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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Thinking Like the World

In Paul's letter to Titus he warns Titus about those who refuse to follow sound doctrine. "For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach." (Titus 1:10-11) He concludes, "They profess to know God, but they deny Him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." (Titus 1:16) Have you ever met anyone like that? They profess to know God, but deny Him by the way they live. They are marked by disobedience while claiming to be followers of Christ. So have I. But that's not what I'm writing about here. Paul goes on to tell Titus,
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 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. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. (Titus 2:1-6)
Does that strike you as odd? I don't think it lines up with today's mindset, at least in our culture ... in multiple ways.

"Teach what accords with sound doctrine." What's that? Can we even know what "sound doctrine" is? Who can really say? In fact, we shouldn't be teaching "sound doctrine" at all. What is true or not is generally devisive. And it isn't nearly as important how we should live. You know, orthopraxy over orthodoxy. We really don't know what "sound doctrine" is with any certainty, so teaching what accords with it is pretty hard ... by today's standards.

"Older men are to be ..." We object to "men" versus "women". You can't say, "Men should be X and women should be Y." That's sexism. That's bigotry. And then you throw in "older"? Now we're into ageism as well! You can't single out older men and say they should be a certain way. That's just wrong.

"Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified ..." Wow, now this is a real stretch. Who's to say that older men should be sober-minded? Who determines that they -- distinct from younger men, older women, and younger women -- ought to be dignified. Why the limitations? Why not let them be free?

"Older women likewise ..." We already objected to this distinction between men and women. Christians are individuals and equals and ought not have this gender or age tag hung on them to tell them what to be. And, of course, the list of stuff that they should be is equally unfair. "Reverent in their behavior." What a crock! Women should be vivacious, lively. Just be yourself! Don't let anyone tell you what to be.

Older women are to "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." Wrong, again, in many ways. They might assist the young women, but why are they required to train them? And, look, it doesn't take a genius to point out that "working at home" for married women with kids is nonsense, especially in this day and age. The "happy homemaker" concept died at the end of the '50's ... primarily because it was a myth, perpetrated by men, mostly. Young women should be able to get out of the house, have a career, fulfill themselves! Someone else can take care of their children (and husband ... oh, wait ...). And, of course, no one these days thinks that younger women should be submissive to their husbands. That is right out! Fortunately, it has been awhile, so there aren't many "older women" who believe it either, so they can't possibly teach it to younger women.

"Urge the younger men to be self-controlled." Keeping in mind the whole gender and age problem, still, you have to wonder, "That's it??!!" Tell them to "be self-controlled"? Nothing more. Everyone else had lists. Not them. Why?

Titus was instructed to tell older men how they should be and urge younger men to be what they should be, but not the younger women. The task of training younger women fell to older women. What is that all about? Clearly sexism is rampant in the Bible.

So, I've listed to you some of the common objections you might hear or even think yourself. All well and good. Here's my question. Who are you going to go with? The Bible or the objections? Basic, bottom-line question. Answer that first. Is the Bible the Word of God? Is it reliable? True? Authoritative? If it is, then you need to evaluate your own objections, whatever they might be. Because it is abundantly clear what Paul told Titus to teach. There is sound doctrine and he was supposed to teach accordingly. Older men do need to have certain characteristics as representatives of Christ. Older women should, for instance, be reverent in their behavior. And, if you are an "older woman", are you teaching younger women? Are you teaching them to be what Paul says they should be? I ask because from what I can see it isn't happening. Just try to suggest that God's Word says that wives should be homemakers and you'll get booed out of the room. (Note: The text does not say that wives cannot earn money or have jobs. It simply specifies that they keep their homes.) Hey, I didn't say it; Paul did ... under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. If you object, take it up with Him. (That's a capital "Him" because it's the Spirit, not Paul you need to take it up with.) Don't like that whole "submit to husbands" thing? Not my command. Again, you will need to either agree with the Spirit on that or discard the Spirit on that. And teaching young men to be self-controlled? Most of the parents I see today aren't teaching their younger children to be self-controlled. Why would anyone expect it of them?

So we end up in a circle here. I gave you the first six verses of the second chapter of Paul's letter to Titus where Paul tells him to do all sorts of things that violate our common cultural perceptions today. You need to decide. Will you accept the Word, or will you prefer the culture? Will you think like the Word or think like the world? If you prefer the culture, you will fall under the category of people that Paul gave as a reason for telling Titus these things. You will be one of those who profess to know God, but deny Him in practice. You will be one of those "upsetting whole families" by teaching what ought not be taught. Now, far be it from me to tell you not to be one of those people. I just want you to do it intentionally. Or not. I would much prefer, in your best interest, that you prayerfully realign your thinking with Scripture -- with God's thinking. But it's obviously your call.

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