Spiritual Motherhood: Raising Daughters in the Faith According to Titus 2
Words by Dianne Jago
No matter what you choose to call it, Christians are all called to be disciples and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). Unfortunately, a recent Barna study reveals that only 28% of Christians are both being discipled and discipling others. I’ve conversed with women of all ages and backgrounds who admit that discipleship has not been a part of their Christian journey. Some blame it on a disconnect between the varying generations. Others never saw it emphasized in their church and simply don’t know how to go about it. Regardless of one’s experience with discipleship, Scripture is clear about the necessity of raising spiritual sons and daughters in the faith. The book of Titus offers clear direction for what Biblical discipleship looks like: the older women must not be hypocritical, younger women must be teachable, and the result of this kind of discipleship is that the local church flourishes.
Older Women: Practice What You Teach
In Titus 2:1, Paul commands Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine.” He is encouraging the teacher to communicate the behavior that goes with sound doctrine. He follows this statement with a list for older men and women.
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.” (Titus 2:2-3)
Since we are looking specifically at women, we may be tempted to skip down to verse three, but verses 2 and 3 are connected. Older men are called to model the marks of spiritual maturity by being sober–minded, dignified, self-controlled, and sound in faith, love, and steadfastness. The key word in verse 3 is likewise. In a similar manner, women are not only to pattern the men in these virtues, but Paul gives three additional commands: older women are to be reverent in behavior (or to have good character), not be slanderers or gossips, and cannot be slaves to wine (be controlled by external substances, specifically excessive drinking). In other words, the qualification for the older generation to teach begins with themselves, lest they be hypocritical and offer up empty words that don’t align with their own lifestyles. The older generation must not simply be hearers of the word of God, but doers also (James 1:22). This gives potency to the counter-cultural message they are to communicate.
So, what is it that older women are to teach?
“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.” (Titus 2:3b-5)
This is not a popular list. Sadly, many Christian women write this entire chapter off as antiquated and unfit for our current context, allowing modern-day ideologies to be the hermeneutic with which they interpret Scripture. Even so, verse 3 commands the older women to “teach what is good.” Paul then qualifies what is good in God’s eyes:
- Women who love their families.
- Women who have discipline and self-control.
- Women who value purity.
- Women who keep their homes.
- Women who are kind.
- Women who allow their husband to be the spiritual authority and covering of their household.
These are convictions that the world rejects. We need strong, older women who live this out well and are willing to instruct and champion younger women to do the same.
Younger Women: Be Teachable
The younger women play a role in discipleship too. The underlying assumption is that younger women are willing to learn from the older. They must be humble and teachable, willing to be instructed and corrected. Proverbs 19:20 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction that you may gain wisdom in the future.” In contrast, Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his own opinion.” We will either choose to be wise or foolish women.
Listening to advice and instruction isn’t easy, nor is it our default setting. The Gospel message reminds us that we were once slaves to sin, unable to do or think anything right (Rom. 6:20). Ephesians 4:18 says of us in our old nature: “they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” It follows logically, then, that our thinking must be corrected, first and foremost by the word of God, but also by the counsel of godly mentors and friends.
God uses many tools for sanctification and one of those includes the older, more mature people in a younger person’s life. It’s not that the older person is any better or has more favor with God, it’s simply that she is a bit further down the sanctification path than we are. She’s lived long enough to see that there is truly nothing new under the sun! So much of history repeats itself and continues to reject God and what His Word demands. We acknowledge all of this knowing that He who began a good work in us will complete it so we aren’t far behind (Phil. 1:6).
Discover the Fruit that Comes with Discipleship
We are given the reason for why this set-apart lifestyle matters right after the list of good and godly living that the older women are to teach to the younger women. Verse 5 tells us the reason is that the word of God may not be reviled. Sadly, one of the most common reasons we hear that people do not attend church is because of the hypocrites they’ve encountered. If Christians would live what they profess, then God’s Word wouldn’t be reviled. Verse 7 affirms this and encourages Christians “to be a model of good works…so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
Verse 9 talks about adorning the doctrine of God our Savior. We’ve put off the old self to put on the new, and we are dressing ourselves with good works that support the call to holy living. This is not about us living self-righteously, parading around with pharisaical motivations. This isn’t a social club or a clique with certain requirements to receive membership. This is about pursuing holiness for the glory of God and the building up of His church.
When the older and younger generation come together in active and intentional discipleship relationships, there is a massive, immeasurable ripple effect. The direct impact of an older woman encouraging and instructing a younger woman impacts the younger woman’s husband, her children, and the future generations of that family. Not only is that young woman’s family impacted, but the woman doing the instructing is impacted, for this is one of the good works God has given her to do as His workmanship created in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:10).
Additionally, the surrounding community has the opportunity to witness an authentic, intentional church community. In a cultural climate where there is so much divisiveness and isolation, biblical discipleship will stand out. People will begin to ask for the reason for the hope within (1 Pet. 3:15) as they witness the young and old coming together under one banner. Through God’s perfect design, the spiritual maturity and fruit that comes from discipleship will result in disciples making more disciples.
Whether you’ve been discipled before or not, Christians have an opportunity to be a light in their various communities. Despite what current statistics say, it is never too late to be discipled and disciple another. There is always someone who is older than us, and there is always someone who is younger than us. Study the book of Titus and discover that spiritual mothering isn’t just commanded, but it’s needed for the Body to flourish. In order to do this, we'll have to play our part. Older women must model the good works that accord with sound doctrine. Younger women must be willing to listen and learn from the older women. When we become an intergenerational community with God’s Word as our authority, God is honored and we display true biblical community to an onlooking world.