But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
Titus 2:1 (ESV)
Titus was a faithful companion and co-laborer of the apostle Paul. God used Titus much to encourage the saints in Corinth. At one point, Titus went Dalmatia (2 Timothy 4:10), but here, in Paul’s letter to Titus, Paul tells us that he left Titus on the Island of Crete. The only time we see Paul on the Island of Crete is when he’s on his way to Rome (Acts 27:7). Apparently, Titus was with Paul on this trip and, before Paul entered a terrible storm and was ship-wrecked, he left Titus in a storm of a different kind. The believers in Crete had not appointed the proper leadership in the churches, there were false teachers upsetting whole families, and there seemed to be confusion among the believers in Crete as to proper gender relationships in the church and in the home. The believers in Crete did not understand how the Gospel applied to all areas of their lives (Titus 2:11-14).
So Paul tells Titus to “teach what accords with sound doctrine.” He makes a sharp contrast between what the false teachers were teaching and what Titus is to teach. Paul links sound doctrine with gender roles, and this is very important.
Some want to say that the gender issues addressed are merely cultural and are not in effect today. Many today claim that these ideas are archaic and old fashioned. But this view is easily debunked because, as you will notice, the gender roles spoken of here are rooted, not in culture, but in sound doctrine. They are rooted in God’s truth. We see other places in Scripture that make it clear that gender roles are traced back to the created order (see 1 Timothy 2:12-15).
The men of RBC have been reading and studying Mark Dever’s Book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. It is not an exhaustive treatment of everything that the New Testament teaches about a healthy church, but it’s a great start. We see in Paul’s letter to Titus that one of the evidences of a healthy believing community is how that community handles gender roles in the church and at home.
Titus is to address the older men of the congregation. They are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. The men are to lead their homes and their church in this way. As men grow older, a certain responsibility rests upon them. They should not be living in the foolishness of their youth. By this time in life, older believing men should be Christ-like examples to their families and church. As we learned in Richard Phillips’ book, The Masculine Mandate, men are to be builders and keepers, workers and protectors, nurturers and tenders of those around them.
Paul tells Titus to address the older women. They 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. Older women have an extremely vital role in the church. They are to teach the younger women how to care for their respective domestic responsibilities in the home. Lots can be said about this: notice that young women need to be trained to love their husbands and children. For starters, let me say that when I was a young husband and father, I was not easy to love. I was very immature and I did not love and care for my children as I ought. I could be hard to live with! I don’t think that testimony only applies to me! I think many young husbands and fathers are foolish, and impulsive, and selfish, and inconsiderate. Young wives are often shocked to learn that their “Prince Charming” is not so charming once they are joined together in matrimony. Very often, young wives need to learn a special patience and grace for their husbands. An older and more experienced husband should become easier to live with! The older women are then better equipped to help younger women flourish during that season of their life.
And children…young women not only have to deal with (perhaps) an immature husband, but also immature children. Young mothers have a very difficult task of living what is sometimes a very isolated life in the home with the demands of child-rearing. Older women are to train the younger women how to serve their husbands and children and tend to the home. This does not mean that a woman cannot work outside the home (See Proverbs 31), but it is clear that the woman’s main role is to maintain the home. If work outside the home hinders work inside the home, the work outside should cease. Remember, this is sound doctrine. When the structure of marriage and church is properly in line with Scriptural gender roles, so the marriage and the church will be healthy.
Titus is also to address the young men. They are to be self-controlled. Enough said!
In all of this we should see that the believing community is a beautiful harmonizing of the generations! I take this text to mean that Titus was to teach this in public from the pulpit and privately as the need arose. When they were in church, all age groups would hear the same instruction together. As for Titus, he was to show himself to be a model of good works, teaching with integrity, dignity, sound speech, putting the evil world to shame (verse 7). The young were not primarily to be taught about life from their peers (although they will learn things from peers, either good or bad). Rather, older, more experienced believers in life and in the faith were to train the young.
I love our small groups at RBC. I am so thankful that my children can glean wisdom from older, godly men and women. Older believers that neglect to teach and train younger believers in the church are in great disobedience. And the young should seize every opportunity to learn from and listen to and emulate the more experienced. So, let us not forsake the assembling of ourselves together – old and young! And let us spur one another on to love and good deeds. This is how we grow to full maturity in Christ!