Proverbs 31:10 declares, “A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” NIV
In other translations we read, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” “A worthy woman, who can find?” Still others refer to “excellent woman,” or a “capable woman”.
In recent decades we have seen a trend toward delaying marriage until past the age of thirty. I watched a reality show in which women were buying a house for the first time. A number of them were around the thirty age mark and wanted to “establish” themselves in preparation for marriage and a family. What struck me was their awareness of the need to leave the “party life” behind them for something more serious and enduring.
I am all for having fun and enjoying life. I think most people would agree with me, however, that two things come to mind when we think of fun, particularly in the context of being single: alcohol and sex.
I’ve literally heard people say that if you don’t drink, you’re not any fun. Drinking lowers inhibitions. For a lot of people it loosens them up so that they can have “fun.” This fun is also a slow killer.
In today’s North American and European culture it is considered “progressive” to be sexually active. I’m reminded of the scene in Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy is being encouraged to dance, as dancing is such a significant aspect of a civilized society and his response is, “And every uncivilized society. Every savage can dance.”
It is sexual liberty really progress?
Today it is considered unrealistic to expect to come to marriage without having any sexual experience. In fact, there is a feeling that it is indeed necessary to “check out” the wares ahead of time to see if you are compatible.
The sexual revolution I have witnessed over the past decades has left me asking questions. Are we really better off as a society as a result of throwing off inhibitions? Has this sexual “freedom” really freed us?
It’s perhaps a relief for many to no longer be “judged” and to have their lifestyle be considered as the norm. After all, judgment did make people very uncomfortable. Those who judged were considered to be pious and prudish and by no means perfect themselves.
So, where is this “virtuous woman” to be found, today? What defines her as “noble”? And the real question is, can she have had multiple sexual partners and still be “virtuous”?
Let’s admit the contradiction in the thinking of men who want to marry a virgin and still maintain the personal liberty to have sex with whomever they please. Statistically, how does that work? I’m going to be a bit crass here, but essentially it separates women into two groups, used and unused, and men can’t wait to try the new thing and turn it into “used.”
Feminism was probably born out of thoughts along this line, although feminists, just as confusingly, want free, irresponsible sex every bit as much as men.
I am not of the opinion that there are two classes of women–the ones who satisfy men sexually and the ones they marry. However, there are these “willing” women around and reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible we discover they have been around for a long time. Proverbs, incidentally, juxtaposes the “adulteress” against the woman of virtue.
So where can we find a virtuous woman whose price is above that of rubies?
If women are waiting to get married until they are past their prime, then understandably men are waiting too. And if they have to wait to have sex until they are in their thirties, that’s putting a bit of a burden on them. Well, that’s unrealistic, let’s face it.
You might argue that adultery is something different from fornication, and that is true. But not so very different. It’s surprising how pre-marital sex can find its way into marriage and create a problem, not so unlike that of adultery.
Feminists tend to devalue the Bible, claiming it was set in a patriarchal society. Their ideal of equality does not appear to be reflected in the Bible. In my extensive study of the Bible I have found a great deal to support the inherent equality of the sexes. And, yes, there are some clear examples of women not being given value in the way our society dictates. The Bible, after all, is a reflection of real life.
The Bible’s dictates concerning morality are, admittedly, primarily from a man’s perspective and to men. As women, though, we can consider it to contain a set of standards designed to protect us by setting limits on men.
I see that in the pursuit of sexual liberty, there is a very serious factor which has been side-lined as a virtual non-issue. It is the right of the children. Those swept up in the sexual revolution are giving very little thought to how their actions will affect the welfare of the next generation.
As an adult, I felt deeply betrayed when I learned that my father had been habitually unfaithful to my mom. My mother protected the children from this knowledge for as long as possible. Members of the community knew long before we did.
I felt as though a knife had been thrust into my chest and I wept bitterly at the news. At the time I was a young wife, expecting my first child.
