What should a woman's attitude be toward her home? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Barbara Rainey open the Scriptures to Titus 2 to see what Paul has to say about a woman's role in the home.
What should a woman's attitude be toward her home? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Barbara Rainey open the Scriptures to Titus 2 to see what Paul has to say about a woman's role in the home.
Bob: In Titus, Chapter 2, there are very specific instructions for what older women ought to be teaching younger women in the church. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says, at least, four of those instructions relate to how a woman ought to be functioning at home.
Nancy: And I think what Paul is saying to Titus is: “Tell the women—with whatever the temptations, and opportunities, and allurements may be in this world—not to forget the priority of their home.” It doesn’t mean they never leave their home. It doesn’t mean they don’t have any work anywhere else outside their home. “What you’re doing at home matters—it is part of the gospel story you and your husband are telling together.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, February 21st. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. What are the instructions that older women are to share with younger women about how they function at home? We’ll spend time looking at that today with our guest, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. So we’re going to go here. I mean, you’re ready for letters/emails coming in; right?
Dennis: Absolutely! Bring them—write us!
Bob: [Laughter] Well, look at you! “Come on!”
Dennis: Bring it!
Bob: We’re going to step into an area that there’s some passion / some controversy around.
Dennis: There is. To help stir the controversy, we have brought two women into the studio. One has been my friend / my bride—compadre in the mission of building marriages and families, here, at FamilyLife over the past 41 years—and my bride of 45 years.
Bob: She’s been your friend longer than that; right?
Dennis: She has.
Bob: How long have you been friends?
Barbara: So it would be three years plus 45—48.
Dennis: Yes; not bad. I had never thought about that.
I’m going to ask Barbara to introduce our guest on the program today.
Barbara: Our guest on the program today is our friend, Nancy Wolgemuth. Thanks for joining us.
Nancy: Thank you.
Dennis: And Nancy’s just written a book called Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. We want to talk about older women mentoring younger women today.
Nancy: And nobody really wants to be called an older woman—
Barbara: That’s right.
Nancy: —except me. [Laughter] From the time I was a little girl, I had this goal in life to be a godly old lady.
Bob: Did you have any idea when you were a younger woman that being a godly older woman would mean that you would have to take some courageous countercultural stands and, with grace, speak the truth in love but say, “You know, this is not what the Bible teaches, even though it’s what the culture is teaching”?
Nancy: Well, I probably did have a sense that following Christ would be countercultural from the time I was young. But what I’ve learned and am learning is that God’s ways are, not only true and right, but they’re also good and beautiful.
I think if we just have a sourness to us—or a rough edge or a hard edge—when we say some of these hard, biblical truths—like starting with: “Jesus is the only way to the Father,”—that’s a hard truth that is countercultural in our world. And then, you get into what the Scripture teaches about biblical manhood/womanhood, and marriage, and relationships—the world looks at you like you got two heads: “You’re crazy!” But I think if we can be warm, and engaging, and say: “Look, God has our best interests at heart. He is wise. He is good. When we glorify Him and when we follow His ways, we’re going to be blessed,”—that, I think, is a helpful way to approach some of these countercultural principles.
Bob: So when an older woman today reads, in Titus, Chapter 2, that older women are to train younger women to love their husbands, love their children, be workers at home, be kind and submissive to their own husbands, you can feel them kind of go: “In today’s culture—
Nancy: That’s fight’n words.
Bob: —“I’m supposed to say this to younger women? Younger women will just laugh me ought of the room and say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about Grandma!’”
Nancy: They will say that; but what we need to say is: “Look, this is not just for its own sake. This is not in a vacuumless teaching. This is how we show people what the gospel looks like.” In fact, you didn’t read the end of that—verse 5, which says, “…in order that the Word of God may not be reviled.” If we don’t live out these principles—why God made man, and women, and marriage, and family—then the world is going to look at us, and we’re going to make God look bad. We’re going to make the gospel be blasphemed—is actually the word there—it’s a really strong word.
I want my life to show people that God’s ways and His Word are good, and right, and true. We do that by embracing God’s plan, God’s ways, and God’s order for our lives and our families.
Dennis: Earlier, Barbara talked about how Elisabeth Elliott had made a great impact in her life. I think about what she said about conforming to the culture and conforming to the world’s ways. She basically said: “If what you’re hearing from the world is easy and it appeals to the flesh and to pride—it really speaks against what the Scripture teaches—then you can pretty much count on it being from the world and a lie. It’s not the truth.”
Not everybody’s going to agree on what the Scriptures teach, but there are assignments that God has for older women, with younger women, and specific teachings that they are to give the younger women. Let’s just take some of these, Nancy. Pick the ones out of here that you think are most countercultural today, and the ones that you think older women need to be teaching younger women; and coach them in how to do this.
