I had been working on a novel with a female protagonist before this crazy year of changes occured. Even though I haven’t written on it this whole year, I have been pondering it as I do with many of my novel before I right them. What I have been pondering is how so many fanasy novels have women dress like men to accomplish heroic deeds. Why is this? Do women have no God-given abilities?
During this Christmas season, I often think about Mary and how difficult it is to travel while pregnant. The mother of our lord was not a superhero in the sense that she had magic powers, but she was a superhero in my mind because she did what could only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit, a supernatual power to be a mother to the creator of the world. She did what God had created only women with the ability to do. Why is it that many feminist despise the fact that only we get the ability to carry a child within us?
On top of that, Proverbs 31 list all the ways that women are exceptional as women. Why do women need to put on the garb of men? I honestly don’t know why women would lay down the powers given to them to long for something inferior. (I am not say men are infirior, but women wanting to try and be a man has low expectations of both genders.)
Proverbs is specifically the advice a mother is giving her son. Lots of women I have met feel like this is a chapter in which men try to give women an impossible task. This isn’t true. We women know what we can do. I like this begin part of Proverbs 31 because the man is also being taught how to be virtuous himself. In a ideal marriage, a virtuous man and women pair are unstoppable.
Proverbs 31 New International Version (NIV)
1 The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.
2 Listen, my son! Listen, son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Some people this son being taught is King Solomon and the name Lemuel is an affectionate nickname meaning “dedicated to God” given to him by his mother. If this true, the wisest man is getting advise from his mother. I honestly do not think a sexist God would have wisdom in the rest of the book of Proverbs depicted as a woman if there had been no examples of wise women in the Hebrew culture or scriptures. Wisdom should be listed first among a woman’s superpowers… if she earns it.
Verses 10-31 consists of twenty-two verses, each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order. Some of the Psalms do this too. This makes some think it was not part of the lesson which Lemuel’s mother taught him, but a poem by itself. Even so, it works well together which is why it is here.
10) A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
This statement makes me sad. It isn’t that men of good character are easier to find, but that good character is hard to find in general. As I read and write fiction stories, I see how our culture tries to justify itself by having anti-heroes rather than true heroes. A hero has virtue that is hard to emulate, but an anti-hero is a scoundrel. Still, with the rise of superhero movies, we still long for virtue. A woman with virtue is a true hero, and she doesn’t even need a sword to do it.
11) Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
This was something I have discovered after being married. I never realized how many women go around embarrassing their husbands and children. A woman has power over her family. Often a successful man has a strong wife. He is strong because his wife protects his reputation and dignity.
12) She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
I have seen women destroy their own homes by wild spending, a sharp tongue, and a manipulative attitude. The harm a woman can cause goes far deeper than a physical wound. I have seen women in a divorce completely destroy their family’s lives just for vengeance. A sword would do less damage.
13) She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
The whole debate about whether women should work outside the home is ridiculous. Woman have been working since the beginning of time. When survival was the main goal of life, everyone worked. A lazy wife would have always had a home on the brink of ruin. Today, I see lazy women at home and lazy women in the work place. Neither one helps their family much. I have also seen hard working women at home and hard working women in the workplace. Both accomplish more that what can be written out in a job description. It is all about doing what is set before you to the best of your ability.
14) She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
This is a creative woman who tries new things and discovers opportunities. A trader often goes and discovers new things to bring home to sell. His profits come from taking risks and trying new things. He has to have a discerning eye. A woman does the same thing for her home on a regular basis. Doing the same things over and over again often causes boredom and discouragement.
15) She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
Since being married, I have often gotten up early to cook breakfast. It would be easy to just get a granola bar and run out the door, but there is something about having a decent meal that makes the day so much better. Every family has different priorities, but a woman who focuses on the needs of her family makes life so much better for everyone, including herself. The effort is worth the sacrifice.
16) She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
I have often been amazed at how many women don’t see family finances as part of their dominion. This is not a natural state for the family at any point in history. Even when woman did not run the investments of an estate, they were still given an allowance that she often had exclusive power over. She could decide to spend her money on personal luxuries or invest it in something that produced more.
17) She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
The Bible does not support the idea that the woman is the weaker sex. Woman are different, but not weaker. A woman who likes to pretend to be fragile is not being feminine. In my future novel, I intend to make the most of the muscles women gain from carrying a child in one arm and lugging groceries in the other. Seriously, weight lifting has nothing on having toddlers around!
