Scripture Read: 1 Timothy 5:11-15 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan.
Application: Whenever we encounter a passage such as this we need to remember we are reading it from our cultural context, but it was written to their cultural context. So we need to be careful not to place our expectations on the passage, while at the same time we allow the Holy Spirit to bring forth the universal truths that lie in the passage. Paul is finishing his instructions to Timothy here concerning how the church should handle the support of widows. This was not the 21st century where women could hold careers and fend for themselves as it is today. For the most part, next to orphans and handicapped individuals, widows were very vulnerable. Without a husband they could find themselves very easily without the necessities of life. So why does Paul separate the younger from the older widow? The answer is given in verse 12 where Paul points out that younger women may “set aside their previous pledge”. The early church had come to the place where if a believing widow needed to be sustained because she had no family, she would commit to work for the Lord and the local Body. In turn the local Body would care for all of her needs. 60 years old was quite old at this time and the chances for a widow to remarry or even want to would be very rare. A younger widow would be a different story. In essence God is trying through the instruction of Paul to protect younger widows from making a vow and then breaking it. It would be normal at a time of grief over the loss of her husband to want to be as close to God as possible. Add to that the normal fear of “how am I going to survive?” and a young widow, at that moment, may see that living a life single totally committed to the Lord and His local Body was a reasonable decision. However, our Lord knows that life is made of seasons, and young men and woman have many desires that stir them on to marriage. Of course one of those is the desire for sex, and once the initial grief of the loss was over, those desires would reawaken.
“Feel sensual desires” is katastrēniaō (καταστρηνιαω), in the original and means, “to feel the impulses of sexual desire.”
This is normal and nothing is wrong with it, the problem was that a young widow had made a pledge, and with this desire, including having children, reawakened in her, she could lose focus. Too ashamed to back out of her vow, she can get sidetracked into other things like gossip, and being a busybody, trying to fill her time, because she is frustrated over desires that are not fulfilled. God understands this season women go through, and so, warns that young widows should not be put in that position in any culture. They will have a season of grief, but after that it is better for them to return to the role that was the norm for a young woman in this culture. Married, encouraging her spouse and raising a family; this is an issue already because Paul mentions that some have already made this mistake. Father, You truly are always looking out for our best, even when we may not see it at the time!
Meditation Questions: When you read instructions from the Word that counter what you want to do, how do you view that command? Confining? Killjoy? Protection? Why would God tell us to do things that don’t make sense? Did you understand all the rules you had when a child? Do you see them differently now? What does that say? Is it demeaning to think of “roles” for men and women? Why? Why not? Is it possible that our Creator created men and women with certain drives, abilities, strengths and weaknesses that define certain roles in society? Like a fish IN water?