Friday after Last Epiphany
Ah, Titus, Titus, Titus….
“Tell the older men to….”
“Likewise, tell the older women to….”
“…so that they may encourage the young women to….”
“Likewise, urge the younger men to be….”
If you’re already squirming, just wait!
“Tell slaves to be submissive….”
There are a thousand ways to contextualize, interpret, nuance, and explain this away. And if you’re really finding this letter from Paul to Titus a stumbling block to your faith, please call me or Mother Jenna and let’s talk about it.
But if, really, you’re upset about it just because you think you’re supposed to be, OR if you’re upset about other people getting upset about it, then take a deep breath and consider this: it has been my experience that most of us are biblical literalists about the things we agree with, and “figurativists” about things we don’t.
Disagree? Then challenge yourself to look at some of the moral and social truths that Jesus, Paul, the Apostles, the Prophets, and all the rest give. Which do you “interpret” and which do you say to yourself, “how much plainer could this be?” Then ask yourself which ones that you think are clear and plain-spoken just happen to line up with your moral/political beliefs (or at least aspirations).
My point is that for most of us, our sin is not that we are obeying or violating Paul’s ethical code to Titus, it’s that we’re pointing out the splinter in our neighbor’s interpretive eye while ignoring the log in our own. If you find yourself heading down that judgmental path, maybe you could take a moment and think of Martha (of Mary and….), who was having trouble interpreting exactly what Jesus meant when he talked about the resurrection. Jesus simply responded, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”
Household morality and social contracts and theological premises are very important. But our faith is based on Jesus. He is the resurrection and the life. The other stuff matters, but they are questions of applying faith, not of having it.