“Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.” –Proverbs 31:25
The description of ‘strength and honor’ calls to mind a legion of battle hardened Roman soldiers, trained from youth in the art of war. These are the sort of men whose strength of heart would allow them to advance against an army of barbarians waiting to dismember them with sharpened blades, while at the same time bonded to one another with a sense of loyalty and brotherhood. It is this sense of honor that would allow them to take the blades of an advancing enemy instead of breaking rank and risking the lives of those behind them. This is the sort of man that every boy aspires to become – and yet the Bible reserves the description of ‘strength and honor’ for women!
The idea that women are somehow inferior creatures intended to walk about barefoot and pregnant is very different from what the Bible teaches, with some of the most honored people in Biblical accounts being women! From the prophetess Anna in the New Testament, to Mary the mother of Jesus whom all generations call blessed, to the extravagant gift of Mary Magdalene forever memorialized – the Bible is filled with heroic female figures. The honor of Sarah, the faith of Rahab, the valor of Deborah, the loyalty of Ruth, the courage of Queen Esther, and the wisdom of Bathsheba mother of Solomon are examples of amazing women whose works are examples for us all. As Solomon himself noted through the example of his mother, “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that fears the LORD, she shall be praised.” –Proverbs 31:30
The Bible doesn’t discourage strength in women, but rather commends it saying, “She girds her loins with strength, and strengthens her arms.” –Proverbs 31:17 Instead of being confined merely to domestic activities, women are encouraged to be involved in business and industry and to independently make investment choices – “She considers a field, and buys it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.” –Proverbs 31:16 Like soldiers in battle her motivation to be strong comes from a selfless concern for those who depend on her. Unlike the modern feminist ideal that encourages selfishness as a virtue over love, the ideal character of a godly woman is like that of our Savior – one that places the needs of others above that of their own.
The most honorable of soldiers are those who understand the task they have been assigned by their commanding officer. In Christ all of us are called with a particular task, and He is the commanding officer of us all. Our identity on this earth is not found in any man or person that is in authority over us, but in Christ alone. Scripture tells us in 1st Timothy 2:4 that “No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.” This scripture applies to women just as much as it does to men! God has commanded us to seek to be pleasing to Him alone, and no one else. When we seek to find our identity in anyone but God, we make that person an idol that will leave us broken and disappointed.
On this earth God has placed people in authority over us, whether it is our employers, teachers, pastors, or rulers in government – but they are not any better than us! Many people in the world try to find self-worth through dominion over others, but as Christians our self-worth is found in God alone. Scripture encourages us to respect the position of authority that people are in because that position has been assigned to them of God. Even Jesus who was equal to God respected the position of authority that Pontius Pilate had over Him saying, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above.”-John 19:11 Therefore respecting the authorities that God has placed in our lives is not about acknowledging inferiority to those authorities, but honoring God.
It is unfortunate that in a culture that seeks to liberate women we have only managed to further objectify women. Our media has reduced women to sexual objects while claiming in hypocrisy that Christianity is responsible for that lack of respect. The God of Heaven who created all things values His creation like no other, and His ways are always beautiful. When you know and understand the character of Truth Himself, it is much easier to believe His Words - “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” –John 10:10
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