Typically when I hear a woman say that she desires to be a “Proverbs 31 Woman” I get pictures in my head of a silent and weak woman, who is defined solely by her role as a mother. If being a mother defined women, then we can only conclude that childless women are androgynous, and that is not the case. Furthermore, even for women who are mothers, I believe they have a lot to offer including their motherhood, but not exclusively their motherhood. I am not a mother, neither am I weak or silent- as you can tell. So when people used Proverbs 31 to support the idea that it is Biblical for a woman to fit such a caricature, I shrank away from reading it. I wanted nothing to do with the idea of conforming to this perfect (and for me, seemingly impossible) image.
Recently, while perusing certain blogs I saw one with the tag line, “in pursuit of being a Proverbs 31 woman.” So I decided to bite the bullet and read the personality profile that I had been avoiding for fear of being convicted that my actions as a women were not Biblical. What I found when I reread Proverbs 31, however, was a woman who was not weak, but strong and dignified. Who was not silent, but spoke with wisdom (and even was allowed to give instruction- gasp!), and who was not defined solely by her role as a mother, but also that of a buyer, a seller, a traveler, a field worker, and a compassionate soul who reached out to the needy.
Proverbs 31 also didn’t just mention a wife, but also a husband. Her husband “has full confidence in her;” he “is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.” From this description, it appears the husband and wife work as a team. There is no mention of him peering over her shoulder, micromanaging, dominating, or controlling her. He has confidence in her as she works and he is able to work and be respected in town as well.
I don’t profess to know exactly what God says about male and female roles from a simple reading of a single chapter in the Bible, but I think it’s interesting how much culture can affect what we read into Biblical passages. Now that I’ve gone back and read what’s actually there, I don’t think it would be a stretch for me to say that I too am “in pursuit of being a Proverbs 31 woman”.