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The Virtuous Wife of Proverbs 31

Proverbs 31 contains the Virtuous Wife passage describing the ideal woman. While it instructs wives, there's plenty of encouragement for husbands too!

Proverbs 31 contains what is commonly known as the Virtuous Wife passage. One might say it’s about the ideal woman. While the verses are typically thought to instruct wives, there’s plenty of encouragement for husbands too!

The Virtuous Wife’s Treatment of Her Husband

Proverbs 31:11-12—The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.

He trusts her in more ways than one. He knows she is hardworking and does not need someone standing over her shoulder ensuring she is making good use of her time or the family’s finances. She is not like women who might spend hours on the phone, the Internet, or in front of the television. He also trusts her faithfulness to him, knowing she is the opposite of the adulterous wife in Proverbs 7:10–23 who entices the foolish young man with the temptation: “For my husband is not at home.” He has “no lack of gain” because as his helper she works hard to “[do] him good.” The rest of the passage elaborates on the ways the Virtuous Wife cares for her family and others.

The Virtuous Wife’s Job Description

Proverbs 31:13-16—She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands. She is like the merchant ships bringing her food from afar. Also, she rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants. She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.

Interestingly, this passage was written at a time when women were not only legal possessions of men but their sphere of influence traditionally did not extend beyond the home and raising children. So what this passage includes as attributes of the “perfect woman” stands out in even starker contrast to what one might consider a stereotype of the biblical wife.

Notice she gathers the materials to take care of her family. She is diligent with her hands and travels to secure the best food for her loved ones. Her hardworking nature is shown in the way she gets up before dawn to have food prepared not just for her family but also for the servants. She is industrious and resourceful as she buys a field and then reinvests the profits to make more money for her family. This is important because it shows that women can also engage in work that provides for their families financially. Men are not the only ones who can make money.

The Virtuous Wife Takes Care of Her Family, the Poor, and Herself

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5 reasons Deborah supports male leadership

Deborah was a judge. Does her position support female leadership? There are actually a number of reasons she supports God's pattern of male leadership.

Judges were Israel’s primary rulers for almost three-and-a-half centuries. They also commanded armies, making them some of Scripture’s strongest leaders. So why did Deborah serve as judge? Her position is often the first mentioned to support female leadership. Does she conflict with God’s pattern of male leadership? Let’s take a look!

1. There’s no mention of Deborah being appointed by God

Throughout the book of Judges, as men rise to leadership, verses identify them as chosen or empowered by God:

  • Judges 3:9—The Lord raised up a deliverer . . . Othniel.
  • Judges 3:15—The Lord raised up a deliverer . . . Ehud.
  • Judges 6:14—The Lord [said to Gideon], “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel . . . Have I not sent you?”
  • Judges 11:29—The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah.
  • Judges 13:24–25—Samson . . . grew and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move upon him.

But with Deborah there is no recognition of God’s appointing. Judges 4:4 simply says, “Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time.” Her introduction emphasizes that she is female, but in a negative light. Wayne Grudem, co-founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, explains in Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (p. 134):

Judges 4:4 suggests some amazement at the unusual nature of the situation in which a woman actually has to judge Israel, because it piles up a string of redundant words to emphasize that Deborah is a woman. Translating the Hebrew text literally, the verse says, ‘And Deborah, a woman, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she was judging Israel at the time.’ Something is abnormal, something is wrong—there are no men to function as judge! This impression is confirmed when we read of Barak’s timidity and the rebuke he receives as well as the loss of glory he could have received.

2. Deborah’s ministry was private versus public

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Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism

What is complementarianism? Egalitarianism? The Bible is clear about these two views of men's and women's roles. One is biblical and the other is not.

What is complementarianism? Egalitarianism? Is one biblical? Unbiblical? Read on!

God created Eve because He wanted Adam to have “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word for “comparable” is neged. Other translations say:

  • NASB & NIV—“suitable for him”
  • ESV—“fit for him”
  • HCSB—“his complement”

The literal translation actually means “opposite or contrasting.” Men and women were designed to fit in all ways. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When a husband and wife become one flesh at their wedding, they perfectly complement each other. Together, they become something stronger and more magnificent than they could be alone. The strengths of each compensate for the weaknesses of the other:

  • When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
  • When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.

We should give thanks to God for His wonderful design and do everything we can to fulfill the roles He has given us as husband and wife. One of the best ways to do this is by embracing the different roles and responsibilities He gave men and women.

What is egalitarianism?

Egalitarianism is the rejection of the different roles and responsibilities. Egalitarians believe God does not have separate and distinct plans for men and women. They see them interchangeably. Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.

The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Using the verse to support egalitarianism takes it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the genders. Continue reading Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism