I am reading Rachel Held Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I recommend it. Rachel spent a year trying to live a close to a model of Biblical womanhood as she could in order to see both what it was like and how close it came to what Christians define as “womanhood.” Could it be that what God wants and what (evangelical) Christians want are not the same? It turns out that they may not be the same.
Often, we take our own values and project them onto God and the Bible. God say little about abortion, gays or prayer in public school but a whole lot about help for the poor, giving thanks, and taking time off to rest and listen (to ourselves and God.)
One chapter that I found enlightening was the one on a Proverbs 31 woman. For those who don’t know, this has become an evangelical blueprint for a submissive, stay beautiful at all costs, stay at home woman among other things. There is nothing wrong with these traits (men seem to get a bye on these) but there is more to the story as Rachel learned from a practicing Jewish friend.
Her friend told her that a Proverbs 31 woman is not a woman’s laundry list of things she must do. Rather, it is the bragging list of a man who thinks he is pretty lucky to have a woman, a woman of valor.
"…She invests herself with strength… she opens her hand to the poor and reaches out to the needy…she is robed in strength and dignity and she smiles at the future…give her credit for the fruit of her labor and let her achievements praise her at the gates." (Proverbs 31: 10-31)
Valor: strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness: personal bravery.
If you are a woman, realize God finds your beauty in your strength to face the day in trust in him and not in your physical appearance or occupation or submissiveness. If you are a man, lift up the women of valor in your life as high as God does.