Thursday, March 17, 2011

For All That Her Hands Have Done

Back when my son was young and I was a single mom working outside the home, I joined St. Anonymous United Methodist Women. There was a large group of women who worked outside the home who met at night, while two or three other circles met during the day. Our group by default was known as the night circle, but the UMW leadership decided we needed to choose another name. My suggestion was "Women of Virtue" circle after the woman in Proverbs 31. After all, she ran a textile factory (verse 24), she owned a vineyard (verse 16), she got up before dawn like all of us who had to get our kids to daycare (verse 15), and she had what all of us would have loved to have, a household staff (verse  15 again).

Although to tell the truth, the real reason I wanted the name "Woman of Virtue" was because I figured we could get T-shirts printed up with the words, "Woman of Virtue, St. Anonymous Church" and I could use a marker to slip a "^" mark and the word "easy" in between the "of" and the "virtue". It didn't matter, though, the circle picked another name and never did get T-shirts anyway.

Somehow in the intervening years, the Proverbs 31 woman has been co-opted by a far more traditional kind of woman than I, for reasons that escape me utterly. I mean, the woman sold hooch! Given the mores of the time she probably even sold hooch to teenagers and pregnant women, some of whom may have been the same people. Furthermore, she dressed in fine linen and purple (verse 22), and for those of us who were raised on Cecil B. DeMille Bible epics, the picture that those words conjure up are more this

 than this.

So here we have a woman who is running a sweatshop to make purple and scarlet clothes (verses 21, 22, and 24), probably for floozies, designer bed linens (verse 22) and selling wine on the side. I don't know about you, but I think "Martha Stewart" before I think "Nancy Campbell". Is this really the woman we want to be our role model? "Hell, yeah" if you're me, but what about if you're one of those Godly types?

On second thought, "Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Maybe she and her wine can get those people to chill, if no one else can.

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