The Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 12:4 is not a Wife

A woman of valor crowns her ba`al (lord)

Proverbs 12:4

The woman in Proverbs 12:4, is not a wife. And the man who owns her (her ba`al --lord)) is not her husband. The text also does not say the woman is virtuous, it says she is chayil, a woman of strength/valor.

The writer of Proverbs had many women. He was lord over them all, but many of them--most of them--were not his wives. They were concubines, which is a biblical word for sex-slaves. 

Proverbs 12:4 women were acquired and owned by men. They were either given or sold to their lords/masters.

The text of Proverbs 12:4, has nothing to do with marriage; but who would know that by reading most English translations? The verse has consistently been mistranslated in a disingenuous and gender-biased manner that supports hierarchical gender-role-religion. This is  antithetical to both the over-arching message and redemptive theme of scripture as a whole and to the text in particular.

The practice of gender-bias in Bible translation is a fulfillment of one of the most ancient prophecies [Genesis 3:16] that foretells one of the most undisputed facts of history, which is the reality that men would dominate women. 

Even good men fall prey to fulfilling this prophecy. But men who name the name of Christ and love the Word of God should not. The prophecy in Genesis 3:16  was pronounced as a cursed consequence and not a command. Women and men of Christ have been redeemed from the curse, yet complementarian theologians treat Genesis 3:16 as an eternal punishment for all women and eternal reward for all men. 

The woman in Proverbs 12:4 can certainly be called virtuous, because indeed she is. But it is not her virtue the text is speaking to, it is her chayil, which does not mean virtue and is only translated as such [and falsely so] when the person of chayil happens to be a woman. 

The Hebrew word chayil has no connotation of virtue, it means strength, valor, might. It is the woman of strength who is an asset to--crowns--the one who possesses her, her ba`al.

Proverbs 12:4 is still applicable today, as there are countries where women are owned by men. These men are not their husbands, but they are their masters. 

14-year-old Leah Sharibu, was taken in 2018. She remains in captivity today due to her refusal to deny Christ and convert to Islam. She is being held hostage and deemed a “slave for life” by her captors.

Another example is the tragic scenario of 2014, when 200 Christian girls were kidnapped and no doubt sold as sex-slaves. Would these girls/women need chayil? Much chayil, much strength, much valor, would be required to live as a sex-slave, whether their ba`al is kind and gentle or whether he is cruel. 

Most of us cannot relate to such horrific circumstances, but for American, Kayla Mueller, who was kidnapped, tortured, and died as a sex-slave to the leader of ISIS, this was a devastating reality of our time. Those 200 Christian girls, if still alive, have never been rescued and are still in whatever situation they were placed or sold into in 2014. Never-mind the lack of international outcry against this tragedy, where was the outcry from international Christian community against it? 

Those 200 girls were stolen and sold by radical Islamists, who hold to a systematic theology of male headship. So how is it that Christian theology holds to virtually the the same thing? Not as radical perhaps, but gender-supremacy nevertheless. 

Gender-supremacy is gender supremacy, wherever it happens to fall on the spectrum.

It is shameful, especially in the United States, land of the free and home of the brave, that those who call themselves Christians, would contribute to abuse of women through unscriptural gender-biased-English-translation-theology, that positions women to be abused through the unscriptural notion of male supremacy [called male headship among complementarians], but that is exactly the case. 

In the case of Proverbs 12:4, traditional-gender-role-religion and gender-biased-English-translation-theology have created a non-existent marriage by transforming sex-slaves into wives and ba`al's into husbands.

 Author and speaker, Jocelyn Andersen, is an eclectic Christian writer. She is a Bible teacher who writes about many subjects including Bible prophecy and equality of the sexes. She is best known for her advocacy in domestic violence awareness. Her book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, has been a staple in the library of resources on that subject.  

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Complementarianism [also called complementarity], teaches that all men are born into a leadership caste and all women are born into a follower caste. This caste system follows them from the moment they exit the womb throughout all eternity.

   The doctrine suppresses the autonomy of adult Christian women and has been embraced, with few exceptions, by virtually every Christian denomination...despite unmistakable parallels between complementarian dogma [and the adverse effects of the paradigm on men, women, and children] and that of institutionalized slavery in previous centuries [caveat: lots of Black History up through the Civil Rights Movement].

Woman this is War! quotes well-known evangelical pastors who compare Christian marriage to a war of dominance between wives and husbands, a war they claim that husbands must win.

Gender-biased-English-translation-theology, along with male-centered Bible commentary and translation practices, are used in forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders and deacons in most churches. This hinders the work of the gospel. In most churches where women are not forbidden to preach, they are told to submit to their husbands at home. Gender-biased-English-translation-theology has interfered with understanding the scriptures, pitted men and women against each other, and eroded the happiness of women and men.

 All of this is wrong.

The book contains rare insights into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights that have either deliberately or inadvertently been keep out of Christian literature. These observations bring a new perspective, along with freedom and hope.

 The doctrine of female submission to male leadership in the church and home, is refuted using scripture to support equality between women and men. Woman this is WAR! is a treasure-trove of information on gender equality from biblical, historical, and Christian perspectives.

 To receive Jocelyn's newsletters, subscribe HERE.

To receive an announcement from Amazon whenever a new book is released by Jocelyn Andersen, subscribe to Her Amazon author's page.

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