Why I Don’t Like the Proverbs 31 Woman

imagesLast night, I spoke to the girls in Cru on my campus about Biblical Womanhood. But before I go any further, I feel a need to offer a disclaimer:  I love God’s Word with all my heart and I want it to guide my life. Even so, I tiptoed around some potential landmines yesterday.

When I listed characteristics of women in the Bible, strength was at the top of my list.  (Think Queen Esther, Abigail, Rahab, Priscilla, Ruth, the women who remained at the cross, just to name a few.) I deliberately omitted words like quiet and gentle – words typically discussed at church women’s functions involving tea and baked goods, by women who are quiet and gentle. I realize these words are in the Bible and they are God-breathed, but you can only cover so much ground in a 20-minute message, and that’s not the ground I wanted to cover.

Then I had the nerve to (gasp!) dis a favorite for many women:  the Proverbs 31 woman. I’m not even sure if she’s a real person or a phantom ideal. Perhaps she’s a composite of the best qualities of Solomon’s 700 wives. Or a picture of Wisdom, personified throughout Solomon’s book as a woman. Whoever (or whatever) she is, her perfect standard is impossible to live up to. When speakers set her up as someone to imitate, I just end up feeling inadequate and looking for the exit.

If this nameless woman did exist and I knew her, I don’t think I’d like her. I doubt we’d be BFFs. I may even steer clear of her in heaven. I’d rather hang with my friends who were less-than-perfect here on earth.

And much more real.

10609552_10152371455635267_7734501041205609994_nThe Proverbs 31 woman sounds like a cross between Martha Stewart, Superwoman, and Mother Theresa. I can’t relate to her at all. Especially the getting up while it’s still dark bit. She’s driven, maybe even OCSD. She makes everything by hand, wears a lot of purple, and has her priorities so out of whack that she burns the candle from both ends. She’s always kind and wise and hard-working. And then she puts us all under the pile with her husband and children constantly praising her in public. Really?

So I didn’t mention the Proverbs 31 woman last night when I listed Biblical women to be our role models. That is, except to say that I wasn’t going to talk about her (which I maybe should’ve kept to myself, but then again, I don’t have her discretion).

Instead, I focused on authentic women. Formerly fallen women who became forgiven women. I can relate to them. I think most of us can.

I’m so thankful that Jesus, the only sinless one, doesn’t compare us to perfect people. He loves us as we are, but He doesn’t leave us there. He calls us to a high calling.  The difference is that He empowers us to live up to that calling, to walk in a manner worthy. And when we falter, He reaches out His hand to lift us up out of the mire.

He offers us grace.

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