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Woman in Today's World

Busy and Happy

THE WOMAN IN TODAY'S WORLD

Toward a better understanding of a modern woman's role, from
ancient wisdom.

by Paul Kroll


     Should women remain at home, be silent, keep house and bear
children? Is marriage a master/slave relationship, designed to
degrade the woman? Will a career first, career last and career in
the middle provide a woman with the happiness and personal
identity she seeks? Can a woman be wife, mother, as well as
businesswoman and civic servant? Should a career come first,
followed by marriage - or should marriage precede a career?

     Today, there is much confusion about how a woman should
order her life and gain satisfaction and fulfilment. Likewise,
there is confusion as to how the Bible characterizes the truly
successful woman.

Success - the Bible Way

     Strangely, the Bible has often been accused of attributing
to God a philosophy that debases and humiliates the female.
     Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), an early advocate of
women's rights, once referred to the Bible in these words: "I
know of no other books that so fully teaches the subjection and
degradation of women."
     Unfortunately, Elizabeth Stanton reacted to those of the
male gender in society who treated women harshly and used - or
misused - Scripture as a justification for their actions.
     She and other women were victims of bad experiences
and wrong teaching. Had someone pointed Elizabeth Stanton to the
true biblical portrayal of a successful woman, she may have well
changed her mind about its contents.

The Woman of Proverbs 31

     The book of Proverbs, chapter 31, is a case in point. Most
of the chapter discusses the characteristics of a truly
successful woman.
     Its content is surprising. For it is, in many ways,
reminiscent of today's woman who can rightly combine the roles of
wife, mother, work and still find time for the fulfilment of
civic responsibilities.
     A word about "working women." Women, of course, have
always worked. That is not well understood. They worked mostly at
home. But then so did most men until the Industrial Revolution
took them out of the home and put them in the factory. Later,
children and women were also placed in the factories. For the
first time in human history, "home" and "work place" were in two
widely separated areas.
     Having said this, let us look at the biblical model of a
successful woman. Remember, our modern world is vastly different
from the social setting in which Proverbs 31 was written. We will
have to give these scriptures a modern setting so they will be
more meaningful to life as we now must live it.
     The following fictional account does exactly that. It
recreates a day in the life of a woman, called Beth. We chose it
to be a play on the name Bathsheba.

     Why Bathsheba? We read in Proverbs 31, the following: "The
words of King Lemuel, the utterance which his mother taught him."
Traditionally, Lemuel is identified with King Solomon, whom the
Bible calls the wisest human who ever lived. In that case the
mother in question would have been Bathsheba, the queen and wife
of King David. We can then presume the words she taught her son
were the words she practiced in her life.

     The following story shows how the biblical ideal might play
itself out in the life of an upper middle-class wife living in
our Western world. In this, it matches the approximate economic
status of the woman portrayed in Proverbs 31.

     Naturally, a wife who was a member of a household in another
economic stratum would face different life situations. But the
same principles would apply to her life. Economic status is not
at issue here. The stress is on how character translates into
daily activity.
     There is one thing we must remember about this fictional
portrayal. The Proverbs 31 wife was the ideal - a perfect woman,
so to speak. The Bible clearly shows actual human beings are
rather imperfect. Our lives, as we lead them, will only
approximate the ideal. We should, of course, strive for the
biblical ideal. If we apply what we see, our lives can be
significantly enriched.

     The contents of Proverbs 31 centers on the woman and her
activities. Her husband, an important community leader, is
mentioned only in passing. We only know that she has children.
However, the content of the chapter makes it clear that this
woman is first a family person. Our story parallels the format
set down in Proverbs 31.
     Here, then, is a day in the life of a fictional wife as seen
through the eyes of a modern fictional writer.

A Biblical Ideal Set In Modern Times

     The day starts early for Beth. Even before the sun peeks
out, Beth is showering and dressing, in preparation for another
round of exciting and varied daily activities.
     Beth has successfully learned to combine the role of wife
and mother along with some entrepreneurial skills, as well as a
dash of civic responsibility.
     I arrived at the family's home at about 5:30 a.m. This was
the time Beth said I had to be there if I was going to accompany
her through one entire day's activities.
     I already had a grasp of what Beth's busy life was like from
interviewing friends and neighbors. So naturally, my very first
question was, "How do you do it?"
     She thought for a moment. "Do you know the proverb:
'Drowsiness will clothe a man with rags?' Well, it'll do the same
thing for a woman. Work is an important part of life."
     I sat down at the kitchen table and noticed a Bible. It was
open to the book of Proverbs. "Do you read this?" I asked.
"Every day, if I can," Beth answered. "That's where the proverb I
just mentioned to you came from."
     I soon found out that Beth meant it - she doesn't squander a
minute. After we talked a few moments, she beckoned me to sit
down at the kitchen table. "You'll be having breakfast with the
family today."

