Access your downloads at our archive site. Visit Archive
Magazine Article

The Woman of the House: A Covenantal Voice of Victory

Proverbs 31 gives a thorough job description of how a virtuous woman goes about fulfilling her calling under God in the major role of supporting her husband and family. As the manager of the household, she is intimately involved in the concerns of all members and, truly, is the glue that holds the family together.

Andrea G. Schwartz
  • Andrea G. Schwartz,
Share this

When I was a young girl, I would spend a lot of time daydreaming about my future. With a bent for acting, I would envision myself as one of the five nominees for an Academy Award. Interestingly, I never pictured myself winning the award for “Best Actress.” Rather, I always was the proud recipient of the “Best Supporting Actress” award. I liked the idea of being in a supporting role, that character that enhanced the main actor’s performance. In the many plays and musicals I participated in during high school, I quickly learned that my greatest satisfaction did not come from holding “center stage.” I was drawn to the role of director or producer—the person who worked behind the scenes to manage and assist others in their performances.

I assumed that these were preferences peculiar to me as an individual. But after becoming a student of the Bible, I realized that these attributes were a major aspect of God’s original design of women in their participation in the dominion mandate. Eve was given to Adam to assist him in his calling under God and to help him in a supportive role, not take center stage. When Adam described Eve as bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, he was responding to the most perfect gift he could imagine—a counterpart who completed him and strengthened him in the work God called him to do.

Thus, when God felt that Adam had proved himself by his obedience and by his responsibility, He “caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs (or, ‘took from the side of him’) … and … made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh…” This is a magnificent statement; and part of it is almost untranslatable because the word translated “this is now” is an idiom in the Hebrew which has meaning comparable to what we mean when we say, ‘I’ve got the beat. This is the rhythm of the music, the rhythm of my life that I have been waiting for.’ “Bone of my bone” means ‘the structure of my life.’ The skeleton is the structure of the body, that which supports the body; the body would be like that of a jellyfish without the skeleton. Adam says, “She is bone of my bones” (‘The structure of my being is the structure of her being’). “Flesh of my flesh” (‘The very life of me is the life of her; I find myself, I realize myself in terms of her’).1

In today’s world, there is a decided push for women to prepare for careers outside the home as though that would be a step up for them. Beware of those who wish to destroy the covenant family by marketing such lies to young girls and women. “You can be anything you want to be” is a refrain pounded into their psyches. Additionally, there is a concentrated effort to depict romance and mutual attraction as the basis for lasting marital bliss. This and more serve to sever the woman of the house from her position of confidant and adviser to her husband, and caregiver and teacher of her children. This tactic and strategy of the enemies of God has delivered a significant blow to the family.

From a Biblical standpoint, a woman completes a man and assists him as he fulfills the call God places on his life. It cannot be stressed enough that a man’s call and success is actually the calling and success of his family in terms of the dominion mandate. This can easily become male-centered if we limit the woman’s role to assisting her husband in his vocation.

Rushdoony points out:

This brings up a very significant point, one very central to our time. From this, the first marriage, we have a pattern established which is to be the pattern of all marriage: since the woman is to be a help meet to the man in terms of his calling, mixed marriages religiously are from the Biblical perspective wrong. A Christian should not marry an unbeliever or one of another religion because a Christian to fulfill himself in terms of his calling must marry someone who is ‘a help as before him,’ someone who mirrors that which he is. How can the woman be that mirror and have the community that comes from being the reflected image of the man if her background is so different from that which his is? They must have a common faith, or, according to the law of God, it is not a valid marriage.2

Proverbs 31 gives a thorough job description of how a virtuous woman goes about fulfilling her calling under God in the major role of supporting her husband and family. As the manager of the household, she is intimately involved in the concerns of all members and, truly, is the glue that holds the family together.

Why is this worthy woman described as more precious than rubies?  Because a worthy woman knows the law of God and applies it to every area of her life3 and thought. That is the only reason she can self-consciously do good and not evil to her husband all the days of her life.  What’s more, this covenantal woman rejoices in the future because she knows God’s Word and thoroughly believes the promises for obedience it contains (Deut. 28:1–14). Because daily she has her hands on the pulse of future generations, she can convey with her words and actions the victorious life that faithfulness produces. In short, dislodge the woman of the house from her God-given domain and the major covenantal voice proclaiming God’s victory is silenced.

