A word from the little woman

September 24, 2012

in Aff Link, Good Marriage, Headship/Submission, Marriage Killer, Seeing Clearly

My bride, aka “the little woman” (NOT!) had a great post yesterday, in which she explained why she does not use (and does not care for) the term “help meet” – as found in some translations of Gen 2:20. Her beef is that “help meet” is a very poor translation of the Hebrew words ezer kenegdo. I encourage you to go read the post Why I Don’t Use the Words “Help Meet”.

The little woman | freedigitalphotos.net

I completely agree with my bride on this, both the theology and the sad results coming from it. Yes, I believe the Bible is true, and means what it says, but it means what GOD said, not what some person says it means. The Word warns us about false prophets, and one of the most common forms of false prophets today are those who redefine words and twist scriptures to make the Bible seem to say something that never entered into the mind of God!

Why would any man want a wife who did not have opinions of her own? I thank God (literally and often) I have a wife who will tell me when she thinks I am wrong. Of course, I want her to do it nicely (which she does) but I really do want and need her to do it. I am glad she tells me when she sees a different way, because sometimes it is better, and sometimes it leads me to think of something better than either my original thought or her suggestion. It is wonderful my bride does not think as I do; she has a different perspective, different talents, and different experiences, which means she can add to my wisdom. Additionally, she often understands people better (especially people with internal gonads) and I benefit from her sharing her perspective.

Yes, I am the head, and yes, she submits; but that does not mean I am smarter or always have the best plan. This is not a headship issue, it is a matter of who we are – of who God says we are. I don’t see this as a women’s issue, because it affects me as a husband. If my wife does not properly see who she is in God, I lose. If my bride does not feel free to share her perspective, we both lose. If she sees herself as somehow less because she is a woman, she cannot feel free to share her perspective, and we both lose. If I buy into the unbiblical idea she exists just to be my helper, then she will feel like she is less, and we both lose. When we get this right, our marriages grow; when we get it wrong, our marriages shrink.

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14 comments
Evan
Evan

I really don't have a problem with the term "helpmeet". I have always thought thst it meant that she was made to help him meet his potential that God has in mind for him. That would certainly be by sharing ideas, as you mentioned, or corrections, or many other ways. I think it also means that the two are going to "meet" to help fill the gaps that the other has. I think it is a better term than "helper" which would sound like she is only there to help him with whatever it is he wants to do.

Take Two
Take Two

I'd like to say I disagree, but perhaps the translation is right. It seems like she might be doing as good a job any translator. I do think the far reaching conclusions are a bit bizarre. Being a helper is not an insult or insignificant. It is a spiritual gift like leadership. Being a servant is also not bad, it is generally commanded in the Bible. In fact, if I understand the Bible correctly, we need to be servants before we can used of God. I also have felt the best doctrine on Biblical marriage hierarchy comes from the model of the Church. We are Christ's Bride; we may be radiant to him but it is he who is important and not use. We are just simple helpers that need to get in line with him. Of course this applies to men and woman and appears to be the thing that Christians are worst at. I have never seen anyone line up to be the most helpful and least significant, even though the scripture preaches something along these lines. We all are supposed to be the next Billy Graham. Of course, that can't happen and most people end up with the gift of helps. Unfortunately, I don't think most of us use it very well. Doesn't surprise me that women are up in arms about this, but I think most people need some servant training.

Chuck
Chuck

The problem with talking about a "helpmeet" is that we are snatching something out of context from the King James (don't want to fight a KJVO fight, but it's true). Gen. 2 talks about how God created "a helper meet for him." Two words, Helper and Meet. One is the noun in the phrase and the other is the verb. The problem arises from creating a new, unbiblical word by combining of a noun ("helper") and a verb ("meet") into a portmanteau word ("helpmeet") which is not biblical, and trying to create a teaching around something the Bible doesn't even talk about As someone pointed out, above, it is better translated "suitable helper." If we updated the KJ language of "meet" to "fit", we get "a helper fit for him". With that done, we wouldn't have the problem; there's no way anyone would be talking about a Helperfit.

Levi
Levi

I was with you and in total agreement until you used the unfortunate (in my opinion) phrase, “…the unbiblical idea that she exists just to be my helper.” Few men in whom the Holy Spirit dwells would ever suggest that the only reason a wife exists is to be her husband’s helper. She exists ultimately “to know God and enjoy Him forever.” She, along with the rest of creation, exists for God’s glory and pleasure. “For Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11) That said, I understand that a wife is not simply her husband’s “helper” in the way I sometimes “help” my wife do the dishes. While I am truly a help to her she could also get the job done without me. I understand the wife to be a helper in the sense that a chlorine atom “helps” a sodium atom become sodium chloride (table salt). She is essential to the process. Without her he is incomplete. Since my wife understands the truly vital (and hence exalted) role she plays in completing me and catalyzing the "process" which is my (or "our") life and service to God she doesn’t at all mind being known as my helper. The word “just” as in “just a helper” just doesn’t seem to do the biblical concept of a helper “just”-tice.

Valerie @ Mission:Wife
Valerie @ Mission:Wife

Thanks for sharing the survey, your readers definitely responded and the men have more responses now!

