We often hear about “the Proverbs 31 woman” and “the Titus 2 older woman”–why don’t we hear of “the Psalm 112 man” and “the Psalm 15 man”? Is it because the passages addressing the women are lists of specific deeds, while the passages addressing the man who fear the Lord are lists of specific character traits? Is it because we tend to focus on specific deeds rather than the character behind the deeds?
We are all, by our prideful human natures, easily caught up in the “deeds” aspects of obedience to God, though we know that it is the heart that God looks at.
A woman is often complimented by being told she is “a true Proverbs 31 woman” or “such a wonderful Titus 2 woman!” But would it not be even more meaningful praise to her to praise God for bringing her into your life or to express how encouraged you are by her spirit of obedience to Christ? After all, the highest praise you can give her is not about what a good keeper-at-home or instructor of the younger women she is, but what an exemplary Christian she is.
Let us be careful of removing our focus from Christ by focusing on deeds. Let us be careful of removing anyone else’s focus from Christ by focusing on his deeds.
This is one reason that I mentioned two other passages earlier; Psalms 15 and 112 have to do with the man who fears the Lord. They are not primarily full of specific deeds, but of character traits. If we are going to use certain Biblical passages to describe godly women, why not accompany these with specific Biblical passages that describe godly men? I want to raise sons, if God so grants me, to be men of the character shown in these Psalms. Thus, I need to know the standards for men as well as the standards for women. I want to raise up daughters who are fit to be mothers of godly sons–they also must know about “the Psalm 112 man” as well as “the Proverbs 31 woman”, shouldn’t they?
Perhaps it is my rather rustic ignorance of typical church culture, terminologies, and problems that has occasioned my case of wonderment. It seems to me that there is an emphasis on distinction of roles and deeds, almost to a downplaying of an emphasis on a spirit of humble obedience to Christ and steadfast courage. These things are due to God from all his children, male and female alike.
After all, Proverbs 31 and and Psalm 112 are simply descriptions of how the Christian will act. They are not some unattainable examples–they are transcultural vocational descriptions of the Christian man and woman. The New Testament contains a lot of didactic material about the way that Christians should behave, but very little of that references the distinctions between men and woman.
Let us look to the why and spirit of our actions and challenge one another to look to Christ, building up one another to look beyond the what and the specific deeds, while not leaving these undone. Let us be careful in our language to hold up Christ as our example, whether male or female.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renouce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14