Regarding Her Husband

Proverbs 18:22 states, “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.”  This has much more significance than being a sexual partner and the bearer of a man’s children. A wife’s role involves managing her household so that her husband can pursue his calling and be an active member of the community at large. There is a particular freedom that a man has when he knows that his wife is making wise decisions with budgeting his income and caring for the children. In addition, when a wife concerns herself with educating her children and teaching them to behave well, a husband is not only freed from anxiety and worry about his family, but the witness of a well-disciplined family attests to his leadership skills.

Yet in today’s world, the feminist mindset has claimed the high ground asserting that women need to unshackle themselves from domineering men.

Rushdoony observes:

[I]n our culture most churches, because of their theology, expect God to serve man. Is it surprising, then, that women expect men to serve them? The whole world is turned upside-down. When you have men expecting God to serve them and women expecting men to serve them, you have social collapse.4

Social collapse is what we are witnessing today. Modern novels, movies, and television have hijacked covenantal marriage and turned it into the culmination of physical attraction. In addition, with the feminist perspective having shoved its way into all aspects of the culture, real men are depicted as buffoons or cads, with their primary focus centered on satisfying their sexual urges. Those who have ordered their lives on solid, Scriptural principles are often the object of persecution and prejudice in the workplace. As hard as this is to endure at times, the support of a godly wife and family enables the righteous to stand.

God’s Word directs woman to function as the reflected image of man who was created in the image of God. This reflected image—his mirror image—allows him to find himself, not only in relationship to God but in terms of a woman.5 As a result, his union with her enhances his life. Rushdoony points out:

It does make a difference in the character of man when they become married. Insurance statistics bear this out: a young man pays a very high insurance as a driver until he marries; then it drops because he has assumed responsibility, he has become stable, and he has, so to speak, found himself. At least this is true in sufficiently large numbers of cases to make a marked difference in insurance statistics.6

While the supportive assistance of the woman of the house has a positive impact on her husband, much of our cultural trouble today stems from the fact that there are too few men capable of serving as elders and leaders in their field of work. This leadership vacuum centers around unqualified men in terms of character and their Biblical illiteracy. As men and nations have relegated God’s law to the distant past and proclaimed an age of grace apart from law, the entire framework for godly dominion falls apart, for lack of boundaries.7

One of the ancient boundaries that has been moved is the distinct roles God gives to the man and to the woman. When these roles are confused or merged, society suffers. Rushdoony states:

The family (fatherhood) is an important part of the man’s calling, but it is not the central part. The family is central to the woman: her responsibility under God is her husband and then the family. Man’s responsibility is broader: it is in terms of his work and his total calling under God. The family is a part of his responsibility but by no means his total responsibility; his goal is set in terms of his work, which he must view under God.8

Regarding Her Children

A mother loves her children, but this love should never be at the expense of stewardship for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. While a mother’s love is very personal, she must never place her emotional and familial attachment above God’s calling for her children. Mothers in general, and Christian homeschooling mothers in particular, need to view their children objectively, taking into consideration the talents, gifts, and inclinations that manifest themselves under their guidance and supervision. This means that the woman of the house needs to be about the business of education—in all spheres of life. She needs to focus on rearing strong, confident, God-fearing individuals who will uncompromisingly take their place in adulthood, ready, willing and eager to proclaim the crown rights of Jesus Christ.

Although a mother does not produce salvation in her children, she must comprehensively teach her children that apart from Christ, there is no salvation. However, she needs to tie in the concept of salvation with victory to transmit the future orientation of the total deliverance Christ procured for His people.

Rushdoony explains:

The Greek word salvation, soteria, means deliverance, preservation, victory, and health, and it refers to material and temporal deliverance, as well as personal, national, temporal and eternal triumph. The Biblical doctrine of salvation is so clearly one of victory, that it must be emphatically stated that salvation is not escape9

The goal of a Christian education is to prepare children for the victory that is theirs in Christ Jesus. Rather than attempting to escape the culture, covenant children should be taught that their inheritance through Christ mandates them to reign in life.

Children are a God-given inheritance for our conquest of the world for Christ. They are a means of subduing the earth and exercising dominion under the Lord. If we give our children to state or private schools which are not systematically Christian in all their curriculum, we are then giving the future to God’s enemies, and He will hold us accountable for laying waste our heritage. We thus must have Christian schools and Christian homeschools for the Lord’s children. We are commanded to “bring them up in the nurture and the admonition of the LORD” (Eph. 6:4). This is a necessary step for that great consummation of God’s will, announced beforehand for us in Revelation 11:15:

The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our LORD, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.10

The Bible could not be clearer that God plans for His covenant people to reign on the earth. Thus, a fundamental aspect of the woman of the house’s role in conveying this truth is to focus on communicating to her children their royal status under God.

