Some might be wondering how I am going to speak to the man’s responsibilities in marriage… I am NOT.
Men have no responsibilities… ha. JK.
Today we are we are going to focus solely on the wives role.
Too often we are childish, constantly looking over our shoulder at everyone else and wanting to know that they are being admonished to do
Like Peter more concerned with John’s destiny to worry about his own responsibilities.
What should my husband be doing?! — Let’s set that aside for today, and talk about what you should be doing.
And for all the men have those enormous grins on their face, that “It’s about time…” look in their eyes… Your’s is coming. You would be wise to be praying for me that I would be kind, measured, and balanced… so I don’t feel compelled to equalize the discomfort.
This poem in many ways is typical of its time and cultural context
Alliterated (each line begins with the next letter of the hebrew alphabet)
Chiasmatic (verse 19 is the seam or janus of the poem)
However it is totally atypical in every meaningful way
Which is typical of Scripture
Scripture constantly and consistently contravenes cultural expectations
Not just its historical cultural expectations, but surprising, ours as well
This is strong evidence of the Divine provenance of Scripture
Credit: Bruce Waltke commentary on Proverbs
Observe: It is typical heroic poem about the female sex
But specifically rejects the the typical tropes of that genre:
1) Physical beauty and eroticism
2) Abstract theoretic wisdom rooted in impartial rationality
3) The [barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen] housewife
1) It praises the woman based on her activities and achievements in ordinary affairs of family, community, and business;
2) It praises a concrete practical wisdom rooted in the fear of God
3) It praises a “take charge”, entrepreneur, philanthropist, philosopher, profit-making, venture capitalist
Erika Moore writes that the poem’s use of military imagery in the domestic sphere
presents the godly wife as a spiritual heir of Israel’s ancient heros.
I add, that it elevates the domestic sphere to equality with quintessential “heroism“
Even our culture has not found a way to successfully do this
Feminism seeks equality through parity (behaving as men: soldiers…)
This insight is the proper way to frame this ideal woman: The godly wife
The point of the text is that she is virtuous because she is godly
This text lays out a wife’s responsibilities along 6 dimensions.
There is no way we can look at all 6. (As much as I would like to)
All of these are terribly misconstrued by Christianity and the World
The six dimensions are her responsibility to:
2) Her Husband
3) Her Children
4) Her Community
5) Her Business
We only have time to examine the first 2.
1) To God.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
30 Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
This is critically important.
Resolves conflicts of interest, abuses of power, confusion of emotions, etc
– Man wants something ungodly; demands inmoral, unreasonable;
she emotionally unsure of her ‘place’
Remember, your first responsibility is to God
And this is fitting. Jesus is the ideal man.
Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as “The women, God help us!” or “The ladies, God bless them!”; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no ax to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious [unembarrassed of them] . There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything “funny” about woman’s nature. — Dorothy Sayers, Are Women Human?
A godly husband will insist on a godly wife.
A godly man knows that his interests are best served when his wife first serves Lord
Like the widow of Zarephath’s son, as long as she served Elijah first he never lacked
This means you have a marital responsibility to be godly, spiritually minded,
knowledgeable of the Scriptures, given to prayer
For the world, religion is the pursuit of women.
For the church, Christianity is the domain of men.
But for the wise, Godliness is everyone’s first responsibility.
2) To Her Husband.
11. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
23. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
28. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Marriage is not something we do at the same time, it is what we do together.
Upon marriage, woman assumes a huge responsibility to her husband
Far beyond cooking, cleaning, sexual satisfaction, or rearing children
This barefoot… mindset is actually more denigrating of men than of women (!)
Not “poor male chauvinists…”
But, it is violently self-destructive. (Scorpion crossing river on back of the frog)
Me who demean wife like sailors firing cannons through hull of own ship
This mindset is ignorant of the deep impact that a woman choosing man has
The more competent the woman, the deeper his competency she can unlock
God buried key of man’s emotional, psychological, moral, metaphysical power
deep in his wife’s sphere of competency
This yearning, hunger, necessity to be chosen is visible everywhere
Evolutionary biologists and E. psychologists agree, but assign cause to Evol.
It is the underlying reality of the sexual dynamic in marriage
Man far more concerned with satisfying wife than himself (sexually)
Not uncommon for woman to fake sexual satisfaction, uncommon for man
Why would woman fake it? Why would man care? (When Harry Met Sally)
Because his sexual identity and fulfilment is bound to his wife’s approval
not his own satisfaction
It is a strong cause of men’s willingness to plunge into war.
“Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because they imagine it is the one thing that stops women laughing at them.” — John Fowles (novelist)
It is the first emotion we find in the first man. He was lonely.
This isn’t about sex, service, power, authority, etc.
It certainly is not misogyny.
In this corrupt version, it is infantile, tumorous, inordinate love of woman
A godly woman exercises her immense, unique power in identifying a man with the best combination of compatibility and potential and empowers him to fulfill his Divine design.
A godly woman stirs up in a man what God has poured into him.
In the text, the man’s honor, achievement, recognition, wealth, satisfaction, fulfillment are all directly tied to his wife’s godliness.
God first observed that it is not good for man to be alone.
A godly wife understands that she is responsible to do him good all the days of life
This language decimates quid pro quo, tit for tat, 50/50, etc.
The Port Arthur News, from February 1946. This was headed – “Meryll Frost – ‘Most courageous athlete of 1945′”:
“As he received his trophy, the plucky quarterback unfolded the story of how he ‘came back’. He said ‘They say behind every great man there’s a woman. While I’m not a great man, there’s a great woman behind me.'” [the origin of the ‘behind every great man…’ saying]
Women have central role in marriage and are critical to the success of their husband
There is no place for “the little woman” mindset in a Christian marriage.
(What I am about to say is going to be very offensive. I will try to say it as gently as I know how, which is to say… Sorry… probably not very gently at all.)
There is certainly some male guilt for this mindset
But ultimately, it is woman often conveniently thinks of herself as small
1) you married him. You chose. You are the chooser.
Your choice more significant and greater determining factor than his
2) Do you take advantage of the freedom of ‘not my responsibility’?!
“He makes the decision, if he’s wrong, that’s his problem”
“God won’t be mad at me, I just do what I’m told”
3) You coast by
Why are there so few truly knowledgeable women maximizing their gifts?
Where are the women prophets, teachers, evangelists?
The text holds up a much loftier ideal of what a godly woman is, how she lives.
This really is not offensive, is quite the opposite.
Jesus is taking you seriously, he made you in his image.
He has given you intelligence, authority, gift, and responsibility
This text is not meant to make you feel condemned nor vindicated.!
It is the ideal that all women should aspire to.
Some might be offended at some of the statements that are made in this text
Might think one can be just as virtuous even though they don’t have every quality
That is not true
The Bible presents God’s singular designs as the ideal.
We are not invited to ‘mix-n-match’ or ‘Frankenstein’ them
We are told that the closer we can get to that singular ideal, the better
Eph 4.11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
An ideal is very elevated by definition
Redefining that ideal might make someone feel better, but won’t actually make better
The ‘participation trophy’ age is total failure to understand the importance of ideals
By definition they are only useful if they are out of reach
As soon as you attain your ideal,
1) you realize it was insufficient
2) you search for the true ideal, that which cannot be attained
We don’t have superhero movies with heroes that we can all be
Fat-man or Mediocre-man, Barely-Getting-By-man, Show-Up-Late-man
Paul speaks of this when he wrote:
Php 3.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
So don’t allow yourself to resent or try to redefine this ideal
Courageously and recklessly stare into it, like if staring into the sun
Embrace the perfection of the ideal and acknowledge your imperfections
And appreciate that God is redefining you so that you will ultimately be ideal
This is the ideal woman,
since it reflects the spiritual reality that marriage was designed to model
It is the ideal Christian.
One commentator’s observation is that this poem must be a personification of Wisdom herself, because if an actual wife were everything this depicts,
the husband would be left with nothing to do! (McCreesh)
Tweet: My wife worked a 12 hour shift last night and then came home and shoveled the snow out of the driveway… I will make her some breakfast.
What we should be as humans is this ideal. And if we actually were everything we should be and nothing that we shouldn’t be, then we would not need Christ, the husband.
Gal 2.21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
The Gospel is the message that connects this ideal person with actual person as depicted by the pubescent waif of Ezequiel 16
By the Gospel, we become the ideal person
because the lover of our souls, Christ, makes us righteousness itself
What does Christ do?
Christ makes us this splendid, beautiful, productive, fulfilled, accomplished,
He doesn’t make us a kept woman, a gold-digger, a spoiled trophy wife…
He makes us someone who, if you didn’t know our past and our inner self,
you would think had earned their place by his side.
But we know.
We know we haven’t earned anything,
our righteousness and accomplishments are received, not achieved.
Grace not works.