Rick
Rick

Took me a minute there to realize it might have been typo in the opening (help meet vs helpmate) before I locked onto the message. The wife and I have bounced this concept back and forth for years and have tried to put it into phraseology that made more sense in today's vernacular. Though we have several the most common we use is the concept of pilot/co-pilot with the husband being the former and the wife the latter. If we stop and think about it, both are fully qualified to do the job, be in charge and get the job done. The only difference of significance is that the responsibility for getting the plane from point a to point b lies solely with the pilot. And in many cases, being one over the other has nothing to do with talent, skill or experience. Sometimes it is simply through direct appointment or caveat. It is not that much different marriage. The pilot (husband) has been appointed to directly answer for where the family has gone. Therefore the smart pilot will work with the co-pilot, bringing each of their strengths to the table, working independently yet together, deferring back and forth, to ensure a great flight. But, the pilot can and should "pull rank" when the circumstances dictate and work in a top down fashion. When mentoring our church's young couples I often use this analogy to describe the marriage team. I also relate the story of Captain Sullenberger from the USAir flight that went into the Hudson River several years ago. In the transcripts of the cockpit conversations he and the Co-Pilot were outstanding working as a team. They were seamless, each doing and supporting as necessary. Each independent yet in concert working the problem. They worked together as if it were "Our Aircraft" as they should have. Then, in the transcripts, there was one moment when the pilot uttered a simple phrase, "My aircraft." Immediately the co-pilot replied, "your aircraft" and the dynamics of the cockpit changed. The pilot recognized that in this situation the full load of responsibility was solely his and so he assumed that full responsibility. And the co-pilot recognized it as not only appropriate, but the way things needed to be in order to get through this particular problem with any hope of success. Did the Pilot's taking over diminish the role and ability of his co-pilot? Absolutely not! Did doing so change the co-pilot's ability or efforts to keep thinking and working a solution? According to the transcripts that too as a huge no! Did the co-pilot feel slighted, insulted, unloved? NO! It is very important to note that the co-pilot never raised an objection. There was no argument; no, "you don't trust me?!" No, "what, am I not capable enough for you?" No, "so you think you are better than me?" None of that. He uttered a simple, "your aircraft." They still BOTH kept working for a solution, the pilot still kept looking for input and assistance. the pilot still trusted the co-pilot to do everything possible to keep the plane aloft. What had changed is that from that moment on decisions had to be made and only one person could be making those decisions. The situation had devolved such that the luxury of debate had ended and decisions had to be made without reservation. Since the pilot would ultimately be responsible, it HAD to become his aircraft. In a marriage, when the luxury of debate is gone, such decisions ultimately reside with the husband. I harken back to Adam and Eve. Adam took the advice of Eve for which I can see myriad reasons why Adam would have acted on that advice. Indeed I would probably have also. The minute Adam saw his plane in trouble and that Eve had been impaired he should have declared "My Aircraft" and done his best to bring it in. But he didn't. He took his hands off the wheel and let it fly into the mountain and then blamed it on Eve. And the pattern for marital failure was set. There is nothing wrong with deferring to our spouses. I suggest that is probably something we should do more often. However, when we defer in areas such as integrity, import, eternal or spiritual, when we let ourselves be talked into NOT taking the high road, we abdicate our responsibility to our families and to God. We condemn ourselves to a huge crash with mass casualties. On the other hand when we step up in our role and not throw up our hands saying, "whatever!" and instead declare,"My Aircraft," family is better off regardless of the outcome. After all, look at the example Christ set for us. Clearly He was not only qualified as God, He is God. And yet, in His role on earth was as Co-Pilot to God, deferring to God's will when necessary and appropriate. I trust my co-pilot completely and she is more than capable of keeping our aircraft aloft. In fact, she has blessed me in immeasurable ways because she can and usually does fly our plane. But our greatest joys come from flying it together, seamlessly sharing and swapping tasks making it do things neither of us alone could make it do. But we have flown through some mountains where I should have taken the aircraft as mine and didn't. We are still paying that price. There were times when I took it over when it was unnecessary, and sometimes intentionally demeaning to her. We are still paying that price. There were times when I called, "My Aircraft" and had to wrest control of it from her because she wouldn't defer. We are still paying that price. And there have been times when I called it, and she acknowledge. Though it was an exciting ride, we came through in great shape and we are still reaping the rewards. Gentlemen, we need to learn our role as pilot, training ourselves every day, to work with our co-pilots. We need to not only train ourselves but train our families to learn how to be leaders, how to be followers and just as important, to know when to be which!

Dahvede
Dahvede

Paul, I read Lori's post and think I see where she is coming from. That said, I think the response misses a certain key point. Many translations refer to woman being created as a Helper. This title is no small one, as it is only given elsewhere to one person: the Holy Spirit. This is a huge honor. I think comprehension of the importance of a wife comes in a biblical understanding of the Trinity. Furthermore, one can see the value Adam places in his bride in that she is not named until after they BOTH sin and are removed from Eden. She is then named by her husband as Eve, or life-giver. This is a beautiful picture of Adam loving his wife and still appreciating the gift God gave in her.

Michael
Michael

I absolutely HATE the term "help meet". Even the way it rolls off the tongue makes me ill. The NIV's "suitable helper" is much more accurate, and reflects Lori's wonderful insight of a husband and wife being like our two hands.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Levi - I've known a few men who voiced that, and more who lived as if it's true. It is less common than it once was, but it is not dead.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Rick - The pilot/co-pilot analogy is not perfect, but it is very good. I think it is exactly why God set a head - because there are times when it is necessary to follow the lead of one person. Sometimes it does not even matter if that person has a better idea, they just need to follow one idea together.

The Generous Husband
The Generous Husband

Dahvede - No argument on the helper part; the problem is how some have reconfigured that to mean something more like a servant.

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