According to Paul in Titus 2 older women are not to tell malicious stories, nor drink too much alcohol. They are to be reverent in behaviour, and to teach what is good. Although older women are specifically mentioned I don’t think anyone imagines that it is ok for people other than older women to do any of the bad things listed.

Young women are to love their husbands and children, be self-controlled, kind and pure. Once again no one imagines that it is ok for people other than young women to not love their spouse and children, and not to be self-controlled, and not be kind, and to be impure. Young women are also told that they were to work at home and to be submissive to their husbands. Then as now, it was common for young mothers to have responsibilities looking after young children. They were to do these duties conscientiously as should any modern woman who is at home. Often modern women not only work at home but also go out to paid employment; this may not always be because of choice but because of financial pressures. If a mother is motivated by concern for her family rather than selfishness then no more could be asked of her. The same principles apply to fathers of course. It is not ok for a father to be selfish but not a mother.

The only instruction for women from the apostle Paul in this chapter that might confront us is the instruction to be “submissive to their husbands”. This seems to go against 21st century cultural values. Once again there is no corresponding command for husbands to be overbearing. I can see no alternative than that Paul actually means what he says; a wife should be submissive to her husband. However this cannot mean that she must follow him if he calls her to wickedness any more than the instruction to slaves to submit to their masters would require the slave (or in modern terms, the employee) to, for example, commit fraud if instructed to. But nor does the instruction mean nothing at all.

The detailed reasons for submission of the wife are not given in Titus 2 although in Ephesians 5 the same subject is addressed in more detail.

Ephesians 5:22-30  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  (23)  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  (24)  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.  (25)  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  (26)  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  (27)  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  (28)  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  (29)  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  (30)  because we are members of his body.


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