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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 helper to your husband or, if you are not married, to church leadership.

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

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 godly male leadership, woman is an aid or supporter
A.) As an aid woman completes godly male leadership (this is the topic for this post)
B.) As an aid woman complements godly male leadership
C.) As an aid woman complys with (or 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 express these three aspects is: 

1) In her aid to her husband and/or to the church, woman helps and supports 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 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 participates in cultivating the home and in nurturing 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 that he he specializes in 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 aid or supporter to her husband if she is married, and as an aid 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 are undivided (not involved in supporting a husband and/or children) 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 aid 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 as an aid and support to her husband and/or to the church.

As an aid, 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 aid are: 1) she completes male leadership, 2) she complements male leadership, and 3) she submits to male leadership. This is how she aids 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.

Reiterating, in this post we will look at the helper as an aid to male leadership in completing godly male leadership; in the next two posts we will look at the helper's aid to male leadership through complementing (second post) and submitting (third post).

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

An Analogy of an Aid – You are a Helping Hand

It always helps me to use an analogy when trying to grasp the meaning of a spiritual truth. To better understand the definition and function of an aid or supporter, the analogy of a “helping hand” came to my mind. As an aid 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 aid to a helping hand, I think of how the left hand aid 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. Each is the counterpart of the other.

Woman completes man spiritually, physically, emotionally and intellectually: 

Spiritually, she completes him by filling up what is lacking in his ability to image God alone. I will get back to this. 

Physically, she completes him by 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.

Adam Recognizes His Incompleteness

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 own 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.

As Adam named the animals, he recognized that each kind had an appropriate counterpart. They looked very similar, yet each species' counterpart was also different in some ways. There was a male and there was a female of every species that Adam named. I believe since the Lord commanded the animals to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:22), that they were already carrying out that mandate quite naturally by the time Adam got around to naming them. And he couldn't help but notice his aloneness as he named each species. 

Adam realized that out of all that God had created, he was an exception because he was the only one of his kind. He was the only created being that there was not two of. He felt this deeply. So, the Lord caused him to sleep while He went about fashioning Adam's counterpart, one that would be like him, yet be different, and essentially one that completed him. 

No Longer Incomplete When God Provided a Wonderful Counterpart

When Eve was brought to Adam, he knew that he now had one that was just like him - she too was mankind. And she was his specific match. She was not created with fangs, feathers, fins or fur. She was made of flesh and bone just like Adam. He exclaimed with great delight, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh..." He was now complete. 

And so it has been ever since creation that woman has continued to complete man in specific ways: 

Getting back to the spiritual aspect, Adam was only half of the expression of God and half of God's intended function for mankind 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 aids man by complimenting him in his leadership role.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

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