Her Busy Day Starts

     Then, to my amazement, she started pulling dishes from the
cupboard and food from the refrigerator. Is this woman going to
fix breakfast? I asked myself.
     Very soon the children, ages 10, 12 and 14, paraded down the
stairs. I met Beth's husband, a financial adviser to the city. We
all had a nice breakfast, after which he took the children to
school. That was about 7:30 a.m. He had important meetings with
local officials during the day.
     The family lives in an area of rather smallish towns in
which farming still makes an important contribution. After
breakfast, Beth and I left the house and drove to a real estate
office. She was considering the purchase of a small farm. The two
of us met a real-estate agent and drove to the farm.
     For the next two hours we walked over fields, through each
of the farm's structures and inspected the milking equipment, the
tractor, the barn, the existing farm animals and the kitchen
sink.
     I was quite tired and glad to sit down in the farmhouse
kitchen, as Beth discussed the price of the farm with the real-
estate agent. Finally, after another hour, they arrived at an
agreed price. There were several sheets of conditions that Beth
said would have to be written into the escrow instructions.
Thankfully, she would take care of those important details
tomorrow with her attorney and the escrow company.
     By now it was about 11:30 a.m. After returning to the real
estate office, Beth and I drove to another small farm, this one
owned by the family.
     I was hoping this would not involve tramping over hill and
dale again. But, alas, it did. This situation was different,
however. We were on an inspection trip of the farm that Beth's
husband had asked her to take today. Beth would also collect
their small share of the profit from the farmer who was leasing
the property.
     It was 12:45 p.m. before we left the farm. Beth was in a
hurry to return to town and meet her husband at the office. Her
husband was there waiting for us.

Helping the Disadvantaged

     They discussed what to do with the profits, which amounted
to a few thousand dollars. They decided a good share of the money
should go to a certain foundation of which they are members,
called "Children Waiting for a Home."
     It is a unique, free boarding school for children from a
large city, about 40 miles distant. Because of various family
problems, these children find themselves temporarily without a
home. Some will eventually be placed in foster homes; others will
be returned to their families.
     Both Robert - her husband - and Beth are members of the
board. Robert asked if Beth could visit the school grounds today
and present the check as some unexpected problems came up for
him.
     We then drove to the children's center. It was in absolutely
beautiful surroundings, overlooking a meandering stream. Children
lived in small cottages in an idyllic setting.
     Beth met with the President and discussed a number of
questions. Next week, there would be a board meeting that Robert
and Beth would attend. Later, Beth told me that this would mean a
lot of work for her as she would be pressed into helping with
ideas for fund raising.
     It was about 3:30 p.m. and I was visualizing another
executive meeting. But we drove instead to the local school and
picked up the children. I was surprised to find that our next
stop was - of all places the supermarket. "Do you do the shopping
also?" I asked incredulously. With a twinkle in her eye, she
said, "Only some of it." "Who does the rest?" I asked. "No one,"
she laughed. "I pick the rest and milk the rest."
     I soon found out what she meant. When we arrived back at
home, Beth and I went to the garden and picked two vegetables for
the evening meal. But we didn't have to milk. "The children do it
this week," Beth said. "In fact, they were already doing the
chores."
     "I can't believe I'm doing this." I said to her. "I mean,
nobody who goes to board meetings digs her own carrots or cooks
dinner."
     "Why not?" Beth asked. "It's my responsibility. My family
comes first. Besides it's fun."
     Sensing what I was thinking that today's go-go woman doesn't
do such wifely chores, Beth added, "There is one problem. I won't
be able to finish that dress I was making today."
     She pointed to a small alcove off the living room. I walked
over and looked in. Yes, there it was out of a Norman Rockwell
painting. The sewing machine, the dress pattern pieces all over
the table and the bolt of cloth.
     We all had a wonderful dinner that evening, after which we
talked for about an hour. Then the children went upstairs to do
homework.
     That was my cue to leave. Beth walked me to my car. I just
had to make a parting comment. "Beth, I have to say this," I told
her with something of awe in my voice. "There are a lot of women
who have accomplished a lot. But in my estimation, you top them
all."
     "You know what?" she said to me; "That's exactly what my
husband and children say."

     Beth, the modern woman, would compare favorably with the
ideal set down in Proverbs 31. The interested reader is
encouraged to read that chapter, particularly in a modern
translation.

                           .....................

Entered on this website November 2007


 
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