EMBS’ REVIEW OF : How to Find a Godly Wife – Authored by E.R. GILBERT
This book is a simple study of the verses in Proverbs chapter 31 (a chapter of the Bible in which God describes a godly wife).
The points made by the author are typical exposition of the text with a few good original insights. The book is basically doctrinally sound, but because the book uses a corrupt Bible translation I will not recommend it.
Gilbert’s text runs afoul of two of my major pet peeves for it capitalizes the W when referring to the Bible as the “Word of God” which is incorrect (the only time the W in that phrase should be capitalized is at the beginning of a sentence or when referring to the living Word of God, Jesus Christ) and again with the capitalization of a pronoun when referring to God as “Him.” I believe rules of English should be as flexible as needed for an author’s use, but those things have always bothered me because we have the best guide in our English Bible regarding the proper use of reverent capitalization.
One insight of the author is that a godly woman must be sought out. He says that she will not always be the center of attention and will not necessarily have an outward appearance of godliness which draws attention to itself. Rather she may be a woman who serves God and others quietly with a meek and gentle spirit. I very much approve of this message. The same should be said of a godly man.
The author reasserts a common belief that if you have a desire to be married it means that God’s will is that you will be married at some point (if that desire is not a selfish desire.) This I do not agree with.
We desire a lot of godly things that we do not get to do or experience. There are many people who live and die unmarried but had a godly desire to be married. There are many young people who die before they are even of a marriageable age and the possibility of dying before marriage only increases with age. The sadness of that reality can be offset by teaching Christians that God has other blessings and rewards that can be received after death that are quite similar to having an earthly family reserved for those who sacrifice their own happiness to serve God (see Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:29-30, etc.). Those blessings are better than having an earthly family in that they eternal rather than temporal. Because the doctrines of the topic are rather involved it can not be expounded upon now, but I’ll try to write something about it in the future.
In one section of the book I am reviewing the author writes about how a man’s relationship with a godly mother can help him form a model of what a future wife should be. This section is very short and should have been expanded as there is a lot to be said about that.
A theme carried throughout is that a Christian male is a king, under God, with authority, and that within the respective sphere of influence given to him he must make wise decisions. One of those decisions includes who is to rule beside him. This leads the author to stumble a bit when coming to verse four of the chapter which says that kings should not drink wine.
The author falls back on good doctrine regarding Christians and alcohol noting that it’s allowed, but that drunkenness is not, but fails a bit in reconciling that with the prohibition against kings drinking alcohol. He does his best, but the message is a bit muddled because of carrying his analogy of Christian men and kings too far. His reading of the scripture here seemed a bit confused and opened up a contradiction not uncommon when spiritualizing a text. Preachers are well aware of this hazard and recognize it as a indication that a personally preferred spiritual application of a text may run contrary to sound doctrine. When this occurs falling back on sound doctrine usually resolves the issues and the author should have allowed himself a few paragraphs to do that.
The answer is that the passage is at this part literal in that kings are not to drink alcohol at all in that it perverts judgment violating the rights and liberties of the people and endangering the state. While simultaneously the passage, if applied spiritually to Christians who want to assert their spiritual authority as kings, forbids them from drinking alcohol, so that an empowered Christian should not drink (Ephesians 5:18).
Furthermore, if a Christian has literal power, either as a leader within the body of Christ or as a civil servant, the prohibition against rulers drinking alcohol is applied with ever more weight as his power grows (I Timothy chapter 3).
Instead of that the author uses a different path to try to resolve the conflict splitting the baby and making a spiritual application out of the difference between wine and strong drink, which seems a bit clumsy to me, but may have some good application as he applies it to other portions throughout the work.
The author makes the mistake of using the term “helpmate” rather than “help meet” to describe a woman’s relationship to her husband and that is a critical error in understanding God’s view of relationships, but is a topic too lengthy to cover in detail now.
The rest of the book doesn’t require a lot of comment as it’s pretty straight forward and contains good notes, but I will leave with one serious criticism. The book is poorly titled. This book does not speak to finding a godly wife at all. Instead it’s a book about living a godly life as a man and about what the attributes of a godly woman are so that when a godly woman is seen she can be recognized.