I won’t make a habit out of sharing other people’s thoughts, but in this case, I feel like it’s important to point out that there are actual living, breathing humans who think like this and preach this to other people. Not only are there a couple hundred people who have taken the time out of their day to like, and love, and comment on this post in particular, but there are another 80,000 who follow this page.
It is very easy to edit words to make it say what you think it should say. Unfortunately, we see that all too often with Proverbs 31, and we also see this passage held up as the gold standard for all women when there is no indication in Scripture that it was meant to be used in that way. There are 1,189 chapters of the Bible and yet we are to believe that there is only one that teaches women how to be a good wife?
For example, verse 28 says: Her husband and children praise her. Without any other context it makes it sound like she never leaves the home but in verse 31 it says: she was praised in public for what she has done, so obviously the whole city knew of her work.
In verse 20 it says: she helps the poor and needy so we could infer that women could work for charitable causes only but just before that in verse 18 it says: she knows her trading is profitable, so we know that she makes money.
We could say that in verse 16 when: she inspects the field and buys it, that maybe that’s only because her husband instructed her to, except the very next thing it says in verse 17 is that: with money, she earned she plants a vineyard, so again she’s making money.
We see in verse 26: she watches over her family, so again she must be at home, except that in verse 24 it also says: she sells her garments at the market, so obviously she is away from the home. And before you say well she doesn’t have a full time job because she just goes to market occasionally to sell things she made in her home let’s just wander back up to verses 13 and 14 where she: goes out to find wool and flax…she is like a merchants ship bringing food from afar, so she is obviously traveling to source material before spinning her own thread, weaving her own cloth, making her own bedding and fine clothes and clothes for the local merchants before also surveying property, planting a vineyard, helping the needy and receiving her praises at the city gates. (You know, just your typical Etsy mom.)
The truth lies in between the two extremes. There are absolutely women who are called to be in their homes and there are absolutely women who are called to serve outside the home. See, the problem here is not with the Scripture, but that there are thousands of people who are willing to completely twist, edit and manipulate God’s word to push their own agenda, and thousands and thousands of others are hurt by this perversion of Scripture every day.
More and more women are propping up Proverbs 31 without digging into the historical context or even acknowledging all the attributes of the character of this woman, and certainly without looking at any other examples of women in the Bible.
They show no love or compassion or empathy for those who have been harmed by the church, and while we rejoice that not everyone has been hurt by the Proverbs 31 rhetoric, we must recognize, acknowledge and grieve with those who have.
It is not God’s design to hold women to an unrealistic Stepford Wife standard of Biblical Womanhood. Instead, we must look to ALL of God’s word (both inside Proverbs 31 and outside of it *gasp) to inspire our character. We must celebrate the beauty and the diversity of God’s creation.
Brothers and sisters, I encourage you to look out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles to other people’s faith. They are against the true teaching you learned, so stay away from them. Such people are not serving our Lord Christ but are only doing what pleases themselves. They use smooth talk and fine words to deceive the hearts of the naïve.
It seems very clear that people who use the Scripture to try and make their own way perfect are hurting other people’s faith. They are driving people away from God and from the hope of salvation. It doesn’t hurt me directly. I am strong. I am capable. I am unyielding in my faith and my divine purpose. But, it hurts people who have not yet found their faith. It hurts people whose faith has not yet been tested and proven and who are young and innocent and that hurts me. As a Christian, as a woman, as a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ, it hurts every ounce of my soul to see God’s own words to His people being twisted into a stumbling block and causing pain to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
God’s plan for us is as unique and individual as we are and the only way we are going to find God’s plan for us is to seek His face. We cannot follow the path of others because that is not our path. The only one we should be following is Jesus.