For clarity’s sake

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. —Titus 2:2-6

When I write here or speak in person against women’s blogs or women’s ministries featuring women teaching other women, this passage is my critics’ most commonly used ammunition. 

I think that’s fair.

But, I’ve gotten so used to the verse being used disingenuously by people I’ve spoken to in person–people who will use it to try to give cover to women “pastors,” “priests,” and “bishops,” that I tend to assume that anyone who appeals to it is a charlatan.

That’s not fair.

This passage deserves to be taken as seriously as any other passage of scripture.

It gives cover to whom it says.

Which means we pay attention to what it actually says. Let’s see what it would take for a women’s blog or women’s ministry to be within the command above.

First, we see that it in no way gives cover to blogs or ministries where women teach men. “That they may teach the young women.” The covered blog or ministry then, must speak specifically to young women, and be specifically silent towards men.

Second, to be given cover, the teachers must be aged women. Based on other writings by Paul, I would set that age at 60. At this point, you can probably see why I simply categorically condemn women’s blogs and women’s ministries. Perhaps you know of some where teaching is directed only at women below 60, and given only by women above 60. I haven’t run across any of these, but perhaps they exist.

Let’s continue.

These aged women are to teach the young women specific things:

  • to be sober
  • to love their husbands
  • to love their children
  • to be discreet
  • to be chaste
  • to be keepers at home
  • to be good
  • to be obedient to their own husbands

Do women’s blogs and ministries teach young women to be sober, or encourage them to be vivacious? Do they teach them to love their husbands, or tell them they should respect their husbands and their husbands should love them? Do they teach them to love their children, or to nurture others’ children? Do they teach young women to be discreet, or do they encourage indiscretion? Do they teach chastity or give cover to fornication?

I don’t just mean that they say they teach discretion and chastity. What are their fruits?

Do they teach young women to be keepers at home? Or do they teach that going to Starbucks for a cup of coffee is “a matter of life and death?” Do they teach them to be good, or tell them to stop trying to be good?

But perhaps the last one tells the most. Do these blogs and ministries teach young women to be obedient to their husbands, or  do they they teach things like this:

Submission does not mean that the men in authority, whether in the church or in the home, are always right. They aren’t. They’re sometimes and often wrong. They sin, as do we. Submission does not mean blind obedience. It does not mean that we sin in order to submit. It doesn’t mean that you overlook sin in the authority. (emphasis in original)

And this:

Now, what if he asks her to participate in a threesome, abort her baby, or help him commit robbery by stealing from a bank? Should she submit in these instances? NO!

A reminder about headship and covering: The one that is covered bears no iniquity. It is the authority that bears the iniquity.

Personally, I think the specific things that Titus 2 gives cover to aged women to teach younger women can only be taught in person. That is nothing more than my opinion. Maybe, somewhere, there is a sexagenarian lady running a blog that fits the description. Regardless, you–my male readership–should not be looking to women’s blogs of any flavor for your teaching.

15 thoughts on “For clarity’s sake

  1. I might disagree with you on one technical point I’ve often brought up before.
    I don’t think you would agree with the following:
    The easiest way to insure a holy wife is for a husband to simply command his wife to do whatever she thinks best, so she is then absolved. In essence he has ordered her to rebel, therefore her rebellion is obedience.

    The command of the wife to obey the husband comes from Christ himself, and must be understood in that context, but it isn’t a subtle or complex command. Unless the husband orders something clearly, obviously, intrinsically, or gravely evil, she is to defer since the Husband is also the teaching authority. Going back to work is legitimate as the husband might expect a layoff. The intrinsic evils mentioned are not, but you see the authors of the foreign blog posts confuse the two, as “because he can’t order me to have an abortion, he can’t order me to vacuum the carpet”.

    I don’t think I know of a case where the husband explicitly ordered the wife to sin. I know of many cases where the wife sinned in disobedience. In the gray areas, the only responsibility is for the wife to be helpmeet and ask submissively if the commanded action is wise and not disobedient to Christ, but to obey either way. The few black areas which I again cannot think of a single instance though I assume they exist should be matters for the elders which might start with the elder widows, then the pastor, not independent rebellion.

    Wives are called to sacrifice. Starting with their egos. A sinning husband is not an excuse or absolution for a wife’s sin. It is better to suffer evil than to commit it.

    This also goes back to the church creating harridans and harpies instead of holy wives. And for the women to either stay unmarried or to choose their husband with great care. Till death do us part.

    I’m starting to doubt even the rationality, but were I a woman, I would look for a Man who I would have no trouble obeying in any circumstance, a holy husband. And the compliment for a husband seeking a wife.

