Friday, March 11, 2011

Reflection on Titus

I actually really like today's Titus reading, gender norms and expectations aside.
But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine. Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance. Likewise, tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, gravity, and sound speech that cannot be censured; then any opponent will be put to shame, having nothing evil to say of us. Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.
There's some stuff in it that I don't like.  I'll own that.  And there are some things in it that have undoubtedly been used to dominate and oppress women and people of color.  But there's more to the text than that, and if we look at its wholeness I think there's some good things to glean.  This came up in Chapel a few weeks ago and it made people giggle because the gendering is so far from where we are.  I'm glad it came up today, though.

I'm reading Hauerwas and Willimon's Resident Aliens right now for my ethics class, and today's readings make me think about what they say about the Church being a community that is different and set apart and has its own stories and customs.  The text has older people teaching the younger people good habits and virtues.  Temperance, self-control, honesty, love of partner, etc.  It's all practical, too.  When you do what you're supposed to do and your behavior can't be called into question it's hard to have opponents.

And then there's the God part.  We can't do it alone or on our own.  This should be a given, it's kind of a part of our faith story, but I know that I'm having a hard time with it.  Having a hard time, have a hard time.  I need to get some help with something but don't want to.  I know I need it, but I want to be able to tough it alone.  And I think when I'm honest the help will say that I actually need a lot more and am not nearly as self-sufficient as I think I am.

I'm in a weird spot right now of trying to figure out support networks and who I can count on and who I can't and what is reasonable expectation for friends and what isn't.  And whether I'm being excluded intentionally or unintentionally and if I've done something I don't realize or if we're all just busy.  And why people I often want to invest in seem to not really want to invest in me.  And why I feel less close to people I felt close and if I'm not being not invited inasmuch as people know my schedule.

That's a lot of I in that paragraph, and I'm not going to try to be too hard on myself about that.  This Lent I'm going to work on cultivating some friendships and building some support so that I don't wind up going to bed at 7:00.  It's going to take more work than I'd like apparently.  There's a lot of ongoing processing happening and a lot of feeling rejected.  But I'm going to work on focusing on others in service and in listening...and remembering that I can't do any of it alone.

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