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Family Life

Adult Children

Titus 2:1-8

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The Old No Longer Teach the Young

I submit it to you as fact: in the church today, the old no longer teach the young. They cater to them instead.

Symptoms

If you think not, consider:

  • The study of the Scripture is rapidly declining in importance. A recent change at our own church reflects this. We were called an “adult Bible fellowship;” we are now a “Weekend Connection Group.” It’s supposed to be a seeker-friendly name. This is a common phenomenon in the emergent church.
  • The old are now assumed to be incompetent – and therefore can be ignored. For example, there are several of our seniors who have written to the new pastor with concerns about the changes taking place. The universal response is to ignore them.
  • The church teaches the value of the nuclear family – but not the extended family. Our pastor, for example, advocates that grandparents and parents should live far apart so that the grandparents will “interfere” as little as possible. His implicit assumption is that the old have nothing to teach them; wisdom is not found in the old but in pop psychology.
Why?

Why is this happening?

  • One very important reason is that the church has absorbed the culture around it, and that culture is a youth culture. Homer Simpson would not survive if it weren’t for his cool son, Bart, right? Note that the problem is in the church absorbing the culture rather than countering it.
  • We are also victims of the “MBA Church.” We no longer ask what the people need; rather, we conduct market research to find out what they want.[1] When they get here, we sell them the sizzle (“your life can be so much better”) and not the steak (“Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”)
  • When someone objects, the answer is a Bulverism: “You only say that because you’re an old geezer.” It avoids the problem of whether or not what you say is true.
Is this a problem?

It might seem obvious that it is, but it is worth making the point clear.

  • We are raising a generation which does not really know who God is. That has disastrous consequences.[2] The typical young Christian in our church is in touch with his feelings – and never cracks the Bible, not even the one gathering dust in the pews. The ignorant are the easily misled.
  • As the Scripture makes clear[3], we are to pass the faith along to the next generation. That duty belongs to the old, so that the young might not have to discover it for themselves. (How commonly do we hear the tragic myth that it’s better to keep your children ignorant until they are grown, then they can “find out for themselves.”)
  • In times such as these, we are called to be “lights in a crooked generation.[4]” It is our given task to keep the landing lights lit on the alternate airfield. Strait is the way, narrow the gate. So we had best light it well.

What we should be

I submit that we need to consider two things: just what kind of people we should be so that we will be listened to; and then just what we should teach.

Titus 2:1-8 NASB But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. (2) Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. (3) Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, (4) so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, (5) to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (6) Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; (7) in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, (8) sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.

Older men

Gentlemen, what shall we be?

  • Temperate.  The word is used in its old sense, meaning one who does things in moderation.  This is a man living a balanced life. Perhaps your doctor is right; you should be on a diet.
  • Dignified.  Dignity is not pomposity; but you’d never know it now.  But consider: I didn’t reach this age without acquiring some virtue, if only by experience. I know what I’m doing – and I should act as if I deserve respect for that. It’s a form of honesty, otherwise. Consider the alternative: the sixty year old who is hip, cool and with it. What do the kids really think of him? Grandpa they love – but a sixty year old teenager?
  • Sensible.  One not given to the idea of the moment, but one who weighs the facts, the hearts and the minds before decision. My kid brother’s wife once asked him how he figured out what to do around the house – he just asked himself what Dad would have done.
  • Sound in faith, love and perseverance.  A man whose practice of these three virtues is such that they are now an integral part of his character. Faith, by this age, should be strengthened greatly by the blessings God has given. Love – ask any grandfather about this; it grows with age. Perseverance – often just a matter of perspective, the sound Christian knows not only how to persevere in his own efforts, but also to be willing to hand them off to the next generation.
Older women

No doubt it is a great shock to the feminists among us that women are encouraged to different virtues. Indeed, Paul’s list here includes a couple of negatives as well – for which, in his time, there was good reason.

  • Reverent.  In the original it means the attitude that becomes holiness.  The old title “Reverend” carries with it the idea of holiness, a man set apart.  Here the older women are to conduct themselves as becomes holiness.
  • Not malicious.  The word for “malicious” in the Greek is also translated “Devil” in other places.  And why not?  Is it not Satan who is our accuser?  Do you think he needs your help? This also emphasizes the peril of gossip. Gossip, one recalls, is repeating what is true – and harmful.
  • Not enslaved to wine.  The point would have been more telling at this time, for the use of wine was frequently recommended for the conditions of old age.  It helped with the pain of arthritis, and perhaps more important was its function of encouraging blood circulation.  How many older women are consistently beset with cold feet?  The point is a very practical one, for its time. Even today the word “alcoholic” might be construed as negative.
  • Teacher.  More literally, a teacher of “right things.”  One who shows others the right way. This reminds us that instruction for the young includes more than how to change diapers.

What we are to teach

It is not entirely certain that this is “men to men” and “women to women.” But the course of instruction is clear enough:

Young Men
  • We are to teach them to be examples of good deeds. This is best done by being examples ourselves, but explicit instruction is not excluded. You may no longer have the physical strength to help next door – or down at the Mexican orphanage – but you can encourage such things.
  • We are to teach purity in doctrine. This sounds very strange in our day – doctrine being considered something which is kept on a bookshelf somewhere, being of no practical use to the church. But – as we have taught here – it is indeed of practical use. Even the most experienced mariners still consult the charts.
  • Dignified? They have to learn it some time. They will be old men someday.
  • Sound speech is a topic unheard for many years in the church – especially in a time when obscene language is commonplace. But there is no witness so obvious and yet so unobtrusive as that. But it is more than that; it also involves the ready response we are to be able to give. Sound speech includes knowing what you’re talking about.
Young women

What we are to teach the young women is a list that will absolutely outrage the modern feminist.

  • To love their husbands. Wait; I thought love was something that “just happened.” No, it is something that can – and must – be trained. The command to the man is more emphatic, but this is a skill that must be learned. Who knows that better than those with forty plus years of experience at it?
  • To love their children. Of course we love our children – after picking them up from day care, running them through McDonalds and off to bed. We just don’t make it a priority in our day. Has there ever been a generation more in need of such instruction?
  • Sensible – just like the men, women need to teach the younger ones the practical aspects of family life. For instance, the shopping that you can do is not necessarily the shopping you should do.
  • Workers at home. The idea that a woman’s place is even remotely in the home is high treason to most Christian women today. There is much to say in determining why; but the older women can tell you just how much more time they wish they had spent at the office.
  • Kind. Did you ever think of kindness as a learned skill? It is. Often enough we don’t see when we should be kind because we are in such a hurry. Training is required.
  • Subject to their own husbands. While the feminists pluck the feathers and heat the tar, I can but refer you to the previous lesson for this.
Mom

May I be permitted to raise an example? She’s with Christ now, but I wish you could hear my wife tell you about what she learned from my mother. Her own family life was a disaster when she was growing up – her dad is a pain even yet – but she learned how to handle her husband well from a woman who did not hesitate to pass along what she knew. May I encourage the reader to go and do likewise.

 


[1] Think not? They want “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” We give them two out of three, and our more liberal brethren are working on the drugs.

[2] See Judges 2:10-15

[3] Psalm 71:17-18, for instance

[4] Philippians 2:14-15

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