    This is a failure of the Church and its pastors. It should be forming both so that “obedience” would sound strange in irrelevances, the head and the helpmeet could not have a divergent thought.

    Instead much of the church is trying to find loopholes and justifications where women can rebel both against Christ when single, and against both Christ and her husband imaging Christ when married.

    Transposing this into a clearer commandment might help – “Honor thy father and thy mother”. Children usually don’t know or understand any nuances of morality and need to be formed. Who would accept a young, immature, even if precocious, child disobeying the parents? But this is also a key – Children will obey the mother as the mother obeys the father.

    Modernity see fences as walls keeping us in. Instead they are keeping horrible and monstrous things out. Disobedience is going through the gate, or worse, tearing down the fence.

  2. “…obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed.” Let that sink in a moment.

    Every time the teachers, male and female, say that submission is not being a doormat they are encouraging disobedience and blasphemy. Why does the apostle call it blasphemy against the Word of God and not just sin? There is hardly a more fearful and egregious sin than blasphemy. I posit that marriage is a typology of Christ and the Church (Eph 5:23) and that God is zealous about types. The Old Testament types in the Tabernacle were prescribed in detail and when Nadab and Abiju violated those instructions they were struck dead on the spot. The ceremonies were a type that prefigured Christ, His rule and His redemption. In a similar manner God is zealous that the marriage correctly displays the relationship of Christ and the church, His bride. It is blasphemy against Christ, the logos of God, for the church to disobey Him. It is blasphemy in the typology for the wife to be disobedient to her husband because it also pictures an ungrateful and rebellious church.

    What women ministries commonly teach is for wives to challenge their husbands authority (given to them by God), to disobey, to disagree and argue, to exercise the antitheses of a meek and quite spirit, but rather provoke a controlling, victimized and discontent version of girl-power. It is treachery to the covenant and blasphemy of the Word.

  3. “Now, what if he asks her to participate in a threesome, abort her baby, or help him commit robbery by stealing from a bank? Should she submit in these instances? NO!

    A reminder about headship and covering: The one that is covered bears no iniquity. It is the authority that bears the iniquity.”

    This is not the historic Christian view of God’s moral law. We all answer for our own sins. Our offenses are lesser in certain cases, but we are definitely guilty if an authority asks us to violate God’s law and we do it. “We must obey God rather than men.”

    The only absolute authority is God. Husbands are a subservient authority to God, not an absolute authority like God. I cannot ask my wife to violate God’s law and expect her to obey me. For example, I cannot ask her to participate in a threesome and expect her to obey me since adultery is a sin. If she does obey me, she has sinned along with me, though her offense may be lesser since I am in authority over her and coerced her to do it.

    In cases where there is a gray area where we disagree according to conscience, I would still be hesitant to force my wife to violate her conscience, even though the thing I’ve asked her to do might be reasonable under my conscience.

    In general, she should default to obedience and submission. By nature, women default to men because we are larger, stronger, and smarter, though clearly there is enmity between us and women since the Fall.

    All I’ve written above is true of every other relationship between authority and those under it under heaven. I treated my enlisted men the same way. I expected them to report me to a higher authority if I asked them to do something illegal. I worked with them in cases of disagreement.

    Your line of argumentation is very similar to that used by the Catholic church justifying the absolute authority of monarchs – and therefore many of their terrible crimes – in the modern era prior to the Reformation. The only absolute authority is God. Even kings may be opposed under certain circumstances.

  4. I’m with tz and PRCD on this one.

    Your claim that woman is doing right thing and bears no sin whatever evil action she’s doing as long as she’s told to do that by her husband is wrong.
    point 1 (lack of support):
    If I start with citations of Scriptures you supported that – first one has nothing to do with authority (and only conveniently takes advantage of different uses of word “cover”), and I’d add that Christ died for sins of men and women alike (yeah, even for sins of a hypothetical woman whom both her father and husband said “Do whatever you want”). Other one isn’t about authority bearing iniquity simply because it says nothing about iniquity.

    point 2 – reductio ad absurdum:
    Personally, I think the specific things that Titus 2 gives cover to aged women to teach younger women can only be taught in person. That is nothing more than my opinion. Maybe, somewhere, there is a sexagenarian lady running a blog that fits the description.
    Implies that Paul/Titus had authority over married older women, but you claim that as long as she’s submissive to her husband(whose authority is by this infringed, by the way) she can’t sin anyway(she’s “covered from it”) – therefore this part of scripture is completely pointless – which is absurd

