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Today for Mother’s Day as is often the case—too often to my taste—the Scripture text was Proverbs 31:10-31 “The Wife of Noble Character”.

I dislike this text.  It rubs salt into unhealed wounds I got while growing up in a household where domestic violence prevailed. The thing that irks me most about this text is what it assumes about the working conditions of that famous wife, namely that her husband is not the controlling type who micromanages everything she does and makes her feel as though she has to walk on eggshells all the time.   

It takes a pretty secure environment for a woman to feel bold enough to go and buy a field or do half the things the wife of noble character does, but not all wives live in such a secure environment.  In fact, many women live in terror of their husbands’ reactions to the most trivial initiatives they take, and some will even go so far as to ask their neighbors if they can put their trash in the neighbor’s trash can so their husband won’t find it because he controls everything she does and will harm her and /or force her to return it to the store.

There is also a lot of yelling and verbal abuse that denigrates the wife in a house where domestic abuse is the rule. I grew up in one, so I know what I’m talking about.  When I was a child, my dad would throw a temper tantrum at least once a week and talk about divorce and selling the house, and I wondered what I had done to deserve so much insecurity, but my mom would let him yell because she had a career and could afford to leave if she wanted to.

I often wished she had told him to put up of shut up, but she never did.  I guess she felt she was “keeping the peace” that way, though I wouldn’t call it peace.  It was such a stressful environment to grow up in that I am still anxious to this day, and if I see a man who seems to be upset, I will want to try and solve his problem just to avoid him having a fit.  

To get back to the wife of noble character, she could do the things she did because her husband respected and trusted her. Or he does if there is still such a wife nowadays. 

The Bible says very little about domestic violence, yet it’s been a fact of life for women pretty much since the Fall, since it’s a consequence of sin.  You can almost see it coming in the words God spoke to Eve when he found the couple after they had eaten the forbidden fruit and were hiding from him.  At least I can read it between the lines of that “curse”.

Some women still live under that curse because men still abuse their wives or girlfriends both verbally and physically, but not all pastors still tell victims of domestic violence to go back home and submit to their abusive husbands anymore. A former pastor told us some years ago that when he was in seminary he had promised himself that he would never tell a woman to get a divorce, and he realized once he was ordained and had to give counseling that he would have to break this promise since it was not connected to reality.

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