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  • Michael Shawn Carbaugh II

Archive: The Lessons I've Learned from Women

“Older men are to be level-headed, worthy or respect, sensible, and sound in faith, love and endurance. In the same way, older women are to be revered in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good.” -Titus 2:2-3 (HCSB) This passage struck me as I was reading through Paul’s instruction to a young preacher named Titus. Titus, as a pastor, is to encourage his congregation to act in a godly manner. This is the advice that he gives Titus that he expects Titus to, in turn, pass on to his congregation. The reason this struck me was that the older women are told to teach while the older men are not. This is not to say that older men ought not to teach, it is simply something that caught my eye. On a theological level, the role of women in the Christian church is largely debated among believers. There are several controversial passages discussing the role of women in church throughout the epistles, many of them written by Paul. However, here, Paul admonishes older women to teach. Now, to be fair, Paul says that their primary purpose int he church is to teach the women in the congregation in Titus 2:4. Nonetheless, he does ask these older women to teach what is good. Even though Paul specifically mentions that the older women are to teach the younger women, I don’t think his statement is meant to restrict women to teaching only other women I simply think Paul understood that these older women naturally have more of an influence over the younger members of the congregation who share the same gender. On a theological level, I think this verse is important for recognizing the ability and permission for women to teach in church. I am not necessarily making a case for women-eldership or women-pastors, though I have been known to refrain from making statements against those cases. What I do speak against is the idea of keeping any woman from teaching in the church at all. In fact, I think that position is insensitive, unwise, and, frankly, unbiblical. Oftentimes, those who argue that women cannot teach in the church will state that it is unbiblical for a woman to hold spiritual authority, particularly above a man. In order to hold this position, you must ignore many passages of Scripture in which women exercised spiritual authority. One example that reminds me of this Titus passage is Timothy’s grandmother. One of Paul’s dearest pupils, a young pastor named Timothy, was led to Christ by his grandmother Lois. Timothy’s grandmother and his mother, Eunice, taught him how to follow the Lord when he was a new convert. Paul says this to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5: “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (KJV) Clearly, these godly woman served as some of Timothy’s greatest mentors and, therefore, exercised spiritual authority over Timothy. On a personal note, I cannot accept the idea of intolerance towards women teaching in the church due not only to the biblical evidence against this position, but also because of my personal experience as a young follower of Christ. As I reflect upon my upbringing as a pastors kid, I can identify several older women who encouraged, admonished, and taught me how to follow God more effectively. In fact, I was just over one of their houses last night, reflecting on some of the times when this godly woman had influenced my life for Christ’s cause. I’m grateful that our church did not impede them from teaching me as a child, else I would certainly not be the man I am today. As a pastor, I hope that I will be able to cultivate an environment in which both men and women are free to teach others about the Lord, so that those who have more experience than the younger Christians can share their God-given wisdom about following Jesus. I’m certainly thankful that certain women in my church shared their wisdom with me, for it has been remembered and it has helped to form me into who I am today.

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