As I mentioned in the last post, I have struggled and continue to struggle with the role of women in the church. Growing up, my views of Christianity were often negative and woven with thoughts of patriarchal mastership and misogyny.  This just isn’t true.

From the beginning (Genesis) God creates for Adam a helper, not a slave. The word used is ‘ezer which originally had two roots, each beginning with different guttural sounds. One meant “power” and the other “strength.”  The woman was never meant to be an assistant or “helpmate” to the man. The word “mate” slipped into English since it was so close to the Old English word “meet,” which means “fit to” or “corresponding to” the man which comes from the phrase that likely means “equal to.”  What God had intended, then, was to make a “power” or “strength” for the man who would in every way “correspond to him” or even “be his equal.””

However, I think that if we truly want to look at God’s intended role in creating women then it’s appropriate to step back and take a look at what a woman who follows Christ looks like. For that I am going to refer you to Proverbs 31:10-31 which reads:


The Woman Who Fears the Lord

10 An excellent wife who can find?

She is far more precious than jewels.

11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,

and he will have no lack of gain.

12 She does him good, and not harm,

all the days of her life.

13 She seeks wool and flax,

and works with willing hands.

14 She is like the ships of the merchant;

she brings her food from afar.

15 She rises while it is yet night

and provides food for her household

and portions for her maidens.

16 She considers a field and buys it;

with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.

17 She dresses herself with strength

and makes her arms strong.

18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

19 She puts her hands to the distaff,

and her hands hold the spindle.

20 She opens her hand to the poor

and reaches out her hands to the needy.

21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,

for all her household are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes bed coverings for herself;

her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is known in the gates

when he sits among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them;

she delivers sashes to the merchant.

25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,

and she laughs at the time to come.

26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,

and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

27 She looks well to the ways of her household

and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;

her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women have done excellently,

but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,

and let her works praise her in the gates.


wonder-woman-1016324_640What do you think? Sounds like some sort of superhero, doesn’t it? When I first read this I was left with so many questions: How can one woman do all this? Does this even apply today?  After further study and prayer my answers: yes and yes!

God does not charge us with an easy task- he knows we are smart, faithful, and strong and intends for us to work hard to meet this standard he has set for us. The first thing to remember in reading this passage is that it is seasonal to one’s life.  This is not a daily checklist to be tackled, but more a list created to show the virtues that a woman in Christ possesses overall. Your daily tasks before children come into your marriage will look completely different than when you are raising an infant or than when your kids have left for college. The tasks will be different, however, the virtues you bring to your family and to the world will be the same.

The first of these virtues mentioned is how she treats her husband.

Before you start getting defensive and getting your pretty little panties in a wad, hear me out. I believe it’s being mentioned first is intentional. Being a wife is her most important role (just as being a husband is his), not because she is a servant to him or lesser than him, but because marriage is a holy gift from God. It is to be honored above all roles as it is a direct echo of our relationship (the church) with Christ.   Through marriage husbands and wives have become one- just as you would not seek to harm yourself you should not seek to harm your spouse. Because of her conduct her husband trusts in her wholeheartedly. This idea is repeated in 1 Peter 3:1-2:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 

Our attitudes toward and interactions with our husband can be a light to him, a support, a role model. This cannot be true if we are “lesser”.

The next few verses show us that a woman of Christ is to provide for her household (family).

This is done through willing work with her hands, which today may look like a full time job or the physical work of running a household for those who don’t work outside the home. Both here are mentioned- work in and outside the home. Investment and care for one’s family allows all to be able to go forward into the day best prepared to share the love of Christ. We know that our children and our husbands are a reflection of our beliefs. Women lay the foundation in the building of generations of followers. Women are given the task of building up not only the body, but more importantly the spirit of her children. Stop for a minute and think about that. This is a HUGE undertaking that God is trusting us with. In addition, a woman in Christ is extremely important to the outcome of the home. She can tear it down with her hands, or she can build it up. This is not a menial task! God did not give women less important work then men. I would even argue that our task is much harder, especially in today’s world and all that our children are bombarded with.

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Besides physical work, a woman of Christ provides for her household through virtue of intellect– here it is shown by providing food from afar (though this could be seen as physical labor, I would argue it also refers to
the knowledge needed to providing healthy food to strengthen her family), recognizing and buying fertile fields, assessing the value in her wares and selling her merchandise, etc.  It isn’t important to give a modern example for all of these (as they will vary strongly on each woman’s gifts); what is important to see here is that women in Christ are not held back by anything. Their talents are many; they are intelligent, capable, and strong.

They are not out doing only what is directed by their husband or being given permission – no, she considers a field and buys it. This not only speaks to her intellect, but to the idea of how a Godly marriage works. Again, they are of one flesh, trusting and yielding to one another, both working for the greater good of their marriage and for God.

The verse alludes to the fact that women in Christ never sleep. This is obviously not true. Sleep is a gift from God himself (Psalms 127:2). Instead, what it aims to tell us is that not only is our work of a large amount, but that we should be diligent in our work- not being lazy and lying around, even in the evening if necessary, using our time wisely. We know what needs to be done and we do it.

What is important to see here is that women in Christ are not held back by ANYTHING!
In Addition, a Woman in Christ is

 

  • Charitable. She never forgets the poor, and models Christ’s love and sacrifice (as all are called to do).
  • Prudent and looks ahead to the future and prepares for it ( v. 21) but does not let anxiety rule her.
  • Puts her trust in the Lord– she knows that God will provide and has faith in him; she knows that her success lays outside of her.
  • Builds up her body strong, but knows that ultimately her beauty lies in her love for the Lord. Can she still wear cute clothes? Heck yeah, look at verse 22! But she is careful not to be vain.
  • Wise and kind. She has a good reputation which proceeds her and reflects well on her husband (after all, you’d have to be a pretty smart guy to win over such a wonderful wife).

Ladies, God does not charge us with an easy task- because he knows we are smart, faithful, and strong. We are capable of so very much. If the Church has felt patriarchal to you, I would challenge you to read God’s word and compare. What God writes and asks of us is not always what we as humans model or preach. The proof is there- you just may be looking in the wrong spot. God values women- It’s in your Bible if not your Church or other preconceived notions.