Friday, April 25, 2014

Proverbs 31 Feminist Woman

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies...

I have come to the conclusion that Proverbs 31 is the most feminist chapter of the Bible. Whenever an attempt is made to defend traditional family roles for men and women, somebody somewhere is bound to produce it as the ultimate proof that it's OK for a Christian woman to have a career. Because the Proverbs 31 woman buys a field and makes fine linen and sells it and delivers girdles to the merchants. This is the argument in a nutshell.

I have noticed that for feminists it's always about money. Proverbs 31 woman did a lot of things. For instance, she made herself clothes (coverings of tapestry), but feminists don't run to their husbands demanding that the husbands buy them sewing machines. They don't use the chapter as the proof that a lady should make her own clothes or learn how to spin, or work in the garden the whole day.

Proverbs 31 woman was obviously a wealthy woman. She had servants (gave a portion to her maidens). Yet I have never heard this chapter used as a proof that every married woman should be able to hire domestic help. By some reason, only the money-related activities described in Proverbs 31 attract so much attention. Let's look at them more closely.

So Proverbs 31 lady considereth a field and buyeth it. How does it make her a career woman? Did she do real estate? Was she in a habit of buying fields? How often did she do it? How big exactly was this field? May be, it was just a small piece of land. May be, it was normal for women of her social class to make such purchases, just as nowadays women will often buy new furniture for their household and the like. I fail to see what buying a field has to do with working outside home (the fact that she planted a vineyard doesn't prove it, either, otherwise every housewife with a garden should be called a career woman).

So the only things we have left are making and selling of linen and delivering of girdles to the merchant. First, let's talk about those girdles. The lady in question delivered them to the merchant, but didn't go out and sit in the shop the whole day. We also don't know whether she made those girdles herself or may be her servants did. We do know that she made and sold fine linen, though. She did it while staying home, so the one thing we can deduce from it, is that it's OK to have some sort of a home business.

The fact that Proverbs 31 woman had a home business hardly can be used to justify working outside home, imo, and that's exactly how this chapter is used. (It's interesting, that Proverbs 7 describes a harlot as a woman whose feet "abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets...").

Further on, Proverbs 31 lady having a home business means that it's OK to make and sell stuff from home (I'm, for instance, trying to sell my book), but it doesn't make it mandatory for women to earn or help earn an income. The book of Proverbs is after all in the Old Testament. OT is important, but we as Christians live under the New Covenant. While the moral laws such as the Ten Commandments are still valid for us today, we don't follow the Hebrew dietary prescriptions, e.g.

The Christian teaching about the role of women is summed up in 1 Timothy 5 and Titus 2:

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

and That they (aged women) may teach the young women to discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands that the word of God be not blasphemed. 

I very much doubt that the ladies who insist that it's OK to have a career because Proverbs 31 woman bought a field, would be thrilled if their husbands came home one day and announced that they were taking another wife. After all, polygamy is in the Bible, too! It's evident that they just pick and choose the verses they like, while totally disregarding the context in which they were written.

Women throughout the ages used to participate in the market to a certain degree. There is nothing wrong with it, however, the traditional breadwinner role belongs to the man. Man makes a living, woman makes life worth living. Don't let Proverbs 31 feminists  intimidate you.


  1. The Proverbs 31 description of a worthy woman was never a law, and none of the description of her was ever a command. It was someone describing what would be an ideal wife for her son. It described a woman who thought carefully about the purchases she made, just like any good wife would. It was about how the ideal wife would make sure the house was cared for and the children taught properly, just what many homemakers strive for. I see even preachers trying to make women believe it teaches about a career woman and of course the focus is always money. But what about the other verses, such as "the teaching of kindness is on her tongue?" Why don't women ask how they can do that? Or, what about seeking her food from afar? Why don't women ask how they can buy the absolute freshest food and be willing to go a distance to get it? Instead, the emphasis is always on the buying and the selling verses, (only mentioned once each) while the other virtues are forgotten.

  2. Feminists will go to ridiculous lengths to prove that everybody back then was a feminist, too. For instance, I'm now reading a book about the history of England and the author states that the wife of Simon de Monfort must have been a feminist because there is a record that she (once) bought her beer from a female brewster. Well, may be, this person was the only one who sold beer in her neighbourhood! May be, she offered her a huge discount. It's like saying that Jeanne D'Ark proves it was normal to have women soldiers. They always go with exceptions while ignoring the rule.

