God’s Design in Marriage: Help Meet

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Hands HelpmeetGod said in Genesis 2:18:

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'”

I want to consider in this post what a “helper fit for him” means for women. Often this word gets thrown around in a derogatory manner. The debate in light of this text is, “Do women have, as helpers, a subordinate role to the man’s role?” Does the Bible teach women as mere “doormats” for the husband to walk all over? The answer to that question is a resounding no! Scripture teaches that women are equal to men in dignity, worth, and importance.

Word Study

Here are a couple of notes to remember as we define and understand the Hebrew word for “help” correctly. First, when the Hebrew word for help (ezer) is used, it is most often used for how God engages with man. The word help, ezer, is most often used in regard to God helping man.Help and Assistance Here are a couple of passages that use the same word referring to God:

Exodus 18:4:

“…and and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

Deuteronomy 33:7

And this he said of Judah: “Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah, and bring him in to his people. With your hands contend[a] for him, and be a help against his adversaries.”

Psalm 33:20:

“Our soul waits for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.”

God being called helper throughout the Scriptures brings honor to the position of helper. Because we can see God as a helper, there is no reason to believe that the woman being described as a helper should be viewed as inherently inferior! Woman described by Scripture as a “helper fit for man” cannot mean that women are inferior to man in any way.

With that said, what does it mean to be a helper? Well, in every context in which ezer is used and even how we use the word helper to this day, helper often denotes someone helping the one with primary responsibility. Strength isn’t the question here. In fact, the one who’s being helped is the weaker one who needs help in order to execute upon their primary responsibility. So although to be a helper is not inherently inferior, it is to come alongside the one with the primary responsibility. To say that a woman who is helping is somehow inferior to the one with primary responsibility is to make the accusation that God is inferior for the help He gives His children, and that is not an accurate portrayal of God’s design either.  Women are designed by God to be a helper fit for man. Not a helper like him, but a helper fit for him.

God has designed each wife to be meet and fit and correspond to her husband for his calling in the world.  Wives have the privilege of dovetailing, interweaving their lives with their spouses.  This is a special calling.

“Fit for him”

This phrase, translated from one Hebrew word that literally means “in front of,” leads us to the idea that women complement man. Eve was not designed to be exactly like Adam. Eve actually was designed by God to be his mirror opposite, possessing the other half of the qualities he lacked.  While the man and the woman were created unique by God, both in the image of God, to be equal in dignity, value, and worth, they have been meant to complement one another, not compete against one another. The weaknesses of the one are meant to be strengthened by the strengths of the other, and the strengths of the other one are made even stronger by the strengths of the other.Fragile

Just one application for you ladies today.  You know every weakness, every bent, every shortcoming and every inconsistency of your husband. Because you know your husband better than anyone else, you can also crush him by continually harping on his faults and failures. I admonish you to not do that. Be an expert in your husbands strengths. Don’t be an expert in his weaknesses. Where he’s doing well, applaud him. Don’t just know all of the ways he’s falling short.

Women, in order to meet the God-given role of man’s helpmeet, a great supply of God’s grace will be needed. This is why the cross is so amazing and encouraging. The process that leads to success in God’s eyes is the ongoing ethic of confession and repentance and getting up and continuing to pursue Christ-likeness. To be like Christ and emulate His love and submission should be the motivating factor in all endeavors.

I pray that the way we interact with each other as husbands and wives and as men and women will serve as a beacon of hope in a depraved and broken world. We have an opportunity to set and change culture through the way we display God’s beautiful design for manhood and womanhood.

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About Brett Smith

Brett Smith is a graduate of Bob Jones University and is currently pursuing his M.Div. at The Master’s Seminary. A native of Chicago, Brett serves on the Events staff at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.

  • Carla Hester

    The role of the helpmeet has been all but forgotten in America. For a woman who went from being a fiercely independent and not very godly to a woman whose primary role in life is a wife and mother, I have a unique perspective. I personally feel that you can’t really understand and appreciate the roles God intended unless you live them out day by day. Many people feel so bad because they don’t “do enough” out in the world for God. But God designed women specifically to help her husband, keep a home and be a mother to children. If we women would live out our God-given roles we would be such a brighter, stronger and more effective witness to the world around us. Marriage and family is such a beautiful thing when done as God intended — as you say, women supporting their men instead of tearing them down. A lot of women wouldn’t even consider being in that role because the mere mention is considered “submissive” and demeaning. Submission has become an ugly word, and again, you can’t understand it unless you live it. Women have so much more power in life and, quite honestly, over men if they live in that role of respecting them and helping them. I enjoyed your article.