Another Scripture that is used to “keep women in their place” comes in Genesis 2:18, God says “I will make a helper (ezer) fit for him (Adam).” Women have long been told that this is their role—to be a helper to men, there to serve them. It is an enlightening exercise, however, to look at the other occasions on which this word “helper” is used. Of the 21 times, the Hebrew word “ezer” is used, in all but six it refers to God. Typical examples include, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2) or “Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). The impression is more of a valued consultant brought in to assist where man is lacking than some kind of divinely appointed personal assistant.
Change is in the air. There is currently a ground swell—a sense of the brooding of the Holy Spirit—over the topic of women in ministry. It’s like the calm before the storm. I believe that very soon we are going to see a movement of men and women—not a radical feminist movement of women reacting to the injustice of the past, but a move of God’s Holy Spirit where both men and women work together to free women into their destiny. We will see Galatians 3:28—“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. For you are all Christians – you are one in Christ Jesus”—fulfilled in our lifetime. What might happen when the other half of God’s army, the female warriors, begin to take their rightful place alongside the men to follow the Holy Spirit’s strategy in the world?
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11 replies on “Women as helpers?”
Encouraging to see this today. The first person I heard teach about “ezer” is Carolyn Custis James. I loved her book Lost Women of the Bible. http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Women-Bible-Strength-Significance/dp/0310263905
Great note Felicity! I think I realized this, my wife being my helper in my weaknesses, some time ago! I think it also refers to complements or completes the man. While being single is an honorable life style, not all have this calling. But looking at wife and husband as the picture of the church and Christ it is obvious that while the church does not complete Christ, it does fulfill or completes His eternal purpose. Praise God for my wife, praise God for His Bride!
I find this very interesting. First of all, as a man, I need a helper! I need help from the Lord and I need help from my wife! Without it, I feel lost. That said, I am also an administrative assistant (a more gender neutral term for Secretary). I have a lot of giftedness and passion in being a helper myself. I take slight by the degrading sound of “a cosmic personal assistant”. I know most CEO types and Pastoral leaders with great secretaries would say the same thing. Those women or even male assistants that serve and help them are not less than them, they simply have a different role, more in the true nature of being a servant. It is a greater service to be a servant than a person of “power.” Christ displayed and called all of us to such a life. If women (or men) serve in that role, it is not less, it is more of what Christ calls us to! By the way, when things are working better, my wife does complement (and compliment) me and I complement (and compliment!) her. I wish people would stop assuming that complementary, serving, helping roles make them less a part of the Army of Ordinary People. The custodians, food workers, and maintenance folks in an industry mean just as much as those who aren’t. They aren’t relegated to a meaningless, lesser role. They are just serving in a different capacity.
Thank you for a very enlightening blog post Felicity! Whereas you’ve given me a wonderful answer to what kind of ring the word “helper” in Genesis 2:18 actually has to it, you’ve however also left me with an entirely new question to ponder: Who is that gorgeous archeress!?! =)
One other thing that came to mind. Even in churches, structures and/or organizations where women are not permitted to have leadership positions, it is important to remember that “positional leadership” as Neil Cole reminds us is the weakest form of leadership. All other forms of leadership are available to women, even in those contexts.
Shawn, agreed. Like our friend Gerald Coates from the UK says, “I don’t believe in the ordination of women!” Then he adds, ” But then I don’t believe in the ordination of men either!”
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Where should their loyalty lie and what should be the consequences of their actions ?
In my work as a coach, one of the behaviours I come across most regularly is people saying that they want to cause real change in aspects of their life, but then being very resistant to actually taking the necessary actions.
what a shame. Christ humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, yet you can’t even be bothered to play your God-mandated role. You are the blind leading the blind. There is no greater job for a woman than to basically imitate the role of the Holy Spirit within the marriage relationship. But you are too good for that… Wake up!
Kim, I’ve no idea if you’re a man or a woman. I see the marriage relationship as a race to lower, to serve each other. I love to submit to my husband as he lays down his life for me. Being an “ezer” means that I’m there alongside my husband, not beneath him. We’re a team, as I believe God showed in his original creation before the Fall.