Intimacy & Honor in Marriage

She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.

Proverbs 31:22-24

She makes coverings for her bed.  It’s the very first sentence, so let’s just start there.  

She has created her own coverings for her bed.  What? She knows how to sew, too? This is a precious gift! It’s not that her bed was made for her or that she purchased it at Target, it’s that she made the blankets herself.  Her hands created her coverings; this is to be understood and admired. And please don’t get me wrong here, I love Target too! I’ll buy them out of coffee cups that I don’t need in a heartbeat. Most of our date nights happen inside that glorious red circle of a store.

But her. What was her history exactly? Where did she learn the art of doing such a thing? Perhaps she was not perfect and redeemed it, because she’s got some sewing skills. Or was she taught the art of intimacy at the right age and then chose excellence all the way up to her wedding day? We don’t really know. Maybe she missed a few good choices or maybe there was a hand of someone else against her. Perhaps she was pure from the get-go with no immoral space in between.  There is a lot to speculate as there is with any one of us. 

It’s not too clear what her humanity or what her preparation looked like; and just as we’re in a season of time where purity’s lines are crossed and marketed, and also full of exposure in the world, we need to be consistently aware of the grace of staying hidden in sacred places, designed only for covenant and not for everyone else.

It’s interesting that this Proverbs 31 woman is often looked at as old school or boring; I thought so at different times. She can look unattainable and impossible.  She also can come across as a religious zealot and task-master. How could anyone be that hard of a worker? How could anyone be so diligent? But herein lies the deeper question:

perhaps she needed to be diligent.  Perhaps there was a need for excellence in this area. We don’t know all of her details but we know she came from Eve, and we know that she is now clothed in fine linens and that her husband is respected.  And a woman who has created her own bed covering for her and her husband and who is also gaining the respect of others, represents the proof that this bed was clean and handmade.  Nothing was defiled in the creativity; instead it was brought to life and to government over land.  

So possibly, she was grown and raised with a supportive family and faith culture and so she already knew how to do this, or the other possibility is that she learned how to do it herself in order for her household to be blessed.

In a day and age where hyper-sexuality is everywhere, it’s important that we know what it looks like to have a clean bed, how to recover from an unclean one, and how to discuss sexuality as a gift from God with its best and most beautiful option being within the context of a healthy marriage. It’s a heavy topic, as we mentioned in the beginning of this book, the crossroads we currently are in with women’s rights.

What are the rights of a woman before marriage and during marriage? What if the bed is defiled, beforehand or even during the marriage? Cheating happens. Sexual assault happens. Pornography happens.  Emotional affairs happen. Eyes are open everywhere these days.  If defilement wasn’t available before, it is now. All the time.

So this Proverbs 31 woman not only seemed to have experience in identity, hard work, prayer, serving and generosity, but she also knew how to prepare herself for her husband.  Oh gosh, I know the connotations here.  Some of you are blushing, some of you are rolling your eyes, and some of you are wondering what the heck I’m going to say next.

And here’s what I’m going to say:

The woman knew how to purely and passionately get things going in the romance department.  And I’m not just talking practically, but I’m also talking spiritually so that what happened in the bedroom had enough bandwidth of authority to support her man in maintaining a seat with the leaders of the land.  And let’s be honest. We haven’t seen much of this in our country’s leadership structure yet.  Far from it, in fact. I think we all can agree here.

This is definitely more than a trip to the lingerie section of the store. Instead it means that the personal work she had been doing in all the areas we’ve discussed up to this point in her life had led her to this place of full covenant as her husband pursues her.

And so when they join together, their love can make miracles.  

Now, I say their love can make miracles under another stipulation—that his personal work has also been done and so his body has also been prepared. Because Ephesians 5:25-26 says “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.”

Are you blushing right now? Feeling fulfilled and in agreement, or perhaps awakened or alarmed? What is in your covering?

I didn’t mention this was going to become sex ed, but it kind of is unintentionally.  Because this is important, even down to the fine details.  Both sides of the deal need to be clean and prepared.  His eyes and his heart have to be looking in one direction—hers.  His mind and his spirit have to be elevated from one place, God.  From his security in God and then in his strength of leadership in marriage is then how he makes love.  It’s not out of his need for manhood or need for comfort or need for affirmation.  If those are the needs, then the bed will not be made well.  She won’t be dazzling, she’ll be dirty. 

We are talking about equal partnership, where each person brings to the table our full selves, and we give to one another out of that place of grace and health.  And as we continue to do this as the days and years go by, the practice starts to make perfect.  And that love begins to change the world.  

This is where this woman’s fine linens are made and kept.  If you want to know the secret to a happy life and a happy marriage, this is it.  Each person prepares their body with identity, prayer, and service and when that’s been promoted as mature, then they prepare the bed.  And make lots of room for love.