Nancy: Well, there’s a curriculum here; and it’s interesting to see what’s not in this curriculum. It doesn’t say anything about teaching them how to study the Bible, or how to pray, or how to evangelize—all of which are important. But when he just limits it to these seven qualities that older women are to teach younger women, they have more to do with heart attitudes and the home. Isn’t that interesting? At least four of them—loving husbands, loving children, working at home, [and] submissive to their own husbands—have to do with our family relationships.
Now, he’s not saying that is all there is; but he’s saying: “You can’t go out, as a woman, and go to Bible class, and be in small group, and sing on the worship team at church, and act like you love Jesus but things are busted at home. You’re not prioritizing what’s important to God.” It’s important to God, because it relates to the gospel. God is a home-maker—He sets the lonely in families / He invites us to come to His home.”
Jesus is a home-maker—He says, “I am going to prepare a home for you.” When we develop homes that honor Christ / that show the beauty of Christ, we’re pointing people to the gospel. God is saying: “This matters. This is important. This is not a secondary issue.”
Dennis: Well, since Barbara’s here, I just thought it’d be a great question to ask her. As I look at that list, is it difficult for you to submit to me, as your husband and as the leader of our family?
Barbara: Well, I can’t say, like Elisabeth Elliott did: “…every minute of every day”; right?—isn’t that what she said when you asked her that question?
Dennis: Yes; she said, “With every fiber of my being, I resist submitting to my husband.” [Laughter]
Barbara: However, I will say, “Yes; there are times when it’s hard for me to follow, because I want to do what I want to do.” I think that’s true for all of us in following Christ. We want to do what we want to do. We don’t want to do what God wants us to do.
It’s even [truer] for women, because we have been instructed to follow our husbands. Lots of times that means I deny myself what I want to do and I follow your leadership.
Bob: Okay; hey now—because I’m imagining a listener goes: “This is just not right! When it comes to the direction we go, as a family, how come he gets to pick and I’m just supposed to go, ‘Okay; if that’s what you think, Sweetheart.’” Nancy, is that what this means?—“submit to your husband.”
Nancy: No; it’s not. Let me just say one other thorny thing about this—that some listeners are thinking because of experiences they’ve had. When you talk about submission today, it sounds, to modern ears, like that’s tantamount to promoting abuse.
Nancy: And there are women—many of them / some listening right now—
Dennis: Right—who are abused.
Nancy: —have been abused by dads, by husbands, by men. They’re going: “You’re telling my husband he can tell me what to do, and I have to do everything. I’m going to be bruised and black and blue over this.”
Bob: Some men have pulled verses like this—
Barbara: Yes; they have.
Bob: —and used it as a justification for their abuse. That’s a—
Nancy: And actually, never in Scripture does God tell husbands to make their wives submit.
Bob: That’s right.
Nancy: The submission is something that the wife is challenged to do as a voluntary choice—as the church surrenders and submits to Christ as our head, and our king, and our lover, and our Lord. We are to reflect, in our marriages, that relationship between Christ and His church.
Dennis: You haven’t seen this; but your husband Robert was out in the control room for a few moments, and he just stepped away. I’m glad he came back in; because I wanted to ask you, “Do you struggle with submitting to Robert?” I know he’s the perfect leader. [Laughter] He’s written books on shepherding your wife.
Bob: Listen, you went 57 years without having to pay attention to any of these verses.
Nancy: That’s right. Marriage has been a glorious, wonderful, great adjustment. [Laughter]
I want to say I am hugely blessed to be married to a man who loves Christ, loves me with all his heart, and is earnestly / always seeking to have us follow the Lord together.
Dennis: Okay; that’s all good.
Nancy: So, I’m blessed on that; but yes—
Dennis: I know. Give us an illustration when you really wanted to dig your heels in.
Nancy: Well, let’s just say—when we got married, through a whole series of circumstances and conversations, we ended up moving into what had been my home, as a single woman, for about 25 years. We agreed at—we just felt like the Lord was leading this way. I was very happy—I am thrilled to have him in what is now our home.
But Robert is a builder. He looked at these closets that were so, in his view, disorganized and—
Dennis: He is grinning right now—big.
Nancy: —and he envisioned shelves, and order, and cubby holes.
Dennis: Robert, would you come to my house?—would you come to our house?
Dennis: I need you for a week. [Laughter]
Nancy: A lot of women would like this, and I love it now. But submission is not so much what happens in an individual moment or decision, but it’s an inclination to follow leadership / to be led.
My husband also understands how important it is to love me well—to be sensitive to what my needs are / to listen—he asks my counsel, my opinion, [and] my positions on things. He said to me, early on—and I say this because I think it would bless so many other wives if other men would say this to their wives—he said, “I don’t want you ever to be afraid to say anything that’s on your heart.” That gave me freedom / that opened the door—I knew my opinion was valued.
