Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behaviour, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.
The writer of this ‘instruction leaflet’ is certainly going through a long list of who should do what and how, so that Titus, as leader of the new and struggling Christian community in Crete has definite guidelines on how Christians could stand out in the community in which they live and work.
Having told the old men how to behave, it is now the turn of older women. I am an ‘older woman’– though it comes as a shock to think of myself in that way and I’m usually in denial! Nevertheless, I want to ask how we ‘older women’ feel about the instructions given for our behaviour? Is it relevant for us today?
I’m not sure about reverent behaviour – in fact I tend to agree with Jennie Joseph who wrote: ‘When I am old I shall wear purple, with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me….and I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves……I shall run my stick along the public railings and make up for the sobriety of my youth…..’
But one of the things we women need is a good chat. To have a gossip. It’s good to share news and views but there’s a thin line between gossiping with someone and about someone else. Oh dear, I know I fall short on that one…. What about you?
The one that gets me at the core of my being is the exhortation to encourage the young women. As a grandmother, I would love to be able to encourage young parents how to deal more appropriately with their children and how my daughters-in-law should care for my sons! I know, however, such wisdom would not be appreciated, welcomed or appropriate.
Perhaps more apt advice to us older women could be: have fun, keep friends and love the next generations just as God loves us.
Thank you for the wisdom that comes with age the freedom to play and rest and the choice of how to spend time. Thank you for the wisdom of younger people who grow and develop new approaches and teach us older ones a thing or two! Forgive us when we fail to live up to the standards set for us and help us to be gracious and accepting of difference. Amen
The Rev’d Lis Mullen, retired minister, member of Kendal URC