Monday, July 28, 2008

Foolish Women

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.”  (Matthew 25:1-2)

     There are lots of them, you know—foolish women, I mean. The Bible speaks of them in at least four different places. In each case, their foolishness cost them dearly, robbing them of something very valuable, perhaps never to be regained. And similarly, each loss was unnecessary. What could be more foolish than that?

— Job’s Wife —

      We read in Job chapter two of this good man’s foolish wife (his own description), who urged him to defy God’s working in his life, even to the point of cursing Him. Some have spoken on her behalf, suggesting she did this in order to hasten his death and end the suffering. But I am not a proponent of euthanasia, however well-meaning its motivation; and, evidently, neither was Job. As he saw it, to willingly accept good from the hand of God, only to turn on Him when evil times befall one, is to exhibit the lowest form of ingratitude and shallowness. In this woman’s case, her foolish advice cost her the respect of her husband. No small loss, indeed. 

— Women in Proverbs —

     There are two mentions of foolish women in the book of Proverbs. In the first instance (Prov.9: 13-18), we find a woman foolish enough to think that illicit lovemaking is “sweet” and “pleasant.” Solomon characterizes her as being simple and unknowing. Or, as you and I might say, she was just plain stupid! And it is not surprising that the kind of men attracted to her are just like her (v.16). Obviously, such a foolish woman will not only lose her virtue, but also her self-respect.

     The second foolish woman in Proverbs is found in the first verse of chapter fourteen. This is the wife who is a home-breaker instead of a homemaker. This can be accomplished in more than one way; and the old saying notwithstanding (“There are two sides to every story”), there are some foolish women who seem to be able to manage it all by themselves. This woman’s loss is obvious: her home.

— The Virgins —

     This brings us to our story of the wise and foolish virgins, as cited here in Matthew. All ten were given the chance to meet the coming bridegroom. All carried lamps in case the arrival was after dark, which would make added light necessary for the path. But evidently, five of these women were willing to gamble on the assumption that the bridegroom would come before dark, since they did not bother to bring oil for their lamps. What good is an oil lamp without oil, right?

     And you know the story. Sure enough, the bridegroom did not appear until after dark; and sure enough, the five foolish virgins were not ready for him. While they were scrambling to buy the oil they should already have had, they missed the bridegroom and the wedding. The whole “shootin’ match!”

     Call this a parable illustrating those unprepared for the Second Coming, if you like; but one way or the other, the thing that was lost here was an opportunity. In this case, an opportunity they were never able to regain, which is true of most opportunities worth anything.

     Well, would you not admit these four unflattering pictures of foolish women were given for our instruction? And would you not also say that those who fail to learn from them are doubly foolish? 

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