“Let the older women teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers of the home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2:4,5
Prior to meeting my husband about 37 years ago, I enjoyed a lighthearted silliness in my life. My younger sisters and I were prone to involve friends in jokes that, at the time, we thought were hilarious.
Like the time my cousin Faye and a friend of ours, Jack, happened to be traveling back on the same bus after a weekend that a group of us had gotten together for. Just as they were ready to board, the rest of us suddenly whipped out balloons, noisemakers, and a huge ‘Just Married’ sign, threw confetti on them, and began a noisy and enthusiastic round of hugs and congratulations. The two shocked and appalled young people protested loudly above the noise and celebration, “No! No! We’re not married! We hardly know each other!” It was very funny.
I love to laugh, and have a great appreciation for funny people. But when I met Dan, there was a soberness about him that was attractive to me. We spent hours in deep, thought-provoking conversation that made me feel intelligent and responsible–mature. I gravitated to it.
Soon after we married, as you can imagine, reality hit pretty hard. The despair I felt when I realized that this guy had no sense of humor was merely a blip on the radar screen compared to the confusion that spread over his whole face the first time I let loose and got really silly. Both of us just stared at each other in utter disbelief. Who was this other person?
But time went on, and in one of life’s great mysteries, Dan and I somehow managed to conceive three very funny children. In all those years of childrearing, we learned through them that laughing actually kept us sane, healthy, stable, clear-headed, and acutely attentive to the awesome details of the wonderful life God had given us. And in the process of those years, another funny thing happened. Dan himself began to lighten up, and occasionally surprised us by being truly, genuinely funny.
Consequently, I found it disturbing when I first seriously paid attention to Titus 2 that the first thing the older women in the church were to teach the younger ones was that they should be ‘sober’! My assumption, of course, was that to be sober was to live without fun. How wrong!
How inconsistent with the Proverbs (15:13 and 17:22) that say, “A joyful heart is good medicine” to assume that the Creator of all good things, including laughing, would require us to live in a joyless environment.
The definition is very different from what I’d assumed, but the instruction to be sober is compelling nonetheless. By definition (according to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English Language), to be ‘sober’ means to be “temperate; not mad or insane; not wild or heated with passion. Calm. Not under the influence of passion.”
For supposedly never having married, Paul seems to have hit a target with acute precision in his perception of women on this issue. Women are commonly very passionate individuals. Paul seemed to understand that a primary issue in his comprehensive list of necessary feminine qualities to be taught to young wives, in order that the testimony of Christ and His Church would be effective, was for them to learn to control their passion. The weakness of a woman is to use passion to control, or to be controlled herself by her own passion.
Solomon obviously had some experience with wives of uncontrolled passion that lead him to write in Proverb 25:24 that, “It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.” This ‘quarrelsome’ description of a woman is defined as, “disputing with vehemence or loud, angry words; scolding; wrangling; finding fault; disagreeing… petulant; easily provoked to enmity or contention.”
It’s far too easy for a woman to quarrel, nag, whine, or manipulate by emotional reactions in order to get her way. Though she may even outwardly appear to let her husband lead, she herself may seek to manipulate his decisions by her whining, her nagging, or by her tears.
In the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the mother consoled her daughter, who was frustrated that her father stubbornly refused to let her go to college, by boasting that, “The man is the head. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head any way she wants!” Funny. But ungodly. And very destructive to the testimony a woman is commanded to provide of the submission of the Church to Christ.
Controlling the husband through passion is a guaranteed way to disrespect his leadership. A very huge, and very common sin among wives is to allow passion to rule so that she ends up speaking disrespectfully to her husband, or to others about her husband, or worst of all, to her husband in the presence of others.
This issue is very serious, and has very serious consequences. A wife must be ‘sober’ or the testimony of Christ and His Bride will be nothing more than a mockery.
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