Tuesday, November 27, 2012

questions about women's ministry (2) Titus 2: model or curriculum?

Simone has been asking some questions about women's ministry. Here's my answer to her second question.

Do you think Titus 2 gives us a model and a curriculum for women's ministry, or just a model, or something else or maybe neither?

Yes, Titus 2:3-5 gives us a model. As Simone says, "The model is that of older women teaching younger women." I wouldn't see this as culture-specific. And obviously the ministry of women to women isn’t limited to older to younger!

Yes, it gives us the beginnings of a curriculum (and one for older women as well as younger women – Titus 2:3 not just 2:4-5) but by no means a complete curriculum.

It's a curriculum no doubt shaped by context – not just the Cretan context, but the wider context of a culture in which marriage was more normative for women (and men) than it is in our culture. But it’s not limited to context: if you trace the Bible's teaching on womanhood, you'll find a similar emphasis on marriage and motherhood as key spheres in which most women serve God at some stage during their lives (Gen 2-3, Prov 31:10-31, 1 Tim 2:11-15, 5:9-16 etc). So yes, older women should cover these topics in their teaching of younger women – especially if these women are married and/or have children – but not to the exclusion of other life situations and seasons.

Other topics mentioned in Titus 2:3-5, like purity and how we use our speech, are relevant to all women (including older singles). And other parts of the Bible, both those addressed to women and those addressed to all Christians, expand the curriculum: 1 Tim 5:9-10 adds ministry/service outside the family; Prov 31:10-31 adds paid work and helping the poor; 1 Cor 7 addresses singleness; 1 Tim 2:11-15 talks about women’s relationships within the church; Col 4:2-6 adds evangelism; and so on and so on.

Most importantly, any and all of these topics need to be grounded in the gospel, as they are in Titus 2:11-15. We have to be careful not to limit godly womanhood to a certain season or situation in life, and we have to emphasis the gospel, not a certain set of “qualities of biblical womanhood”. The heart, foundation and motivation of any curriculum is the gospel and the character of God.

Please add your thoughts to the comments.

image is by Pingu at flickr


Rachael said...

I agree so much with what you say about the context of Titus being the gospel. And it's even more than just context because gospel and godliness are intricately linked. Truth leads to godliness (Titus 1:1-3) and teaching what is in accord with sound doctrine is teaching a godly way of life (2:1, and the following verses). You can't teach someone to be godly without the gospel truth and you can't have gospel truth without godliness.

I suspect that 2:3-5 out of its context will always produce legalistic righteousness.

Jean said...

Thanks, Rachael, that's a helpful comment.