Currently, I am taking our church’s youth group through a series on relationships. Last week we covered the topic of marriage from Genesis 2:15-25. In this passage, as God sees Adam all by his lonesome, we read:
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18).
The passage is simple enough. Adam is alone in God’s very good world (Genesis 1:31) and that, in God’s eyes, is not a good thing. God’s creation of humankind stood incomplete with lonely Adam. This isn’t to say that people are incomplete without a spouse (that would mean Paul and Jesus were incomplete), but it is to say that Mankind is incomplete without Womankind. There was another to bring into the mix and it would be a she; and she would be a “helper.”
At this point, a lot of people get their jimmies rustled. Objections like, “How degrading! Woman are not made to be men’s ‘helpers!’ How patriarchal! How misogynistic! How primitive!” To our developed and enlightened eyes, the concept of wives being “helpers” to husbands is nauseating.
But it shouldn’t be. In fact, it should be the exact opposite. The title of “helper” given to Eve (and all wives after her) was not a title of degradation, but dignity.
Richard Phillips explains it well:
The Hebrew word for helper is ezer. What is said of how a woman will function in relationship to man is also said of God as the Ezer of Israel.
- God was a help to Israel most powerfully as Jehovah God, their Redeemer. As helper, he powerfully delivered Israel from their enemies.
- On one occasion he is called helper when he gently fed a prophet, a widow, and her son.
- This is again said of God when he was a patient shepherd to Israel in the wilderness.
- Psalm 121 puts it in especially beautiful language: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (vv. 1-2).
We could continue with the examples, but you get the point. To call a woman a helper is not to emphasize her weakness but her strength, not to label her as superfluous but as essential to Adam’s condition and to God’s purpose in the world. Helper is a position of dignity given to the woman by God himself. (Taken from Hold Hands, Holding Hearts, p. 26-27).
So, dear wives, you have been created and called to be God’s helper to your husband. Revere its high calling. Praise God for your privilege. Be humbled and amazed that God would so honor you and make you a helper like Him. In short, know your role and rejoice in it.
That’s all well and good for the single girls who grow up to be married women, but God doesn’t promise that everyone will marry, have children, own their own house, graduate college, have secure employment, have sound health, etc. Singles have to both lead and help themselves, regardless of what gender they are.
Thanks for the comment.
You’re absolutely right. God doesn’t promise everyone to be married and being single is in no way a lesser or inferior life to live. In fact, he calls some to a life of singleness (1 Cor. 7:6-9; Matthew 19:12).
I thought this was a helpful and encouraging post highlighting a good attitude for singles to have: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/nine-prayers-for-the-not-yet-married
And yet it’s hard not to feel as if it’s not inferior. Since the rule is that all leaders must be married, we have married pastors whose short season single-hood is so far beyond recall making decisions for single men and women who exist in an enduring season of singleness. So there’s no representation among the leadership, no elder-single to fight our corner. The desiring God post still danced around marriage throughout it’s prayers it doesn’t seem to really respect singleness because it favors marriage as the end-all and be-all of Christianity. But I’m used to that sort of message. My last few blog entries have been about long-term singleness in Christianity.