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The *Real* Proverbs 31 Woman

I remember shortly after my oldest daughter turned 6 months old, I began looking for a job to help make ends meet at home. My husband was working overtime hours and as soon as he would clock-out, we would head to the neighboring town and work at the church until late into the night, so I decided it was time to contribute.

That was when the opinions came in.

That was when the pastor told us his views.

A woman’s place is in the home.

Referencing Proverbs 31, the pastor of our church at the time made his opinion of me working outside the home very clear.

In his mind, I was sinning.

And, actually, this is a very common view within the general Church today.
The man needs to be the bread-winner, the spiritual leader, the head of the household.
That is how I had always grown up.

Several years after struggling with needing to find a job, I was in a similar situation. Only this time Jason was the associate pastor at another church, and due to his secular job being shady in their dealings, he was laid off promptly after I gave birth to baby number two. The church only paid us with housing and when my little boy was a couple months old, we were feeling the struggle. Having burned through our little amount of savings, we were financially strapped. I called my mother, hoping for so support. I knew I needed to get a job, but leaving my baby home was devastating for me. But the support I so desperately needed from my mother was not there.

Instead, I was told “Your husband needs to get another job and support his family. A woman needs to be home with her children.”—Your husband is not being a good husband and father if he is not working sunrise to sunset on top of ministry hours to make ends meet, and you are not being a good mother if you leave your children to work outside the home for a few hours every day.

I was already devastated, and what my mother said hurt worse. I spent several months with no contact with her. She had wounded me, but more than that, she had caused me to doubt my own success at being a Godly wife and mother. So, as anyone who wants to know God’s heart would do, I dug into the word. And that is where I found it.

Proverbs 31—again—This was the biblical chapter I had read a billion times over as a teenager. I was determined to be a Proverbs 31 wife. I was going to be this ultimately successful parent who made both her children and her husband proud. But my mother said I was failing—but as I read it again with fresh eyes, I noticed something intriguing.

A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand, she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

This was not some submissive wife who depended upon her husband to be her provider. Actually, quite the contrary. She earned and was responsible for her own money. She works with her hands, she considers a field and buys it and out of her earnings plants a vineyard. She manages her household (which means she was in charge of the servants and maintaining the finances). She is charitable—and if you notice, she does not run her charity by her husband. Instead, at the very beginning of the section, it says that her husband has COMPLETE confidence in her. He trusts her and she trusts him. They are in a relationship of mutuality.

He has complete confidence in her, and he is respected at the city gate… I have heard so many instances where men will chat among themselves and joke about their wives squandering money—this is not one of those instances. The woman of noble character and her husband have a relationship of complete trust and respect; and as a result, both of them are highly respected by those around them. A husband constantly ragging on about his wife will not have a high level of respect from those around him (and neither will his wife as he has shattered any positive reputation she may have had) and vice versa. A relationship of mutuality is one in which both parties are cherished and respected by the other—neither dominating or dictating the direction of the relationship, but both working together toward a common goal within their relationship.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

A woman of noble character is a woman who does what she needs to do to take care of her family as a mutual provider for them. If she is a single woman—with or without kids—she is her provider. If she is married, then she works in conjunction with her husband to provide—whether financially or not. “Honor her for all that her hands of done”—meaning she works hard and needs to be recognized for it. “Let her works bring her praise at the city gate”—Do not even dare undermine or ridicule her for working outside of the mold you have placed her in. Let her works bring her praise at the city gate. Let her be publicly acknowledged for the effort she has put into supporting her family and those around her. Let us stop forcing women into the corner of submission telling her it’s the “Proverbs 31” way—it’s not. Proverbs 31, taken in context and truth, is empowering, emboldening, and all about a woman being made a mutual and equal partner in relationships… not about being a submissive partner who merely supports her husband by cooking and cleaning. Allow women to be who they are called to be—Who God has designed them to be. Let women be themselves.

A woman of noble character is a woman with her OWN character—stop trying to force women into your nice little mold of a sandwich making housekeeper. She was made to be so much more than that. She was made to be Noble!

Comments

  1. it's hard when we make a break from tradition (especially in our families) for the sake of our families. Mutual respect within your own family is what you need to aim for.

    ReplyDelete

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