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Is the Proverbs 31 wife an unrealistic supermom?

A line in yesterday’s article “On being a Titus 2 young woman” may have had some readers blinking in surprise. Rev. Bouwman says of the Proverbs 31 woman:

“This woman is not the proverbial ‘super-mom’ but simply a God-fearing woman…”

Not a super-mom? Simply a God-fearing woman? Really?

That runs counter to the popular understanding of her as so pure, so selfless, so hard-working as to be a completely unrealistic example of what godly womanhood looks like. Sure, it’d be great to be like her, but then again it’d be great to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. But is either goal attainable?

So who has it right? Is this woman simply unreal, or “simply a God-fearing woman?”

To find an answer it will be helpful to grab our Bibles, turn to Proverbs 31 and then look at the passage in a more modern light. We could ask, “What would the Proverbs 31 wife be up to if she was around today?” and update the many tasks she takes on.

If we do that, then what we find is a wife:

  • who has her husband’s trust at home and in business matters too (vs. 11,16)
  • who honors that trust (vs. 12)
  • who knows how to use a sewing machine (vs. 13)
  • who makes regular trips to Safeway and Costco (vs. 14)
    who rises each morning, and before her kids are even awake, making their lunches and getting breakfast ready (vs. 15)
  • who has arms grown strong from scrubbing pots, cleaning floors and hauling her children in and out of car seats (vs. 17)
  • who has her own Etsy store, selling good she makes in the evenings (vs. 18-19,24)
  • who makes meals for those in need and, after her kids were all in school, began volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy clinic (vs. 20)
  • who finds good clothing for her family, for every season, and who dresses herself attractively (vs. 21-22)
  • whose her hard work makes it possible for her husband to have the time to be an elder or deacon (vs. 23)
  • who is wise, and confident about the future because she recognizes God is in control; and she is able to share her wisdom with others over coffee (vs. 25-26)
  • who manages her household and doesn’t spend her afternoons watching the soaps (vs. 27)
  • whose children and husband can’t contain their pride in her (vs. 28-29)
  • who is praised not for how she looks, but for the God-fearing woman she is (vs. 30-31)

This is certainly a remarkable woman. But doesn’t she sound familiar?

Isn’t this someone you know?

While this woman is amazing, we shouldn’t dismiss her as unrealistic. That would be a mistake for two reasons.

First, because it would be ignoring the God-pleasing example He outlines here – this is an example given precisely for instruction. That Christian women will regularly fall short of this standard doesn’t mean it can be ignored. It only means that they – like their husbands – need to regularly go to God in repentance, and ask Him to continue to mold them and shape them to better take on the good works He has laid out for them to do.

And, second, dismissing the Proverbs 31 woman as unrealistic would be to overlook what God has given us in the many women we know who bear a striking resemblance to the woman of this passage. As we read in verse 10, their worth is far beyond jewels! So we should never overlook the enormity of the blessing God has given us in these women!

Jon Dykstra is the father of three and the husband of one, who is worth far more than jewels.

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