Man was called to dominion (Gen. 1:26–28); he was called to establish his reign over the world under God. … Christ… by His grace and the gift of righteousness, enables man to reign in life, i.e., in this life or world, and to “reign through righteousness unto eternal life,” i.e., in the life to come … Christ’s redemption means man’s reign in time and in eternity. Very plainly, salvation means reigning. The rebellious slave is established in kingship. We are “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37) in Christ, because we are also kings. We cannot understand the full meaning of salvation if we separate it from the fact of reigning. Paul’s multiple use of the word “reign” in Romans 5:17 and 21 makes clear the centrality of reigning in the doctrine of redemption. To defer the fact of reigning to the other world is a Manichaean separation of the world into two alien realms, one (the material) surrendered to one god, and the other (spiritual) reserved for the other god. The hostility of many to the idea of victory in the material world is evidence of Manichaean leanings. St. Paul is emphatic: we “reign in life.” The Biblical doctrine of salvation requires it.11

We live in a world that does not bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ and that offers up many counterfeit religions. Sadly, this is also true within the church as many gravitate toward worldly perspectives and solutions. That is why it is imperative for the woman of the house to know and understand the law of God in all its subtleties, while imparting discernment along with knowledge and understanding. A Christian household should look categorically different from its pagan counterpart because of a Scriptural vision for victory. Those who have the assurance of salvation are confident and triumphant people.

When St. Paul declared, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16), he meant that, because salvation is entirely the work of the sovereign and omnipotent God, the proclamation of that good news could cause him neither shame nor embarrassment. His gospel was not the uncertain and possible work of an impotent or struggling god, but the absolute and certain work of the eternal, triune, and omnipotent Maker of heaven and earth. To preach such a certainty would bring Paul no shame or embarrassment: God’s saving power is sure.12

The woman of the house has a pivotal role with each new member who comes into the family. Since she is preparing a future ambassador, soldier, and joint-heir with Christ, she should instill in the child an attitude and emphasis of personal responsibility. A whining and complaining child is not to be tolerated. Correction should be immediate and an uncompromising effort must be exerted to help the child gain self-discipline, with God’s grace, and achieve victory over his sinful tendencies. This swims against the tide of the escapism that is so prevalent in modern culture as parents dote on children rather than call them to a high standard.

Rushdoony explains:

[The] pagan concepts thus cannot offer salvation, not only because they have no God nor universe in which full and assured victory is possible, but also because they have a defective view of man and sin. In paganism, man seeks an escape from his problems, or a retirement into sensual bliss from the world’s work and responsibility. By failing to recognize his rebellion against the sovereign God as his essential problem as well as his sin, pagan man wants not salvation but escape. To admit the real problem, his sin, is to admit that there is no way of escape, only the way of salvation through God’s regenerating grace.

Moreover, the failure of paganism to offer salvation is not accidental. It is a part of the pagan refusal to understand; it is a willful rejection of the truth of God.13

The worthy woman described in Proverbs 31 is future oriented, believing wholeheartedly that salvation means victory. She can reach out to the poor and needy because she knows she has something of eternal value to offer them. She is not afraid of a bleak economic forecast because she knows that the sovereign God delights in giving His children good things. Strength and honor are her clothing because she lives in the environment of God’s law. She can rejoice in time to come. In short, she is uniquely positioned to offer her husband and children a safe haven where God’s law is paramount and God’s victory proclaimed.

1. Elizabeth Fellersen, Editor, Toward a Christian Marriage (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1972), 15.

2. Ibid.

3. The training of daughters should focus on the Biblical underpinnings of all aspects of life so that even from an early age, they are trained to do good to their husbands years before they actually meet. Dressing modestly and behaving honorably guarantees stepping into marriage without anything that would bring dishonor to their husband and new family.

4. Fellerson, 14.

5. It was never God’s intent that the man would fulfill his dominion calling alone. God was waiting for Adam to establish himself in his calling before giving him a helper. God apparently wanted Adam to appreciate his need for a perfect counterpart—something he did not have with the animals.

6. Fellerson, 14.

7. Pastor Mike O’Donovan of the Rock of Liberty Church in Fort Worth, TX observes that the world without God’s law governing it is like a river without banks. Without banks, it ceases to be a river and instead you have a flood.

8. Fellerson, Ibid., 16.

9. R. J. Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, [1983] 2004), 1

10. R. J. Rushdoony, In His Service: The Christian Calling to Charity (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 2009), 20.

11. R.J. Rushdoony, Salvation and Godly Rule, 620.

12. Ibid., 9–10.

13. Ibid., 5–6.