a progressive Christian reflection on a curious Proverb
It’s easy to let our preconceptions about ancient society and our modern preoccupation with
gender distract us. (And I may very well fail in making my point. In which case, I hope that you will take the time to engage in the conversation.)
This week’s readings include an excerpt from Proverbs which is a case in point. It lists the attributes of a “capable wife.” As soon as we hear those words, many of us will jump up and shake our fists – figuratively if not literally. And that’s unfortunate, because we’d be objecting to a stereotype, and not the picture painted in the passage.
For instance, it includes the line “She considers a field and buys it.” A woman buying land?? That doesn’t exactly jibe with our image of a patriarchal society where women were traded like sacks of grain, does it? Nor does the statement “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.” Who’s heart trusts in “property”?
I’m not for a second suggesting that the writer of Proverbs didn’t live in a male-dominated society. Nor am I suggesting that we should accept such a society today. What I am saying, however, and what the proverb is saying, is that all relationships, no matter who they involve, no matter when they existed, depend on trust.
The verses included in the reading describe a partnership; a relationship between two equals who equally contributed to the well-being of both.
That’s something that we need to keep in mind today, in all of our relationships, no matter who they’re with or for what reason they exist.
Our “strength and dignity” depend on it.