    You’ll probably take an offense from the following idea, but even then, please consider it for a while:
    When I read posts like this which are overall quite reasonable, but than make similar claims, which will be only accepted by small minority of similarly minded people (which they don’t really mind, because it will make them feel unique, bold and generally better than other), it reminds me of interesting article by Scott Alexander, The Toxoplasma of Rage ( http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/12/17/the-toxoplasma-of-rage/ – I really strongly recommend you to read it). Especially in part 2 where he talks about the fact that the recent rape allegations which got most publicized were later found false and they got the feminist rallying for them strongest because they were controversial (if it was simple, everybody would just say, “rape is wrong, we know that”) and they could boast their feminist stances in supporting the doubtful claims like “you should always believe rape allegations”.
    TL;DR: It seems to me that you’re here basically feminist, submission is rape* and publicized false rape allegations would be probably your claim that if husband tells his wife that it would be swell, if she raped 13 yo boy, killed him and then aborted the baby that was conceived from that, that wife should be considered very holy for submitting to him in that (coz Sarah did also sleep with the pharaoh for Abram, right) / awful wife who’s sinning by disrespecting husbands God given authority by declining to do it.
    (or to be more scriptural and leave out likening to feminists and rape accusations, it seems to be kind of similar to giving the tenth of mint)

    * that could be taken out of context really well

  5. @PRCD
    —> “In cases where there is a gray area where we disagree according to conscience, I would still be hesitant to force my wife to violate her conscience, even though the thing I’ve asked her to do might be reasonable under my conscience. ”

    Shouldn’t it violate her conscience to fail to submit to her husband? IF she does not want to blaspheme the Word of God and desires to obey the ordinances of the New Testament she would want to obey in all but the most clear cases where obeying would violate the law of God.

  6. “Shouldn’t it violate her conscience to fail to submit to her husband?”

    Yes. However, I don’t like to be coerced to do things that violate my conscience. An example is the government trying to coerce Christians to issue gay ‘marriage’ licenses or bake cakes for Big Gay “Weddings.” It doesn’t feel good when done to us, I therefore tread carefully around others’ consciences, including my wife’s. Paul told us to love our wives as Christ loves the church. Leaders quite often allow subordinates to have things their way as a means of proving their worthiness to be followed. How often have you said to a subordinate, “OK, I don’t agree but we’ll try it your way for awhile since you seem so convinced?”

    I don’t put failing to obey one’s husband in the same category as blasphemy or blaspheming the WOrd of God. Obedience to husbands is pretty clearly in the second table of the Law, not the first.

  7. –> “…I therefore tread carefully around others’ consciences, including my wife’s.”

    You then put yourself in a position to submit to your wife’s conscience which is basically her feelings. That is the FI in action.

    –> “I don’t put failing to obey one’s husband in the same category as blasphemy….”

    Your ethic here is contradictory to the Bible. Paul calls failing to obey, in other words disobedience, blasphemy against the Word of God. (See below) It may not like it, but the Word of God is not subject to your conscience and it should bother your conscience that your conscience is not subject to the Word of God.

    Titus 2:4-5 ” …that they may teach the young women to obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. “

  8. You’ve misunderstood Titus 2:4-5. The entire chapter is entitled, “Doing good for the sake of the Gospel.” Paul is saying that husbands ought to be obeyed that the Word of God might not be blasphemed by unbelievers. In other words, if unbelievers see Christian women disobeying their husbands, they’ll curse our God. If our women can’t submit to their husbands, and by extension, God, why should unbelievers submit to our God?

    Listening to my wife and taking her conscience into consideration is not making myself subservient to her conscience. What I do, in any case, depends on the circumstances. No good leader bulldozes their followers’ opinions in every case. What ought to be done (the positive duties associated with what is forbidden by the 10 commandments) is depends on circumstances and in certain cases I may choose to go along with my wife to keep the peace or because her way might as easily lead to a good outcome as mine. Headship calls for understanding. As Peter says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”

    There are many weaker people I could force to submit but that’s no way to live or lead. Most leaders prefer willing followers.

  9. –> You’ve misunderstood Titus 2:4-5. The entire chapter is entitled, “Doing good for the sake of the Gospel.”

    You should take up your hermetic with Paul, his grammar indicates it is blasphemy for wives to disobey their husbands. Paul does not support your contention that it is others that are doing the blaspheming, because he does not mention those unbelievers in the proximity of the command. The section deals with ethical behavior of the members of Christ’s body toward one another. Chapter 2 is setup with the last verse of chapter one, which is warning against those who are defiled and who defile the church.

    Titus 1:16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

    Disobedience, does that ring a bell?

    BTW- the chapter is not titled, the headings are the opinions of modern publishers and the editors. No more inspired than the preface.

