But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that … the older women … be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.(Tit 2:1-5)
The women of Crete did not have a sterling reputation in the ancient world. Part of this was no doubt a consequence of the topless attire that they wore. But part of it was also a consequence of the conduct of some of Crete’s leading women.
One of the ancient legends associated with Crete that most people know is that of the Minotaur. What fewer now know is that the Minotaur was the offspring of the Minoan Queen Pasiphae who had mated with a bull. Pasiphae’s sexual perversions weren’t lost on her daughters – one of whom, seduced by the Greek hero Theseus, paved the way for the destruction of the Minotaur and the decline of Cretan power and the other of whom later married Theseus and then tried to seduce Theseus’ son, precipitating the son's death when he refused her advances. Not to be outdone, another of the royal Cretan women was banished from Crete for her illicit behavior, rose through skillful use of her beauty in the court of the King of Mycenae, married the king’s son, and then assisted the king in murdering his own son so that she could become the king’s wife. These perversions led to the disgrace of Cretan women generally – their conduct became the example by which all were judged; even the upright were viewed with suspicion.
Paul is very concerned that Christian women cause no such shame for the Gospel of Christ. He states the motivation of all his exhortations quite plainly in v. 5 – “that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” In so doing, Paul indicates that the operative concern for our lives as professing Christians is not our happiness, not our ease or comfort, but preserving the Word of God and hence God Himself from being blasphemed.
And so Paul’s first command to the older women is that they be “reverent in behavior.” Literally his exhortation means that they conduct themselves in such a way as would be fitting in the temple of God; that they act as they would if they were in the presence of God Himself all the time – for this is, in fact, how we live. We all live coram Deo – before the face of God. And so we are to live reverently.
So women – how are you doing? What are you using as the measure of your actions? What determines the sacrifices you make? The way you spend your time? The way you speak to your children? The way you respond to your husband? The way you speak about your husband to your friends? Paul urges you to measure your life by the Word of God – don’t do anything that would bring shame on Jesus’ Name, that would give the enemies of God cause to blaspheme God’s Name. Suffer anything rather than shame your Savior.
And this is the same message that Paul gives to you men as well. We are all to live such that we adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. So how are you doing? Has your attitude at work adorned the Gospel? Has your thankfulness at home adorned the Gospel? Has your care for your children adorned the Gospel? Or have you brought shame on Jesus’ Name?
Reminded that our conduct as Christians inevitably reflects on the Name of our Savior Christ, let us kneel and confess that we have given occasion for the enemies of God to blaspheme.