18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Since my interest in gender issues over the last year, my studies and learning have led me to new understanding of the Scriptures. Actually, I have long been uncomfortable with many of the accepted views but have not known how to reconcile that discomfort and my personal experiences with the Scriptures. The Word of God is authoritative to me. I base the way I live out my faith on it – indispensable as far as I’m concerned.
That being said, I have come to believe we may have drawn some assumptions about this passage regarding why woman was said to be “a helper suitable for” man that the context does not suggest. While it would be good for me to try to put it in my own words – and I will at some point – today I will just refer you to a lecture from Biola University on Genesis 1-2 & 5. (https://youtu.be/S4EvUAcRrbM)
The creation of a distinct variety of humankind called woman is, in the context, the answer to man being alone – not having found any other living creature being like him. God in his wisdom chose to create woman from man but this in no way negates they were both made in the image of God and given dominion over the earth and all living things. That was always a partnership of equals.
In general, woman being a “helper: strong, rescuer” (ezar) who “fit: stands across from” (kenegdo) man, speaks to her having rescued him from being the only one of his kind. So the idea of drawing an application about the ways we can be helpers in our lives or our marriages is really not what I believe this passage is about.
I do love the symbolism of woman’s creation as it pertains to God. Man and woman, we are told in Gen. 1, have been made in God’s image. I can only imagine that God crafted them this way because of His special love for humankind. God is the first community and this seems to be an essence of His being. He created humankind to live in community. What better display than making one human and taking the other from him. One flesh becoming two unique displays of God’s image. And then instructing them to become one flesh again!
It’s a concept echoed by Paul in his exhortation in Philippians – “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so …I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel”.
I guess if I’m to look at being a helper in some way, it then is how I help the cause – striving, side by side, with those men and women in the body of Christ, for the faith of the gospel.