Invited to speak
Stimulating to read the recent blog about “Loosing theTongues of Women.” That debate always motivates me to reflect on a clear invitation or mandate Paul gives Titus regarding women and their voices and influence. “But as for you, communicate the behavior that goes with sound teaching. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Older women likewise are to exhibit behavior fitting for those who are holy, not slandering, not slaves to excessive drinking, but teaching what is good. In this way they will train the younger women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, fulfilling their duties at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the message of God may not be discredited. Titus 2:1-4. Titus, as a young pastor, is challenged to equip and give voice to older, mature women as the ones intended to train and teach the younger women.
Whatever the final interpretation of the other New Testament passages under debate, here is a clear mandate for a teaching ministry woman-to-woman. Yet in many ways it is only in recent years that the church has begun to seriously equip women with the skills needed to train others. Revisiting Sandi’s comments, “If you read Augustine,Luther, Tertullian, Chrysostom ("A woman is softer of mind than a man"), etc., about the WHY of the church's continual silencing of women, you will find arguments from which most Bible scholars today want to distance themselves. They include the ideas that women are more easily deceived than men; that man is made in God's image but not woman; that God made women not for dominion but only to serve; and a long list of similar such statements these scholars believe contradict clear biblical teaching that woman was made for co-dominion, not just procreation, and she was indeed,created in the image of God.”
From these historical examples I believe we can conclude that many in previous generations failed to take seriously the mandate of Titus 2, to intentionally equip women to serve in this teaching ministry. Had the church historically fully equipped and empowered her women in the exercise of their spiritual gifts, how might the history of the church look different. Might women's gifts, fully developed, have influenced what are now seen as historically unloving and cruel acts done in the name of our faith? Might their input have provided a balancing perspective that could have protected innocent life and prevented many abuses? Certainly the Titus passage itself indicates that the behavior of women has the possibility of discrediting the very word of God. Equipping women to serve and live in ways that honor Him isn’t optional, it’s mandated.
I remember a conversation with a young pastor in Moscow, Russia where he asked me what I would like him to say to Russian pastors about ministry to women. I replied that I am hoping for Titus pastors; ones who take seriously Paul's mandate to Titus and intentionally provide for training of their women. His response was gracious and also honest by saying that was a new thought to him. Let's be alert not to lose sight of this clear invitation as to what we can do while we discuss and debate what some believe we cannot do.