As it often happens in my life, I was planning on writing today about "Christian" literature’s view of the Proverbs 31 woman, but as I prayed this weekend, I felt God laying on my heart that I needed to address a related issue today. This one is also a misinterpretation of what Proverbs 31 teaches us about Godly womanhood but it seems to come more from misunderstandings by the church in general rather than just a few books on the shelves. I'm sure all of you have heard it at one time or another; "Well, the Proverbs 31 woman was a working woman!" Or "She bought and sold things, that means she worked outside her home too!" The problem with most of these arguments is that they are more concerned about finding ways to justify one's own actions rather than they are about taking what the scriptures say and adapting our lives to fit what God says we should be doing.
Now before you all start writing emails telling me how your situation is different, why I’m wrong, etc…hear me out. If at the end you still want to write me, I’d be glad to talk to you.
There can be no denying that the Proverbs 31 woman is a working woman. Almost all women work in one way or another. Our problem is that we don’t feel like we are working unless we leave our homes, drive to an office or some other building outside our own 4 walls, work an 8 or 12 hours shift and get that paycheck at the end of the week. If you are a wife, you have a job! If you are a mother, you have a job! If you are both a wife and a mother, wow, do you have a job! Taking care of people is work, whether it is your children or someone else’s. I always chuckle inwardly when moms start daycares in their homes and then they feel like they are finally working. To them, it is only work if the children belong to someone else. Or they work as a secretary, taking phone calls and messages for their boss, picking up his dry cleaning or managing his schedule and they call that work. But if they are at home doing those same things, only this time it is for their husband, suddenly it’s not work anymore. A lot of us think that it can’t be work unless you get paid. But you are getting paid. Every tear you dry, every load of laundry you wash, every errand you run, God will be paying you for. Whether it is here on earth or once you get to heaven, you will be paid for all the work you do for God and for your family. And if you think somehow that is not enough incentive to do the work of a home alone, read Matthew 6:19-21. We are working for heavenly wages and you can’t put an earthly price on that.
The work that the Proverbs 31 woman does is in addition to her care for her husband and her children, not instead of it. Her husband would not have been allowed to sit in the gates if she was not caring for her home properly. Any man who could not lead his own home, had no place ruling and judging others and still doesn’t. (1 Tim. 3:5) It is also not her ambition for prestige or power that makes her work; it is to bless her family. It is not because she needs the money, at least part of which she uses it to care for the poor. I do realize that some have husbands who can’t work because of illness or disability. But we have to ask ourselves, where is the church? Those who are sick need to be cared for by their brothers and sisters until they get well. If there is a disability that will not allow certain work, then those issues should be addressed by the body. Our work as wives and mothers is a calling. It is what we as women are called to do. If one part of the body is not able to fulfill its calling, in our case, caring for a home as well as training and caring for the children, then the whole body suffers. If there is no work to be found for a husband, retraining might be necessary but there is nowhere in the scripture that excuses a man from work because he can’t find it in his field. There is always work to be done. I remember my dad losing his job when I was younger and he took on a paper route and any odd jobs he could find, all the while spending up to 10 hours a day looking for work. There is never an excuse for not taking care of your family, man or woman. God gave you a job to do and it must be done by you.
I hope that this will help clear up any discrepancies of thought between God’s word and what you have been taught. It is a rather simple process of God setting up the rules and all of us living by them. What a blessing that we are free to serve Him by serving our families! What a privilege that we are free from sin and bondage to self and the ways of the world. But we must remember regardless of how little we may like it, we are not free to set our own rules. He is God and He is in charge.
May God bless you all as you serve Him each and everyday!