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Thursday Thoughts: What Not to Wear (or Do or Be)

on December 12, 2013

frauen-powerIf you’ve ever seen the TV show “What Not to Wear,” you’ll perhaps start to get an understanding of the title! In this TV show, the hosts catch someone who is usually dressed in a frumpy, sloppy, and/or completely unattractive manner. The show hosts then trash the rest of the target’s clothes and take her shopping (on their own terms). And, voila, you have a new woman with a new style!

In a sense, this is a way we could look at the woman in Proverbs 7. Imagine that she is the “target” in a “What not to Wear. . .Do. . .Be” show. This lesson, however will only cover the first part of the show, the “before look.”  We are going to examine the Proverbs 7 Woman (hereafter P7W) in detail in order to learn how not to act.

While the warnings regarding the P7W are addressed to men, the implications of the warnings apply to women.  Although not every aspect of the P7W is a problem area or temptation for women, we all should be duly warned against any aspect of ungodliness exampled in her. The P7W models how not to live as a godly woman.

It seems that the P7W–or Lady Folly or the Forbidden Woman–is the sum of many of the characteristics of foolish living. In other words, an unbeliever (the “fool” of Proverbs) may have some or all of these characteristics. As believing women, we especially want to make sure that we don’t imitate her in any way.

Yet, as I cautioned our ladies in our Bible study, we need to be wary lest we pat ourselves on the backs because we don’t look like her. The proud mindset that we are ok because we don’t look like the P7W could be just as deadly if we are not consistently humbled by our own sins and the goodness of a forgiving, gracious God!

I recommend that you read Proverbs 7:1-27 as a whole first to get a feel for the full story.

Her Background

She is a Married Woman (Prov 7:19-20)

Though married, she is unfaithful in her marriage. She assures her victim that “the man is not in the house.” Her husband, probably a merchant, is gone on a business trip and will not be home for a while.

So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words, who forsakes the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God (Prov 2:16-17)

The Hebrew word companion is used two other times in Proverbs, both times translated as “friend.” She had made a covenant of marriage with her friend whom she married. Obviously, their marriage and friendship had begun to break down before this encounter.

She is a Religious Woman (Prov 7:13-15)

These vow offerings she offered were voluntary peace offerings, in which she made an offering as thanks to God for an answer to a prayer. Unlike many other offerings, the giver was able to take the bread, pastries, and meat home to eat (considered a luxury!). The giver, being rightly related to God, was supposed to then share the feast with her family as a symbol of joyous communion and fellowship with God.

This woman clearly was hypocritical in all of these religious acts.  In fact, she was devious in the midst of her “worship.” She chose to give an expensive offering which she knew required a feast afterward at a time when her husband was gone. She used this as a ploy to make herself look godly and well-respected to her victim as well as to entice him to her home under false—even seemingly godly—pretenses.

Her Mindset (Prov 5:5-6)

The word ponder means “to mentally weigh” something. She does not carefully think about what she is doing. As a result of her careless thinking, she wanders. Wander means “to stagger, shake, or waver.” She does not even realize she has no direction. Yet, her careless thought pattern leads her steps to death. Her undisciplined mind has eternal consequences.

Her Heart (Prov 7:10)

She is “wily of heart.” The word wily means “guarded, secret, or hidden.” In this context, wily refers to her subtlety and craftiness. She has a secret agenda, and she is willing to do whatever she must to manipulate her victim.

Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer. The devising of folly is sin,and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind (Prov 24:8-9).

Delilah is a great example of this wily, manipulative heart (Judges 16:4-20). Her manipulative heart led to evil plans and actions.

Her Appearance (Prov 7:10)

While her heart has a secret agenda, her clothing choices certainly do not. She dresses “as a prostitute.” Her clothing choices, in reality, reveal her heart. So, what does dressing like a prostitute look like? One author explains,

It definitely involves how a woman puts herself together—the type of shoes, clothing, and make-up she chooses to wear. But far more than that, it has to do with her underlying attitude. A prostitute is excessively concerned about personal appearance (Mary Kassian, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, 94).

Her Attitude (Prov 7:11)

Loud

The Hebrew word implies “to rage, to roar, to make in tumult.”  She is flashy, gaudy, showy, theatrical, unrestrained, sassy, cocky, pushy. She’s a “girl with an attitude!” However, Proverbs 9:13 calls such a loud woman foolish and stupid.

Wayward

The Hebrew word means “rebellious and stubborn.” This a woman who demands her own way and refuses to be instructed or led.

