Women as Helpers
Genesis chapter one, verses twenty-six to thirty, outline for us the initial creation of mankind. Verse 27 reads like this; “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him: male and female created He them.”
In our study of biblical womanhood, which we began last week, it is important for us to understand and embrace the fact that women are created in the image of God, just as much as men are created in His image. The blessing and the command God gave to mankind, to “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion,” was to be accomplished by man and woman working together.
God designed male and female so that neither one could accomplish the task on their own. In order to fulfill God’s plan, they would need to work together. In the perfect environment in which they were created, this was not a problem. Adam was perfectly satisfied with the wife God had provided and he embraced her as being part of him. Eve was perfectly matched to Adam to assist him in the work they were commanded to do. Their union was designed to illustrate the loving relationship enjoyed by God the Father, God the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit.
When God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone…” he saw Adam’s need on all levels; spiritual, emotional, and physical. Eve was designed to complement Adam on each of these levels. She was designed as a “suitable” helper. However, she was not the SAME as Adam. If God wanted “sameness” He could have created another man. Feminist ideology has attempted to make men and women equal by making them the same. This can never be done because of God’s creation design of both men and women. In each of the sexes there are obvious, God-designed, unchangeable differences. Keep in mind; these differences were NOT a result of sin entering the world. They were part of God’s original plan!
That’s our focus this time as we look into the Word of God. What are those God-designed differences and how do they uniquely qualify women for the role God has given to them? To answer these questions, we return to the opening chapters of Genesis to look at God’s original intention when He created woman.
I am reading Genesis 1:26-28 and 2:18-25.
To better understand God’s plan for “Women as Helpers” we observe and explore the DIFFERENCES He designed between men and women.
The First DIFFERENCE is,
As we’ve observed in our previous study, God chose to create woman out of the side of the man rather than out of the dust of the ground. This indicates the type of relationship God intended. Man and woman were originally designed to walk side by side through life, accomplishing the plan and purpose for their creation.
It is important to note that Eve was not created of material taken from Adam’s arms or legs, the main sources of masculine strength. God intended woman to be more physically beautiful and refined. So, she was taken from Adam’s side, close to his heart, close to the very seat of life itself. By choosing to create woman this way God showed us that she was the essence of Adam, equal in worth, but different in form and function. The name “woman” reveals that she was taken out of the man. Adam noted this fact when he awoke from his divine surgery.
Woman was also designed as a life-bearer. In her inner most parts, close to the part of Adam from which she was created, new life begins and develops. Adam was not capable of reproduction on his own. It’s true; he carried the seed or germ of life. But that is only part of the equation. The sperm not only needs an egg for fertilization to take place, but it also needs a hospitable place to grow and develop. God created the body of woman to be that safe place.
At this point someone may ask, “Are you implying that God designed all women to be mothers?” The answer is both yes and no! It is quite obvious that God did design the body of a woman to bear children. And, according to God’s plan, marriage was and is normative. That’s why God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. But the entrance of sin into the human family disrupted God’s plan.
Not all women are able to bear children; either because they are unmarried, (and God has a plan for their singleness), or because God in His sovereignty chooses to close their womb, or because they intentionally refuse the blessing of children. But God’s design of woman’s body declares the primacy of reproduction and motherhood. We’ll talk about this more at another time.
I said earlier that God designed woman to be more physically beautiful and refined than man. In highlighting this difference First Peter 3:7 Peter instructs husbands to honor women, as the “weaker vessel.” Weaker is a comparative term that causes us to ask; “Weaker than what?” As a general rule, women’s bodies aren’t capable of the same strength as men because the design is different. Trying to ignore or change these facts has led to a vigorous debate about women as combat soldiers in our armed forces. Notice too, Peter did not say husbands should honor women because they’re weak! That wouldn’t have been an accurate statement. Usually, women are less muscular and physically WEAKER than men, but the godly women I know are not weak. They just demonstrate strength in other ways!
Since God is the perfect designer and He designed man and woman, He knew how to make woman so she would be attractive to man in every way. This was His design, and it is beautiful! Scripture makes it absolutely clear that sexual relations are to be enjoyed only within the confines of the marriage relationship. Sexual expression is to be consensual, that is, husband and wife come together by consent, not by demand or by force. I believe that is part of Peter’s teaching that men should live with their wives in an understanding way and treat all women with honor and respect.
I will be the first to admit that in times past and even today, some men, including Christian men, have used their superior physical strength to dominate women. That is not God’s intention, but rather an effect of our sinful nature. The effect of sin has led many men today to view women’s bodies as simply a plaything or an object of pleasure. That is wrong! Because a woman’s physical body is more delicate and beautiful it is not something to be exploited, but something to be protected and cherished. Woe to the Christian man who refuses to follow God’s design and plan!
Before we move on to the other differences, I want to comment just briefly on the importance of self-acceptance. Women who accept the way God has created them and rejoice in His divine plan will experience much greater joy and fulfillment in life than those who resist God’s design. This is true for acceptance of your overall design as a woman, and specifically, the unchangeable features God has given that make you uniquely you.
I said earlier that God was and is the perfect creator; He makes no mistakes. So, I urge each of you to ask God to use your physical body as the frame through which He can communicate His love to your world. For those who are married, that begins with your husband, extends to your children, your local church family and then on out into your community.