Was I just socially conditioned to think it was wrong of my father to carry on this lifestyle? I don’t think so. I think we are born with a sense of justice.
Studies have proven that infants have a sense of injustice even before they can speak After being exposed to specific scenes, they will react with expressions of pain and disapproval when they see someone injure or treat another person in an unjust way.
As a three year old I was conscious of my dad having an affair with the babysitter who stayed at our house while my mom was in the hospital giving birth. I had buried the memory. I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, but I knew it wasn’t right. I remember a vague feeling of sadness.
Could my mother not just have imagined she had an “open” marriage and been fine with it? Ask yourself how many movies you have watched where one partner in a relationship is “fine” with discovering the other is having sex with someone else. That’s why it’s called “cheating.” Think Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
Will a virtuous woman have sex before marriage? I am not the virtue police. But I do have my Bible which has proved to be a pretty good guide for life and it discourages sex outside of marriage. Rather than imposing a standard on me, I see it as affirming what I have seen as healthy for relationships.
I mentioned sex and alcohol earlier, as the two pleasures associated with the youthful party experience. Consider that by the time a woman reaches thirty she will probably have had fifteen years of alcohol and sex.
Like alcohol, sexual arousal lowers inhibitions. A young girl may be loathe to undress before a man, but throw in sexual attraction, along with alcohol, and the scenario changes rapidly. Her innate desire to protect her vulnerability, however, doesn’t go away. This is why she wants only one partner.
A series of sexual experiences can change a woman. But it is not the norm to want multiple partners. Ask any woman whether she would not prefer one faithful, loving man and you will find out it is true. The few exceptions can likely be traced to early abuse or abandonment or a possible narcissistic personality disorder.
Sex, in this generation, has been relegated to a recreational experience. Not only that, it has been demeaned and debased.
Sex is probably the most powerful force known to humans. It can be the most pleasurable and exquisite experience two people will ever have together. And for this reason, I believe it deserves a special place.
The appetite for sex, when it is not controlled, devours indiscriminately. We can see this in our society as the doors are being flung open in an effort to normalize every kind of sexual behavior and endorse what would not have been considered acceptable even a few years ago. Fill in the blanks yourself.
Control of our sexual impulses is a gift we need to give to the next generation. It is how we can prevent deep feelings of pain and betrayal. It is what we need to do in order to instill trust. And trust is the bedrock of a strong society.
Once you say this, you will find that there is a strong resistance to any form of discipline or self-regulation where sex is concerned. People want to avoid the discomfort of self-denial. They don’t want anyone telling them what to do.
Self-denial is a price our society seems mostly unwilling to pay. So we consume more drugs, more alcohol, more food, and have more sex. The result is that we become emotionally fragile. We no longer know when, or even how, to exercise our muscles of control. We cannot stand for what is right. Worse, we have been led to believe that there is no right. Everyone creates their own truth.
But what we don’t see is that the removal of all boundaries is actually a calculated manipulation tactic designed to weaken our society. There is an end in mind. It is to destroy the next generation. It is to destroy faith, hope, love and trust.
The writer of the book of Proverbs knew about this path to destruction. He knew how men could be weakened. And he knew that the antidote was a virtuous woman.
Read Proverbs 5 below (NIV).
1My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
2 that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.
3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.
7 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
do not turn aside from what I say.
8 Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you lose your honor to others
and your dignity to one who is cruel,
10 lest strangers feast on your wealth
and your toil enrich the house of another.
11 At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
How my heart spurned correction!
13 I would not obey my teachers
or turn my ear to my instructors.
14 And I was soon in serious trouble
in the assembly of God’s people.”
15 Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
16 Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
17 Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
18 May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
20 Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
21 For your ways are in full view of the Lord,
and he examines all your paths.
22 The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them;
the cords of their sins hold them fast.
23 For lack of discipline they will die,
led astray by their own great folly.