Volume 9, Issue 5: 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.
Why do older Christian women need to admonish the young women to be discreet? We can all see the need to teach about loving husbands and children and being homemakers and obedient. But don't young Christian women already know about how to be discreet? Apparently Paul didn't think so.
What does it mean to be discreet? Let's examine this word and discuss the implications for young wives. The word translated discreet literally means sober-minded. In this section of Titus Paul is concerned about this quality of sober-mindedness because he exhorts the young men to be sober-minded (2:6), the older men to be sober (2:2), all of us to live soberly (2:12), and lists sober-mindedness as one of the qualifications for a bishop or overseer. Whatever this virtue is, Paul has it in mind for all Christians.
Discreetness is showing caution and good judgment, not giving away secrets, being careful about what one says or does. The quality of discretion sounds like maturity in manner and behavior. It is characterized by wisdom and not doing dumb, foolish things. Young women need to think about their behavior and weigh it in light of Scripture before they rush off and do something they may have cause to regret later.
Sober is defined as serious and self-controlled, not frivolous. Sober also refers to moderation in drinking. Paul also mentions this when he refers to the older women to be "not given to much wine" and the qualification for bishop as "not given to wine." This command to sobriety and sober-mindedness is an internal quality that has an obvious connection to external behavior. It is a way of thinking and a way of acting. Sober behavior is characterized by reason, sanity, or self-control.
A sober-minded woman is a woman who thinks before she speaks and reasons before she acts. This sort of woman is not gullible. She is not swayed by the door-to-door salesman who wants her to pay a lot of money for some new cleaning product she's never heard of. She is not a sucker for the latest gimmick or fad. Just because it is sweeping the country doesn't mean she is persuaded. She thinks things through and always refers to the Scripture for her principles. She doesn't follow the crowd or adopt a method simply because her friends have. She takes her time to evaluate and examine. She listens and reads cautiously and is a critical thinker. She asks questions and weighs the answers carefully. This is a sober-minded woman.
She does not share things about her family that she shouldn't. Would her son be angry if he knew she shared with her friends about his acne or his interest in a young lady? Would her daughter be embarrassed to know Mom had told someone about her poor performance on a test or that she was trying to lose weight? A discreet woman knows what she should say and when she should not. Though some of these topics might be fine to share, a discreet mother should know if they are not.
A discreet woman also knows what and when to share about her husband. She knows how important it is that he trust her completely. It is better to be too quiet than too chatty. Proverbs is full of wisdom about the tongue. Fewer sins are associated with the person who holds his tongue than with the one who freely gabs. Discretion requires thoughtfulness. Women who speak carelessly lack discretion.
A sober-minded woman also knows how to control herself in other areas. She knows when she is being drug around by her emotions and she knows how to check them. She is not up and down, easily upset, or unpredictable. Rather, she is steady and trustworthy. If her husband gives her a task, he does not have to worry about whether it will get done. He doesn't have to come home from work wondering if she is collapsed on the couch in tears, or if dinner will be ready. He knows that she takes her job very seriously and is not a slacker. When difficult circumstances arise, he knows that she will be trying to keep herself and her emotions under control and not letting the circumstances overwhelm her. This is a sober-minded woman.
Being sober-minded does not mean wearing black and a long face. Instead, a woman who is sober-minded knows when it is time to laugh, and when it is time to refrain from laughing. She knows how to have fun and she knows how to be serious. The key is wisdom and self-control. Laughing uncontrollably any time is not using discretion. Letting alcohol or silliness take control at any time is an obvious lack of discretion and sober-mindedness.
Young women must cultivate this virtue because in their calling as wives and mothers they will need lots of it.