Eve: The Helpmeet

March 18, 2008

“Until Eve arrived, this was a man’s world.” Richard Armour

Eve has been a controversial figure throughout history. Theologians have argued for centuries over why God created her, what purpose she was to serve, if she was innately inferior, and as of late, if she possesses a what I like to call, “conditional equality,” meaning Eve (and therefore all womankind) is equal in worth, but limited in ministry, leadership, and authority.

The basis for “conditional equality” (when referring to Adam and Eve) is the belief that the purpose of Eve’s creation was solely for Adam’s benefit–solely to be of service to him because God declares Eve will be a help to Adam or his “help meet.”
Since the bible calls Eve a “help meet,” it has been assumed that she was created as a subservient being to man and for the sole purpose of aiding his will, ambitions, and desires. In Genesis, Eve is called ezer, a Hebrew word, and while some versions translate this word as “help meet” or “helper,” other versions translate ezer as “partner” or “companion” because in English, “helper” usually connotates subservience or a subordinate role. However, the Hebrew word ezer carries no such connotation. Ezer implies deep intimacy and partnership. Ezer is formed from two root words, one meaning “strength” and the other “power.” Ironically, the same word ezer is used to describe God 17 times in the Old Testament including: Duet. 33:7, 26, 29; Psalm 33:20, 70:5, 115:9-11 and 146:5. In the New Testament, the same word is used to describe the Holy Spirit (John 14-16). We would never assume that because God is called our “helper” that He is “under us,” subjugated to us, exists solely for us or that “helper” is His only role. The same is to be true of Eve.
J. Lee Grady, an ordained minister, author, and leader of The Mordecai Project, articulated this concept well:“The fact that Eve was presented to Adam to help him does make her inferior. One the contrary, God had already said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone,” acknowledging that Adam was in an inferior condition without a mate. In the ideal marriage, a wife is a help to her husband and he is a help to her in return. Their need for each other and their deep sense of mutual dependence are what make marriage so satisfying…Marriage is not about who is in control or who serves whom. It is about becoming one.”
In my last post: Adam and Eve: The First Egalitarians? I demonstrated how Adam and Eve were called by God to rule and subdue the earth together without a gender hierarchy. Adam’s first words upon seeing Eve further confirm, not only her equal worth, but her equal capability to live out their shared-calling, to commune with God and to fill, subdue, and rule the earth.
“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him…” But for Adam, no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”--. Genesis 2:18-24

Adam immediately recognizes his perfect match, whose likeness (different than sameness) allows him to experience intimacy on all levels. She, too, is made in the image of God, fully capable of carrying out the calling God gives to both of them in Genesis 1:26-28. Why would Adam rejoice about being untied as one flesh (which has massive implications) with someone who existed solely to aid him and was less qualified spiritually, mentally, and physically? Doesn’t it make more sense to be united with someone with whom you share mutual dependence, intimacy, and capability; as partners who mutually enhance each other’s individuality, calling, and full potential? Both “lead” and both “help.” These concepts are not mutually exclusive.

For many, Eve’s identity is solely wrapped up in her relationship to Adam. And while she was indeed created to complement Adam, Adam also complements her. More importantly, both Adam and Eve were ultimately created to commune with God. This is a crucial biblical truth because it ties Adam’s and Eve’s identities to their Creator, independent of each other. This does not negate Eve’s calling to Adam, but broadens her calling to embrace and live out the highest of all commandments, the commandments upon which Jesus declared, “hang all of the Law and Prophets.” Adam and Eve were created and called to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and love each other as they loved themselves. Think of Adam’s words: Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh, …” He would love Eve as his own body or self, which has a myriad of implications that will be discussed in another post.
The First Couple mirrored Jesus’ greatest commandments, which all believers find their complete identity and purpose in. This is not to say that Adam and Eve didn’t need each other. On the contrary, this truth enhances their need for each other. Their unique connections and communions with God are what makes them beneficial to each other and allows them to impart godly wisdom and insight to each other. This enables them to become one mentally, physically, and spiritually. It is precisely this equally shared-capacity that makes men and women perfectly complementary to each other.
For further analysis on this topic, Allison Young from Christians For Biblical Equality put together this informative article, briefly walking through the creation story and it’s implications.
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4 Responses to “Eve: The Helpmeet”

  1. William Says:

    I am learning a lot from these posts. Great picture of eve…good thing for conveniently positioned fruit, uh?

  2. linda Says:

    something i wanted to add, that i read about in the book every women in the bible by sue and larry richards, is that what eve was “helping” adam with was his aloneness which God had declared “not good”. being a helpmate was not about supporting adam’s career but about helping him with his relational need. (certainly, this isn’t women’s sole purpose for existence either. if that were true then scripture would tell all to marry.) God said that it was not good for man to be alone and then he created eve. just as eve helps adam with his aloneness adam helps eve with hers. when i went back and read the text i found that this is in fact what it is saying. this gives a very different perspective to what some complementarians would suggest is eve/woman’s role or purpose i.e. merely one of supporting the husband’s career and giving up her own dreams and voice.

    yeah, that picture of eve is a hoot. :)

  3. linda Says:

    i’m surprised there isn’t more discussion about tia lynn’s posts. what do you all think of them? is this all new info for you or have you already had these discussions a million times already? does what she’s saying make sense to you or do you have further questions you’d like to throw out there? i know she’s going to get to the new testament passages eventually so hang on if your questions are regarding the nt.


  4. On my blog at http://www.stopthepartyofjackasses.blogspot.com is a link to the Stratford Orthodox Presbyterian Church web site. On the Stratford OPC web site, is an audio sermon entitled, “Christian Feminism”. The thesis of the sermon is that men and women are equal as persons, but that they ought to have different roles. I found the sermon to be interesting. The sermon can be heard by going to
    http://www.stratfordopc.org/audio_sermons.php?p=10&o=views&sort=1

    and clicking on the sermon entitled, “Christian Feminism”.


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