I was once invited to help coordinate a women’s conference, so I attended the planning meeting. It didn’t take long at all for me to grasp that the conference would in no way be a time of teaching to encourage women to be better wives and mothers.
I listened intently as the group of women shared. “Those kinds of conferences only make women feel guilty,” one woman said. “We want to bring unity. We want every woman to know she is good enough – that she is not ‘less than.’”
I sat there dismayed as the words from Titus 2:3-5 refused to dismiss themselves from the forefront of my thoughts.
Older women likewise are to be … teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children.
Why avoid areas of our lives that can be made more pleasing to the Lord? Why not ask Him to search our hearts for any way that is not right within us? Conviction is not something we should avoid. It is a gift leading to change in our lives, resulting in likeness with Christ – our hope of glory.
We shouldn’t run from teachings that cause us to recognize failures directly related to lack of faith and corresponding disobedience. If we are going to change, we must be confronted. We must be filled with sorrow. Paul explained this type of sorrow in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10:
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Conviction, sorrow, and repentance will result in the washing away of guilt – not causing it. David explained this phenomenon in Psalm 32:5:
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
And 1 John 1:9 continues with the same message:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Some time ago, I heard a young woman talking about some of her husband’s shortfalls in a public setting. Before she began, she stated he would be upset if he knew she was sharing these things about him.
My heart immediately grieved for her and her husband. I wanted to jump in and say, “Don’t say it then!”
In the end, the storyline made a positive turn, but at the expense of his honor along the way. We are told in Ephesians 5:33, “[L]et the wife see that she respects her husband,” and in 1 Peter 3:1-2 that an unbelieving husband will be won over by the respectful and pure conduct of his wife.
You may think it a stretch initially, but this account reminds me of Noah’s sons’ reactions to finding him passed out naked in his tent (Genesis 9:20).
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw that his father was naked and went outside and told his brothers.
Then Shem and Japheth took a robe, held it over their shoulders, and backed into the tent to cover their father. As they did this, they looked the other way so they would not see him naked (Genesis 9:20-23).
Ham’s disrespect for his father was made evident when he not only left him lying naked, but he announced it to others. Wives are to behave in a manner similar to Ham’s older brothers who honored their father by refusing to focus on his vulnerability and choosing, instead, to protect him from being exposed in a way he would not choose for himself. Noah could trust Shem and Japheth.
When Noah woke up, he learned what Ham had done. And he was anything but amused by it. As a matter of fact, he was so outraged that he cursed Ham’s son Canaan. The longevity of that curse has been realized in the fate of the Canaanite people. The dishonor Ham exhibited toward his father had large-scale ramifications.
The older I get, the more I realize the gravity of the calling we have to guide and serve younger women. It is our responsibility to teach and maintain relationships that foster growth in the areas of marriage and family. Neglect, whether purposeful or passive, is disobedience to the Word of God. And the consequences on individuals, family, church, and society are long-term and far-reaching.
Though I have learned much along my own journey – too much by trial and error – I’ll be the first to admit, I need reminders – a lot of them! Ironically, these Titus 2 relationships often leave me convicted. Sometimes it’s through something said or asked of me, and other times the Holy Spirit uses my own words of encouragement or exhortation to reveal my own errors.
We can rest assured that our heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing in establishing this framework of discipleship within the female ranks of His church.