By society’s standards, I am a “modern” woman. I’ve worked as both a TV reporter and then Communications Director for Members of Congress. I also continued to work up until and even past my due date because the baby girl was late. After my baby was born I continued working from home. Yet, at the same time, I am still trying to figure out how to be a Proverbs 31 woman in this modern world, and here’s where things get tricky. While I believe women are smart, capable, and ambitious as men, I also believe we were created differently from them. For me, this means my goals, and even roles – will look different than my husband’s will. So here’s how I’m learning to be a Proverbs 31 woman in today’s world.
I Am a Modern Proverbs 31 Woman
I see it clearly in my own life. I’ve always been ambitious. For years I wanted to be a TV reporter and pursued that lugging around heavy equipment in 3-inch heels. Then I worked for Congress. Although they allowed me to work from home, I even continued working for a House Committee in Congress after I had my baby. I also lived on my own for years before getting married which means I had to take care of my own needs, pay my bills and learn independence.
But at the same time, I had always desired to “take care of a home” one day. I wanted to cook, clean, and budget for a family. Now that I have a family and a home and get to do these things for them, I know my desires were God-given.
Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, working at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:4-5)
Perhaps those verses strike a chord with you, and not in a good way. Other translations say “keepers at home” “good housewives” “managers of household” and “busy at home.” Perhaps you like this verse even a little less now!
Before you think I’m taking us back to the 1950s or advocating being barefoot and pregnant, let’s take a closer look at a passage we’ve read a million times.
Yes, I’m talking about that all-too-perfect Proverbs 31 woman.
10-31 A good woman is hard to find,
and worth far more than diamonds.
Her husband trusts her without reserve,
and never has reason to regret it.
Never spiteful, she treats him generously
all her life long.
She shops around for the best yarns and cottons,
and enjoys knitting and sewing.
She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places
and brings back exotic surprises.
She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfast
for her family and organizing her day.
She looks over a field and buys it,
then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.
First thing in the morning, she dresses for work,
rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started.
She senses the worth of her work,
is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.
She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth,
diligent in homemaking.
She’s quick to assist anyone in need,
reaches out to help the poor.
She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows;
their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear.
She makes her own clothing,
and dresses in colorful linens and silks.
Her husband is greatly respected
when he deliberates with the city fathers.
She designs gowns and sells them,
brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops.
Her clothes are well-made and elegant,
and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:
“Many women have done wonderful things,
but you’ve outclassed them all!”
Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades.
The woman to be admired and praised
is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.
Give her everything she deserves!
Notice all this woman does!
She shops – is up before dawn, plants, buys, rolls-up-her-sleeves, designs, sells, and does it all with a smile. She takes care of her family first AND runs a business. See why she makes the rest of us look bad? But in addition to all she does, she is trusted, respected, hard-working, kind, and always has something worthwhile to say. Sounds like the kind of woman I’d like to be. Sounds like my kind of modern woman.
And before you think what I’m really saying is that all women should stay home, just wait a minute. This woman worked outside the home. She bought land and made money from making clothes. Nowadays, we teach, write, take care of patients, sell houses, and in some cases – run companies! Years ago I thought this passage was saying women only belonged in the home. But now I see it’s not putting any restrictions on women. Instead, we have to look at what the emphasis is on – her household and family.
Now, this is where we may disagree.
But I hope not too much. This woman, who we as Christian women are to emulate, was generous with her husband and never spiteful. She prepared breakfast for her family, was skilled in homemaking, clothed her family so they were warm, and was the anchor that held the whole family together. I’m not saying we have to do every one of these things. But again, the emphasis is on her family and household first. Yes, before ambitions, careers, and making money.
Shouldn’t this be the husband’s priority too, you may ask?
Of course. Though I believe God gave men a desire to provide for their families in a different way.
You see, we have separate tasks given by God, but still equal and certainly just as important. For some reason, our society has told us that taking care of a family is not good enough. You need to make lots of money or manage people to be successful. Dishes are beneath our abilities. (Which they are!)
But as Christians, when did serving come to be beneath us too? Isn’t that what taking care of a family or those around us is really about?
The Proverbs 31 Woman is for Single Women Too
The great part about the Proverbs 31 woman is that you don’t have to be married to emulate her either. We can serve, give generously, be kind and work hard no matter what life stage we’re in. We can also be successful.
Perhaps the roles in your relationship look vastly different and if it works for you – that’s great. This is my take on the Bible and what I know God has put on my heart, but that sure doesn’t mean God can’t do something else in your life.
Now that I’m married, I’m going to continue to pursue the Proverbs 31 type of feminism. That type where the woman is smart, successful and strong, and also generous, kind and can find joy in serving others – even through mundane tasks such as cooking and cleaning.
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