What do you think of when you hear the words "sound doctrine?" If you are like me, those words bring to mind not images of sound teaching, but images of people pushing "sound doctrine" by going on a mission to expose error and the "deceitful damnable doctrines of men and demons." If you are like me, the phrase "sound doctrine" sometimes makes you cringe. I have to ask myself the question why? After all, it is a biblical term used by Paul when he wrote letters to two preachers he trained for ministry, Timothy and Titus.
I have come to the conclusion that the reason it often causes a negative knee-jerk reaction is that those who cry aloud for sound doctrine the loudest are often mean-spirited. If this is typically the case, is it any wonder that our children grow up to disdain the term, "sound doctrine?" Should we really be surprised if they want to distance themselves from that term and all they believe it to represent?
What did Paul specifically have in mind when he told Timothy and Titus to commit themselves to "sound doctrine?" There is not space here to deal with all of them, but here are two examples:
"If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain (1 Tim 6:3-5)."
Is arguing, tabloid style journalism, name-calling, etc. what "sound doctrine" is all about? Those who do such things are called "depraved" in this passage. There are brotherhood journals and books which do this very thing in the name of sound doctrine. In this passage, we see that this is NOT what sound doctrine is all about.
"But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us (Tit 2:1-8)".
Notice how speaking things fitting for sound doctrine has just as much as to do with HOW you say what you say, and HOW you behave as it does WHAT you say. Proper behavior ensures that the "word of God will not be dishonored." Sound doctrine means "healthy, wholesome teaching." Lets us not forget that "love your neighbor as yourself" is sound doctrine too.