Recently I took the time to do an in-depth study of ezer, the Hebrew word describing the first woman in Gen. 2:18, 20 that is often translated “helper” in English. Though I’ve spent way too many years reading every scholar I could get my hands on, I mean every scholarly comment I could get my hands on, as so far I have not laid hands on any scholars, when I finally studied ezer in depth I could not help being more than mildly surprised. Frankly, unless someone can send me a suitable helper to help me see the light, I can’t help but question the helpfulness of “helper.”
You see, I had heard that while ezer-helpers aren’t always subordinate, they can be. Though ezer is used mostly of Yahweh in the Old Testament, the one being who is vastly superior to anyone and everyone, it is said that the word itself doesn’t tell you whether the helper is inferior or superior to the person they’re helping. So, an ezer-helper could supposedly be either, though when it’s the woman it means inferior. Inferior in rank, that is, not in essence. Continue reading “To Help or Not to Help, that is Not the Question: Gen. 2:18, Woman as Man’s “Helper,” and Issues in Translation”
I’ve mentioned this here before, but my marriage went through a radical transformation a number of years ago. For a long time my husband and I tried to work out our relationship according to traditional “biblical marriage” teachings, with him “leading” and me “submitting.”
We were committed to this path since we thought it was the only “biblical” way, even though we ended up far more frustrated than happy. Then about ten years ago we went through a crisis that brought all of our unhealthy relational patterns to the surface. At that point we either had to figure out how to change or face the possibility of losing everything we had worked toward for so long.
After a couple of years of struggle we did end up successfully changing not only our marital dynamics but also our fundamental conception of what a Christian marriage ought to look like. A big part of this process entailed my realizing how I had listened to the wrong voices and embraced the wrong ideas. I found it difficult to change, but in the end it was more than worth it. My life, my marriage, and my heart have been transformed in a beautiful way.
Just not in the way you might assume. Continue reading “What I Learned from the “Perfect” Wife: Sarah, Abraham and 1 Peter 3:1-6″
Mother’s Day is a happy day for some but a challenging day for others. There are so many things that assault our nurturing hearts as women and mothers. Maybe we wanted to have children but never did, never wanted children and no one seems to understand our choice, or we had children but things didn’t turn out as we hoped. Or perhaps we’re still on the front end of all that and don’t yet know how things will play out.
Wherever we fall on this spectrum, there is a God who wants to walk with us. Here’s my sermon “A Mother and Her God,” given at Littleton Vineyard Church this past Mother’s Day.
Here’s a link to my recent podcast with Dr. Juli Slattery of Authentic Intimacy. We talk about God’s purpose in creating male and female, some of those passages of Scripture that can make women feel like they are second-rate, and how knowing the context for the Bible’s marriage teaching changes everything. Check it out if you’re interested! And while you’re over at Authentic Intimacy, look around a bit. Juli does great work helping women experience health and wholeness in one of the most challenging parts of our lives: our sexuality.
Some people think it was a sin for Adam to listen to Eve, that he sinned not only by eating the forbidden fruit but also by listening to his wife. From this they seem to surmise that it is not only dangerous but also wrong for a man to listen to a woman, especially if that woman happens to be his wife.
As support for their view they cite God’s words to Adam in Genesis 3:17:
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you…”
The idea is that Adam fell into a heap of trouble for two reasons: wife-listening and fruit-eating, two equally rash and sinful behaviors. Even though Adam received no prohibition regarding the evils of wife-listening, apparently he should have known. Continue reading “Should Men Listen to Women?”
Much ado has been made about the fact that Genesis 2 tells us the man was created before the woman. Some say this Adam-before-Eve-ness, along with his role in naming her and her status as his helper, means that Adam was created to be in authority over Eve. Others note that Eve is Adam’s bone-of-bone, flesh-of-flesh, in-his-face help, so the point of the Genesis 2 narrative must not be hierarchy but equality.
Then there are a few, not as many for sure, who think Eve’s comparison to God (who is so often called our helper in Scripture) in the context of Adam’s forsaking of his parents to cleave to his sweetie (something no proper Israelite would approve of), means that she is supposed to be the leader of the family. Continue reading “Why Adam Was First (It’s Not What You Think)”
Being human is a complicated business. It’s why we will stand before God one day and give an account of our lives, why God doesn’t force us to make all the right choices, and one of the reasons our prayers aren’t always answered exactly the way we want.
It’s also what separates us from our canine and feline and bovine buddies, what makes us responsible to care for the natural world, and what gives us authority to do our part in pushing back evil. Continue reading “The Importance of Being Human”
December 28, 2020 Update: When I first published this article it created a bit of controversy. The idea that it takes some combination of women and men to fully image God seems to be pretty entrenched on all sides – by those who believe in the functional equality of the sexes but perhaps even more by those who assert functional inequality along with ontological equality. I believe this is an error that leaves the identification of the imago Dei up to the whims of the interpreter, resulting in passionately espoused yet mutually exclusive theories. Although I see beautiful differences between men and women and therefore the reasons we must, as God commanded, rule and subdue the earth together, I do not believe those differences reside in the imago Dei. Below is the original article.
Original Post dated December 14, 2016:
Practically everywhere I go I hear that it takes the combination of male and female to image God. God is not a man or a woman, it is argued, so it’s only logical that neither gender can fully image God by itself. While this might sound reasonable on the surface, what are we saying when we claim that neither sex is a complete image of God? That men image the “strong,” “decisive,” and “manly” side of God? That women reflect God’s “soft,” “compassionate,” and “nurturing” nature? That sounds like we think women are indecisive and weak and men are neither compassionate nor nurturing. When we assert that it takes both genders to image God, we are also claiming that each gender lacks part of the image. Continue reading “It Doesn’t Take the Combination of Male and Female to Image God”