The Woman: Manís Helpmeet
By Reed Benson
The role of women in society has changed dramatically in the last century. Some changes are simply because of the development of labor saving devices that relieve some of the drudgery of homemaking. But the most significant changes in the lives of women as they relate to their husbands are a consequence of the manipulation of the Christian value system that has been rooted in Western Society for two thousand years.
Many women are discovering that the modern feminist agenda is not in their best interest. They are beginning to understand that a fuller, more satisfying life is found if they return to the traditional, Christian model of womanhood. Outlining some of the basic features of this model and exposing a few myths will be fruitful for all who desire Godís truth for the feminine gender.
In Genesis 2:18, God declares he will make a helpmeet for Adam. What does this mean? The Hebrew word for helpmeet is ezar, meaning aid. It comes from the root word azar, meaning protect, help, succor. Thus, we build the picture that a helpmeet is very much what it sounds like Ėa helper, an assistant, one who comes to provide backup support as is needed. We discover that the woman is designed and meant to aid in the calling of her husband, not compete with him. While in essence and value she is equal to the man, she is subordinate in function. His calling is to build his success, and in so doing she strengthens and builds her own secure future. A measure of his success is therefore attributable to her love and support.
It is interesting to note that when Eve was formed, God selected a rib from the side of Adam as the material point of connection (Genesis 2:21). Is there symbology embedded here? Quite possibly there is. God did not select a heel bone that one would conclude she was his slave, a lower form of personhood. Nor did He select a segment of Adamís cranium to prove she was to do the thinking for him. Rather, the rib plainly shows a lateral relationship-one that symbolizes the sharing of joys, burdens, and experiences of life. This symbology dovetails nicely with the meaning of the word helpmeet.
A better understanding of the womanís role as a helpmeet or assistant can be obtained from knowledge of the masculine and feminine nature planted by God in men and women respectively.
A womanís nature is focused primarily in the area of nurturing others. Of course, there are women who seem to be exceptions to this rule, but in fact exceptions are exceedingly rare. Rather, such ladies have either suppressed these aspects of their being, which is not uncommon since modern pop culture encourages such suppression, or they are youthful enough that it has not had full opportunity to yet emerge. Many illustrations can be drawn upon to demonstrate this nurturing tendency. For example, often woman who do not have children to nurture, cuddle, protect, etc. will find fulfillment of their nurturing tendencies through a small pet that is doted upon. This nurturing aspect of a woman causes her to think primarily in terms of family and community. Most women relate in practical terms to the people that are in their lives and only secondarily on issues that are distant and theoretical. Thus, her nurturing tendencies provide a limited but very intense worldview and sphere of concern.
Man, however has a nature, which is dominion oriented. As a boy grows, his tendencies to be more aggressive than girls shape this dominion nature. He sees the world though lenses that urge him to conquer and expand his sphere of influence. He naturally develops a bigger scope, a broader horizon. At times, this causes men to seem more interest in apparently esoteric issues far away from the members of their own family or an attraction to violence. In truth, their interest in affairs that seem unrelated actually provide the means by which a man can more effectively provide the means by which a man can more effectively protect the family. His wider view allows him to see distant dangers more quickly.
Thus, it can be seen why woman is the helpmeet of man and not the other way around. She is more attentive to the pressing and routine needs of family and friends. She is able to attend to such details and inform her husband of unusual developments. Meanwhile, his dominion nature charts the family course of a broader time scale.
Peter calls women to develop a "meek and quiet spirit"(1 Peter 3:4). What is a meek and quiet spirit? Perhaps it would be of help to show what it is not. It is not a silent wife who rarely speaks--that interpretation is inconsistent with other passages of scripture such as Proverbs 31:26 which states that a godly woman " openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law o kindness." Silence is not the mandate of the woman, at least in the general routines of daily life. Of course, a woman is to be silent in regards to teaching men (1 Timothy 2:12), and a loud boisterous woman is not to be desired (Proverbs 7:11). Yet a meek and quiet spirit is displayed through an attitude more than in quantity of words (or lack thereof). It is found in the qualities of flexibility, cooperation, sincerity, availability, reverence, patience, discretion, contentment, gratefulness, humility, compassion, deference, and others of a similar nature. Such are the qualities a godly woman should cultivate. These allow a woman to complement her husband. She becomes an asset in term of her relationship.
