Most Christian women know that in the body of Christ, the older women are to teach the younger women. Titus 2 gives us some idea of what Christian women are to be teaching and learning. Here is the list:
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. Titus 2:4-5
What I’ve been pondering is our tendency to think of some of these in purely practical terms. The most common application I’ve seen of this verse is a mother who teachers her daughter to bake bread and sweep the floor because that is preparing her to be a “keeper at home.” We can imagine a series on how to love one’s husband discussing the best way to prepare his favorite meals, or the ways men and women are different in how they communicate. I’ve yet to see a ladies’ retreat on having self-control (discreet in the KJV), but a ladies’ retreat theme of making a happy home is common enough.
I know these practical matters are good and helpful, and I do think they will be a natural part of the learning process when women come together for learning, edification, and true Christian fellowship. I’m wondering, though, whether we are revealing by our emphasis our belief that these practical matters are actually what Paul was telling Titus to have those older women teach. I’m not sure that is the case.
The Bible tells us that whatever we do, we can and should do it for God’s glory (I Corinthians 10:31). Whatever we do should be a showcase of God and who He is. By this passage, and others, we understand that for a Christian, there is really no difference between the sacred and the secular. Every ground is holy ground, every bush is a burning bush. We are to do everything to the glory of God, whether it be eating, drinking, or changing our baby’s diapers.
Thus, we can readily affirm that there is a place in our ladies’ groups for discussing the practical. Still, there is a danger of putting too much of a place for the practical. Perhaps we err by focusing on the application rather than the principle. A young lady who understands the spiritual significance and value of managing a household will sweep and might even bake a loaf or two. But I can sweep and bake bread from scratch without understanding how to build a godly home. Loving my husband might involve making him granola from scratch, but if he hates granola, love might buy him cocoa puffs instead. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the biblical principle of sacrificial love, and show ladies how to find the wisdom and discernment themselves that they need to love their husbands? I might share with another mother what I did to help my children go to sleep without a fuss, and it might be a tremendous blessing. But that’s not teaching her how to love her children, is it? Isn’t it better to start with wisdom rather than sleeping habits?
Jesus himself met the physical needs of those around him, but he also met the spiritual needs. We would rightly be concerned if a missionary taught English, but never spoke about Christ, or gave vaccinations without ever giving the gospel. We know to be concerned when there is no Scripture. But we ourselves might be obliviously guilty of these errors when we try to help the practical needs of a mother without showing them the source of wisdom and help.
I’m trying to find the balance even in this blog on what to write. I can write about how I resolved one of the many conflicts at our household. I can tell about the latest spiritual conversation in the car. But if the result is a reader who tries to solve her children’s conflicts just like Michelle or brings up a conversation with her children according to a script I provided, I’m not really helping. On the other hand, I know by experience how encouraging it can be to see how other people apply Scripture to their own lives, even though I may handle a similar situation differently. Is the difference merely the reader? Or is there anything we can do to share the practical without intimating it’s the only, truly spiritual, way. What do you think?
Shelley Gallamore says
We constantly walk this line in the mother’s ministry that I started. We designed it intentionally as an outreach and so we are very subtle about mixing spiritual with practical. But, I have found that once the practical is offered, and relationship is developed, then people are more interested in hearing the spiritual.
I have enjoyed being able to talk back and forth…