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Redefining Helpmate In Marriage

Redefining Helpmate In Marriage

Unpacking Genesis 2:18 and Discovering the Strength in Being a Helper

Stephanie Delger

Podcast Host

Mom Guilt Podcast

Published On:

February 11, 2024

I don’t want to be a helpmate

In Genesis 2:18 we read, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” God then created Eve and presented her to Adam. This is God’s good design. 

As I was sitting down to write, my husband just called me into another room to help him. He has been remodeling our bathroom and has been working on tiling around our shower. He had unknowingly been dripping white grout water onto our new bathroom floor. What he was doing was time sensitive and he wasn’t able to stop what he was doing to clean up the floor. He needed my help to scrub the floor and lay down cardboard so that if he dripped more water, it wouldn’t wreck our floor. 

As I did this, lots of things were going through my head, but none of them were praising God for this design that is laid out for us in Genesis. I am conditioned by culture to think that a wife being a helper to her husband is demeaning. I am tempted to question if this is really what is best for me. Is it degrading to women for God to say He created women with the intention of them being a helper to their husbands?

It is okay for us to ask questions. God invites us to ask questions and find the truth. And to find truth, we must turn to the Bible. The Bible shows us that God is good and His design is what is best for us. If we approach this verse with those things in mind, we can see God’s goodness in this design, instilling in us a deep desire to worship Him.

Husbands and wives are equal in value yet distinct in role

Scripture starts by telling us that God created humans in His image. Adam was created first and then Eve, but both were created in God’s image. We read this in Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (emphasis mine) God ends this passage by saying that not only was this design “good,” but it was “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) 

Adam and Eve were created equal in dignity, worth, and value. They were both given the same goal. Both of them were to fill the earth with followers of God. They were both blessed with the command to subdue the earth and have dominion over it. In Genesis 2:18, God zooms in and shows that while Adam and Eve have the same goal, they will have distinct roles.

Eve was created as a helper to her husband. This does not make her inferior to her husband because both were made in the image of God. We are tempted to say that a helper is inferior to the person they are helping, but this is not what the Bible says. Human beings have value not based on their role, or what they do, but rather because they are made in God’s image. This means that a doctor does not have more value than their patient. A president does not have more value than a citizen. A husband does not have more value than his wife. All humans are created in God’s image and role does not determine value. 

Helpmate implies the need for help

God had told Adam that it was not good for him to be alone and that he needed a helpmate. I can imagine as all the animals walked by Adam thought to himself, “Nope, not my helpmate.” This story is presented with the tension of Adam trying to discern who his helpmate would be. As the line of animals started to dwindle, I wonder if Adam grew both increasingly anxious and thankful that none of the animals would be his helpmate. 

It was then that God caused Adam to go into a deep sleep and from his rib, God created Eve. God presented Eve and it was a joyous celebration. A design is given by God himself. God knew that Adam lacked the ability to follow God’s instructions by himself. God in his sovereignty created Adam to need a helper. 

It’s interesting that as a woman, I have read this verse and thought that calling a wife a helpmate is demeaning. Yet, I have never heard a husband complain about this verse. But the design of helpmate means a husband needs help.

Needing help is at the core of the gospel. The entire Christian faith rests on the understanding that we are all in need of help. Romans 3:23-24 says, “ for fall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul in Romans doesn’t shy away from the fact that we are all in need of help and that God is our helper!

Marriage is a parable of God and His people. The point of marriage is to point us to something greater. God is so good to have built into the marriage relationship a reminder that we all need a helper, our Savior Jesus Christ! 

Wives are designed with skills and abilities to share 

Only those who are lacking in something need help. But is someone a good helper if they don’t have what you need? If my car breaks down, would I take it to my local grocery store and ask them to fix it? Of course not. I would take my car to a mechanic. Why? A mechanic has the skills that I lack, which makes them the helper I need. 

A wife is a good helper when she uses her skills and abilities to help her husband. When God has designed wives to be helpmates to their husbands, it means that men and women are given different strengths, skills, and abilities. 

God’s good design for marriage is that a husband is the head of the household. Husbands will have to stand and give an account to the Lord for how they have loved, led, and provided for their family. Wives, will also someday stand and give an account of how they have helped their husbands. God will ask each of us how we have used our gifts to help our husbands. 

Being a helper to your husband means using the gifts that God has given you. If you have discernment, aid your husband in his leadership. If you have the gift of encouragement, use this to build him up, telling him how you see God at work in his life. Whatever gifts God has given you, should be used. 

Sometimes Christians mistake submission for silence. We can see in scripture that biblical submission doesn't mean that at all. Women were designed to be a helper to their husbands, which means using the gifts that God has given them. 

God is our helpmate

One final reason why being a helpmate doesn’t equal inferiority, is that the Bible speaks of God being our helpmate. In Psalms 54:4 David praises God saying, “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” 

In Isaiah 41:10 God speaks to His people saying, "fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Being a helper to our husbands does not make us inferior, just as God is not inferior to us by being our helper. As a wife, we have the privilege and gift of being the helpmate to our husband. 

Rather than shying away from passages like this in the Bible which at first glimpse can seem harsh or demeaning, we can dig into them and study them. We can do so with the full assurance that we will encounter our all-knowing, compassionate, and loving heavenly father. God has revealed Himself and His good design for our lives through the Bible. We can trust God, love Him, and worship Him for who He is and all that He has designed for us. 

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