This is as it should be.  This is the blessing of covenant.  And it’s also the blessing of double portion.  This is where the woman is honored to step into her role as a valued supporter; she completes her husband.  Woman was made from Adam’s rib, and she was created for support in all areas. She wasn’t created as inferior or as a doormat but a helper; she was created as beauty and nourishment and provision.

And what it seems is that in this place of valid support, she is able to sell the goods she makes while making an even bigger profit.  So, her business is fruitful.  She can sell what she makes because her worth is established and her bed is made; she has become full in all areas. And so, the husband and wife are the power couple we all admire.

I mean, isn’t that the buzz word? Power couple. Each one bringing their strengths and gifts to the table, each contribution brought with value and honor, and then a feast (or a bed) is made. And with that, profit is to come. Abundance is to come; this is God’s gift to us in marriage. This really is what modern society exclaims all the time: “Women have rights! They can go back to work full time and have careers! They also get a voice!”

Yes, they do.

And Scripture is clear about how to get there by what is shared above and why it’s important.  Women do have other roles aside from wife and mother, and yet what looks to be very clear is that all of those other avenues for a voice and for a career come out of that initial role of woman, wife and mother.  It’s like trying to make a meal without the main dish.  You can eat the sides, but will they really fill you up? Not really.  They can get close, and they can get you by.  But the Bible is pretty clear here, women can very well have that steak dinner. Let’s just have it made well and with precision and dedication.  Let’s make sure our voices are restful instead of condescending.  If we’re angry, let’s be angry but not miss the mark. And let’s not let revenge fuel our rights or our careers.  Let’s let anger demand better boundaries for wholeness.  Let’s let anger stop violations and create refinement. Let’s let anger guide us into the quietness of Spirit, His Spirit healing our spirits so that we can go to work with our families and for our families with a clean voice and with a clean hand. 

It’s amazing, isn’t it? The difference between a prepared woman and a revengeful woman? Let’s be prepared women.  Let’s make our beds and prepare a beautiful space for our husband and children. And out of that love, let’s move forward into business.  Let’s make a profit from those healed and whole places, the testimonies and the stories of His redemption in our midst.  That’s the kind of business that sells.  Sex doesn’t sell peace, but intimacy and honor in marriage creates miracles.  Miracles, I tell you.  Not only for you but all those around you.

It is what brings forth honor for our God-given, sexual and creative design.  Everyone wants to talk about creativity these days.  It is the hot ticket everywhere, and yet we also have to talk about sex and about honoring one another with our bodies in holiness and also not defiling the sacred space of intimacy by using one another instead of giving to one another. It’s a sacred balance, even within marriage, to understand the dynamics of giving and receiving in the bedroom.

So our Proverbs 31 woman has proven to be a lot beautiful and also perhaps a bit sassy.  I like a little of both honestly. She’s a woman with sensual understanding and also one with healthy boundaries.  She can provide what is needed and desired while also being clothed in fine linens.

She is, in fact, someone to look up to.  And she’s not, like we may have thought, boring.  In fact, she’s showing herself to be more and more expressive and authoritative than we ever might have imagined.  She is no wimp, and she is no doormat.  She knows what’s up.  In fact, it says that wisdom is about to shed from her lips very soon.

So what does this look like for you personally and in your marriage or future marriage?  Where are you in your process of bed covering? It might feel so awkward to have someone ask you that. But it’s valid, and I’m not going to call you or even ask you to your face.  Just think about it.  Think about where you are and if things are going in the right direction or if things might need to be refreshed or changed.   Ask God if there are more outside boundaries needed in order to bring about the desired results.  Do you need more date nights or time alone or more emotionally-tailored conversations? Do you need to put your phone and work down? What are your hang ups and what are your strengths? What would make your flow more fluid?  

The secret is in the sauce.  Ask God. He’s not ashamed of intimacy; it’s where His favor lies.  He’d rather you ask Him then get ideas from the world.  Sex and honor in marriage was created for pleasure, purpose, and productivity.  They are a privilege from Heaven, and our noble wife knew how to use them honorably and favorably.

Twirling Tips for Chapter 7:

Where can you create better boundaries or choices for healing in your body?

Where can you create better boundaries or make more space for intimacy in your marriage?

Ask God about your covenant relationship and how you can refresh or improve its quality, even if it’s small details.

A Prayer:

God, would you helps us to learn the process of sewing our fine linens with grace, precision, and detail? Would your heart guard our hearts in all areas of intimacy and legitimacy? Help us understand the beauty of covenant blessing and the fruit of its work. Amen.

Copyright Sarah Elizabeth Humphrey 2018. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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