Saturday, May 12, 2007

Complementarian Perspective on the Proverbs 31 Woman

Complementarians see the Proverbs 31 woman as a woman who is selfless, devoted to domestic chores, and one who supports her husband’s leadership in the town. George Knight is quick to point out that Proverbs 31:10-31 shows a wife and mother who supports the family beyond the domesticated chores. Since Scripture interprets Scripture, these verses do not contradict what the apostle Paul states in the New Testament. Additionally, we must see the emphasis on the home as the very point of the Proverbs passage. Knight affirms that the woman in Proverbs works to care for her family and to fulfill her responsibility to her family (c.f. e.g., verses 21, and 27). She does this not only “for her children but also to support her husband’s leadership role in the community” (verse 23). [1] She supported her husband’s leadership. This woman wants the best for her family. The key questions a wife should ask when deciding on rather or not to work outside the home is: is it beneficial to her family, foes it aid in her husband’s calling? Can she do it while still being faithful to her primary calling to be a wife and mother and to care for her home? The proverbs women did not seek to find herself, yet her desire was to serve her family. In the end, she receives praise from her family (verses 28, 29), and “recognition for her labors (verse 31) because she has conducted the whole endeavor in obedience to the Lord she reverences” (verse 30). [2] Her heart motive is to serve her family, and she has her family’s interests above her own. She is being obedient to the Lord and trusting him.

Dorothy Patterson continues Knight’s observations on the Proverbs 31 woman by stating that there is no mention of rights (contrary to Bilezikian’s argument) or pursuit of self-serving interest neither is their any mention of the husband assigned to “domestic pursuits.”[3] In fact, his occupation with other task is clearly states, “Her husband has full confidence in her . . . Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:11, 23). In conclusion, God’s ideal wife is one who is a “committed homemaker, chaste helpmeet, upright and God-fearing woman of strength.”[4] All women can strive after this woman of strength by striving for spiritual excellence and fearing the Lord.

[1] George W. Knight III, “The Family and the Church: How Should Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Work Out in Practice?” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 348.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Dorothy Patterson, “The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective,” in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 367.

[4] Ibid.


Caitlin P said...

Wow, thank you for posting this. It is radically opposite of what we hear day in and day out (especially in feminist Germany). Thank you for reminding me of this.
I am dying to go back to school and get a Masters' and we are waiting until we move to England in a year. What do you think about going to school when you have a baby? I would apply the same questions that you wrote about a woman who wants to work outside the home, but now that you have an 8 month old, would you go back to school if given the opportunity?

Emily Wallace said...

Wow, Caitlin that is a tough one. I think for me personally, if at all possible I think it is best to stay home the first year. I really do not know how I would get it all done if I was working full time right now. Until they can at least hold their own bottle and feed themselves I really think they need 1 on 1 attention. Now, if you are going to school part time that is a whole other issue---I think you can do it. It is really an individual decision that only you are going to have to live with this day after day. I think until all your little ones are in school all day, it is best for the mom to stay home if at all possible. But, a lot of people nowadays would say that I am not sacrificing anything, but in reality, I am sacrificing everything.

In the book of Titus, Paul tells women to be busy at home so that the Word of God will not be blasphemed. Wow, I am still working through that one. In reality, we cannot have it all. I do not want to look back and say “if only I was there for Jackson”. He only has one first step, one first word. I feel like for me, I have always wanted to be a wife and mom first, but now I am saying that is not good enough and that I have to have more…..For women who do not have children I think it is great for them to work hard outside the home, but once God gives you the tremendous responsibility of raising a child, your priorities and time need to be to God, your husband, children, and then worry about other things. I want Charlie and me to be the ones to raise Jackson, not anyone else and I am willing to sacrifice anything for that. I do plan on working full time probably teaching at a Christian school once all my little ones are in school all day.

Ultimately, I do not judge any women for whatever choice she makes, it is her life and she can influence people for Jesus in many different ways.

Caitlin P said...

Thank you, Emily, for your insight! I will definitely stay the first year at home with our baby. If I could, I would do Liberty's online courses because they are challenging and I could do them in my own time when the baby is sleeping or whatever. We will have to see. If I did go to school, it would be another year and a half. It is all where our priorities lie---with myself or with my family? Can I go to school and give enough time to my husband and child? I don't know what I will do, we'll have to see. It is just a long way off and ARtur and I are still praying over things. Thank you!