Growing up in church did not teach me an accurate picture of how God sees me as a woman. I thought that Adam was the crown of creation and Eve was some kind of afterthought with God realizing that poor Adam needed somebody to be his helper, someone to assist him in whatever he wanted to do. It was so clear to me that the man was the important one and that the woman was here just to serve him. And then there’s that day that Eve went to gather some fruit and was deceived by the serpent because she wasn’t smart enough and got them both in trouble. I thought helper must be something more like a servant because my mother sure did more than her share of everything, including giving in to what my father said. After all, he was the head of the home, right? She always tried to submit to his “headship”. I’ve come to not like that word.
Now before you react with the thought that Robin is a religious feminist, please read on.
Sometimes what we are taught growing up, whether purposefully or from life experience, simply isn’t true. In fact, there’s usually a mixture. No one intended to teach me incorrectly and my parents didn’t mean to give me the wrong idea. I grew up believing things about myself as female that said I wasn’t as good as a guy, or that I would never be able to do certain things or hold certain positions. I grew up believing that I always had to give in to my husband because that was what God expected from a “helper”. These things weren’t representative of the truth of God’s word. And if it ain’t true, then it’s false. These things about women and men were based on lies.
It always made me feel angry inside that men were more important, stronger, smarter, and obviously more powerful. I just couldn’t understand that if God was really LOVE that He would actually create it that way to make it unfair. What kind of love was that? Did God love men more because Adam was made first or because men were better? Turns out I was believing things that weren’t true! Turns out that’s not how God designed it to be! To understand God’s original intent, it’s very helpful to go to the Garden. A walk through Genesis 1 & 2 gives us a great picture of how God sees both men and women, both valuable and loved in His sight.
“And God said, ‘Let us make man (mankind, the human race) in our image, after our likeness’…So God created man (mankind, the human race) in his own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.'” Gen. 1:26-28 AMP
God made mankind, male and female, with the same assignment and instructions that they were to carry out together. They were both equally made in His image, highly valued, and fully accepted. He didn’t prefer one over the other. Essentially, God created a team to carry out a mission. A team that would reproduce His love and His likeness. People with whom He could be in relationship. So of course, He didn’t stop with one being. He created marriage and family so that the relationship that the Trinity enjoys and delights in could be found in relationships between people too.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good (enough, satisfactory) that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper (suitable, adapted, complementary) for him.'” Gen. 2:18 AMP
God wanted people, not person. Adam had in his body the full image of God, both male and female attributes and characteristics. Everything that makes a man, a man, and everything that makes a woman, a woman, was in one nice tidy package. I’m also not talking physical appearance here so let’s not go off on some rabbit trail. But the characteristics, the likeness and full image of God, was seen in Adam.
When God removed flesh and bone from Adam to make Eve, Eve became the second person. Together they represented God in a new way. Together they would reproduce people after the likeness of God.
The Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer (pronounced azer) and means so much more than what my Sunday School teachers thought. An ezer is one who aids or helps or is there for another, one who is suitable and complementary. The word ezer is also used to describe God in passages where the Lord is coming to the aide of Israel. The New Testament parallel is seen with the Holy Spirit being called a Helper. Well that certainly sheds some light. From my study, I determined that an ezer is a loving companion and warrior who serves alongside her equal, man, as they carry out what God put them here to do. They are on an adventure together! Loving, helping, and serving each other, they represent the full image of God. That is cool.
I wish you could have seen my face or felt my heart when I realized the love God has for me as His daughter, the call on my life that means a lot to Him, the significance it gives all of us, men and women.
You may be wondering about my only using verses from Genesis, the Old and New Testaments confirm what God did in the Garden. There are many verses translated incorrectly or simply used to keep power-hungry guys in power. If you want to know about those, check out the books listed below.
I still hear it – the language of those who believed the lies like I did. This week, someone said “the only time God puts a woman in church leadership is if no man will step up to the plate”. From scripture, we know this just ain’t so. This is called blame. This is spoken usually by a woman who is angry at men who have disappointed her. The Bible is clear that God does put women in positions of leadership. They can be called the same as a man. “In Christ there is no male nor female.” Thankfully that means God doesn’t say “Sally, I want you as pastor of First Tradition Church – oh, no wait! What am I saying! Sorry Sally, not you. I meant to say BILLY. Cause he’s a guy. Sally, even though you’re gifted for leadership, why don’t you play the piano instead or keep the nursery? Sounds like a good fit for a girl.”
References: Lost Women of the Bible and The Gospel of Ruth by Carolyn Custis James; 10 Lies the Church Tells Women by Lee Grady; Why Not Women by Loren Cunningham; Women of Destiny by Cindy Jacobs.
(c) Feb. 2010, Robin Lawrimore, a woman God loves.