Tuesday, October 7, 2008

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

Aiding by Complementing Godly Male Leadership - Part 2

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. (Please find Part 1 of this series here.)

Whether you are married or unmarried, as a woman you are "helper" to godly male leadership. That would translate into being a helpmeet for your husband or, if you are not married, into being a helper for 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 facets are and then I will define and elaborate on each one throughout the coming weeks:

Facet 1. As helper to male leadership, woman is an aid or supporter: 

A) As an aid woman completes godly male leadership 

B) As an aid woman complements godly male leadership (this post will address this aspect - complementing - being an aid/supporter to godly male leadership) 

C) As an aid woman submits to godly male leadership

Facet 2. As helper to male leadership, woman is a keeper in the home.

Facet 3. As helper to male leadership, woman is a nurturer of life.

In this post, I will cover what it means for woman as helper to aid godly male leadership by complementing that leadership (Facet 1, B).

Though man and woman are equal in that each is an image bearer of their Creator, they are also different, are they not? We can see the obvious physical differences, but women are also different emotionally. For instance, women enjoy the intricate details of whatever it is they are involved in, while men tend to be bottom-line creatures. We, women, know that the real story is in the particulars and their implications and we happily get lost in the finer points.

So when I am relating an important incident to my husband, sharing the details is just second nature to me. Robert then, typically gets a little impatient with all the minutiae (that's how he sees it) and says something like, "Just give me the bottom line, Honey. I don't need to know all the small stuff." Though I don't understand that, I have given up trying to convince him otherwise. He's a man and I just need to accept the fact that God created him to be different than me. And when God finished His creation (man and woman in particular), He pronounced that His design was good, in fact, it was "very good" - even this difference between us. 

The Beauty of Man and Woman as God's Ultimate Creation is Seen in Your Hands
God created the genders, as different as they are, to complement each other. Again we can see this illustrated with the helping hand. My left hand always complements my right hand. It never has an agenda all its own, but always identifies itself with my right hand and what it is doing and supports it. My left-hand makes things easier, not harder for my right hand. It complements its counterpart, and never competes with it.

The appendages on my right and left arms are equal yet different, illustrating the same thing with man and woman. Both are hands, but they are different in significant ways. The physical design of my left hand is exactly and equally the opposite of my right hand. That's equality with diversity, just as woman is equal in her humanity with man, both genders having been created in God’s image, yet woman is exactly the opposite of man in physical and emotional characteristics and in function. Though my hands are exact opposites of each other they fit together perfectly. And the only reason they fit together so perfectly is precisely because they are exact opposites. If I had two right hands or two left hands nothing much would be accomplished and the two certainly could not become one.

Feminists tell us that women must compete to become equal in all ways with men. But God designed the differences between man and woman for the purpose of complementing one another – just like the right and left hand complement each other.

My left hand is physically weaker than my right hand and so is somewhat dependent upon it for its strength, but still my left hand assists my right and adds its own independent strength to my right hand. The strength and independence of my left hand is absolutely needed by my right hand, and visa versa. The two are interdependent upon each other. Together the two are stronger than if they were alone, though one is physically weaker. This is the true nature of a complementary relationship.

And so it is with man and woman. Though she is the weaker vessel, physically, she needs man and he needs her. She is to complement him in all he does rather than pursue her own independent course, that essentially competes with his calling and purpose.

This does not mean that she never seeks a ministry in which her husband is not involved if she is married. It does not mean that she gives up her personality to be glued to her husband's side as if she had no individuality herself. It simply means that whatever God-glorifying thing (this could be planting a garden) her husband pursues, she is available to help him achieve it. She does not make it hard for him. She does not compete.

Think again about how the left hand complements the right hand, never working against it - always there whenever the right-hand needs it, but it is so different and individual that it is called "left". It is situated on the opposite side of the body and if it had to, it could function without the right hand. I got along just fine when I had my right hand in a sling for several weeks. Though it was challenging, it was not impossible. Life went on.

The call to complement my husband has not always been something that I have embraced. There was a time when, if Robert asked for my help and wanted my undivided attention immediately if it was something that I thought could wait, I became perturbed. Perhaps he needed my point of view for a lesson he was preparing for the Sunday morning adult training time that he was scheduled to teach in two weeks. If I was absorbed in doing something for myself, I would expect him to wait until I was finished. Philippians 2:3-5 was not my mindset:

Looking out for my husband's interests or the interests of the leadership of the church is part of what it means to be a helper. This is the woman's assignment from her Creator. Helping godly male leadership by working alongside and complementing, never competing, is a high calling that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reiterating, woman aids by complementing male leadership, whether that is her husband's leadership in the home or the leadership of the elders in her church. And again, woman aids in this way regardless of her marital status.

For the next post, we will continue to explore how woman aids godly male leadership, this time in regard to submission. And I don't want to hear any groans!
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