But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in the faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behaviour, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonoured (Tit.2:1-5).
Paul here makes it abundantly clear: every generation has an obligation to prepare the next generation for its own tasks, and to be faithful.
The significance of this cannot be underestimated. After Joshua’s generation died, “…there arose another generation after them that did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals” (Josh.2:10-11).
The instruction of each generation all begins with (but is not limited to) the family. While the church has great responsibilities entrusted to it by God, the family is the first place where these responsibilities are to be enacted. If younger women are to “love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands,” their home while they are children, should be the place where they should initially observe all this.
I’m a great believer in home schooling, but when does the education of the children generally stop? It may happen when the children pass out of the care of the parents by moving away, or when they marry.
How do we know this? Because “a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall be one flesh” (Gen.2:24).
When a new family commences with marriage, the new wife is under the authority of her husband, not her parents, and her husband is under the authority of the officers of the church. Parents relinquish their authority over their children a) With adulthood, b) When they move out, and c) When they marry.
So the obligation to teach the younger generation is shared between the family and the church. The church and family are obligated to work together under God, and both are to be godly institutions, subject to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
The above passage indicates that teaching women must be morally qualified to do so: “reverent in their behaviour, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good…” Their example and teaching will be influential with younger women.
Example is the most important means that a teacher communicates with. Elsewhere, Paul teaches Timothy,
let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe (I Tim.4:12).
Then there is
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil.4:9).
Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ (I Cor.11:1).
The fact is that every generation needs teaching, and wisdom and understanding about Christian faithfulness really can be committed from one generation to the next. And the passage above indicates that older women have a significant role in teaching younger women; it will not all come from husbands, fathers and preachers.
Proverbs speaks repeatedly of the importance of parental education.
Hear my son, your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments about your neck (Prov.1:8).
My son, observe the commandment of your father and do not forsake the teaching of your mother (Prov.6:20).
She [the wife] opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching (or law) of kindness is on her tongue (Prov.31:26).
The wife in the Song of Solomon spoke of the role of her mother. Speaking to her husband, she says
I would lead you and bring you into the house of my mother, who used to instruct me… (Song of Sol.8:2).
The church has a vested interest in the health and welfare of each family, and the health of any church will be contingent on the health of its families. So, strengthening each family one by one, is essential for the sake of the church’s overall health, strength and future.
Paul here emphasises the centrality of the husband and wife relationship for each family, and how older women can assist younger women in this. Younger women need to have the humility to let older women get up close and personal, dealing with very practical, matter of fact issues in relation to their husbands and children, and the obligations of young women in this regard.
Older women today have the whole Bible to use as a text-book, along with the known lives and contributions of a multitude of believers since then. I have a book entitled “The Theology of the Family,” which runs to some 700 pages, and has articles on the family going back as far as Luther. So, we have no lack of knowledge.
Our problem is not a lack of available knowledge. Our problem is an unwillingness to do what the Bible commands. But as each generation takes up its responsibilities in this regard, and as the church grows in depth as well as number, our strength and contribution in every community will undoubtedly grow.
I had a remarkable encouragement in this regard, recently. On 30th November 2016, I attended a celebratory High Tea, and later I served as MC at an Awards Night with Jubilee Christian College, in Toowoomba. There was a young lady present who was graduating from Year 12, and she made a speech.
At the High Tea her mother remembered me, because twelve years earlier, she’d heard that I would be speaking at a Men’s Breakfast in Toowoomba on Home Schooling, and she encouraged her husband to attend. He returned from the Breakfast, and gave her permission to home school their daughter Ellen, then aged 6. Twelve years later, here she is graduating, wanting to be a Journalist! Coincidentally, I happened to be there in Toowoomba for this occasion.
If “children are a gift of the Lord,” and “the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Ps.127:3), we are charged then with the task of preparing those children for a life of godly service. Moses’ parents knew something of this, so did Samson’s, along with John the Baptist’s.
Should we be any different?
Let’s take God’s commands concerning our children seriously, knowing that in this, there will be a reward.