    —> “In other words, if unbelievers see Christian women disobeying their husbands, they’ll curse our God.”

    They may curse God because the typology teaches them to do so. A disobedient wife typifies the church cursing God, rejecting His authority, care and leading. But that is not the thrust of Titus 2.

    –> If our women can’t submit to their husbands, and by extension, God, why should unbelievers submit to our God?

    EXACTLY!

    –> No good leader bulldozes their followers’ opinions…

    Why would you say “bull dozes”? Is that in scripture or is that from the epistle of Betty Friedan? Using synonyms that refer to abusive encounters like “bull dozing” is a canard and is used as a cavil to defend the citadel of women’s sins who are actively being taught to disobey by giving them cover from those abusive men who would bull doze them or treat them like doormats.

    Paul in reference to those who are disobedient and characterized as “Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.” Titus 1:11 he instructs ” Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;” v13.

    When a more gentle approach has been tried and failed to bring her to repentance the next iteration will necessarily be more forceful. Her flesh will scream “I’m not a doormat”, but scripture tells her to submit to her husband as to the Lord. (Eph 5:22, 24) In other words as if her husband were Christ, because he is Christ’s representative authority in the household. As Christ’s representative he is to love her like Christ loves His church, which is not all flowers and chocolates. Christ is recorded as teaching, correcting, rebuking and disciplining His bride to make her holy along with His provision and protection.

    It is critical that a husbands who dwell with their wives posses understanding; understanding of what scripture requires, what sins are besetting his wife, what course of action will most likely lead to her sanctification. The modern feminist expositors that have made 1 Pe 3:7 about eviscerating husbands of their headship duty, the older expositors stated that it was primarily about knowing the Word of God and His will for the household. What Peter does not say is that a husband must listen to his wife, or make her happy. She is honored as Christ honors the church, as a coheir. (Gal 4:7) Her holiness, not her girl-power is the requirement of scripture and listening to her in the sense of going along with her leadership can have fatal consequences.

    Genesis 3:17 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, … cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

    –> Most leaders prefer willing followers.

    So join in admonishing the church to teach wives to submit willingly and not disobey their husbands. It is a push and a pull, teach what is required and rebuke disobedience to the Word. A woman’s conscience should be formed by solid objective teaching of the Word of God, not her subjective feelings. But when she will not obey, then the church must back the husband in every case save that rare case when her husband requires that which is clearly and unambiguously in violation of the commands of scripture. If she is not submitting in the grey areas, she is not submitting at all, she is just not disobeying her husband as long as he agrees with her. Too many husbands will just do what their wife wants so that her submission or disobedience is never truly revealed, all for the sake of “peace”. But there is no peace when pretending to be a good leader the husband fails to lead and submits to his own wife.

  10. Good post.

    If a wife finds herself in the position of having to submit to a man who is commanding her to sin, then:

    1) She is covered and bears no iniquity. She is required to submit in all things to her husband.

    2) She should have vetted her husband better. She should have chosen a man of better character.

  11. Hi Moose, new reader here, found your blog through Cane Caldo and have been encouraged and challenged by your wealth of thoughts.

    Regardless, you–my male readership–should not be looking to women’s blogs of any flavor for your teaching.

    I have found one use of women’s blogs to me as a single man – real examples of women out there that will follow.

    If I look only at my personal experience, I mainly see the trouble women bring … the women blogs will occasionally capture a snapshot of family life that gives me a glimpse of the joyful payoff that can be had for those who pursue and husband.

    It’s not teaching, but it can be encouraging.

  12. @ PRCD

    This is not the historic Christian view of God’s moral law. We all answer for our own sins. Our offenses are lesser in certain cases, but we are definitely guilty if an authority asks us to violate God’s law and we do it…. Your line of argumentation is very similar to that used by the Catholic church justifying the absolute authority of monarchs.

    So, the Biblical teaching on authority and covering is simultaneously “not the historic Christian view” and yet the view advanced by the Church throughout the ages regarding kings and their subjects?

  13. @ PotE

    point 2 – reductio ad absurdum:
    Personally, I think the specific things that Titus 2 gives cover to aged women to teach younger women can only be taught in person. That is nothing more than my opinion. Maybe, somewhere, there is a sexagenarian lady running a blog that fits the description.
    Implies that Paul/Titus had authority over married older women, but you claim that as long as she’s submissive to her husband(whose authority is by this infringed, by the way) she can’t sin anyway(she’s “covered from it”) – therefore this part of scripture is completely pointless – which is absurd

    Explain how an apostle’s (Paul) authority to instruct a bishop (Titus) on how to instruct a husband on how to instruct his wife on how to instruct younger women “infringes” the husband’s authority.

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