Oh Be Careful What You Preach
by Sara Horn
Yesterday was Sunday.
Our pastor started a new sermon series on the family. We missed the first sermon last week, but we were there yesterday for the second. The first week was “Dads Matter More than Anything.” This week’s was titled “Moms Matter Just as Much.”
Good to know.
As the pastor got started, I pulled out my Bible and my notebook, all ready to take notes. But then he said something that made my stomach churn. My hands instinctively made fists. My eyebrows furrowed.
The biblical passage he was speaking from was Proverbs 31.
Of course, I muttered to myself, turning to the passage I revere and fear at the same time.
The Proverbs 31 wife and I don’t get along very well. I don’t appreciate how bad she makes me look. I don’t like the guilt I feel when I see her. If she is the standard all Christian wives should work toward, then I’m in serious trouble. If she’s the equivalent of Miss America, then I’m a whole lot more like Lucille Ball. I have a lot of explaining to do for why I’m not more like Miss America. And I’m not really sure I can.
The pastor started making his points:
An Excellent Wife Is a Rare Find (v. 10).An Excellent Wife Can Be Trusted in Every Way (vv. 11-12).An Excellent Wife Is Concerned for Others (v. 20).An Excellent Wife Is Strong and Stable (v. 25).
And so it went.
I stopped taking notes at “An Excellent Wife Is a Tireless Worker.”
My husband glanced over at me when he heard my notebook snap shut. He knows that’s never a good sign. Neither was the steam coming out of my ears and the laser stare in my eyes. He started looking for the exits, just in case.
I don’t like it when men tell women what will make us excellent. I don’t consider myself a feminist at all, but I just don’t think men can possibly understand the woman any more than we can understand the man. That’s why Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus was written. Eve may have been formed from the man’s rib, but she definitely had a mind of her own. And maybe, just maybe, if Adam had taken more time to understand her, the whole scene with the apple and the garden might have gone a lot better. Just sayin’.
Part of my struggle with the treatment of the fairer sex comes from the attitudes I’ve witnessed through the church denomination I’ve partly grown up and worked in. I agree with a lot that my denomination stands for. But when it comes to the treatment and attitudes about the service of women in the church, it often leaves me with the same feeling I get when I hear fingernails scratch down a chalkboard.
What I don’t understand is why there’s this 21-verse list of what the perfect wife is and not at least a Top 10 of what makes a perfect husband. I raised this question once on Facebook, and a guy I know who is deep into seminary classes pointed out that Ephesians 5:25-28 is an all-encompassing directive for husbands. See what you think:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Really? That’s great. Husbands are told to love their wives as they love themselves, and wives are given a laundry list of ways to show our love (just in case we might get confused and think the husband, as part of his love, might also “get up while it’s still dark and provide food” for his family). Husbands—you show love. Wives—get to cookin’.
Back to my stewing. I sat, listening to our pastor as he continued to speak on all the things that make an excellent wife, from the example of the Proverbs 31 superwoman:
I kept reading this passage, over and over, the successes of this great wifely role model taunting me more than encouraging me, my very being wilting and shrinking as I sat there, no comparison to this giant of an example. I was waiting, for what, I didn’t know. Waiting for something—a bright glimmer, anything that my pastor might say to give all the wives sitting in the audience, or maybe just me, some hope. He didn’t let me down. His last point was the same point I have made in the past: The Proverbs 31 woman’s most important task is to fear the Lord (v. 30).
My breathing relaxed a little. This, after all, was something I understood. Of course, I want to be a better wife and homemaker. I want to be a better woman in general. But my greatest desire is to be closer to God as his daughter. I want that close, incredible relationship with him.
Wouldn’t it be great if you COULD be like the Proverbs 31 wife—if you were praying and reading the Bible and really staying in touch with God every day? Couldn’t God help you do it all?
But then I got a crazy idea. Why can’t I be more like the Proverbs 31 wife? What would it be like to try and actually follow the example of this woman so many hold in such esteem?
I definitely had some things to think about.
Taken from: My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife. Copyright © 2011 by Sara Horn. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.
For more from Sara Horn, visit your local Christian bookstore for a copy of My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife. This thought-provoking, surprising and entertaining personal account will inspire women to try their own experiments in living out God’s purpose for their lives.