Sunday, October 3, 2010

Titus 2 is for Single Girls, Part 1

In my observation, when a pastor preaches on Titus 2, this is what often happens (caution: hyperbole ahead):

Married guys, MAN UP and lead your families!  No!  Just shut up and do it!

Married ladies, you need to be mentoring younger married ladies and teaching them what you've learned.  We love you, and we know it's tough to be married to us horrible, horrible men.  Don't be discouraged even though we keep telling you that you have the hardest and most-critical-not-to-screw-up job in the world and that you're basically 100% responsible for your both your husband's fidelity and his self-esteem.

Single dudes, have some self control, and get married!  And quit watching porn and playing video games!  And get a job!  And move out of your parents' basement!  And you suck!  And there's basically no hope for you!  UGH SINGLE DUDES UGH.

Single ladies... uh... I dunno.  Be patient I guess?  Maybe?  Yeah, I got nothin'. 

At Sojourn we're blessed to have pastors who handle God's word... well, a lot better than that, and I could address the problems with each one of those paragraphs, but I'm only going to deal with the last one, because I think it's the place where even the most well-intentioned, careful, Gospel-centered teaching can kind of go off the rails.

What do we do with single women in the church?  In the case of Titus 2, I think what we often imply is that her calling is on hold until she gets married, and even then that her calling hasn't reached its ultimate fulfillment until she starts having kids.  Then, we seem to say, you're really living out your calling, sister.

How do we make sense of the biblical teaching that seems to speak primarily to married women with children, when all around us -- both in the Scriptures and in the Church -- are unmarried, childless women? 

I think the key is to begin to see the connection between calling and identity.  Calling, in the Scriptures, is a function of identity -- sometimes a current identity; more often what we might call a prophetic identity, a declaration of a new identity given by God to the person he's calling.  So when we see passages that call us to a certain set of actions or attitudes, I think it's important to ask what identity is behind those actions. 

For example, God calls all Christians to care for the poor and the alien.  What identity is behind this?  Ultimately, we are a people whom God has rescued from the ultimate poverty and alienation, and we paint a picture of the Gospel when we reach out to the poor and alien.

What about Titus 2?  What is God telling all women about who we are (or are becoming by grace) through these instructions to married women with kids?  I'll address that in Part 2 tomorrow.


Radagast said...

I'm sure I've heard that sermon on Titus before.

Kelsey said...

I don't realize sometimes how isolated you must feel hearing a sermon that speaks to every demographic but your own. The beautiful thing is, though, that even if the sermon doesn't speak directly to you, the Word of God does!

Related to Titus 2 specifically, I see plenty that applies to single women. Honor God, don't slander, don't be addicted to alcohol, teach others what is good... To some, you are an "older woman" that can model this calling. In addition to teaching younger women, you can also build up the body by honoring marriages and families. Though you are not married, you can love 1) your future husband (if the Lord wills it) by remaining pure and not giving your affections over to every hottie you see; and 2) the other husbands of the church by being modest, not being flirtatious, and being encouraging to both them & their wives. Marriages are attacked by Satan because they are a powerful picture of the gospel; as a single woman, you can help guard marriages & thereby help protect the body of Christ.

You can also fulfill the other callings of God in Titus 2: Live wisely. Be pure. Be busy at home. Do good. Be submissive.

I can't wait to read your thoughts in your next post! Love your blog, my dear!

Laura said...

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you my best friend.


Radagast said...

I'm sure you are indeed an "older woman" to your students, Laura, and some of your comments on Twilight, for example, were definitely Titus 2:5 material.

Laura said...

Oh, Rad. Buddy. Poor you, you get seriously tromped on by sermons on Titus 2.

Thanks for the encouragement, friend. :)

ckjolly said...

Lol I was just chatting to Miley about this very thing! I mentioned that "waiting" seems to define so many womens lives in the church. Waiting for a date, marriage, children, empty nest so they can really start serving the Lord. Rather, like Deborah and Jael get off our asses and be about God's work.