I write here for many reasons, some of which are selfish as I like to talk about those things which interest me. But I also love to encourage Christian women, and I think that this place is be one way I can obey the command of the apostle Paul to teach the younger women those things I am both to model and instruct. Most of us are familiar with the place in Titus where this command is given, and as Paul’s words in the Bible were given to that holy man by the Holy Spirit, what Paul commands is what God commands. We see in Titus 2 the admonishments (my New Geneva Study Bible note says this means that which will “bring them to their senses”) the older women are to give to younger women, which includes being homemakers and obedient to their own husbands. Those two items we talk about often as they are often challenged in our culture. But there are other items in that list, and there is another list of qualities which older women are to exhibit, as well.
…the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— (Titus 2:3)
A similar injunction is given for the wives of deacons in I Timothy 3:11.
If you Google “Prairie Muffin” (I do not suggest you do this) you will find all sorts of links from angry, vicious, slandering (yes, I know that if it’s written, it’s libel, which is a form of slander, as a square is a form of rectangle) words, gross misrepresentations of what I say and even grosser suggestions about what to do about the crazy, radical, nutcases like me whose existence is a threat to their peace of mind. I’ve been accused of all sorts of nefarious doings, such as helping get George Bush elected (guess they didn’t scroll down far enough in the sidebar) to advocating frumpiness as the national beauty standard (guess they didn’t look at any of the pictures I’ve posted of my lovely daughters).
I’ve told this joke before, but I have found it is really true when I read the ridiculous remarks made about the Prairie Muffin Manifesto where I sometimes make a serious point by using a little humor: Q. How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb? A. That’s not funny.
I expect such misunderstanding and even anger from those unbelievers who don’t understand my convictions about being a homemaker, homeschooling, or, horrors, honoring and submitting to my husband. I seldom look at what is said by them, unless my statistics spike from some forum that has “discovered” my website and gives amusement for a day or two to the participants who enjoy mocking what I’ve said. Then I pray that those who dig for dirt discover the gospel in some of my posts and that God will move their hearts to see the truth, rather than respond with slander.
I expect something different, however, from those who call themselves believers in Christ, who want to be His disciples. I expect the older women who are Christians to “be reverent in behavior, not slanderers…” among the other commands specifically given to Christian women.
A blog is a dangerous thing. A woman can write anything, anywhere, going from house to house taking her “prayer requests” or other noble causes in the name of good intentions, and wreak destruction in other people’s lives, ruining reputations, and causing division among the brethren, with the click of a mouse. God’s Word applies to men and women, but there are some places where specific instructions are given to each, and in the places in the New Testament where we find didactic passages which apply specifically to women, we often find warning about improper use of speech, in the form of gossip or slander.
And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. (I Timothy 5:13)
I am not immune to this temptation. I am sure I’ve used this platform to say unkind things or go too far making a judgment about a person with whom I don’t agree. I can think of one instance where I had to make a very humble apology because of it. It’s a hard thing sometimes figuring out what is permissible to talk about for the sake of warning or encouragement, and it requires much prayer, wisdom, and restraint, as to blithely blather about another person without regard to the consequences is sinful and hurts real people. Those who comment frequently on blogs and forums, besides wasting tremendous amounts of valuable time, are probably not exercising either wisdom or restraint as such things take time weighing and pondering and waiting on the Lord, which is antithetical to proffering quick opinions and engaging in arguments.
My daughter Anna has a blog on which she infrequently writes some lovely prose. Last week, two women whom we have never heard of left comments which went into moderation. Both flattered Anna for her writing and warned her of the nefarious teachings of the “patriarchal” people linked in her sidebar, people whom we know and consider friends. Such hit-and-run tactics are part of a behavior known on the internet as “trolling,” which means, according to Wikipedia, “a person who is deliberately inflammatory on the Internet in order to provoke a vehement response from other users.” The term is also used in other not very nice ways which I would rather not discuss, but in this context it means being a busybody.
As my wise husband says, when you write something on the internet, it’s like writing it on a public bathroom wall. Anyone can read it and discuss it. But for Christians to go from website to website, looking for opportunities to berate, argue, and tear down, is reprehensible behavior. Here’s my admonishment: Stop it! I am convicted again of the importance of guarding my mouth, even when it’s not moving. For the next week, I am going to be silent here and elsewhere online, and only post quotes which speak for themselves, or links, about the subjects of gossip and slander. It is my hope that it will encourage us all to be obedient servants to the clear commands of Scripture, and that we will be able to find a way to communicate properly with one another, in love, so that the watching world will not be able to find real fault with us for our dissension, but will only be able to resort to mocking us for our radical commitment to obedience to our Lord.
Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10)