Tuesday, October 2, 2012

'Proverbs 31 Woman' Take-Down

The comment:
I feel like i'll never measure up to the Proverbs 31 woman - does this mean i'm not a Godly woman or that I'm sinning by not taking the role that I should? How do I balance my unorthodox passions with who American Christianity says I should be?
I guess the real question here must ultimately stem from understanding what a 'Proverbs 31' woman is and if we are all supposed to be one. I don't have the education or theological background to unpack the scripture sufficiently, but I'll tell you my honest thoughts as I read through it again and attempt to answer your questions.

Proverbs 31 is about a 'wife of noble character', right? Immediately I think, so...this isn't saying 'the woman that all women are supposed to strive to be like'. It's a poem, and as the author begins, he seems to be describing this woman in the context of marriage...he seems to be telling the reader that this husband should find much value in his wife (v. 10) for these reasons.

This woman, I admit, is pretty incredible. She's good at a wide array of things--she's good with her hands, she sews, she cooks, she works in the fields, she's wise with investments, she's rises early, she's not idle, she takes care of her family, she fears the Lord...  we don't know how old she is, and we don't know what she looks like. Those things are insignificant when the value of this wife is determined. She is godly, above all else.

Reality? I don't think many of us will ever measure up to this Proverbs 31 woman...but I'm not sure if that's the goal in which we should seek to obtain. At least, not the specifics. This woman is well-rounded and flat out good at a lot of things... a lot of things that, culturally, we have no clue how to do anymore. To compare ourselves to this woman is setting ourselves up for defeat every time.

If our goal is godliness, if our goal is glorifying the Lord in all we do...then can this passage move us toward that? In some ways, yes. But, does it have to be the end all, be all of every woman's existence? I don't think so. Is this a good example for us of a godly woman? Yes. Is it the only example? No. Check out Deborah (ha), the judge, or maybe Ruth, or Mary, or Priscilla, or Rahab, or Tamar...

What I'm getting at is that there's a long line of women in scripture who loved the Lord wholeheartedly and lived their lives to serve Him and if our goal is to BECOME them, then we're losing sight of the goal of becoming like Christ.

I don't care about becoming a 'Proverbs 31' woman, honestly. I can't recall a time when that ever became something I felt like I needed to do above all else. Becoming like Jesus already seemed like the most important task at hand, and, naturally...it seems that the more we become like Him, the more those other things are going to fall into place. We have to allow room for ourselves to be ourselves as we seek godliness and not simply become this rigid form of someone else.

So... I say screw what you feel like American Christianity says that you should be and become exactly who you were intended to be. Love Jesus and strive to be more like Him each day...remembering His grace in the process.

I think you'll be surprised by the freedom, by the joy, and by the many ways the Lord begins to use you once you step out in the fullness of who He has created you to be, instead of trying to mold yourself into someone who isn't you. Perhaps your 'unorthodox passions' are the very passions you've been given to move you into being a non-conformist and into fighting for what is good and true.

I don't think there's a set 'role' for women that we must follow.
Seek godliness... not Proverbs 31-ness. If those characteristics happen to coincide with who you are, if they help set goals, if they provide an example... that's one thing. But, there's a whole lot more to following Jesus and I hope we get to live in the joy of that above all else.

(And men, I truly hope you are not seeking to FIND a woman who measures up to this standard, either. Let her be godly in her own way...and find the value in her through the many ways she glorifies the Lord in what she does, not by comparing her to someone else.)

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