Author’s Note: I hope my readers find this first entry worth the wait. It’s been tough to decide how to section up this piece. On the plus side: Just me talking about this has stirred up a lot of conversation on the topic. As I followed the links to female Christian bloggers that were left to me, I found several of them have been writing scurrilously about female teachers. That doesn’t even include Dalrock, Deep Strength, and others from the blogs I read for my own pleasure and edification.
But as for you [Titus], teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
In this passage we have the most robust statement in the Scriptures of what women teachers look like, what they should teach, and who they should teach. Bloggers on Christian marriage, I think one must agree, are a kind of teacher so in whatever way we judge them, St. Paul’s instructions to Titus must figure largely–if not prominently!–in any discussion of how to judge a female Christian blogger.
In the post I mean to correct, I brought up a distinction between an indicative (a description of what and how a this is) and an imperative (commands on what it is to do). St. Paul was fond of pairing up a set of linked indicatives with an set of imperatives. We see them throughout his letters to the churches. What sort of woman should qualify for a teacher of women?
All of them.
Well, at least the older ones. Paul says, “Older women are likewise to…” and then goes into a list of indicatives of older Christian women. Are there any Christian woman who are to be irreverent in behavior, slanderers, or slaves to much wine? No. In the same way as all Christian women are to be reverent, all Christian women are to be teachers of the younger women. He gives an imperative: “They are to teach”, Paul wrote, once they are older.
What does older mean? I think it could be fairly interpreted a couple ways. The first is a mother of a mother. It is unavoidably natural that a mother of a mother would have teachings for the younger. A grandmother has successfully raised her own children, and if she is a Christian grandmother then she should still be married, or a widow, or–at worst–a repentant and chaste woman who confesses her foolishness to the younger women that they might learn from her sins.
The second demarcation I can countenance for an older woman is menopause. It has been my experience that once a woman sails beyond the Red Tide that she ceases to become so irrational and carried away, and often becomes (emotionally and mentally) something nearer to an old man than a young woman. In a word: Self-controlled.
Part of that self-control will be exhibited in her long hair (if she can help it; covered if she can’t). It will also show in her lack of public prophecy (“The Lord spoke to my heart…”) which is rampant and shameless among female Christian writers. Unless she is prepared to be sought out, questioned mightily, and ready to confess that she heard an audible voice as the prophets of old did, I want to hear nothing of the Lord “speaking to her”. It’s blasphemy at the least and likely an evil spirit.
She, the older woman teacher, will also confess and profess what is good; the list of which is greater than this post, but I will cover in the near future. Mind you: She doesn’t just teach what she is good at, or what she would like to be good, but what is good.
Of the female Christian bloggers which were recommended to me as good teachers only one met this simple criteria: Lori Alexander; who has been on my blogroll. The rest are young by any standard except a teenager’s. Again, I want to point out that older women teaching the younger is an imperative; they all ought to be doing it. So what we’re seeing isn’t just a bunch of young foolish whipper-snappers, but a dearth of old, self-controlled, biddies.
This wasn’t the conclusion I thought I’d reach when I started thinking seriously about female teachers, but I can’t see any other explanation.
Someone suggested “Thatmom.com” (the authoress of which is a grandmother) but after reading some of her posts I have concluded that she was suggested to me so that I would put the torch to her…literarily. Perhaps later I will, but I already have the next post mostly done so she will have to wait.