Thursday, August 27, 2015

How Christian Wives Get Proverbs 31 Wrong! (1)

The beauty of the virtuous wife - The Proverbs 31 woman all Christian wives strive to become – the hardworking wife and mother who seems to do everything for the sake of her husband and her children, with little or no attention to herself. The virtuous submissive woman who in all her glory resides at the feet of her husband, and does only his bidding…Well, at least that’s what you’ve been groomed to understand.

It is very ironic that many living Proverbs 31 women are being abused, undermined, unappreciated and eventually abandoned by the men they dedicated themselves to serving. It definitely makes one wonder about human nature versus scriptural truths, right? I mean many subservient, hardworking and super-respectful wives are taken for granted, while those who speak up, act as they please, and let themselves be heard (the ‘un-virtuous’ women) seem to get the good husbands. Isn’t life unfair? If you belong to the former group, you probably think it is!

I have come to understand that most of the time in marriages, there are no victims, there are only volunteers. And many Christian wives happen to volunteer themselves for abuse, lack of appreciation, and a general lack of respect in their marriages, all because they are aiming to fulfill the virtues of the Proverbs 31 woman. Before I address this Proverbs 31 woman issue, let me in a few sentences describe what many Christian wives believe are attributes of the virtuous woman.

According to many women, a virtuous wife has no authority in her home; she has no say in how the affairs of the home are run, and takes instructions only from her husband. The virtuous woman lives to serve her husband; take his coat at the door, untie his shoes (well, not literally, but you’d be surprised some women do this), etc. The virtuous woman prays before she approaches her husband on any matter; it’s like approaching a government organization for a contract – prayer is a key requirement. And of course, the future of the virtuous woman remains at the discretion of her husband. He can decide whether she studies further or works; He can decide if she can apply for a higher position at work or not. In summary, the virtuous woman is simply at her husband’s mercy. Well, that again is what you’ve been told to believe. Now let’s rustle some feathers!

Do you remember the woman from Shunem who helped Elisha (2 Kings 4: 8-37)? You probably don’t. That part of the scripture is mostly preached in the context of the miracle performed, and not on the attitude of the woman herself. The Shunem woman was married, and from all accounts fulfilled the qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman. She was caring and attentive, but get this; she also had a voice. She was the one who told her husband they needed to build a place for Elisha so he could rest whenever he passed by their house. She brought the idea and established it. She didn’t imagine it, ask for favor from above for her to approach her husband before pitching it to him; she spoke freely and put an idea on the table! If you remember her now, you know that she gave birth to a son who later died. After the death of her son, what did she do? She told her husband “Send me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the man of God and come right back” (2 Kings 4:22). And though he had a little protest about her trip, she went ahead and eventually saved her son’s life. This woman from Shunem realized her role as a wife was not simply to whimper and follow her husband like a wet dog. She had authority in her home, and she was well-respected by her husband for her views and opinions. She knew what needed to be done, and did not let her husband decide the fate of their family on his own. She was a help mate who took action as soon as it was necessary! I guess now, you are wondering where the idea of submission at all costs come from. We’ll discuss this in part two of this post

Let’s talk about Ruth for a bit. I’m sure you’ve heard of Ruth – the daughter-in-law who was self-sacrificial and so loving of her mother-in-law Naomi, she willingly followed her to a strange land where she knew no one. As you know, Ruth later met Boaz to whom she got married. But what were the circumstances surrounding their meeting? Ruth was busy! And nope she was not keeping busy to please Boaz! She was busy doing the necessary things for her life- she was gathering food, and working hard to sustain herself and her mother-in-law, and when Boaz found her, what did he do? He elevated her from her position to be his wife. Bear in mind that Boaz owned the fields where Ruth worked, so by marrying her, he took her from a mere employee to a ‘madam’ if we can call it that. He noticed her hardwork and her achievements and put her in a position of authority. So dear virtuous wives and single ladies, what explanations do you have for delaying your success simply because you are waiting to be found by your husband? Again, read part two of this post.

My last example before I explain further is my favorite woman in the bible – Esther. I love Esther so much, I often use her life as a point of prayer. Esther was a slave girl who ended up with the king. Esther, like all the other girls in the harem did everything to please the king! She bathed in perfumes and oils; she titivated herself with beauty treatments and was taught to become what the king would like. But when Esther faced a threat, she did what the king normally could not accept. She approached the king without being summoned- an offence punishable by death! She ran to the king for help; she did something worse than Vashti; she negotiated with the king after he had sealed his instructions, and she won. God favored Esther but only because she approached the king first! Why then virtuous wife do you struggle with the idea of approaching your own husband with issues that bother you? Why do you believe you have to simply sit and endure whatever decisions he makes even if they are to your detriment? Esther could have been quiet; yes, we won’t be so fond of her now, but she could have been quiet and let the king’s decision stand. But it was to her detriment so she spoke up! And he listened! If Esther, a slave girl who was at a risk of revealing her true identity to the king and facing a possible death sentence could approach the king courageously, I see no reason why wives become ‘puss in boots’ when they need to make requests of their husbands.

 Is it due to submission? Let’s assume it is! Please proceed to part two of this post by clicking here

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