Lake Wobegone: Where the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.

Dear Daughter,

You asked me the other day why a guy would ever want to marry a strong woman when he could choose instead a sweet and naturally submissive woman. I gave you a few answers, but since I have been thinking about this more, I wanted to write more in depth.

When I asked your dad this question, he just snorted with laughter. To him it seems so obvious. “Well,” he says, “I guess it depends what that man wants to do. It might be compared to the difference between a race horse with some spirit and a tame pasture pony. If a man is going to do hard things, he will probably want a wife who will be a bit spirited, but have real backbone.” (Or something to that effect.)

It’s no secret that one of the things that most characterizes our church is that it is filled with strong men. The elders, pastors, and deacons give it strong leadership, and you see the young men growing rapidly in strength. Perhaps a better kept secret though, is that the church is also populated with all kinds of strong women. Just look at the wives of the pastors and other elders. To a one, they are women of courage, conviction, and perseverance, women who are a real strength to their husbands and to the church body.

What is a strong woman anyway? Is it antithetical to being a biblical woman? In my mind, a strong woman is a woman who is courageous (which means doing what is right even, and especially, when it is hard), a woman of conviction, and a woman of perseverance. There are so many women that I think of. Mrs. Cuffey comes immediately to mind. Imagine the strength she had to continue believing and praying all those decades, waiting for Dr. Cuffey to come to the Lord, and then the joy she had when it come to pass in their last years on earth.

The women of the Bible are not wimpy ladies either. You have Sarah who submitted to her rather imperfect husband (making herself beautiful by her submission! – I Peter 3:5,6), even when it meant she was put in a precarious position in Egypt. Ruth chose to follow her mother-in-law and the one true God rather than stay in her own country and worship their gods. The Proverbs 31 lady is no candy either. And then you have Mary, the mother of Jesus, who as a young girl willingly accepted the very strange and awkward news that she would become the mother of the Messiah, and then she is one of those few (mostly women) who are at the foot of the cross as Jesus dies. These are just some of the very strong women in the Bible.

The common ground for the godly women of the Bible is that they were submitted to the Lord. And those who were married were submitted to their husbands. This is key. A strong woman who is not submitted to the Lord and to her husband will be a huge pain to everyone. But one who gives herself first to the Lord and then to her husband will bring great joy. She can be a bulwark of support for her husband, especially in those difficult times of life.

OK, there are a few caveats for strong women. Really you have heard all of these from us before! First, and you have heard us ad nauseum on this, strong women need strong men. Second, strong women need to work extra hard at learning submission. Third, strong women who hold strong convictions need to work on learning when to speak and when to hold their tongues. (Prov. 11:22)

So, why would a man choose to marry a strong woman? Maybe because he wants a woman who will not give up easily when life is hard. Maybe because he wants a woman who will stand firm when opposition and trials come. Maybe because he wants a woman who will use her strength and ideas not to go her own way, but to work as his helpmate. Remember Pastor Bayly’s charge some time ago to young men to find a wife who will be a challenge. A strong man is not threatened by a strong woman, but rejoices instead in the woman that the Lord has given him.


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