Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where Have All the "Aged" Women Gone?

Titus 2:1-5 - But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

I've heard many young women lamenting the fact there are so few older women left to mentor them in being biblical wives and mothers. While there may be factors such as more women in the workforce and disconnected families and church members, I have experienced one hindrance to teaching younger women in these areas that I really didn't expect in the Christian community.

If you decide to fulfill your biblical role of being an "aged woman" according to the directive given in Titus 2, you should be warned that you are entering the arena with a whole passel of lionesses. Just try offering some motherly advice and see what happens. You're doing well to step back with your hand still intact.

I can't say all young women are like this, of course, but you must be prepared to be accused of:
  • Being narrow minded, cruel, heartless, demeaning, dogmatic, an elitist, rude, interfering, and an "accuser of the brethren" (otherwise known as "the Devil")
  • Assuming those who don't listen to your advice will go to Hell
  • Thinking you are perfect, "holier than thou," and/or spiritually superior
  • Thinking you have arrived, have all the answers, and have or have had "perfect little darlings"
  • Pushing your convictions on others
  • Badgering
  • Condemning
  • Judgmental
No one is allowed
  • to make a judgment call.
  • to be convinced of the truth
  • to say that something is absolutely right or absolutely wrong
  • to believe that the counsel they are giving is according to Scriptural teaching
Those who decide to enter the arena often must preclude their godly counsel with a disclaimer something to the effect that each person must be led by her own conscience, or that what is right for one is not necessarily right for another, thus diluting whatever it is they are trying to help with. Some even have to qualify that they are not trying to offend anyone or to appear to be rude or interfering.

Young women in the church must be willing to accept advice from well-meaning older women with grace and a serious consideration of what they have to offer. Tell her you will consider her advice, then take the advice to your husband and discuss the options. Go to the Scriptures as a noble Berean Christian and find out if those things are so.

Even a destructive criticism can be useful to either shine the light on a wrong path or to humble you in your walk with Christ. Even if the counsel is not profitable, not biblical, or is simply off the wall, it would be better to take it with a grain of salt and a hug of thanks than to vilify the bearer of the advice. I must admit, however, that, considering the atmosphere of the typical older-woman pool of feminists available today even in the church, it is more likely to get this type of advice and counsel than not.

Again, the younger women of the church must learn to appreciate the older women for Christ's sake. Therefore, if you are helped by an older woman, be sure to return and give her thanks. If you cannot take her advice because of what you have been told by your husband and/or the Scriptures, and she asks you why not, you can still thank her for her loving concern, then explain why you cannot take her advice.

I have a very precious older-woman friend who was, indeed, a friend to me several years ago when she stopped by for a visit. We were still sitting at the table after everyone else had left the room when she took the opportunity to address something very important.

"We've been friends for a long time, haven't we, Marcia?" she began.

I began to bristle. "Yes."

"Can I be totally honest with you?"

Not sure. "Sure, you can tell me anything."

"Well," she cleared her throat nervously, "I've noticed that you will tell Andrew to do something. Then, he will ignore you, so you tell one of the older children to do it."

(Ouch. First thought: Who do you think you are? Second thought: She's right.)

Forced smile. "Thank you, Bonnie, for being concerned. You are right. I'll have to change that."

And, I did so by the grace of God. Thanks be to the Lord for a godly, older woman who ran the risk of offending me, but loved me and my family enough to bring to light something which could have been very, very destructive to both our son and our relationship with our older children. What kind of monsters would we have reared if Bonnie hadn't been "rude and interfering?"

If the younger women aren't very careful how they react to the advice and counsel of the aged women there may come a time when there won't be any willing to enter the arena anymore. Perhaps this silencing of the older voices is one reason why the younger families are in such a mess today, even in the church.

May the Lord in His mercy raise up a whole army of godly, aged women who are not afraid to enter the fray of conflicting ideas even at the risk of losing their friendships, their respect, and their sanity.

So, where have all the "aged" women gone? I think I know where they may be found: cowering in the corner licking their wounds. Why not go over and engage them in conversation? You just might learn something.