To set the stage for this discussion we recently went to Ephesians to see how a husband should treat his wife. How we all agree marriage is a co-dependent relationship and requires active participation on the part of both husband and wife to achieve its full potential. It is not something to take lightly and is a model for all husbands and wives to live by, regardless of whether or not you are a Christian. God’s word has truth in it even for the non-believer. It is in sync with the universe that He created. This post will start with a list of questions and then go to a comment. Are you and your spouse (or future spouse) travelling along this trajectory or not?
- A wife of Noble Character? How valuable is she? v10
- She works and brings honor to her husband? Is this “work”? v11
- She is up early and goes to bed late. Strong work ethic.v15
- She understands how to handle money.v16
- Extends her arms to the poor. Helps the needy and is aware of their plight.v20
- She works with her hands and ensures her family is taken care of (clothed).v21
- This woman of honor speaks rightly.v26
- Her name is associated with dignity and strength.v25
- Her family is extremely important to her and she takes care of them daily.v27
- Her family and husband call her blessed and praise her.v28
- Lives according to God’s ideal and not accept second best.v29
- The terms charm and beauty are mentioned, but as not important at all. Why?v30
- Let her work bring praise at the City Gate? v31/v23
WOW! Talk about the liberated wife and woman. This woman is the kind of woman that every man is looking for and that every woman wants to be. However, we approach it in ways that are completely different. God says, “go and bring honor to your husband, be wise, be generous, love and cherish your family, work diligently to provide and care for them”. This is the role of the woman in marriage. Many women in our society have changed that co-dependent role and now say, “we want the role (and rule) of the man and the rights of the man. We will not be subservient in any way, shape or form. We want equality at every level”. I do not see the original intent of Proverbs 31 as saying that anyone gives up their life or role in life, regardless of being a man or a woman. We both have very distinct roles and responsibilities. For example, I cannot have children and she cannot protect and fight the way I can. We have been genetically designed a certain way by our creator. If He intended us to be the same and have the same role is life, he would have created us as androgenous and all capable of performing the same “life tasks”. He did not choose that and we must become comfortable with who we are and what our role is. I cannot tell you why He chose that, but I can tell you that his Wisdom is beyond our comprehension and always correct. In being able to see the destiny of every man and every woman, He made us as we are to serve Him and His purpose. In doing that we find real worth.
All I have said sounds counter-intuitive to how our culture perceives the role of a woman. How they must be independent and they must be this or that. This is the way of spiritual things. They are sometimes a contradiction to how we have moralized them to be or decided they should be. That does not make the way that God structured them incorrect. It simply means that in our society without God is trying to create its own path and our understanding is limited. I can tell you many times I have read passages in Proverbs and thought, “whoa now, people are going to think I am weird if I do this”. However, as I did practice those items in reality they were fine. I am not talking about handling snakes in worship or any other crazy off the chart thing like that. Something as simple as “love your wife as yourself”. Who does that? It took me some time to shed my “what’s in it for me” and my “if I do this I cannot manipulate her” mentalities that come built into a man who is without God. The most difficult part about God is going forward with Him and following Him in the face of contradiction between His way and the way of our human nature. They will always be in conflict. Why is there and has there always been war? Human nature breeds self motivated desires and they lead to destruction. Harnessing the power of God, through Christ does not.
This woman in the example is one who if observed by men would be classified not just as a “good wife”, but a good mother, a good woman morally and a blessing to her family. In verse 31 she receives the highest honor of the day, “praise at the City Gate”. This is where the elders and leaders generally met and discussed life and matters that needed to be accomplished. It was a place of business and of general city rule. Her name being recognized would bring honor to her and to her husband. It was a significant accomplishment for anyone to be honored there and so much more for a woman to be recognized and honored.
Where are you? Are you on the right trajectory or do you need a course correction? Is your spouse not meeting your expectations? Maybe the problem is not with your spouse, but with you. How do you transition to this course correction? It is not simple and it requires both parties to participate. It cannot be done by one or the other alone. Both must understand their roles and choose to accept the responsibility in that role for themselves. It is hard and many times I see one or the other give up. For us it was a lifetime experience. It began to get better after a few years, but after more than 25 years, it is amazing. I always laugh and say, “we spent the first 3 years just talking about my issues”. In the end we got to know each other so much better and we were able to communicate for the first time in a way that was impossible prior to that. This is a life lesson that will pay dividends forever. I encourage you to take that first step forward with Christ and then with your spouse. Just remember this is not a quick fix and through it you find many new areas to explore and grow in wisdom and maturity.