Younger Men and Women in the Church
Here is a directive from the Apostle that today’s church needs to hear: That older women are to teach younger women and older men younger men. When I was a child growing up in a Baptist church in the South, the sexes were separated in Sunday School from about age nine and up. Somewhere along in the 1980s, coed Sunday School became more popular and I think is still the model. But the Promise Keepers phenomenon of the 1990s and popular women’s Bible study teachers of the last thirty years have shown that the need for separating the sexes is still desired by both men and women. This is to be expected as men and women have different needs and interests, especially Christian men and women. And they desire the wisdom and guidance that those who have “been there” can give.
But Paul is even more specific about what older women are to teach: “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.” Whatever else the older women may teach the younger women, they must teach them this, for it is the Christian home that sets apart Christian living from the rest of the world; it is the Christian home that is the ultimate proving ground of Christian doctrine; and, it is the Christian home that is the church in microcosm that manifests before the world the truth of the gospel. I can’t say it any plainer than that.
And so the wife and mother as child-bearer and natural nurturer is the heart and soul of the home, who builds the nest and prepares the children through patient training and discipline to receive the Lord as Savior. The Father likewise trains and sets an example of Christian integrity and dignity, self-control and sacrifice. Both husband and wife together bring out the manly virtues of their sons and the feminine virtues of their daughters. But to do this, they need examples of godly men and women who have been there in the trenches of child rearing, and that is what older men and women must provide in our churches; that is, no one should have to go to conferences and hear world renowned speakers to get this.
As our culture grows more pagan, Christians are going to be thrown back onto the most fundamental institutions to survive and thrive—home, church, and school—in which mothers and fathers, elders and deacons, and all teachers are INTENTIONALLY rearing Christians through discipline and catechesis. In those three places, the battle must be won.