But when it came down to it, those closets got built in; but a wife’s submission to her husband is her greatest expression of how much she trusts God to rule over both of their lives.
Bob: Yes; if a wife says, “I’m not going to trust him unless I can know he’s always going to make the right decision,” well that’s not going to happen. Russell Moore has said: “If you’re agreeing with your husband, that’s not submission—that’s agreement. Submission doesn’t start until you disagree. It’s when you disagree that you go, ‘Now what am I going to do?’”
Nancy: And I want to say—this submission issue for us—this might not be true for others; but for us, it’s not like an every day issue. We talk through things / we pray through things. We, 90-some percent of the time, come to agreement; and one of us defers to the other. These are not matters of right and wrong / they’re not matters of sinfulness. We’re doing life together—we’re “heirs together of the grace of life,” Peter says.
But then, there are moments, where Robert is saying—one of the first illustrations of this came / of this disposition to be leadable came, actually, before we were married. I wasn’t his wife—I didn’t have to be submissive; but I was driving home from an event, where I had been speaking.
We were talking on the phone. He was in another state; and he said to me: “I just wish you could get on the road sooner so that it is not going to be such a late evening for you. I know it’s been a long day.”
Well, my initial reaction could have been: “Who put you in charge here?! I’m a grown up. I’ve decided all these years what time I leave and what time I drive home.” But by God’s grace, as I was falling in love with this man—this was very early on in our relationship—but God just gave the grace to say: “Thank you for that input. Thank you for caring, and I’m going to do that.”
Now, in that moment, I wasn’t his wife. I didn’t have to do that; but it set a path / it set a track that: “I’m going to thank God for putting this man in my life, who cares enough to protect, to provide, to lead. And I’m going to have a disposition that is bent toward accommodating and agreeing.” That’s made our marriage a lot smoother than I think it would be otherwise.
Bob: I have to ask you before we run out of time——
—there’s another phrase in Titus 2 that is one of those countercultural phrases. I hear women, who say: “How come it says women are to be lovers of their husbands, lovers of their children, workers at home; and there’s not ‘Men are to be lovers of their wives, lovers of their children, and workers at home’? This just does not sound fair that I’m supposed to be focused on the home while he gets to be a husband and a father. He gets to go out and have a fulfilling career while I’m home, doing diapers. That’s got to be something that was first century. That can’t really apply to our day today.” How does an older woman counsel a younger woman in that area?
Nancy: Well, actually, there are plenty of Scriptures to men about their roles as husbands and fathers and the home as well. We’re just focusing on this one passage, but I think it’s so easy to put a kind of 20th century construct on this working at home thing. This is like Leave It to Beaver and the Cleavers—that’s maybe where our minds go when we hear that passage.
I’ve done a lot of study on this concept—really wanting to grasp what, in first century, when Paul’s writing this and the Holy Spirit is inspiring this: “What did he mean?” Well, first of all, you didn’t have this division, where men go out to work—one person goes out to work and one person stays at home. The homes were centers of productivity—that’s where a lot of work took place. Men and women worked together—that’s what you have in Proverbs 31. They’re working together to meet the needs of their family—it’s: “All hands on deck.”
I think what Paul is saying to Titus is: “Tell the women—with whatever the temptations, and opportunities, and allurements may be in this world—not to forget the priority of their home.” It doesn’t mean they never leave their home. It doesn’t mean they don’t have any work anywhere else outside their home. He’s talking to women in their childbearing years—these younger women—“Don’t fumble the ball. What you’re doing at home matters.”
We’ve come, in the last 100 years, since the Industrial Revolution, to devalue the work that’s done in the home; because you don’t get paid for that.
Paul is saying: “It all matters. What you’re doing in those childbearing years, when you are changing diapers and providing for your family in these ways, this matters—it is part of the gospel story you and your husband are telling together.”
Bob: Barbara, you’ve shared before about the decision you made, when you were in your childbearing years, to set aside some of what might have been passion points for you—your artwork. You shelved that so that you could invest in marriage and in the kids. Were you ever resentful of the fact that: “Dennis gets to go out and speak, and he gets to write, and he gets to do all of this stuff,” and “I’m here, doing laundry and diapers,” and “This just isn’t fair”?
Barbara: Well, I was never resentful of him doing those things; because I had no desire to do those things in particular. I did struggle about my art and my being creative. It was such an encounter that I had with God, personally, because I was trying to raise kids and do some art.
When my kids would take their naps, I would get my stuff out and spread it out all over the kitchen table. I would just get started, and someone would wake up early or the nap would be over too soon—
Nancy: And that’s when the resentment could start.
