Proverbs 31: A Marriage Material Poster Girl?

Ah, Christian TikTok. It has been an amazing tool for getting the gospel out during the pandemic, with people across the world coming to the knowledge of Christ from simple short videos. I do love what is being done with that platform. However, there is also the concerning side where our insecurities, desires and the like seep through the screen from time to time. 

A product of this is “Proverbs 31 Summer”. 

It’s meant to be the Christian replacement for hot girl summer and is of course a healthy replacement at that, but from time to time I see someone embarking on their Proverbs 31 Summer with some questionable intentions. Don’t get me wrong – finding a partner is good and if you can find one by the end of this summer that’s amazing and I wish you all the best. But let’s not limit the word of God to a manual for being a desirable Christian woman. It is so much more than that. Yahweh is so much more deep than that. 

So when I see Christian women reading Proverbs 31 with the sole intention of being marriage material, my heart grows sad. I think that Proverbs 31 gets brushed off as a criteria for Christian women who want to be married too often when it is an awesome chapter not only for the qualities highlighted that make a good spouse, but the qualities highlighted that make us as women better. I want to remind you that we aren’t just made to be spouses and some of us may not be made to be spouses at all; first and foremost you were made by God for God (Colossians 1:16). You were made to worship Him and do His work on the Earth. We are called to steward His Earth and make beautiful things of the resources He has given.

I personally don’t even think that the passage is as much about marriage or courting as we think it is. When we centre it around what Christian men want we make this role model woman an object or a passive participant in what is meant to be about her. The whole point is that she is doing what she does best and a man looking for a wife or a husband who is fortunate enough to be married to her should cherish her qualities. Not once in the passage are we told that she takes up these qualities to find a man or to be pleasing to her husband – she inherently is all of these things and those around her simply marvel at her character. So, I’m going to break down ways that the qualities listed in the chapter are applicable to serving God and being molded to be more like Christ. 

“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands.” (Proverbs 31:13)

Let’s focus on her willing hands here – if we wanna be her we need to want to get down and dirty for the Kingdom. We need to want to be an extra pair of hands on tasks that we sometimes don’t want to do.  Of course, saying no is not a sin and I can assure you that you are no less of a Proverbs 31 woman for using that word. But we all get those little tugs at the heart from the Holy Spirit when someone needs help with something and we’re available but don’t really want to do it. Sometimes we aren’t skilled in that area, but if the Holy Spirit is calling, sometimes the only thing that makes us suitable for the task is that we are available. Let’s not assume that He won’t equip or empower us to do the job properly. 

“She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.” (Proverbs 31:18)

We also need to be a pair of hands in the tasks that we know God has gifted us to do but that we tend to shy away from because we think that we aren’t good at them. Remember that we are called to steward our gifts to the benefit of others and to God’s glory (1 Peter 4:10).  

This one caught me because a lot of the time we (myself included) can doubt our craft (especially in a day and age where we look to social media to affirm the fruit of our hands and tell us that our business is great or our posts are interesting etc.) If we want to be her we have to KNOW that what we produce with the resources that God has blessed us with are good. We don’t need external validation – we know that so long as God is pleased with us and we are doing His work that we are profiting. Start seeing joy in the Lord as profit and stop undermining the skills He has given you – when you do that, you aren’t undermining yourself but you are undermining God’s power to shape you as an individual.

“Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” (Proverbs 31:23)

Despite not wanting to centre this passage around marriage I picked out this verse because I think it gives an important point. The Proverbs 31 woman does not leech onto a man in marriage to elevate herself or to gain status, but is respected and thought of so highly that people recognise and elevate her husband because of her character even in what was and still is a patriarchal society. Yes, a husband can make you more respected in our patriarchal society if he is a somebody but you (yes you) can be a somebody and are a somebody even if you aren’t an extremely rich philanthropist with your own start up. Do you know why? Because you are made in the image and likeness of God and deserve to be treated with respect simply because you exist. But let that existence count for something through the pursuit of what is eternal. Please. 

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:26)

This woman is wise. She doesn’t just sit on her knowledge to feel above everyone else – she disperses her knowledge and applies it in her everyday life and teaches and applies kindness. Because of this she is lifted up by everyone who has benefitted from that knowledge. She doesn’t feel the need to brag about her knowledge, gate keep knowledge or show for what she knows because her works praise her (Proverbs 31:31). And I think that is so important in a culture where we pride ourselves in being highly educated and knowing more than each other. If we’re going to be her we need to let our fruits and what others see of us be telling of who we are. Be it job applications, giving advice to a friend, making a decision in your day or just answering a question, it’s crucial to apply wisdom with kindness. It’s crucial to think about where our knowledge actually has some sort of function because we really do ourselves an injustice when we spout out knowledge without reason or with spiteful intentions. Sometimes our own knowledge can be weaponised against us. 

Don’t arrive at the end of Proverbs 31 Summer asking yourself “what do Christian guys think of me now?” Get to the end of the summer and ask yourself “What does God think of me?”

His thoughts concerning you are consistent from the day that Christ shed His blood for you, but there is joy in seeing you grow in that sacrifice. And remember that grace is God’s ultimate gift to you but what you become on the other side of grace is your ultimate gift to Him. 

-Pepper 

2 Comments

  1. Esther Arthur

    Beautiful observation,
    Even in context of how patriarchal the social system was, the standard and worth placed on women was down to the low, the description of a woman in proverbs is more so, Gods perspective on whom a woman is as he has created! besides the social norms of the time. So who ever ‘finds a wife finds a good thing’ because he can find what is of God if he is of God!

    Liked by 1 person

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