Lessons for Young Women
“They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.”- Titus 2:3b–4
Living in the Western world, it can be hard to imagine people marrying for any reason other than love. The Protestant Reformation, it has been argued, brought a revolution to the whole concept of marriage. Its influence on this matter is seen in that hardly anyone in the West deams mutual love insignificant to a good marriage. To be sure, the love that is to be the foundation of the marital relationship is often understood in a shallow way today, but that is due to our society’s failure to remember how Scripture has shaped its thinking. Still, that people at least try to marry for love in the West reflects at least an unconscious awareness of the New Testament’s call for spouses to love one another (Eph. 5:25; Titus 2:3–4).
Elsewhere (and before the modern era in the West), however, love is not the primary motivating factor for marriage. Economic needs, preservation of one’s social status, and a host of other reasons drive marriage long before love does, if it ever becomes a factor at all. In this respect, married life outside the West is not unlike that of the first-century. People married for reasons other than love back then, and women usually had no say in who their husbands would be.
That is why Paul’s teaching in today’s passage is profoundly counter-cultural. It was by no means certain in his setting that young wives would have any affection for their husbands. But if they were Christians they were obligated to love their husbands, for that is how God designed marriage (Gen. 2:18–25). Older Christian women were to help younger wives learn to love their husbands and children, not indulgently but in a way that seeks the well-being of spouse and child (Titus 2:3a–4). This principle is to be followed even in our own day. Those women who are older are more likely to have been married a long time and more likely to know what it means to love and care for one’s family through thick and thin. Their experience and insight is invaluable in helping new wives adjust to the responsibilities of keeping a home, and as older women with godly marriages mentor younger women, all families in the church benefit.
One of the most significant ministries an older woman can have (indeed, that the church can have) is to mentor a young woman in godliness, which includes helping her learn how to love and serve her family. Not every new wife knows how to relate well to her husband, and the church should be concerned to help couples learn the parameters of Christian marriage. Let us do what we can to encourage such mentoring relationships to form in our churches.
Passages for Further Study
Song of Solomon 7:11–13