WAYNEPARK.COM

Pastor, Writer, Contemplative

The Pursuit of the Proverbs 31 Woman

We’re continuing our series @ Harvest Church Houston called “Excellent Women.” It’s a study through the book of Ruth; which is probably one of the most intensely personal, familiar books for me (odd I know) but all to say it is near and dear to my heart. One of the biggest discoveries for me is that in the Hebrew Scriptures Ruth doesn’t come after Judges (like in the Christian canon) but rather Proverbs; and that to say, it follows right after the famous Proverbs 31 chapter – the “Excellent Woman / the Woman of Strength.” It’s almost a subtle way of saying, “Prov 31… BTW here is an excellent example: RUTH.”

Obviously Ruth is an excellent woman in the Prov 31 vein; how the “Woman of Excellence” is understood today is where I have a qualm or two. The two books (Ruth and Prov 31) are subjects of intense study among many women:

How to find your Boaz
How to attract Boaz
How to relate to your mom-in-law
How to NOT become like Orpah
How to become a Prov 31 woman
at work
at home
in bed

Where I struggle with is the implicit notion of the domestication of the female in some of these in-depth studies; that the Prov 31 / Ruth story is used to reinforce societal roles. While I really do not want to get into a gender debate bring it on, and here’s my main thoughts / questions:

1.  How are women understood in the New Covenant / kingdom of God?

2.  Is there more to Ruth than platitudes that somehow reinforce, “women ought to be…”

3.  How can Ruth speak not only to women but deeply to men also in our own deep-seated prejudices?

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