Other qualities are outlined in Proverbs 31 to which a godly woman should aspire. Verse 13 states "she worketh willingly with her hands." She is thus a self-starter and does not require her husband to hold her accountable like a child to her appointed duties. Verse 15 says she "riseth also while it is yet night" and verse 18 indicates she is available throughout the nighttime hours for whatever needs the household may have. We also find that a godly woman has a heart of generosity, considering the plight of the poor and needy (verse 20). Another important quality is found verse 27, which claims she will "not eat the bread of idleness." Engaging in productive pursuits will be her hallmark. This is in contrast to the idle women of whom Paul warns Timothy, whose mouths are busy exchanging titillating stories house to house (1 Timothy 5:13; note that in modern times this can be fulfilled via cell-phone, e-mail, and social networking websites).
A woman can wield considerable responsibility--but only as her husband has delegated it to her. Proverbs 31:11 indicates that a godly wife will be able to earn the confidence and trust of her husband: "The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil." He will not be fretting about her running up debt on the credit card, wasting hours jabbering with distant friends, or dashing about town and country for light and transient causes. He trusts her to be about the affairs of life that he has delegated to her and with which she is comfortable. He is able to delegate even important matters to her as she has proven herself responsible in lesser decisions. How can he confidently do so? It is because he has sought to train and teach her the principles of decision-making that govern his life. She had been a willing student. He knows she will seek to evaluate all matters based on principles of thinking and decisionmaking she learned from him. Rather than doing things in the manner her own inclinations run, she seeks to do what she believes he would do and acts in accordance with the instructions and counsel he has provided her over the years. He may even be able to delegate major purchases to such a teachable and wise wife as in indicated in scripture: "She considereth a field and buyeth it . . ."(Proverbs 31:16). Now the more he is able to safely delegate to her in confidence, the more he can turn his attention to other dominion tasks. Thus, while she may carry forth many details of the family business, he is freed to get involved in civic affairs and become a leader in the community. This is the message of Proverbs 31:23: "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land."
Ignorance in women is considered by some to be a virtue.
This is wrong, even foolish thinking. Some would assert that an ignorant
woman would be more dependent on her husband, thus more submissive to his
wishes. They purport that knowledge leads to power and thus rebellious
attitudes. In truth, those that see ignorance in a wife as a virtue are
simply reacting to the gross ungodliness in the modern feminist agenda.
They are correct that it will make the wife more dependent, but certainly not more submissive. Rather, a woman will feel trapped, and such feelings can never lead to true submission, for submission is from a willing heart. Instead, bitterness will build in his wife. If a man can only control his wife by keeping her ignorant and inept, his marriage is ruled by force and threat, not love. It will be a poor marriage because he failed to rule through love as a commanded in Ephesians 5:25.
There is only one kind of ignorance that can be virtuous: ignorance of evil. All other forms of knowledge are desirable to some degree. A wise husband will welcome a knowledgeable wife. He may indeed feel obliged to improve his knowledge, skills, and aptitudes to stay ahead or at least abreast of her, but that is good, not bad. An intelligent, educated, skilled wife will enable her husband to delegate more, thus freeing him for further dominion tasks. Of course, it is important that the education of young ladies be accomplished in a godly atmosphere. Not all, but many college campuses will not allow for this and can plant ungodly, feminist notions and attitudes. But do not make the mistake of equating useful, wholesome knowledge with a rebellious spirit, for that is simply untrue.
It had been said that behind every great man is a good woman. While we must give pause before embracing folk sayings as solid gospel, there may be at least an element of truth in the homespun wisdom. A wife can do much to further the life vision of her husband, which she should perceive as her own as well. She can be a complement to his skills, adding her own where he has shortcomings. For example, President James Madison was a brilliant and courageous man. But he was quiet, even dour and melancholy. Fortunately, his wife Dolly was outgoing, witty, and engaging. Her skills as a White House hostess enabled him to enjoy two highly successful terms, as well as weathering the cruel criticism heaped on his administration when the British burned the capitol, the White House, and other federal building in the War of 1812. Would Madison have become the great President he was without her aid? It may be impossible to say with certainty, but I tend to believe not.
Every wife has the opportunity to be an asset to her husband and the vision God has called him to pursue and her to support. Or, a wife can be a ball and chain, a petulant, childlike adult that must be constantly watched, coddled, and controlled, limiting her husbandís potential. Ladies, which will you be?