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?