“...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, that the word of God may not be dishonored.” - Titus 2:4+5
This exhortation to young women cannot be neglected; it is clear in the text, but it is not culturally acceptable today, and as such it is easy to let it go unmentioned. Sinful man is very concerned with self-definition, self-realization, and unbridled autonomy. But God is in the business of bridling His creation; He both creates and defines what He has created. Truly, He is the most qualified to do the defining, and it is in keeping His commandments that our joy is made full. The bridling of the horse unleashes its power. (John 15)
From my own limited experience and observation, it seems that about ten years ago this passage and its presentation of the homemaking woman was very much in vogue in conservative Christian circles; honestly, it was perhaps presented a little too unilaterally, without enough room for Christian liberty and variety in application. A home business was the only option for a single young woman who wanted to be financially productive. For a girl to consider a college education was heresy- maybe not punishable by the tribunal, but certainly deserving of concerned condescension. Christian womanhood was supposed to look the same way for everyone. But that never happens, and it isn’t supposed to. The tapestry of the Church is a varicolored tunic, not a straightjacket.
Now, however, we seem to have taken a ride on the pendulum; now, we not only embrace Christian liberty and variety, but we practically disembowel the Scriptural commands in the process. We have rejected straightjacket and varicolored tunic alike, and we are running through the streets baring our liberty for all to see. Now this passage really means nothing- yes, we accept it as Scripture, and we make a nod to some vague idea about the wife being the homemaker. But Titus 2 doesn’t really have much bearing on whether or not my wife should get a job, or whether or not our girls should learn old-fashioned homemaking tasks. Perhaps most damaging of all is the strong perception that keeping the home and raising the kids is a second-level calling, as if the passionate pursuit of this essential mission reduces a woman to being too easily satisfied. As if “stay at home mom” was equivalent to “the help.”
This passage does mean something, and we cannot shy away from it; we must let God speak. God has called women to a different role than men, and for a woman to set that calling aside is for her to take a step down, not a step up. God does call women to be home-centered (and He does call them to be subject to their husbands, since we’re already stepping on toes here). It is straightforward in the text. It isn’t for me or anyone else to define for everyone exactly what those two things mean in practice. But the point is that they mean something. The application of the principle will vary, but there must be an application.
We cannot be ashamed of the Word of God. His commands are good, and they bring life and joy.
If we do not embrace this facet of God’s design for His people, then we will give occasion for the Word of God to be dishonored.