An honest look at the (shudder) Proverbs 31 woman
I recently sat down and wrote a guest post for my friend Melissa’s blog, Compassionate Odyssey. (You’ll see that up there after her new series launches in January!) In the post, I mentioned how there is so much pressure on young Christian women to be the perfect “P31” (Proverbs 31 woman). The pressure is often applied by well-meaning older Christian women in the hopes that once we young’ns achieve the level of godliness that this lady reached, our Boaz is going to come snatch us up. (In case you’re not familiar with the story, Boaz is the love interest of the book of Ruth who is super godly and awesome. Our college girls’ Bible study calls him the George Clooney of the Bible.) They’re doing it “for our own good.” But there are a few things that I find wrong with this mentality:
- The P31 was a hypothetical person. King Lemuel’s mother gave him a list of attributes of a good woman, and that’s what we get in Proverbs 31. (Although there is some debate about whether or not Lemuel wrote the second half of the chapter, which is where we find the Proverbs 31 woman, to be fair. In any case, she’s still hypothetical!) So basically, holding a real woman to that list as a standard is incredibly unfair. If you’re the one being held to it, it’s just plain discouraging! The Proverbs 31 woman isn’t meant to be a standard that we’re all supposed to fit; it’s a list of things that are desirable for a person (not exclusively a woman, either!) to embody. It’s not like you’re disqualified from being a godly woman if you don’t meet every single one. They’re things for us to be striving for, but it’s important to remember that we might not (read: probably won’t) ever meet every. single. one. Rest assured, friend: you are not a failure as a woman if you don’t get up before dawn and sew clothes for your family. I promise.
- Our desire to become more godly should never, ever come from a place of trying to find a spouse or earn human approval of any kind. Our motivator should not be, “So-and-so is going to love me/think I’m so holy if I (fill in the blank with whatever “holy” thing you want)!” Finding a husband might be a side-effect of becoming more godly, and that’s awesome, but it shouldn’t be the goal. If your heart isn’t in the right place, I might even say that you aren’t actually becoming godlier. You’re just putting on a darn good show. If you want to be godlier, do it for the reason that we are called to be as like Christ as possible (1 Peter 1:15), not for the fact that you might score a hottie out of it.
With all that in mind, I want to take an honest look at the Proverbs 31 woman. Hold on tight, ladies, because this might be a little scary at first. But hey, we’re in this together, and I think you’ll see that it’s a lot less intimidating and/or discouraging than it might seem on the surface. (I’m not P31-bashing with this post, either! I think she’s great when she’s interpreted correctly!) So if you’re brave enough, click through, and we’ll read Proverbs 31:10-31 together and talk a little more in-depth about what being a P31 really entails… It’s more doable than you probably expect!
(P.S. This post is not just for the ladies! The qualities that the Proverbs 31 woman embodies are great for men and women alike to have. So read on!)