Today’s culture praises these characteristics as virtues. The world  renames them as “self-assertiveness” and “female empowerment.” However, God calls them sin.

Her Routine (Prov 7:11-12)

She was always out and about. “’Now at the mall, now at the club, now at the movie theater, now at the party, now at the game’” (Kassian, p. 73 ) is a contemporary parallel. She had neglected her priority—her home. Her physical routine drove her out of the home, and her mental focus was most certainly elsewhere.

Her Methods

Nonverbal Communication (Prov 6:25)

Ever seen “Toddlers and Tiaras”? These little girls have learned the nonverbals that our P7W practiced so well.  Women like the P7W can capture men with their eyelashes. They have learned to send messages to men using looks, touches, body movement, head tossing, etc. This is flirting, seduction, and sin.

Promises of Pleasure (Prov 7:16-18)

She describes to her victim the beautiful and expensive bedspreads and linens that she had prepared for him (7:16-17).  The descriptions of such opulence imply a focus on extravagance that this woman had.

She also proposed that she and her victim delight in each other’s love all night.  The phrase “take our fill” means to satisfy. She was proposing that their rendezvous would satisfy and bring intense joy. She was a self-indulgent women who wanted instant pleasure.

Her Speech

Prov 2:16: “So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.”

Prov 5:3 “For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil.”

Prov 6:24 “To preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.”

Prov 7:5 “To keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.”

Prov 7:21: “With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.”

The most frequently-mentioned descriptor of the P7W is how she speaks or uses her words. She speaks a lot, she speaks manipulatively, and she speaks deceptively in order to flatter. Knowing that men need affirmation, yet seeking only to meet her own needs, she flattered instead. “Flattery is simply a seductive counterfeit for affirmation” (Shaunti Feldhahn, For Women Only, 67).

Her Outcome

 But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol (Prov 5:4-5).

Conclusion: Hopefully we are not waiting at corners dressed as prostitutes (But if you are, God promises hope and forgiveness!). Believers strive to live godly lives, living out our professions to Christ and our faithfulness to our husbands (if married). Yet, it would help each of us to examine ourselves in order to make sure that we do not practice any of the thoughts, attitudes, or actions of the P7W. It is not too late to change any or all of these ungodly habits.

The root of these characteristics is trying to fill the hole in our hearts with something other than Christ. For an unbelieving woman, male attraction may be the way she strives to do it, as did this proverbial foolish woman. As believers, we may forget the fullness of the pleasures of Christ and seek temporary shelter in the pleasures of this world, which may reveal itself in some of these characteristics. So check yourself. Ask yourself some diagnostic questions:

(Marriage/Religion)

How is your faithfulness to your husband?

Do you take your marriage covenant seriously in all respects?

Whether or not you are married, do you to take others’ marriage covenants seriously? Are you a help or a hindrance to married couples you know and can influence?

Do you use “religion” as a cover, while trying to live life only as you want to live it?

(Your Heart)

How is your heart?

Do you use manipulation in order to accomplish your secret agenda?

Are you trusting the Lord and seeking the best interest of others (particularly the man in your life)?

(Your Appearance)

How is your appearance?

Are you excessively concerned about your appearance?

Do you dress in a way that draws attention to yourself or in a way that points to Christ?

(Your Attitude)

How is your attitude?

Are you sassy and stubborn?

Are you characterized by gentleness, calmness, and submissiveness?

(Your Routine)

How are your routines?

Are you self-indulgent and irresponsible?

Are you self-sacrificing and disciplined?

(Your Methods)

How are your methods of interaction with men (other than your husband)?.

Are you characterized by flirtatious words or body language that may invite lustful thoughts/actions or gain male attention (whether or not you’re married)?

Do you seek to make your godly lifestyle attractive to others?

(Your Speech)

How is your speech?

Do you speak excessively, manipulatively, or deceptively?

Or do you weigh your words, speaking sincerely and for the good of your hearers (remembering God hears your words)?

(Your Outcome)

Where are your steps leading you?

Are you headed toward destruction?

Or are you headed toward eternal life?

*Mary Kassian’s book, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild was immensely helpful in writing this lesson. I recommend this book highly.

**The above is part of First Baptist Church of Rockford’s Ladies Bible Study on Biblical Womanhood.**

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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One response to “Thursday Thoughts: What Not to Wear (or Do or Be)

  1. […] Thursday Thoughts: What Not to Wear (or Do or Be) Feb […]

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