I love how, even if I don’t yet know what church I’m going to attend, I do know of one that I am definitely not going to attend. That was made very clear this morning.

So we (a couple friends and I) decided to attend this church this morning because Trinity’s choir was singing there and it was almost as fast to walk there as to walk to my car in the far parking lot. We didn’t even have to cross a busy road, and the choir sung beautiful songs beautifully.

The sermon was on the Proverbs 31 woman. I thought “This will be good. I need to learn more about what precisely the biblical role of a woman is, both in her family and in church.” The pastor prefaced his message with, “This is a hard passage to preach on” and “I am only the messenger.” Sounds like humble things for someone who is about to get nitty-gritty about the truth of the Bible to say.

He started by telling a few jokes. A few too many jokes. I turned on my particularly skeptical ear when he said that “Proverbs is some old-lady’s drawer” (referring to the way it jumps from topic to topic) and that nobody really likes Proverbs except for teacher’s pets. He was basically saying that the reason Proverbs does not often mention God by name was because it was written as a way for humans to be their own gods.

He went on to say that a Proverbs 31 woman is indeed hard to find. “Impossible.” “Ridiculous” “The dream of Proverbs is the modern church’s nightmare.”

I thought, “What can he mean? Is the Proverbs 31 woman so far beyond our reach that we should be afraid?” I waited for him to make his point clear. He did:

“Proverbs 31 presents a warped view of the role of a woman. Where are the children in this passage? Don’t they have chores too? The woman shouldn’t have to do everything. This passage presents her as having no value except what she is worth to others; what she can provide for her family. And the husband, sitting at the city gates. The Bible doesn’t say this, but he was actually playing poker there. Women shouldn’t have to do everything. Women today think they need to do everything. Look how busy families are. Everyone is trying to be the best, as if that will get them into heaven. Where is grace in all of that? It’s like all these ‘servant leaders’ today. They are all just trying to look good. No. Grace is all we need.”

Yes, I agree that families get over-involved as they try to be successful. Some ‘servant leaders’ need a lot of help with the service part of their job. But grace is no excuse for sloppiness. The possibility of taking pride in achievements is no excuse not to achieve.

The pastor finished with these words: “Take Proverbs 31 and tape it to your mirror. Look at it every day. And say to yourself, ‘No. That is not how I am going to live.’”

Hmm. Just a messenger?

He prayed. The choir sang a beautiful song glorifying the triune, hard-working God who inspired Proverbs. The pastor gave a few more announcements: “Consider hosting for the progressive dinner,” and “Make sure to stay for the congregational meeting to see how you can get involved.”

I had hoped that he would have made some things clear in his sermon. I guess he did.