Ah, Mother’s Day. Already, you find blog posts about the best Mother’s Day gift ideas for this year. Moreover, plenty of religious folks start mentioning the Proverbs 31 woman. But there’s a problem.
Mother’s Day celebrates moms. By extension, it reminds us of the importance that these influencers have in our lives. In a fell swoop, sermons mentioning the Proverbs 31 woman have begun cropping up for Mother’s Day, too. The message seems apropos. Or does it?
The Perfect Mother?
We’ve all heard our share of these sermons. Moreover, if we’re really honest about it, some made us cringe. The woman of Proverbs 31 is, well, perfect. She runs a business, invests her money in real estate, and sets up a vineyard. She also sews her family’s clothes, cooks, and takes care of the poor. She speaks only kind and wise words, and her family praises her.
The Real Mom
There’s a bunch of Pinterest moms out there who bake beautifully, cook, sew, and garden. However, for every one of them, there’s the pizza-from-the-takeout, running-late-for-school, where’s-your-permission-slip, was-that-today kind of mom. Wisdom and gentle words may be in short supply at times. Is the Proverbs 31 passage a reminder that they don’t measure up? Many have taken it to mean that – hence the cringing.
A Fresh Look at Proverbs 31
This proverb comes from King Lemuel’s mom. Some say she’s setting the standard for her daughter in law. Others point to a standard literary device, chiastic structure, to read the book’s last chapter with an understanding that it completes the first chapter, in which wisdom was imbued with female characteristics.
Without going into the weeds, there’s probably also a much more straightforward explanation. Proverbs 31 doesn’t describe a real woman. It doesn’t set a standard. It’s not a competition. Instead, it exemplifies how living out a life devoted to God brings tangible results. For example, she lives out the scripture that a wife must respect her husband, which results in verses 11 through 12.
In many ways, our decision to hold on to scripture and do what it says has a direct impact on who we are at home with the husband and kids. It influences the way we handle family finances. From this vantage point, Proverbs 31 is a promise, not a measuring stick.
Nothing cringe-worthy about that, is there?