A timely question came in on one of our Communication Cards recently…
“Please explain Titus 1:6, re: children of an elder being believers. Where is the line drawn, i.e. children (older) making their own choices?”
The question coincides with our season of electing elders this October, and so you can see why it’s so timely. As we prepare for Reforming Church’s first ever home-grown eldership, we are hearing a series preached on Sundays and taught in our Grow Groups from the book of Titus. Paul’s letter to his ministry colleague Titus makes for a small book of the Bible, that speaks volumes on the importance of healthy doctrine and elders who would teach with such theological and pastoral health.
There are a bunch of questions we could ask around these words to Titus and Timothy, things we have taught as we’ve preached the grace of Christ through these verses. For now though, let’s aim at answering this particular question: “Where is the line drawn…?” That is, when do we measures and say that children are to obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1 style) and when do we say that they are responsible for their own profession of faith?
In all of this, it’s less about a line drawn and more about a lifestyle of stewardship for such an elder. A stewardship that gives opportunity for his children to respond with faith in Jesus.
It can’t be that Paul is saying that an elder can make their children become believers. That runs against the grain of the whole Bible and the rest of the Apostle Paul’s teaching in the New Testament. Also, if we put Titus 1:6 next to 1 Timothy 4:4-5, we see that the intent of these verses seems to be more that an elder must be able to steward his own household well, which involves being a pastoral parent, before he can be given the responsibility of stewarding God’s household which is the church (1 Timothy 3:15). These words of instruction are about making sure an elder’s children are cared for by a man who would show the same care and prayer for God’s children.
Children will grow up and make their own choices, it’s less of a line drawn and more of a way of relating – to one another in the home and church, and especially to God. Faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8), we are born again not by being taught well, but by the will of the Spirit when He blows with His well taught word (John 3:8).
So this what we biblically expect from those who are candidates for eldership, and for current elders, is that they believe this truth too – and teach it to their children and our church.