A Different Time (part one)

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May 22, 2019 

Titus 2:4-8 (NLT)

These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching. Teach the truth so that your teaching can’t be criticized. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed and have nothing bad to say about us.

CONSIDER THIS

When my daughter Norah was in kindergarten I began a very important part of her larger education: watching Star Wars. This was her first “non-cartoon” movie, and she sat perfectly still while she watched the original 1977 classic, the same one I first saw at her age. 

In the end, when our heroes got their medals for blowing up the Death Star and the credits rolled, I waited for her review. After all she had just seen, she turned to me and asked, “Daddy, why is their only one girl in this movie?”

I immediately thought back to a line earlier in the movie, after that one girl – Princess Leia – had just saved her rescuers. Han Solo looks at her and offers, “If we just avoid any more female advice we ought to be able to get out of here.” I cringed and tried to explain to my daughter, “Well, it was a different time.” 

On the surface, Paul’s instruction to Titus that women should stay home and submit to their husbands makes us want to cringe and say, “Well, it was a different time.”

There is some truth to that because he was writing in a hyper-patriarchal time. But that’s no excuse because the patriarchy was never God’s intention. Look back to the creation story in Genesis and notice where the line, “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you,” is situated. It’s in chapter 3, right in the middle of the list of curses. 

So what gives? If Paul believes what he says in all his letters about the work of Christ on the cross overcoming the curse, then what’s going on here? Is Paul arguing for remaining in the curse? Not at all. 

Remember, this is a personal letter between two people, Paul and Titus. We know that Titus traveled with Paul and delivered some of his other letters, so it’s safe to say he was familiar with Paul’s larger teachings. All this little letter is doing is “jogging his memory.” So what is the larger teaching? 

It begins in Ephesians 5: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord… For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her…

Did you notice what he did there? He begins with “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The wife doesn’t just submit to the husband, the husband also submits to the wife. How do we know this? Well, first of all because it says so in black and white, but also because he says husbands are to love their wives like Jesus loves the church and gave up his life for her. And what does that looks like? 

Check out Philippians 2:5-8: You must have the same mind that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

So it really begs the question: if loving your wife the way Jesus loved the church meant laying down all of your privileges to the point of death, who is called to the greater act of submission?

So what’s the point of inferring all this in his letter to Titus? Because Paul is giving larger instructions for family life because, as we learned yesterday, people are watching. Paul is calling us to “promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching” (v. 2:1).  And in a culture that lives under the curse of the times then and now, teaching the good news of Jesus Christ means that the times are changing. 

But wait… there’s more. To be continued.

THE PRAYER

Jesus, the good news today is that you are breaking the curse. Break it in me so my life can be a part of breaking it in others. Amen.

THE QUESTION

Where do you still need to “have the mind of Christ” so that you can “reflect wholesome teaching?”

For the awakening,
Omar Al-Rikabi

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Omar Rikabi is a United Methodist Pastor serving in North Texas. When not telling stories, Omar likes to watch movies with his wife Jennifer, read books with his three daughters, and work in the kitchen cooking and grilling for family and friends. You follow him on Twitter @omarrikabi or visit his blog omarrikabi.com

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