Saying “I do” at any age carries a freight of challenges and adjustments along with the joy, but a 57-year-old newlywed, married for the first time, brings a unique perspective to marriage. Using the parable of her wedding preparations, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth begins Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together with a challenge to adorn the truth of the Gospel in our manner of living so that the beauty of God is put on display. Since this is best accomplished in the context of relationship, Nancy turns to the truth of Titus 2: 1-10 with its wise and wonderful game plan: the sound doctrine and skillful living that are indispensable to godliness are best learned “woman to woman, older to younger, day to day, life to life.”
Women of all ages and stages of life stand to benefit when they dive into Scriptural truth and find that belief affects behavior, for the truth is that the kindness and self-control called for in Titus 2 flow out of a changed life. The sound doctrine Paul writes about in verse 1 is the mooring for good choices that result in the purity, composure, and sound relationships that characterize “Titus 2 Christians,” both male and female. In the process, our ultimate purpose — to make much of God — is fulfilled and the beauty of Christ is put on display.
Older women are uniquely equipped and qualified to take younger women by the hand and explore the riches of a reverent life. The energy and enthusiasm of younger women motivates older women to live into their calling and their experience in practical ways.
“To be reverent means living with the constant, conscious awareness that we are in the presence of an awesome, holy God.”
A Woman Under Control
Appearance, attitude, and life style work together to model the fruit of a genuine relationship with God. A life characterized by freedom from harmful speech and from the many forms of slavery (to food, exercise, shopping, television, work, prescription meds, to name just a few possible masters) demonstrates the overcoming power of the Spirit of God. The outcome is what Nancy refers to as a “Sophron State of Mind” (pronounced so-phrone). Derived from the Greek words soos, meaning “sound” and phren, meaning “mind,” it comes together to convey self-control, discretion, or good sense. Looking at life through my sophron lens, I am encouraged to ask myself probing questions:
- The way just I talked to that person — was it sophron?
- The way I ate (or exercised — or not?), or managed my time today — was it sophron?
Statistics that caught me by surprise here in my church-lady bubble indicate that 1 in 6 women regularly view pornography and 80% will eventually follow up virtual activity with face-to-face encounters. In a culture that fosters the exact opposite, purity and discretion require vigilance and accountability.
A Woman Under Her Roof
It goes without saying that it is so much easier to be pleasant and accommodating with people on the fringes of our lives. It’s those who are closest to us that receive (and endure) the fruit of our true character. Titus 2 calls women to genuine relationships and a love for home that puts those all-important relationships on the front burner. Together, we can train our hearts to cherish our husbands and to embrace the gift of motherhood. Anticipating objections to the counter-cultural notion of biblical submission, Nancy defines it by what it is NOT:
“1. A wife’s submission is not to men in general.
2. Submission does not mean a wife is inferior to her husband.
3. Submission doesn’t subject a wife to a life of forced compliance.
4. Submission doesn’t amount to slavish, groveling subservience.
5. Submission doesn’t minimize a wife into mindlessness.
6. Submission doesn’t mean husbands are always right.
7. Submission never requires a wife to follow her husband into sin.
8. Finally, a wife’s submission never gives license to her husband to abuse her.”
Studying I Peter 3 on submission with my Sunday School class, I read huge swaths of this chapter out loud to my class simply because it is so clear and grace-oriented.
Because everyone is on a learning curve, it is clear that older women will teach from what they have already learned, but we will also teach out of our failures, pointing to the days (or years) that “the locust has eaten” as proof that God is graciously in the business of redeeming failure and loss. Younger women play a necessary role in the adorning of the Gospel, for they bring energy and fresh perspective to the table, motivating older women to live up to their knowledge — and always mindful that everyone can be an “older woman” to someone.
Titus 2 calls believers to a life of practicing a costly kindness.
It lays the groundwork for partnership together in Truth that makes the love of God visible and the truth of the Gospel believable because it is being communicated by lives that are becoming more beautiful with every year.
This book was provided by Moody Publishers in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”