The immediate assumption many make when discussing Biblical headship and the role of the woman is that she is relegated to barefooted existence in the kitchen. And, that is a lie straight from the enemy. Let’s dig in!
We have been pursuing a Biblical understanding of marriage, headship and the roles of men and women in this series titled Restoring Kol (All) Israel. As explained near the beginning of the series, for Israel to be restored, tribes must be restored. For tribes to be restored, clans must be restored. For clans to be restored, the family must be restored. For the family to be restored the man must be restored and then his woman.
Thus far in our study we have seen the clear teaching and example in Scripture, both of the patriarchs and Messiah as well as the instructions found both in Torah and the New Testament that man is to be the head of the home and that part of his responsibility is his woman. We will not rehash those details but rather use them as a foundation to build on what Scripture actually says about the role of the woman.
Clearly, a woman is to be covered and walk in submission to a man, whether her father or husband. The Torah makes clear that a woman is to move from her father’s house into the care of a husband for life. The New Testament supports this with Paul only offering a caveat after she is 60 (rather old at that time) and in service to the Body.
The false dichotomy of the feminist agenda is that if a woman follows the Biblical model, she is rendered powerless and unproductive beyond the kitchen or baby-making duties. Proverbs 31, however, sticks a dagger in that idea and presents a very different picture of the strength, beauty and giftings of a woman under the authority of her master. (We’ll explain that statement in a minute… 😉 )
Throughout Scripture we see that a woman’s role is to help her husband build his house. From an Hebraic standpoint, building the house involves not just progeny, but every aspect from business and finance to physical and spiritual establishment and growth of a patriarchal dynasty. This is a mammoth task that, when properly understood and embraced, should lead every woman to seek out a visionary husband that is a strong leader. And, the husband should be seeking a woman that is gifted in the areas necessary to accomplish his vision. (It is not just about love and physical attraction!! In reality, marriage is a business relationship with benefits. 😉 )
Proverbs 31:10-31, full text below, extolls the virtues of a good woman that helps her husband build his house. Christendom often and rightly points out that this woman is gifted in business and management abilities. She is clearly a strong and wise woman who manages a sizeable household, a business or two and is a blessing to her husband.
It is important to note that three times in this short passage, the Hebrew word ba’al is used for her covering, her husband. This word is translated as ‘master’ more times than it is translated as ‘husband’ and, many times it is translated as ‘husband’ or ‘man’ it should be translated as ‘master.’ My sense in looking at the word use is that a softened egalitarian approach to Scripture masks in part or whole the expected Biblical and cultural relationship between man and woman. But, I digress. Suffice it to say, the three places that ba’al is translated as ‘husband’ could/should be translated as ‘master’ or ‘owner.’ Yet, contrary to feminist mythos, the Godly woman who walks in submission to her man portrayed here or anywhere else in Scripture is not a weak doormat but a strong helpmeet for her husband’s calling and mission.
Read Proverbs 31 and consider the vitally important role the woman plays in supporting her man.
10 An excellent wife, who can find?Proverbs 31:10-31
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband (owner, master) trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her hands in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hands grasp the spindle.
20 She extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband (ba’al) is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And supplies belts to the tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband (ba’al) also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates.
We need to clearly understand the overarching principle: a woman is to be covered by or under the headship of a man. The major underlying point, supported and exampled both directly and indirectly in Scripture, is that according to the direction of her head, the woman’s gifts and skills can and should be employed for the purpose of building her husband’s house/family/vision.
What this means primarily for man is that he needs to have a vision and be able to articulate it to his woman. Further, he needs to evaluate her skill set and employ it in the best manner to accomplish his vision. For woman, this mean she needs to learn and assimilate the vision so that under the guidance of her husband, she works diligently toward the fulfillment of that vision. Therefore, we see that the role of woman is to walk in submission using her gifts and talents for the purpose of accomplishing the vision of her head to the end that his house is built up.