So there's this young pastor/church-planter guy. And he is in the midst of a challenging culture, trying to disciple his flock to glorify Jesus. His mentor gives him some advice as to what godliness should look like among his church members. It's not hinged on behavior, but on what sound doctrine should produce in the lives of the people he is serving and leading. Much of the advice is about being self-controlled. Perhaps that's an obvious caution in this culture. But to the older women, this pastor's mentor gives this advice: "They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands."
The younger women roll their eyes. Who needs this piece of advice?! When I find my soulmate, they think, everything will be perfect. He will complete me. We will have fulfilled all possible dimensions of compatibility. We will be ecstatic to be together.
The older women laugh to themselves. Just you wait, they think.
Two millennia later, a major newspaper runs an article rediscovering the wisdom of this advice. The article carries the intriguing title, The Marriage Myth: Why do so many couples divorce? Maybe they just don't know how to be married. The author asks this intriguing question: "What if the truth was that you didn't marry the wrong person? What if you just didn't know how to be married?"
Newly engaged couples don't lack for information. Racks of glossy magazines, checklist-filled books and a huge array of Web sites are at the ready, waiting to guide them through every step of the wedding planning process. No detail is too trivial for obsession -- what kind of stamps to use for invitations, how place cards should be arranged at the reception, which bridesmaids should get fancier bouquets than the rest.
For our weddings, we are hyper-prepared. But for marriage? Often, not so much.
One marriage research, John Gottman, conducted a decades-long study of marriage couples and, as the Washington Post reports in this piece, he found that "all couples -- those who are happily married into their rocking-chair years and those who divorce before they hit their fifth anniversary -- disagree more or less the same amount." They also disagree about the same subjects, with about 69 percent of these disagreements staying unresolved. But what distinguished satisfied couples from the miserable ones, he found, was how "creatively and constructively they managed those differences."
Scripture has always contained this truth, and even more. It's not natural for two sinners to live together without conflict. That's why women have to learn to love their husbands (Titus 2:4), and husbands are commanded to live with their wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). I am happy to see the general public awakening to this point. But Scripture points us to a higher purpose than marital satisfaction. Marriage should glorify God because that is its foundational purpose and its goal. That is the testimony of Scripture broadly. It is also the concluding thought that this wise mentor, Paul, once gave to Titus, his church-planting colleague: "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-14)
My question to you today is, how is this Titus 2 command of older women training younger women working in your church? How is it working in your marriage or engagement? What do you have to encourage the rest of us about the value of this timeless, biblical counsel?