Barbara: —and that’s when the resentment came in; yes—because I resented my children more than I did my husband. Finally, one day, I just realized, “You know, this is a season, and God has given me these children, and this needs to be my priority.”
I had this little conversation with God and I said: “Look, God, I don’t know why You gave me a desire to create. I don’t know why You made me somewhat artistic,”—I mean, it’s a mustard seed; but it was there. I said: “I don’t know, but I know that You know what You’re doing. I know that You’ve given me these children and that You want me to be the primary one investing in their lives and not somebody else; because I know who You are, and I know that You are sovereign, and this is what You’ve put in front of me.
“You’ve granted me easy pregnancies and these kids, and You want me to invest in them. I’m going to make a decision, because I know that is Your will for me—to put my things away.”
I literally put all my stuff in a box, closed it, wrote on the top “Painting Supplies,” taped it shut, walked to the closet, put it on the shelf; and I said to God—out loud during one of the kids’ naps—I said: “Lord, I’m giving this to You. If You want to give it back to me someday, it’s Your business. I’m not going to take it down until I know You want me to have it back, but it’s Yours. If You gave me some talent and some interest in being creative and artistic—and You don’t want it to ever develop and you want it to lie fallow in the ground and not grow—that’s Your business; it’s not mine.”
I put it away, and I had such a peace that I was doing the right thing. I really thought I might not ever see it again. I really thought—because, when I was having babies and I was so swamped with kids, it felt like forever until I would not have kids in the house.
I really invested my life in raising our children.
So, no; I never resented Dennis. Once I got passed that point of resenting my kids for interrupting my goals and my ambitions; and I set that aside and chose to do what God called me to do with my children.
Nancy: I think it’s important for us, as women, to remember that there are seasons of life.
Barbara: That’s right.
Nancy: Barbara’s in a different season now and doing a great work with her art without having regrets about having missed out on her children’s lives; but also, there are no cookie cutter applications of these principles and these dreams. Every woman has to grapple with the Lord / with her own heart and say, “What is the season?” The world tells us: “You can do it all. You can have it all now,” and that’s not true. Something is going to get lost in the shuffle.
Barbara made a choice there. Some women wouldn’t have had that choice when it relates to working outside the home.
We have single moms that are listening and women whose—their family—it’s a two-income culture today, and there are hard choices that have to be made. What I think Paul is saying is: “Make sure that, in your choices, you’re not neglecting this special never-to-be-repeated season to love your children and to make your home a priority for the glory of God—not for a Pinterest® page, for crying out loud—but for the glory of God.
Dennis: One thing we’ve left out in this discussion—that we really wanted to talk about—but you cover this really well in your book. I want to encourage listeners to get a copy of Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth—it’s the idea that older women are to be the ones to instruct, to teach, to model, to disciple younger women.
We have a generation of young women in the church today—who are desperate for some mentors / for some ladies to step forward—
—and to gather a bunch of them together and to talk about these issues, pragmatically, of how you struggled and how you hammered out life in your marriage in the childbearing years and in the different seasons, as Nancy was talking about. This is really, I think, a missing command of Scripture that is not really being paid enough attention to by the church. Nancy’s really highlighting that in her book—I just want to commend it to you—and start some mentoring groups of older women, instructing younger women—it can be one on one, or it can be one on ten, or one on one hundred.
Nancy: It doesn’t have to be formal or official. It can just be a way of life as we’re connecting with each other in the stream of everyday life—just being attentive and alert to the older or younger women around us, who need relationship and to walk together in displaying the glory of God.
Bob: But it would be okay if some women wanted to, intentionally, get together and go through this book, chapter by chapter; right?
Nancy: That would be okay. [Laughter]
Bob: Or if they wanted to watch the videos—you’ve got videos that go along with this material. We’ve got a link on our website at FamilyLifeToday.com where you can find out about the video series that Nancy has done around the new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. And of course, we’ve got the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order copies from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to order—1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website—FamilyLifeToday.com—or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, the subject we’ve talked about—the priority of the home—is what’s at the heart of all we do, here, at FamilyLife®. Our mission is to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We want to help people grow in their relationship with God, their relationship with their spouse, their understanding of their roles and assignments in the family, and then their relationship with their children.
We’re here to offer practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families. Of course, we do that, not just on this radio program, but through our website; the resources we create; events we host, like the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway / the upcoming Blended & Blessed™ one-day event that we’re going to be hosting April 21st in Charlotte, North Carolina. And that’s going to be livestreamed into churches and living rooms all across the country and around the world.
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Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about what really happens in a family / in a home when mom and dad go through a divorce. What’s the impact on a son or a daughter? Bill Butterworth and his son, Jesse, will be here with us to talk about what that experience was like for them. I hope you can tune in for that tomorrow.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas; a Cru® Ministry.
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