have the bandwidth.
I longed for so many years for a Titus 2 mentor in my life. My experience was the same as some have already mentioned – they raised their kids, then became career women, they were uninterested, they had completely different values, they didn’t have even a few minutes of time, etc. Finally, I felt the Lord leading me to BE a Titus 2 mentor to someone – be there for someone like I was longing for someone to be there for me. No matter how young we are, there is always someone younger. I asked someone how I could pray for her, & I had no expectations of her whatsoever. I just prayed for her when she shared something. Over the years, we have prayed for each other & now have a very special friendship. A TRUE friendship. So… if you don’t have a Titus 2 mentor, then be one. You will be blessed.
What a great piece of writing! I’ve been a “Titus 2” mentor to one of my dearest friends for the last several years. She accepted Christ, after years of me praying for her and now she looks to me for guidance. I also have a FB page on which I connect ladies who are interested in mentoring with those who need guidance. This is so overlooked; it seems many are more concerned with being a Proverbs 31 woman. Interestingly, the two work together, not independently. Thank you for a great read!