Woman – A Helper to Man?
Quick question – what do you and God have in common?
It is very difficult to have thoughtful and productive conversations in today's society without having to pause and define terms. Words such as complementarian, egalitarian, and submission have snowballed and molded into a completely different animal than just 5 years ago. Another term that has received a bad rap lately is the term "helper". Today, women look at you with such disdain or refuse to be defined as a helper to their husband. As a pastor's wife and one who works with women on a weekly basis, I have seen that even in the local church there is a dislike and hesitation to accept this term as a God-given role to women.
Myth #1: The term helper has a negative connotation.
Like submission, today’s pulpits and women’s ministries have shied away from using the term “helper,” afraid of stepping on the toes of a misinformed audience or the uprising of feminist (egalitarians, soft complementarians) sitting in their pews. When taking the time to share with women the beauty and intricacy that God originally intended for helper, women in our church have become more confident in their roles. From the beginning, the term “helper” has never had a negative connotation. In fact, the term "helper" is used to describe a characteristic of God.
Within the Old Testament, the term ‘ezer is used to speak of God’s relationship with mankind. In Deuteronomy 33:7, Moses makes an appeal to God to be an ‘ezer to the tribe of Judah. In Psalm 30:10 and 54:4, David describes God as his ‘ezer. In Psalm 121, God is frequently described as a ‘ezer to His people. These passages show how people understood God to be their helper. One can see how the term helper has such a rich meaning because it centers upon the very character and nature of God.
So, is being a helper bad? When God describes a woman as a helper that means that a woman has the capability, resources, and strength to be a help (Proverbs 31:10-31). 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 says, “For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. And man was not created for woman, but woman for man.” The woman was created to beautifully adorn man and to compliment man. Alexander Strauch states, “The fact that the woman was made for the sake of the man is proof that the man ‘is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.'"
Women, let me encourage you today to be a helper. Why? Because to be a helper is to show forth a character trait of God. Remember, our calling is to reflect God to the world so that they may come to know God’s Son, Jesus, as their personal Savior.
Myth #2: I can't be used by God if I am merely a helper.
The burning question for women today is that of identity. Who am I? What is my worth? Am I really significant? Can I be used to further the kingdom? Beginning in Genesis, we see that, as a woman, we have meaning and significance in the kingdom of God. Not only are we created for this purpose, but we were also created for much more. God created the woman for the man.
In Genesis, God describes a wife’s role to her husband as a suitable helper. Genesis 2:18 says, “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’” In this verse, God declares that man was never intended to be alone and thus He creates “a helper suitable for him”. The Hebrew term for “suitable for him” (Heb. kenego) means “corresponding to him or counterpart.” Therefore, making her nature correspond to his shows their equality. Despite being equal to man, woman is different in her biological makeup and DNA. She was created to complement the man, to help him populate and rule the earth, and to unite with him in a loving partnership. This is the first statement in Scripture concerning the women’s role; she is to be a help to the man. As mentioned above, the term “helper” in Genesis 2:18 means “help, support, or aid.” It is used as the key word to describe the woman’s role. Therefore, being a helper does not mean woman is less than man, woman simply compliments man. In design, both men and woman are created in the image of God, imago dei. However, through their design and purpose, man and woman have distinct roles in marriage and function within the local church.
In their book, The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them, Gavin Peacock and Owen Strachan explains that this uniqueness in design “means that the helper needed to be like him as a human but distinct from him. This is the essence of complementarity: one suited to us, who fits with us, but is not precisely the same as us.” Thus, we see that man and woman were created in cooperation with one another, not competition.
Although many women within the church wouldn’t consider themselves to be feminists, the way we demand a title or function outside of God’s divine design for His church declares otherwise. When we see that we are uniquely made to be a helper, we can be at peace with how God has created us, recognizing biblical womanhood as an essential part of Christ’s mission and work. The everyday, quiet faithfulness of helping is a beautiful picture of God's love and extraordinary purpose He has for you and me. As women, we can run on mission and fulfill the Great Commission. Let's run!