Volume 10, Issue 1: Femina
That they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed (Titus 2:4).
When we read this passage in Titus, we often focus on the pattern of older women teaching the younger women and fall to notice the content of their teaching. Many younger women today are grieved by the lack of older women willing to teach them. Although this is unfortunate, it does not mean the younger women must just fend for themselves. Younger women can learn through their own study of the Word. As we look at what the older women are to teach, we are naturally drawn to the part about homemaking and loving children and husbands. But let's examine another word in the list: chaste. What does this mean? Why are young women in need of being taught about chastity, and how does a Christian woman, particularly a married Christian woman, practice this virtue?
Chastity means virginity before marriage and faithfulness after marriage. Not only is chastity a prohibition of unlawful sexual activity, the word implies a virtuous character that rids even thoughts or suggestions of immoral behavior. Christian wives must not ever assume that they are invulnerable to this temptation. Many broken Christian marriages testify to the rampant immorality within the church.
Let's begin with chaste thoughts. Do you ever imagine what someone else's husband is like in bed? If so, you have not been chaste. Have you ever indulged in reading material that causes you to fantasize about sex with someone other than your husband? This is unchaste as well. Do you want to dress in a way that will tempt men to fantasize about you? If so, you are unchaste. If you watch films with bed scenes (and don't hit the fast forward button or turn it off), you are unchaste. But, you may say, "It wasn't me in bed." No, but you were watching! What is the difference between watching paid actors being immoral and watching your neighbors through their window? We somehow think that if it is on the screen, we are somehow detached from it. You are responsible for all you see. Watching wantonness is participating in it, and it has the consequence of filling your mind with unchaste thoughts. lf you admire or are fascinated by the way the immoral women of our day dress and live, you are being influenced to be unchaste yourself. Our culture honors the dishonorable and unchaste. We must not participate in the admiration.
One of the leading causes of unchastity among married Christian women is discontent. As they read and watch immoral stuff, they begin to wish they could have a love life or a husband like those depicted on the screen. They become discontent with their own husbands and begin to commit adultery in their hearts by imagining themselves with other (even imaginary) men. This may even catch them unawares because they are not paying attention to their thoughts. Discontent goes hand-in-hand with disrespect and criticism and unforgiveness and bitterness. The bitter woman is a target for adultery.
Sometimes unchastity gets in by a different route. A woman who is a little lonely becomes "friends" with a man in the church community. She begins spending time with him; maybe they serve on the same committee or their kids are on the same soccer team. They talk. They begin to grow fond of one another, and soon they are in an unchaste relationship. How did a nice Christian wife get herself into this situation? She was unprotected and vulnerable, and didn't recognize the danger signs until things were far gone. How can a wife avoid getting herself into such a tangle?
Married women need to have standards just like single women do. When I was single and living by myself, I realized that I could not have men into my apartment by themselves. This decision did not go over well with my male co-worker (I was serving with a college ministry and wouldn't plan our Bible studies with him alone in my apartment). He took it as a personal insult. It certainly wasn't intended to be so, but I realized that if I was lonely (which I sometimes was), working with him one-on-one in my apartment might cause me to become attracted to him in a way I wouldn't be if we met in a public place. In the same way, married women ought not entertain men (married or single) in their home when they are alone. Married women should not have men "friends." Married women ought not go out to coffee with men who are not their husbands. They ought not spend time one-on-one even if it is a "ministry."' This is an important protection to a wife's purity. How many women would have ever gotten into an adulterous relationship if they had observed this principle?
The best way to nurture a chaste mind and life is to set down clear, biblical standards that will be a fence around your relationship with your husband. This is best if the standards are set by both of you. But if your husband is not a Christian or is unwilling to take the leadership in this area, set biblical standards for yourself and keep them. Remember the passage addressing believing wives winning their unbelieving husbands: "when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear" (1 Pet. 3:2b). Then you will someday be an older woman who is qualified to teach the younger women to be chaste.