Proverbs 31 has come to be known as a standard for Christian women to live by...or up to. Books, devotions, and blogs have been written about it, with just as many agendas.
Its upheld as the one chapter of the Bible, as thee chapter, on instructing women how to be Godly women.
Funny, considering the book is written as a representation of verbal instruction a mother is giving her son.
What if we started reading Prov 31 as if males were the intended audience?
With that thought, Prov 31 reads as a book with instructions for every member of the family...not just women...and it reminds others of the *value* & *equality* of women...
The opening credits have most commentators speculating in agreement that it is a written representation of an oral instruction to King Solomon, from his mother, Bathsheba. WHY are we then using it to instruct women? Why did Bathsheba give her son these instructions, that seem to highlight all the capabilities of a female of their time?
During Old Testament times, women were regarded as nothing more than a piece of property to be bought, sometimes sold and with out many, if any, rights of individual personhood. Yet, here is Bathsheba, extolling the virtues of a cunning, intelligent woman who has many gifts, talents and abilities, a shrewd business woman, whom she describes as honorable and noble (vs 10). The woman described in Proverbs 31, actually sounds like a very independent female. She can handle her business, provide for her family and afford servants (vs 15), she produces a profit (vs 18) from her work. Her children and husband call HER blessed (vs 28). She is compassionate and shares what she has with the poor (vs 20). She is a realtor and property owner (vs 16), seamstress (vs 22, 24), teacher (vs 26), and more. Does this sound like a chapter describing a piece of property?
Perhaps, Bathsheba was giving her son a call to action. Challenging him to recognize the true Godly value of females, as God created them to be...not as objects to be demeaned, bought, sold, used and abused, but as intelligent, capable, independent human beings who should be held in as much high esteem as the males around them.
Maybe Bathsheba was going against the current belief system of female inferiority and bringing to her son, a profound thought process to counter act the false beliefs that had been created by men, not God. A voice of reason, alone and still to this day, often over looked.
Many will say, Proverbs 31 was written as a guide on what to look for in a woman, potential bride and mother of a man's future children. Ok, then why is the woman described, already running a household, with children and a husband (vs.11, 23, 28)?
The woman in Proverbs 31 is NOT known by what her husband does. She is never addressed as *so and so's wife*...her husband is addressed as HER husband (vs 11, 23, 28).
The last verse calls the reader to honor her for what she has done. It does not state to respect her for the achievements of her father or husband. It is a call to praise her for her own achievements and accomplishments. Which means she is perfectly capable of accomplishing them (vs 31) and worth being recognized for them. She does not live in the shadow of anyone.
I challenge, that Proverbs 31 was NOT written as instructions for women to strive to achieve or look like...but as a reminder to MEN, of how God created women. Not as inferior pieces of property. This is the inspired Holy Word of God, isn't it? The reader (men of the day, right?) is reminded how fleeting the outward appearance of a female is...That is definitely advice every young man needs, in order to not make life long relational choices based on looks (vs 30).
I want to know WHY then, are we teaching (brow beating?) Proverbs 31 to women as a standard of femininity? Why aren't we using Proverbs 31 to instruct MEN, how women should be viewed, and not only viewed, but what females ARE capable of? Why aren't we using Proverbs 31 as a warning and admonishment against the oppression of women everywhere? Why don't we quit using it to guide women and start reframing it as an example to men (and women) of how women SHOULD BE viewed, treated, respected, honored and praised.
I'd like to see a Proverbs 31 sermon and theme used for the next men's event.
Proverbs 31 is leveling the playing field and everyone has been ignoring the game!