Proverbs 31 and Grasping at Biblical Womanhood: Kelsey Hamilton
So what really is biblical womanhood anyways?
This question has plagued me for a while. Surely it can’t just be a “godly” level of home decor and heart healthy meals. That’s not all a biblical woman is, right?
My confusion, and to be honest frustration, led me to Proverbs 31, the iconic passage describing a godly woman. Ladies, it feels like we are constantly encouraged to be “a Proverbs 31 woman,” but what does she look like in our day and age?
From my understanding of this passage, a godly woman is a force to be reckoned with. We see that she isn’t necessarily some meek and mild, “barefoot and pregnant” type. She’s active, both inside and outside the home. She’s business savvy. She plans. Her family won’t freeze this winter because she thought ahead and ran out to Old Navy to get plenty of thermals and cozy socks, loosely translated from verse 21. We see in verse 26 that she is wise, and loving instruction pours forth from her speech. Verse 27 says that she isn’t idle. She’s always up to something, in a good way. We also see that her children and husband call her a blessing. This image of a godly woman is one that makes me feel wholly inadequate and, honestly, pretty lazy in comparison.
So what does this look like today? Well, I think that we often get caught up in confusing biblical womanhood with the God-given requirements for a godly wife and mother. While some women are wives and moms, not all will be. And for those who are wives or moms, their identity and responsibilities extend beyond just those roles. How can we apply this passage to womanhood as a whole, regardless of individual family circumstances?
I think the first quality we see that’s universal to every woman, regardless of her marital status or family structure, is passion. Whether she works or stays home or studies, she is passionate and driven in all her endeavors. We as women can be very passionate, and personally, I find that my passion and drive often veers away from kingdom related pursuits and towards self-centered ones. My drive for studying ministry can be twisted into a pursuit of knowledge apart from truly knowing God and seeking my own glory over His.
Another characteristic of a godly woman is intentionality. Not all women (or people in general) are planners or Type A organizers. But we do see that a godly woman exhibits intentionality in her pursuits. This goes back to being passionate and genuinely caring deeply for the avenues of ministry the Lord has placed you in. During seminary, this can mean being deliberate in studying and seeking to grow in maturity as you grow in knowledge. It could also mean exhibiting intentionality in discipling and being discipled during this season of life.
Finally, I think we see that a godly woman exudes wisdom. The book of Proverbs is part of the wisdom writings in Scripture, so it has a lot to say about growing in wisdom, not just knowledge. So we see that the godly woman provides loving instruction and wisdom in her pursuits. Side note: loving instruction sometimes is a contradictory statement in my life, and it shouldn’t be. So I have to ask myself, “Am I leading and teaching others in a way that is loving and Christ-focused? Does my speech drip with wisdom from the Lord or anecdotes from my personal experiences?”
Ultimately, the Bible has something to say about biblical womanhood, as well as biblical wifehood and biblical motherhood. Unfortunately, I think we often make single or childless women feel like “the other” by equating biblical mandates for wives and mothers with the expectations for all women, regardless of their circumstances or roles. At the same time, we can make wives and moms feel that these roles become their sole identity. This is simply an area where we need to continue balancing our perspectives with those of our sisters in Christ of different backgrounds.
So, to my sisters who are single, you are complete in Christ and do not need a husband in order to be a godly woman. To my sisters who are not mothers, you are not less because the Lord has not provided that blessing for you. To wives and moms, keep fulfilling your roles as God intended them and know that the high calling of motherhood and wifehood is one to be stewarded for Christ’s glory. Let us be women who are passionate, intentional, and wise for the sake of the kingdom.