This shortest of short passages raises many questions and challenging ideas for me, not least is how to address them in a short reflection.
Just how might we identify what is sound doctrine or what might be consistent with it?
Then follows the challenge, for me, that it is to the older men that the responsibility for championing ethical and moral behaviours is given. I baulk at the comparison between such responsibilities and those we shall see proffered to other groupings in society.
This does not seem to fit with Jesus’ teaching about God’s realm or his modelled behaviour which is inclusive of all those diversities in his circle which we can identify. (Some will be hidden or invisible).
There are signs of inclusion in the Epistle too. Titus himself, Paul’s proven trusted colleague over a number of years, did not come from a Jewish background thus representing a tension between those who might be seen to belong to and be part of the once prevailing culture and norms and those who might bring new and differing perspectives. Titus, in terms of the regard in which he is held by Paul, represents the value of embracing change, tolerance and the celebration of diversity.
Sound doctrine, for me, is disclosed in behaviour which is Christlike – scripturally-based, challenging but welcoming and open to persuasion. Sound doctrine demonstrates a gentle strength and discloses love in action and does not seem to me the exclusive prerogative of any segment of humankind.
My sense that sound doctrine has more to do with being than knowing, more pastoral than didactic, is growing. So whilst I covet the gifts of articulation and dialogical discourse my intuition is inclined to value the, perhaps softer, fruits of the Spirit as listed in a well known song mnemonic “the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control”