Another DIFFERENCE is,
Part of being created in God’s image is the ability to experience a whole range of emotions. This is true for men and women. But it is an easily observed and well-known fact that women and men are created differently in this area of emotions. Generally, women’s emotions tend to lie closer to the surface and are more quickly displayed than men’s emotions. This too, is part of God’s perfect design for balance and reflection of his character.
God commanded Adam and Eve to be fruitful and to subjugate the earth and other living things. After sin entered the human family, Adam was tempted to exercise that dominion harshly. Eve was designed to help provide a “softer side” to the process. Being more in touch with her feelings, and the feelings of others, she could appeal to Adam to consider the kinder, gentler approach. In my experience as a father, my wife has often helped me to be more considerate of the feelings of my children, especially in times when discipline was needed.
As a man, I tend to approach issues or conflicts from a rational standpoint. Here’s the problem, here’s what we need to do to solve it. The sooner we get this taken care of we can move on to something else. But my wife tends to approach issues more from the emotional standpoint. How will the person feel after this is all behind us? What can we do to protect his or her feelings even as we work through this? Her insights help me see that the protecting the relationship is more important than having, what I think, is the right the process. She helps me achieve my goals for correction or solving the problem while protecting others from unnecessary harshness.
A woman’s emotional make-up also gives expression to her spirituality. Some would say that women are more spiritually sensitive than men. That may be true, at least in some cases. But I suspect that our perception of this is largely because of their more emotional response to the teaching of God’s Word. I want to be sure you understand me – I don’t see that emotional response as something negative; just something to be aware of.
Women’s desire for spirituality is reflected in the numbers of those who attend Bible-teaching seminars; listen to Christian radio, and who read books that develop their spirituality. Women in much greater numbers than men are active in each of the things I just mentioned. They have a hunger to know God, to find meaning and purpose in life, and to discover His plan for them. And they especially enjoy these things in the company of other women! We should thank God for this and encourage them in it.
One of the challenges of this difference in emotional make-up is the possibility of being more easily deceived. When Satan came to tempt our first parents, he came to Eve. He appealed to her emotions, her sense of fairness. Satan convinced Eve that God was withholding something from her that was, in her eyes, perfectly legitimate. She followed her emotions and took Satan’s bait. But I must admit that Adam wasn’t up to speed with his rationality and objectivity when Eve invited him to eat the fruit with her!
Another effect of the fall is the desire to use emotions to control outcomes. Because we men are not as quick to display our emotions, we can be intimidated by them. Sometimes, men will do whatever is necessary, even compromise truth, to bring the emotions of the wife or daughter under control. I don’t recall my wife using her emotions to manipulate the outcome of a situation. I do know that sometimes my first indication that I’ve hurt her feelings, or the feelings of someone else she loves, is the tears welling up in her eyes. I can accuse her of being too sensitive, but that’s really not the issue. I am learning to appreciate how God uses her emotions to help me genuinely care for others. As my helper, I need what she offers in this emotional difference.
A woman’s emotional make-up also makes her more aesthetic, more appreciative of beauty. Men, just think of how much less colorful our lives would be without women! That is not to say that men cannot or do not appreciate beauty. But women are the ones whose decorative touch can make the humblest setting homier and more attractive. When I think of all the ways I’ve been enriched by the women of influence in my life, I am grateful to God.
My mother saw beauty and order in a straight garden row. My dad’s philosophy was, “You get more seed in a crooked row.” You see the difference; the utilitarian rationality – most productive – versus the aesthetically pleasing symmetry of order? A man enjoys a steak dinner because of the food and the companionship, a woman’s touch adds fresh flowers and candlelight. A wise man learns how to honor his wife, daughters, or other significant women in his life by complimenting them on their ability to bring color to even the most mundane events of life.
Because women often are more in tune with their own emotions, they tend to pick up on the emotions of others as well. I think of the woman, Abigail, in First Samuel chapter 25. Here was a woman who picked up on the emotions of those around her and used good judgment to avoid what could have become a very destructive situation. The anger and rude response of her husband, Nabal, to David’s request for food and drink was evidently typical of his behavior. His angry and thoughtless response generated a similar feeling in David and his men. David determined to right this injustice by killing all the males of Nabal’s household. Abigail’s quick perception of the situation and her action averted what surely would have been a massacre. Though Nabal died several days after this incident, all the other men of the household were spared and I’m sure they were grateful for Abigail’s intervention!
Men God has created women to be our helpers. In order to fill that role, He created them differently than He created us. You already know that. So then, why do we men say things like, “Why can’t this woman be more like me; then I could understand her better?” But is that really what we want? I don’t think so.
God knows our needs. If, in the perfect environment of Eden, it was not good for Adam to be alone, how much more critical is our need as men today in a world tainted by sin? The sin of our first parents, which has infected all of us, has certainly made our human relationships much more challenging to maintain and grow. But God’s original design was perfect, and He did not change it as a result of sin. In the initial creation, man was created to be a leader and woman was created to be a helper to the man. When each finds their place in God’s plan, there is joy, peace, harmony, and blessing.
To all of you women who are listening; thank you for fulfilling your God-given role as helpers. It is surely not an understatement to say, “Beside every truly successful man there is a godly woman.”