Saturday, 21 July 2012

Titus 2 and Mormons

(This post is very religious in nature - specifically my religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints - but is my opinion only and is not indicative of official doctrine of the Church.)

I read a few Catholic and non-denominational Christian blogs. Something that has come up on these blogs is references to being "Titus 2 women". This made me think of a similar sort of Mormon phrase that has cropped up on blogs, women being "keepers of the gate", or "lionesses at the gate".

Now, being well versed in Mormon-speak, the above phrases immediately made sense to me. They were taken and adapted from a talk given by Sister Julie B Beck, our previous General Relief Society President. She was encouraging women everywhere, regardless of marriage, motherhood and age to be guardians of the home and protectors of all that is good and righteous.

But what about Titus 2? Do Mormon women and other Christian women believe in the same things, and act on those beliefs in the same way?

My Church uses the King James version of the bible, and Titus chapter 2 is as follows:

 But aspeak thou the things which become sound bdoctrine:
 That the aaged men be bsober, grave, ctemperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.
 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not afalse baccusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
 That they may teach the young awomen to be sober, to blovetheir husbands, to love their children,
 To be discreet, achastebkeepers at chome, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.
 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrineshewing uncorruptness, agravitybsincerity,
 aSound speech, that cannot be bcondemned; that he that is cofthe contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
 Exhort aservants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not banswering again;
 10 Not apurloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they maybadorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
 11 For the agrace of God bthat bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
 12 Teaching us that, denying aungodliness and bworldly clusts, we should live dsoberlyerighteously, and godly, in this present world;
 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the aglorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
 14 Who gave ahimself for us, that he might bredeem us from all iniquity, and cpurify unto himself a dpeculiar people, ezealous of good works.
 15 These things speak, and exhort, and arebuke with allbauthority. Let no man cdespise thee.
 Before getting a clear understanding of this chapter, I feel it's important to point out that this letter of instruction (the entire book of Titus, actually) was written for Saints already strong in the faith. Their testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ was firm.

This letter was more of a formula for strengthening that testimony, and for strengthening their relationships with each other and their families as a whole. In other words, this is how we can endure to the end.

I came up with a list of different bits of advice embedded in this chapter:

  • be sober (Greek translation of this word comes up with circumspect, or in other words prudent and discreet)
  • love your husbands
  • live righteously
  • love your children
  • be chaste
  • follow uncorrupted doctrine
  • be of sound speech (ie, speak wholesome words)
  • follow a pattern of good works
  • be sincere
  • be obedient

Specific advice is given to various groups of people, as well:
  • "aged men" -- Don't use your age as an excuse to be grumpy!  
  • "aged women" -- Beware gossiping, teach your experience to the youth 
  • "young women" -- Most of your focus should be at home; keep it safe
  • "young men" -- Be sober, make wise choices

All of this advice is timeless, for most of us. But what about that sticky little phrase in verse 5, advising women to "be obedient to their own husbands"?

Does this mean complete subservience to another human being? Should wives submit their will and free agency to their husbands in all things?

I'm not so sure. I think there is more to this advice than meets the eye, and I think that substance is found in the words immediately following, "that the word of God be not blasphemed."

Our free agency is vital to our existence, so I don't think this means servility or domestic drudgery. If husbands are careful to keep the Word of God, why wouldn't their wives listen to what they have to say? If the husband's will is aligned to Gods, and the wives are also aligned to God, then they would be in agreement with all the important aspects of life.

Looking at this advice as an if-then statement --

If .............the word of God be not blasphemed,
Then .......wives should be obedient to their own husbands --

well, this makes more sense in my mind. It appears more like a contract between mutual parties rather than obsequiousness.

This ties into another piece of advice given to wives in verse 5, to be "keepers at home." The Greek translation of this phrase gives rise to another word instead of keeper - guard.

And now we are thrown back to the Mormon phrase of "keepers of the gate" and "lionesses at the gate."

If it is the woman's responsibility to be the guardian of her home, and if men ought to be wise (verses 2 & 6), patient (verse 2) and Godly (verse 7), why wouldn't a wife listen to her husband?

This sounds like a partnership of different responsibilities but with the same goal - safeguarding the home, family and personal testimony.

Titus 2 Women and Mormon Women

We are trying to be righteous and follow God's law. I see no discrepancy between what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches to the women of the Church and what other Christian denominations teach to their women members.

From the Family: A Proclamation to the World

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. 

Obviously I am not claiming that the LDS Church has the same beliefs as other Christian denominations, but I do think it's worth pointing out that there are many similarities and our faith in Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the world is paramount.

There is much more to understand and ponder in this chapter of Titus. Namely,

  1. What can I do to be more holy?
  2. Have I established a pattern of good works in my life?
  3. How can I be a better keeper of my home, guardian or lioness at the gate?
  4. Am I sober? Discreet? Prone to silliness?


Jenn said...

I think that, as the bottom and top of every Christian denomination is a love of and belief in Jesus as the risen lord and saviour. That unites us - or it should do - it sets us apart from the world, and gives us both a foundation to build on and a hope for the future. Anything and everything else that differs is simply the Lord placing us where he wants us, guiding us in the way that fullfils his will, and meeting each of us where we are. The body of Christ (ie the church) has different parts to fulfil different functions, and I think that *that* is the reason for different denominations and branches - so there is a perfect place for each of us.
*hugs* to all there :)

Raisin4Cookies said...

I love that. Thank you for your comment.