Monday, May 4, 2009

"and the LORD God said, "it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."

quite a few women reject judeo-christian beliefs because the antiquate belief system has very little mention of women except in their roles as mothers, wives, harlots, and to explain how they are to exercise their roles of submission. however, in order to truly understand the role of the woman in the bible, you have to know its Author. it is also important to note which elements are unique to the bible and which elements are products of cultural norms--which were advocated outside of the judeo-christian world. this is a huge topic and really one more fit for an anthropologist than a presumptuous twenty-something with a blog, however until you unearth a more comprehensive study by a better equipped author, here i am, standing in the gap, as it were.

i would suggest that the content of the bible does a great deal more to grant legitimacy to the unique and vital role of woman within His perfect plan than any other document to date. i would further say that biblical doctrine holds women in a higher esteem than they hold themselves.granted my knowledge of ancient belief systems an societies is quite limited so this is mostly just an impression. but one i believe will prove valid given some exploration.

some women have balked at the use of the phrase 'helper' or 'help-meet.' Perhaps such a phrase sounds to similar to 'assistant.' to be fair, it is a bit off-putting to consider yourself merely an object of convenience to a man, created simply because none of the animals were good enough. this puts you in a class slightly above a beast but definitely below a man. however it is important to note that in psalm 115:11 and 70:5 (among others) the same word is used to describe God Himself.

the Holy Spirit is also called a helper (though in a different language). The Holy Spirit, in classical christian belief, is a unit of the godhead, coequal with Jehovah-God and Christ. Yet He is described as a "helper" (parakaletos, john 14:16) of man-one who can be ignored, lied to, and grieved by the actions of man. Similarly, Jesus came not as a warrior but as a servant (mt 20:28, luke 22:27, phl 2:7).

the obvious question is then, if our LORD was not too good to be called a "helper," then why would i ever put myself above such a calling? 

perhaps it is not label itself so much as how it specifically applies to a man.  we know that men are no better than we women, so being places on a lower rung on the ladder leaves a bitter aftertaste.  like children, we do not mind being the worst at something so long as we are at least no worse than our rival.  how sad, that men and women have become rivals rather than partners.

in any case it is important to note that in the story of the creation of man, man was not good enough on his own.  the "help-meet" was given to perfect him.  a wise teacher said once that "our God is a god of distinction."  He separated the dark from the light, the earth from the sea.  He separates good from evil, salt water from fresh and they cannot mix.  there is a reason that our world is full of millions of varieties of animals, plants, insects, even bacteria.  there is a reason that the LORD gave us 7 colors in the rainbow and innumerable combinations and variations to those colors.  God loves variety!  it is absolutely essential, for our own health, to realize that as women we are not the same as men.  and i do not mean physiological differences or emotional and dispositional tendencies; we are fundamentally and inherently different than men.  we have a unique calling and role in God's plan for this world. 

just as He is a god of distinction, God is a god of balance.  we have only begun to really understand the perfect balance that must occur in nature in order for life to thrive.  even our own bodies are constantly making minute adjustments here and there to maintain homeostasis.  we know well what happens when our bodies are unable to maintain balance.  when nature is off-balance things die.  we are blessedly different than plants, animals, and insects in that we can choose whether or not to fulfill our function.  the testimony of the importance of that function is the health of the world we inhabit. 

just as our bodies are constantly threatened by foreign organisms humanity is constantly threatened by an outside force.  like a virus searching for a new host to conquer, our enemy seeks to gain control of new lands.  when we abandon our post, so to speak, the enemy gains entry into the city.  if we believe that our inherent function is unimportant, we are sadly deceived.

but perhaps this truth is not in question.  perhaps rather, it is the function itself that is debated.  to be sure there is no single, quantifiable role for "man" or "woman" as I said, our God loves variety.  we do not all enjoy cooking, cleaning, and having babies.  but these are not functions so much as practical applications of function.  certainly they all require selflessness, service and ministration; they require attention to detail and a love of balance and peace.  but then, not all women enjoy details, not all of us are peacemakers "for as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function," (rom 12:4), but certainly there is a feminine tendency in that direction.   

undeniably, women have the upper hand in gentleness.  it is an absolute outrage that we have come to regard meekness and gentleness as weaknesses.  if anyone doubts the value of selflessness, gentleness, meekness and humility they need only spend a few months in the military, an environment unquestionably dominated by men and a distinctly male operational philosophy and then try to claim that all life would thrive in this environment.  no indeed!  certainly it has a function, but it is imbalanced.  i would not seek to change the operation of the military because, as i said, it has a specific function, it is not supposed to be a model for all society.  likewise, if a feminine influence was all that was needed for a healthy society, single mothers would not be a disadvantage compared to two parent families.  even a little girl needs the influence of both a mother and a father.  there again, balance. 

some would suggest that this does not demonstrate the need for both men and women, but rather the need for "masculine" and "feminine" influences and perhaps some masculine influences come from women and some feminine influences come from men.  well, this is an argument for another day.   while i would not seek to marginalize those individuals at either end of the bell curve, it is safe to say that we ought not model our philosophies on the the exceptions or extraordinary cases.  we ought not lose individuality for the sake of unity, but neither should we lose unity for the sake of individuality. 

let me interrupt myself at this point to say that the LORD calls all of his people, male and female to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.  the LORD calls all of his people seek to maintain the bond of peace, He admonishes us all to be selfless, servants of all.  God knows that we are not all stereo typically male nor are we stereo typically female...and in fact He does not want us to be so.  however, there is a reason he makes women tend in one direction and men in another, it is a gift not a weakness. 

but now, i've prattled on incessantly about this topic, not nearly covering all topics, but for the sake of those who have kindly endured to this point, this is the end of at least this post. 

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