The Proverbs 31 Woman

Proverbs 31 is pretty regularly regarded as the Bible text that describes the type of women that Christian ladies should strive to be. Unsurprisingly, the world paints a very different picture of the ideal woman for us. The world seems offended by the Proverbs 31 woman, thinking that she is overly dependent on her husband, weak, or boring. I won’t take the time to work through every verse in this chapter, but let’s take a short look at this woman and what she is really like, and which woman, the woman of the world or of Proverbs 31, is the strong, capable role model for our young ladies.

The 11th verse of this chapter says that the heart of her husband safely trusts in her. It reminds me of that popular saying “Behind every man is a good woman.” It seems that saying isn’t very far off. The husband of the Proverbs 31 woman rests assured that she supports him, encourages him, and speaks well of him to others. Many times women of the world are heard bashing on their husbands, talking about their shortcomings and downfalls. It simply cannot be true that Christian men are perfect, therefore the indication here is that although her husband has problems and issues, she will not broadcast these things to others.  Her husband knows this, and it leaves him with a feeling of trust and safety with her.

In a good portion of this passage, this woman is seen working with linens, buying, selling and trading. She plants, she sews, and she cooks. She works! In verse 17 she is even described as physically strong. It takes a physically strong woman to be so busy and active with her family and own business ventures. “Stay at home moms” are often regarded by the world as the type of woman who sits at home, just waiting for her husband to come back. That simply isn’t the case with the Christian housewife. She is busy, always working on new things around the house or finding appropriate ways to earn money and be productive. She is anything but weak.

Finally, a well-known verse in this chapter is verse 25 which reads “Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” Other versions of the Bible like to translate the last part of the verse “She laughs without fear of the future.” In either translation, you can almost picture a woman, bright-eyed and smiling, with her face lit with joy over one thing or another. She isn’t boring! She’s a pleasure to be around. She laughs and smiles and rejoices! She doesn’t do her work with a scowl and mumbling to her family, she is exactly the opposite.  God tells us that women like this are to be honored for their strength.  It takes great emotional and spiritual strength to walk through the life of any Christian and be a person who often is found smiling, laughing and taking joy in life.

The Christian woman, the Proverbs 31 woman, is not an overly dependent, weak, or boring woman. We should never expect any of that of our women in the church. Instead, we should be women of love, strength and immense joy! So, instead of trying to be stoic, tough, and “savage” as the world likes to use as compliments for women today, let’s be the women God calls us to be in this passage. Let’s be the Proverbs 31 woman.

Suzie Kuiper

Luther on the Christian Life (8)

In the last chapter of Luther on the Christian Life, Trueman explores Luther’s theology of vocation and family life. Luther’s thought on these areas of the Christian life was truly groundbreaking. Luther’s understanding of vocation, i.e., calling was groundbreaking because he denied the accepted opinion of his day that there are spiritually higher and lower callings in life. The common opinion of the day said that the calling of a civil ruler or officebearer in the church is inherently better and more holy than the ordinary callings that most of God’s people pursue in this life. To be a magistrate was better than being a farmer. To be an officebearer or monk was holier than being a shopkeeper or milkmaid. Luther strongly opposed this idea. In Luther’s view, every calling that accords with God’s law constitutes a holy calling  and can be done for the glory of God. The idea that certain vocations are more holy and spiritual while others are secular and less spiritual was a part of the medieval system of works righteousness against which Luther responded vehemently. All earthly vocations, from the grandest to the humblest, are equal in the eyes of God. What matters is how the Christian lives in the calling the Lord has given him or her. A Christian can serve the Lord as a farmer, a businessman, a magistrate, or a minister, so long as he or she carries out that calling by faith and out of love for God and the neighbor. Luther’s understanding of vocation infuses even the most mundane and menial tasks with spiritual meaning and dignity.

Trueman also discusses Luther’s view of marriage in this chapter. Luther had always held marriage in high esteem. Even during his days in the monastery he had high praise for the love of marriage and the place of the Christian family. With the Reformation’s rejection of mandated clerical celibacy, Luther was able to experience what before he had only been able to reflect on theologically; and his respect for marriage only grew after his own marriage to Catherine Von Bora. Luther regarded marriage as one of the highest expressions of Christian love. And more than that, he regarded the marriage state as a state most holy and proper for the majority of Christians. It was the foundation of fellowship and family, good and blessed by God. Luther honored this institution of God both in his theology and in the way he lived with his beloved wife. For that we can be thankful, for the good doctor contributed much to the restoration of the proper view of marriage to the church. The development of our understanding of Christian marriage owes much to him.

We hope that the summary of this book offered here will encourage others to read it. Trueman’s book is well worth it and will make a worthy addition to anyone’s library. Luther on the Christian Life is highly recommended.

Justin Smidstra