“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine . . .Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (Titus 2:1, 3-5)
Twenty-five years ago, Susan Hunt wrote her pioneering book on Titus 2 discipleship, Spiritual Mothering. A lot has happened in the years since. Many women have taken her words and put them into practice. Churches have developed Titus 2 ministries around the idea of older women discipling younger women. And as a result, generations of young women have grown in their understanding of what it means to be women of God.
This week, Crossway releases a new edition of Spiritual Mothering with a new introduction and appendix. I reached out to Susan to ask her about this new edition and for her reflections on what has happened in the last twenty-five years.
Christina: Why did you write Spiritual Mothering twenty-five years ago?
Susan: I think my journey was similar to what many PCA women experienced in the early days of our denomination’s history. I believed that the Bible clearly teaches women are not to be ordained, but I began to wonder, what are we to do in God’s church? When I became Women’s Ministry Coordinator, I verbalized this question to the women who served on our advisory committee. We could not find resources to answer our questions about womanhood or women’s responsibilities in the church, and we felt compelled to provide resources to disciple women regarding these issues. We began with Titus 2:3-5. We were captivated by the idea that the church is to obey this mandate so “that the word of God may not be reviled.” I was the staffer so I wrote the book, but it was the result of the prayers and vision of many men and women.
Christina: What has changed in women’s ministry since you wrote Spiritual Mothering?
Susan: I think there is more interest in a biblically-principled approach to women’s ministry. Twenty-five years ago women’s work was the conventional language when referring to what women did in the church. I think this led to an emphasis on tasks. We gradually began using the terminology women’s ministry in order to broaden the emphasis to discipleship and service.
Christina: How have you seen the Titus 2 Discipleship principles grow and develop over the years in churches across the PCA? In other churches and denominations?
Susan: Twenty-five years ago mentoring was not a cultural or church buzz-word. I’m not sure why or for how long the Titus 2 mandate had remained under the radar, but I suspect it languished because the implications of covenant theology had not been emphasized. The birth of the PCA brought a new emphasis on Reformed and covenantal theology. Titus 2:3-5 is a covenant concept—it is one way we live covenantally in God’s family. Because of our theological context, I think PCA women were quick to embrace Titus 2 discipleship as our covenant privilege and responsibility. One generation began telling the next generation what God says about His creation design and redemptive calling for women, and the next generation began listening.
I dedicated the book to our first granddaughter “with the prayer that God will raise up women of faith who will spiritually mother her generation.” God has done immeasurably more than I could have imagined. I have had the privilege of seeing women across denominational boundaries and around the world apply these biblical principles in their culture.
Christina: What is new in this edition of the book? Did you add or subtract anything? Why or why not?
Susan: When Crossway decided to release a new edition, they asked what I wanted to change. My passion for Titus 2 discipleship has intensified, so I assumed I would rewrite the book. As I read it, I was surprised that I still want to say what I said twenty-five years ago. However, Titus 2 is bigger, bolder, and more beautiful to me now than it was then. I don’t just see the part—I have a deeper understanding of the scope of the redemption story. So I wrote a “Twenty-five Years Later” introduction to put the content of the book in the larger context of covenant, calling, commission, church, and culture. I also added an appendix on our creation design as helper.
CDM added a companion piece, Titus 2 Tools, which gives suggestions for implementing a Titus 2 discipleship ministry in the church, training for Titus 2 leaders, and a leader’s guide for Spiritual Mothering.
Christina: What do you see as the present day challenges for spiritual mothering ministries in our churches?
Susan: From my perspective as a seventy-six year old, I think it is the same challenge those before us faced—to remember. We must remember our theology. We must remember the gospel. We must remember that “the grace of God has appeared” and we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11, 13), and between His appearings we are to make disciples. We must remember why we do what we do. Whenever our programs, ministries, events, or tasks are separated from our theology they will become wearisome. They will lack gospel power. They are not sustainable.
Christina: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Susan: Yes. I am deeply grateful that the Lord placed me in a marriage and church where I am protected by sound doctrine and godly headship. It was the context of Reformed and covenantal theology and ecclesiology that enabled us to ask hard questions and to seek biblical answers. Earlier I said I was surprised that I did not want to re-write Spiritual Mothering. When I re-read the book, I realized I wrote more than I knew twenty-five years ago. I did not say everything I would say now, but sound doctrine, godly male headship, and covenant community life guarded what I did say. I am filled with wonder and worship as I ponder this gospel reality.
We are giving away a couple of copies of Spiritual Mothering. To enter, click on the link below and follow the instructions. US residents only, please.