  3. Talking about the Old Testament, being a housewife must have been crucial, because losing the faith in the only God of Israel was a real threat. Hebrews used to live in the middle of several peoples and without housewives to teach children what was good and bad losing one's life could have happened as the laws were very harsh and punitive. Imagine a housewife with 3 daughters, how could she have taught them how to live like faithful women in order to find good husbands and keep their homes and families safe if they had wasted their time outside the home? At that time speaking disrespectful about one's parents was a deadly sin, punished with death. How could a married man in the OT allow his wife or wives to live in a feminist way? Wives used to call their husbands "master" in those remote times, Sarah was a such an example, but men used to defend their legitimate wives and Abraham listened to Sarah's advice with much consideration and never despised her word in the household, were a wife's word should be considered. Feminists seem to claim that women were a separate entity in the Old Testament society, which is not true, because men used to rule over women, as God had told Adam and Eve. In our Orthodox faith, man and women are of equal value, due to Christ redeeming us and making us members of His bride, the Church, but women obey their husbands as the Church obeys Christ, because men are called to provide and sacrifice themselves as Christ for the Church. The woman is given a decent role in the family and a godly model to look up to. Very few women accept any obedience principle in marriage because feminism is an idol, a god of modern marriage. Feminism is not sustainable, it is a strategy used to undermine societies and divide them through family dissolution.

  4. Preoteasa, I hope you don't mind that I deleted the double comment. As for marital obedience, our church teaches it, in fact, I once heard a sermon where the preacher basically said that wives who don't obey their husbands end up in Hell.

    Feminists always speak out of the both sides of their mouth, first they claim that women in the OT times had no rights and were not much better than slaves but then turn around and say that they all had careers and stuff. I guess it's convenient to claim that something is both black and white at the same time.

  5. Sorry for the double comment, I didn't notice. In our country there still exists a patriarchal left-over in families meaning that women take care of the household but men don't seem to understand patriarchy correctly. It is not feminine obedience that should keep them busy, but masculine efforts and care giving. But gender roles are quite messed up here, women in their 30s live a paradox, they want a patriarchal husband to offer them comfort and money, but they want to have feminist rights and take decisions without asking their husband's opinion. I know such a relative who earns twice her husband but feels frustrated because her husband doesn't earn more although they have enough money and she has enough freedom. It's a strange feeling that feminists live with, they are not content with feminism but they don't trust any form of patriarchy because they think it's humiliating and against women. How sad! We need fresh generations of true Christian value to set doable examples and secure paths to walk. we should turn back to the first centuries of Christianity and see ho families lived, how men and women were like. All what we were taught in school was that 2000 years ago women had no acces to education and that they were condemned to giving birth and cooking. Why don't we trust the Apostles who lived with Christ and learned from Him what is good? We should make deep roots in those times, because nowadays we cannot understand God's will just looking at what others do, everything is altered and modified according to a despicable form of society, a world made by man, a man-centered world. We should live in a world governed by God-shaped values.

  6. One thing progressives don't understand is that we live in the times of historically unprecedented material abundance and can afford ourselves the luxury to keep both boys and girls at school for 14+ years. 2000 years ago life was about survival for a lot of people, however, in Christianity women were always given a choice to join a convent where they could spend their life doing something else than giving birth. Strangely, many women chose to marry and being stuck in the kitchen taking care of the kids. It's almost as if they were biologically programmed or something:)

  7. But I agree that a lot of modern men don't understand patriarchy, they seem to think patriarchy means rights for men, duties for women, including the duty to earn the living. Sounds like male version of feminism.

  8. Hello, This is a very good point you have made. Being a keeper of my home has been a joy. I did work before my marriage and for a short time after my children were born.
    We had moved to a new state and were brand new Christians we did not and would not leave are children with strangers. But as soon as my husband found full time employment, I came home and have been doing just what the scriptures teach.
    Now I am the older woman hoping to impart guidance. I believe we must meet each situation with grace without wavering from the biblical truth!
    I also love Lady Lydia's words of wisdom and teachings!
    Blessings, Roxy

  9. Thank you for your comment and welcome to the blog!

  10. I've totally said that if people are going to invoke the Proverbs 31 woman, they should support housewives having household help. Housewives having help from other women (paid, relatives, or fellow housewives/neighbors) being normal is a big part of what I blog about, because the housewives I know are so utterly worn down and isolated from anyone except through the internet and church (if they can get to it with the 2-5 children under age 10 and often under age 5 underfoot). They can't be anchors in the community due to the sheer overwork.

    I'm American and conservative Christian, though. From what I understand it is very different being a housewife in the rest of the world and in America, very different for the housewives from Latin and Asian cultures and a handful of other ones that aren't mainstream.

  11. If they can afford it, why not?