18) She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
19) In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
Again we see this ideal woman having lots of side projects. Not every woman has the same talents, but I get irritated at women who spend all day watching TV and complain about not having things. Side projects have been the life blood of family success at every time in history.
20) She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
For me, this is one of the strongest marks of a godly woman. The women in history I most admire were know for their compassion. We have been given the capacity to care for children. Whether we are all fortunate enough to have children, the whole world is our protégé. We have a mothering ability that I see blossom in a toddler girl playing with a baby doll. Little boys that age are taking the same doll and trying to hammer a nail with its head. A little girl feeds it and comforts it. Women are given a capacity to love in ways that often baffle men. They don’t approach poverty and needs the same way. This is truly a woman’s strength.
21) When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She prepares and plans for the future. She doesn’t just survive the winter, but scarlet is luxurious. She over prepares so that they can enjoy the time of hardship.
22) She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
She doesn’t just stop with things that are good enough. She helps her family reach the full benefits of what she can do. Fine linen and purple were the most expensive fabrics of the ancient world. It wasn’t just good enough, it took work to get these. Women often know how to make a home anywhere because they know the value of quality. There is a reason why people talk about about a bachlor pad with despair, but never a bachlorette pad. Women somehow know how to make a home. How that happens? I have no idea.
23) Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
The woman is not mentioned in this verse. How does her husband’s actions have to do with her? I have often noticed that men need cheerleaders. A successful man often has a mother or wife who believed in them first. Thomas Edison was kicked out of school for being too dumb, but his mother believed in him enough to homeschool him. Many famous missionaries depended heavily on their wives to make their mission work. I have even met Bible translators who were a husband and wife team. No one can succeed in life alone. The men around us need us.
24) She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
Again, she is doing side projects, but this side project is good enough to be exported to other countries. She isn’t just doing cheap handicrafts, she is doing really good work. It is very annoying when people seem to think women have only been in the work place in recent generations. Lydia in the New Testement of the Bible was a seller of cloth.
25) She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
This is one I wish to get to one day. She doesn’t fear the future because she feels qualified to handle whatever comes. There is a lot of confidence and life experience needed for someone to get to that point. In many ways, I think it only comes when you have overcome tremendous difficulties and realized that nothing in the future could be harder than what you have come through. This woman is a true hero to me.
26) She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
The maturity of this woman comes from a person who is constantly learning and observing life. Wisdom comes when you seek more wisdom. Foolishness comes when you think you know everything.
27) She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Sometimes we get tired. Really deeply tired. That is OK, but this woman pulls herself up and does what needs to be done. She keeps an eye on the things that make her life run and doesn’t neglect them.
28) Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29) “Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Sometimes I think it is odd when people complement a person for just doing what needs to be done, but this compliment is well deserved. Sometimes it is easier to do one heroic task at one time than to faithfully do all the little tasks that make life work. Living life everyday the best you can is hard. Doing chores when you are tired. Taking care of bills when you are sick. There are many people who get to a point where they just let their lives fall apart because they can’t do it anymore. This woman is faithful each day, one step at a time.
30) Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31) Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
As I write fantasy fiction with heroes defeating dragons with swords and courage, I find myself wonder what is a good female protagonist. I then think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I think of Ruth and Esther. I think of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. These Bible women were heros.
In my future book, I could put a sword in my protagonist’s hand and have her fight the bad guy, but it could be a man who does the very same thing. Instead, I think of a story from Scotland about a lord and lady of a castle right on the edge of the sea. The lord of the castle had to leave one day with soldiers to fight an enemy, but while he was gone, the castle was attacked by sea. The lady of the castle rallied all who where there with her to hold off the attack until her husband returned with his army. She held the enemy at bay and protected her household during that seige. Had she not been prepared, her husband would have had no home to come back to. Had she not been brave, she would have lost her life and that of her children. She is very much like the Proverbs 31 woman who holds the fort and protect her family with the unique skills God has given us. As our pastor preached today about holding firm until our Lord comes, I thought of this story.
We women have God-given superpowers of wisdom, to love, to comfort, to have strength, maintain endurance, and of tireless faithfulness. These are superpowers because even though we were created to be this, we can’t do it without the power of God in us. So abide in Him and hold fast… as the women God create you to be.