I want to point out again the rough nature of this rendering. I have not smoothed it out because I think the way it clunks together is part of the message.
1. But you keep speaking what is proper, that is, healthy teaching –
2. the older man to be sober, honorable, temperate, healthy in faith, love, and patience.
3. The older women, likewise, a reverent demeanor, not gossipy, not much addicted to wine, teaching good things
4. encouraging the young women to love their husbands and children,
5. to be temperate, pure, a good housekeeper, submitting to her husband so she may not blaspheme the word of God.
6. Likewise, encourage young men to be reasonable.
7. Above all, show yourself as a good example of good works, teaching with integrity and dignity,
8. solid, incontestable words that would put to same any opponent as having nothing meaningful to say.
9. Slaves are to be subject to their own masters with every pleasantry so as not to be spoken against.
10. Not pilfering, but in all faith showing oneself good so the teaching of God our savior might adorn everything.
These are the kinds of verses that, in the wrong hands, are twisted into something perverse and anti-gospel. For one can see that it is not hard to turn Paul’s words here into a call for women to blindly submit to whatever a husband says and to solely labor in the issues of domestic bliss and at the same time as a proof text to justify slavery.
To the contrast, these texts teach men and women to help to help other men and women navigate life. Life two thousand years ago was different than today, and the passage reflects that. Perhaps a better way of appropriating these teachings today is to think of them as something like, ‘husbands should live in a way that honors the Lord and safeguards their family’ and women ‘should make certain their home is a place of safety and peace.’
Slavery was a part of the world. In fact, it still is in many places. Yet, just as the word for slave is sometimes translated as ‘servant’, in this context, I feel like ‘worker’ would be a better rendering. Workers should work hard and not steal from their employers.
But the short of it is, really, that whatever station in life we find ourselves — woman, man, elder, or servant our primary concern is with the way others will perceive our faith in Christ Jesus. One of Titus’ main jobs, and that of the church, is to help believers live in a way that glorifies God. The exact specifics of what that looks like on Crete in the first century are decidedly different from what that might look like today in North America, just as it would look different today in Cairo or Hong Kong.
Healthy teaching is doctrine that promotes joy and happiness, and we believe family life is a major source of joy and happiness this side of heaven. This seems to be what Paul’s concern is.