You’re Not a Healthy Church Unless You Care About Titus 2
If you don’t care about equipping women to teach other women you’re not a healthy church. Many recent conversations about women in the local church focus on matters of representation or the need for more prominent female voices in the church’s life. Those are important matters. But the main reason your church should care about women discipling women is because God cares about it: it’s in the Bible.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3–5).
Let me offer four observations on this passage.
1) GODLY WOMEN SHOULD TEACH THE BIBLE TO OTHER WOMEN IN THE CONGREGATION
The first thing to note in this passage is that God commands mature, godly women to teach other women in the congregation. In other words, if your church is committed to being both biblical and healthy, then your women must be discipling one another.
2) THE CONTENT OF THIS TEACHING BENDS TOWARD REINFORCING FEMININE CHRISTIAN VIRTUE
Paul commands that older women specifically train younger women “to love their husbands and children” and to be “submissive to their own husbands.” These commands reinforce what we find elsewhere in Scripture. The created order and God’s distinct callings on men and women lead men and women to live out their commitment to Christ in distinctive, gender-shaped ways (cf. 1 Pet. 3:1–7). The teaching ministry of the church should unfold the biblical portrait of godly femininity and godly masculinity, how the two complement one another, and how men and women should strive to live according to those callings. In this passage, Paul commands the mature women, those best equipped to model and teach on biblical femininity, to disciple other women along the same course.
3) THIS TEACHING DOESN’T FOCUS EXCLUSIVELY ON MATTERS THAT PERTAIN ONLY TO WOMEN
Yes, mature women should reinforce biblical femininity but they do so as they teach all of Scripture. After all, women won’t truly understand how best “to love their husbands and children” and to be “submissive to their own husbands” unless they’re equipped with the whole counsel of God. Elsewhere in Scripture Paul roots similar commands in a biblical understanding of doctrines like the authority of God (1 Cor. 11:3), the created order (1 Cor. 11:7–9), the flow of redemptive history (1 Tim. 2:13–14), or in the gospel itself (Eph. 5:22–33).
Also, Paul explicitly encourages mature women to teach on matters not exclusively focused on biblical femininity. Both men and women are commanded to be “self-controlled” (1 Tim 3:2), “pure” (1 Tim 5:22) and “kind” (4:32). More broadly the mature women are to “teach what is good” so that outsiders don’t revile the “the Word of God” in general.
4) PAUL DOESN’T COMMAND CHURCHES TO CARRY OUT THIS MINISTRY IN ANY PARTICULAR WAY
How your church encourages women teaching women is up to your congregation. Paul doesn’t command us to make sure we hire a women’s ministry director, though that might be a good idea for your church. Paul doesn’t say that you should create a quarterly women’s meeting at your church, though that might be a good idea in your context. Paul doesn’t say that your church should start a women’s leadership internship, though that might be a good idea in your context.
The point is, how you choose to fulfill Titus 2 is up to your church. Women teaching women is the “element,” how you carry out that command is the “form.” If you’re one of those “we don’t fire our church members” types of churches that keeps a small staff and eschews programs, great! Use whatever mechanisms and methods are at your disposal to promote a culture of women teaching women. Teach about it from the pulpit, encourage it in personal discipling relationships, ask mature women in your church to lead the charge in modeling this ministry. If you’re a staff-heavy, program-everything type of church, okay, fine. Hire more women for the women’s ministry staff. Create more teaching platforms and discipling programs in your church calendar.
Titus 2 demands that churches value women discipling women, it doesn’t dictate a particular program. I’d suggest, given what we see elsewhere in Scripture, these discipling relationships probably function best as they develop organically and are simply part of the day-to-day life of the church. No program can substitute for a culture of women discipling women. Pastors should focus, not on building certain programs, but cultivating that culture. Equip women to faithfully carry out Titus 2 in their daily lives—particularly in your weekly preaching ministry.
Ultimately, each church should strive to fulfill this command according to its own standards of philosophy of ministry. No one “size-fits-all” solution will work for every church. But if your church doesn’t encourage women teaching women the Bible, then it’s not fulfilling Scripture’s vision of a healthy church. If you care about having a biblical church, equip mature women to teach other women and encourage those who are already modeling that practice in their lives.