Thursday, September 18, 2008

Woman is Helper - Three Facets of the Woman's Role as Helper

Part 1 - Aiding by Completing Godly Male Leadership

The following is a series on Biblical womanhood that I have taught both here in the states and abroad. It is universal because it is the Biblical model of the helper role and therefore applies to Christian women the world over. It will be delivered in bite-sized pieces in the following weeks. I pray that you will be encouraged as you read.

Whether you are married or unmarried, as a woman you are "helper" to godly male leadership. That might translate into being a helpmeet for your husband or, if you are not married, to church leadership.

As a helper you will basically fulfill your role in three specific ways. God has designed us, as women with distinct inclinations. Women are endowed by their Creator with specific characteristics that enable them to function as God intended when He first created woman.

First of all I want to state what those three characteristics or aspects are and then I will define and elaborate on each one throughout the coming weeks:
Aspect 1. As helper to male leadership, woman is an aide or supporter
A.) As an aide woman completes godly male leadershipB.) As an aide woman complements godly male leadership
C.) As an aide woman submits to godly male leadership

Aspect 2. As helper to male leadership, woman is a keeper in the home.Aspect 3. As helper to male leadership, woman is a nurturer of life.
Another way to say this is 1) In her aide to her husband and/or to the church woman is helper to man; 2) In her cultivation of the home woman is helper to man; and 3) In her nurturing of others, woman is helper to man. (Each one of these three aspects operates in several ways, as you will see further along in this post.)

These are the three main aspects of the woman as helper, whether she is married or single. The man’s God-given purpose is different and he does not concentrate on these facets of life, though he helps and cultivates home and nurtures life also. But he is not driven to do these things as his calling. His calling from God is to lead by protecting, providing and sacrificially loving. These are the areas in which he specializes, and strives for. Woman generally is directed toward helping man by specializing in aiding him, keeping the home and nurturing life.

The first way a woman carries out her role as helper is to serve as an aide or supporter to her husband if she is married, and as an aide or supporter to the church regardless of her marital status. We see this because the same order that God created in marriage, He also created for the church – men lead and women help, including single women. However, single women can be undivided in their service to the church (1 Corinthians 7).

Now it may sound redundant for me to say that women carry out their helper role by being an aide or supporter. That may sound like the same thing to you, but as this is clarified, hopefully, you will see how it is accurate to classify this aspect of the helper role that way.

In this post, we will begin with the helper's aide to her husband and/or to the church.

As an aide, woman supports godly male leadership in three ways. (Remember, there are the three aspects already mentioned - aiding, keeping the home and nurturing life - and each aspect operates in several ways.) The three ways a woman supports godly male leadership as an aide are as follows: 1) she completes male leadership, 2) she complements male leadership, and 3) she submits to male leadership. This is how she aides male leadership. It is true in the home with her husband, if she is married, and in the church also. A woman, whether married or single, carries out this role in the church as she submits to the elders, compliments their leadership and helps to complete the work there.

In this post we will look at the helper's aide to male leadership in completing him; in the next two posts we will look at the helper's aide to male leadership through complementing (second post) and submitting (third post).

But first, let's understand what it means to be an aide. Here is an analogy:

An Analogy of an Aide – You are a Helping Hand

It always helps me to use an analogy when trying to grasp the meaning of a spiritual truth. In better understanding the definition and function of an aide or supporter the analogy of a “helping hand” came to my mind. As an aide we could say that woman is man’s “helping hand”. Please remember this analogy. It could transform the way you relate to male leadership. When I compare woman as aide to a helping hand, I think of how the left hand aides the right hand and how it completes, compliments and submits to it.

Aiding by Completing Male Leadership

My right hand by itself is not complete. It is never as efficient and useful alone as when my left helping hand is assisting. Together, the two hands are one in function and purpose. They are a complete set. They are each other’s counterpart.

Woman completes man in all ways – spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually. Spiritually, she completes him by filling what is lacking in his ability to image God alone. I will get back to this. Physically, she completes him through helping him bear children for God’s glory, by meeting his physical need for intimacy, and by caring for his need for physical nourishment. Emotionally, she completes him by offering a softer side to humanity, a tenderness and sensitivity that he does not characteristically possess. This comes out in her passion to nurture people. Intellectually, she completes him by her focus to detail, which balances his bottom-line orientation. One way this is manifested is through her attention to the home, intelligently cultivating the place where he lives, looking well to her household and all the details of it.

Concerning woman completing man, God said during the creation week, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Once Adam had named the animals and observed that each one had its particular counterpart, something Adam himself did not have, he came to know personally that he was incomplete. He was alone and he felt it for the first time.

Spiritually, Adam was only half of the expression of God and half of what God's intended function for mankind was on the earth, like a right hand represents only half of the body’s ability to function with the upper appendages. Adam bore God’s image, but only part of it. There was another side of God that would be expressed through Eve’s personhood and function. Together they would bear His image completely. Together they would carry out God’s mandate to rule the earth.

Now what I am not saying here is that every man or woman must be married to be complete. Obviously, the apostle Paul did not believe that for he made it clear that it was his preference to remain single. Even though Paul preferred singleness for himself, God still used women, like Phoebe and Prisca, to help Paul (Romans 16:1-4). He was not himself independent of women aiding him with his work in the early church.

What I am saying is that in the larger scope of mankind bearing God’s image and functioning in creation, both male and female are necessary. The human race cannot even perpetuate without both. And without the softer side of femininity and woman's diverse function the world cannot accurately image God or carry out His mandate.

Woman bears God’s image in many ways, different than man. God created her with unique attributes that are also part of His character – nurturing for example. She represents Him in this way to her children and others that she attends to in loving ways.

God’s nurturing side is seen in Scripture through the care He bestows on His children. Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” And in Isaiah 66:13 we hear the Lord saying to Israel, "As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you…” In the New Testament we are familiar with Paul’s instruction when he tells fathers to bring up their children in the “nurture” and admonition of the Lord.

God fashioned Eve from Adam’s bone and flesh and she completed him. He was thrilled to have what had so obviously been missing from his life. He no longer felt alone and now had new motivation and momentum to be God’s agent on earth. Together they would rule the earth, and together they would bear God’s complete image. Just as my left hand completes my right hand, so woman completes man.

William Shakespeare wrote concerning man and woman completing one another:
He is half part of a blessed man, left to be finished by such a she; and she a fair divided excellence, whose fullness of perfection lies in him.
In the next Woman is Helper post, we will explore how woman aides man by complementing him in his leadership role.
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