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