The past few weeks, I’ve done a few things a bit uncharacteristic for me. I started a study of Proverbs 31, the infamous “perfect woman” of the Bible. And I went to a Christian women’s retreat.
On the surface, these may not seem very radical to you. If you’re a female conservative evangelical Christian, you may even think it odd that these things are unusual for me. But for a long time, I shied away from anything that puts me in a box as a woman.
I even heard myself telling a friend recently, “I don’t like anyone to tell me what kind of woman I should be.”
I’m not sure how I reached that position. Growing up, I spent time around a lot of women with extremely conservative beliefs – women should wear skirts and grow their hair long, should never work outside the home, and should only marry someone that has spent more time with their father than with them.
All of these (and more) claimed to have their basis in Scripture. Then after college, I moved to a different country, a Muslim country for about a year. And I discovered that I had a little feminist living inside me.
There I saw women treated as second-class citizens, living under burdens of expectations and strict rules. I experienced harassment and degrading treatment because of my skin color and my gender. And it made me passionate about women being treated equally as men, with the same opportunities and respect.
But how does God sees women and the roles we are expecting to perform? Here are a few bible verses about women’s roles that I will shed more light on, later down in the post.
Bible Verses About Women’s Roles
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her so that he shall have no need of spoil.
She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
Strength and honor are her clothing, and she shall rejoice in time to come.
She openeth her mouth with wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.”
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”
“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow, thou shalt bring forth children, and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee”
“A gracious woman retaineth honor and strong men retain riches.”
A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.
Things Begone To Change!
Getting married four years ago made me realize how fiercely independent I had become. I wanted to make my own decisions, pursue my own goals, and create my own life. But joining my life with someone else (especially a man – an entirely different creature than a woman!) challenged me to rethink the structure I had created in my mind for what being a woman looks like.
Fast forward to today. I’m married with a toddler. I work part-time and have lots of pursuits outside our home. And I’m trying to figure out what it looks like to follow Jesus and apply Scripture to my life – because if we say we follow Jesus, the Bible is what tells us how to do that.
Last week I went to a Christian women’s retreat with my mom. I jokingly told her, “I’m only going to this because I trust your judgment!“ And I was a bit wary of what the speaker would tell me. Do I have to stop working? Or grow my hair out? Or give every decision over to my husband?
Fortunately, God knew what he was doing when he put me there, and instead of the judgment I had expected, I only received refreshing encouragement to focus on what is important for me as a woman.
The speaker gave several talks, one on Titus 2. I was especially interested in this passage because our church had recently preached through Titus 2, without going in-depth on the verses that actually talked about women:
“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” — Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)
I’ve heard this passage interpreted in a lot of ways that just added burdens to my back and rules for my life. Yet she pointed out that this passage does not define womanhood. It lists priorities for women (although not all of them). But our identity is not found in how good of a wife/mother/friend we are – it’s found in Jesus. And the empowerment for this kind of life is found just a few verses down in the passage –
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the 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 wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” — Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)
Paul never says women can’t work outside the home. And just because this passage only speaks about married women doesn’t mean you’re a second-class citizen or nonentity as a single person (just look at 1 Corinthians 7 if you have any doubts of Paul’s esteem of singleness).
But Paul does talk about what being a woman looks like in light of the gospel – in light of the appearance of God’s grace in the world through Jesus.
We Live For Someone Besides Ourselves
It’s not only about me anymore. Jesus is changing my heart every day to be “eager to do good” – and for me, that starts with my family. The very first thing Paul says is for married women to “love their husbands and children.” It sounds so simple, but it can be so challenging.
That’s what he makes it a priority.
As women, we’re really good at “doing” things – getting stuff done at work, spending time with friends, taking care of a house.
But loving my husband and child means I stop doing what I think is important and figure out what they need from me. It means pouring into them when I’d rather focus on my pursuits and my desires and my priorities. And it might mean saying no to outside commitments if my family relationships will suffer.
This is only possible because of the grace of God in my life, changing my heart to love what (and who) he loves more than myself.
We Show Self-Control, Purity, and Kindness In All We Do
This is hard to do when we are constantly told by everyone else to let go, be crazy in whatever way makes us happy, to give in to our impulses, and to speak our thoughts regardless of the relational damage they may do.
But that is a dangerous way to live. Words like “purity” and “self-control” are not glamorous. For many, they stir up images of Puritans in high-necked black dresses and stern-faced Catholic school instructors. These are not character traits we can drill into ourselves. They happen as we look to Jesus to satisfy us as no one else can and to fill our hearts with enough love to be kind even when people are nasty and harsh with us.
Kindness is powerful. Self-control enables us to say “no” to passions that might destroy us and our relationships. Purity means living how God intended – which includes passionate, frequent intimacy with your spouse if you’re married (hallelujah!). And this all makes us stronger women, not weaker.
We Make Our Homes A Priority
“Home” means the family and relationships within your four walls, physically or relationally. It means the immediate community that God has placed you in.
So what does that mean for us? Our home life takes priority over any other outside commitment.
But that does not exclude all other commitments. For some families, that means one of the spouses stays home. For others, they can easily work forty hours a week and still have time and energy to invest in their homes and families.
For our family, we have found a healthy mix of part-time work and time at home. My husband more time at home while I’m home two full days a week with my daughter. As a result, our home life isn’t suffering because of outside commitments.
We’re able to open our space to others and invest in relationships. That may change in the future, but for now, it works well.
Do you have other bible verses about women‘s roles to share? Has this collection been a blessing to you? Share your thoughts below.