Thursday, March 18, 2010

women of the Bible (1a) Eve - a suitable helper

In our Bible study we're doing a series from The Good Book Company called Women of Faith about women in the Old Testament. I'm learning so much that every week I'm inspired to come home and writing a blog post! Here's what I wrote about Eve after our very first study.

You might like to read Genesis 1-2 before you read this post. Grab a piece of paper and note down some answers to the question, "What do the first two chapters of Genesis teach us about women?" You might like to tell us what you discover.

My women's small group had a great Bible study the other day. We're doing a series called Women of Faith, about women in the Old Testament, and we started in the obvious place: with Eve.

We asked the question, "What does Genesis 1-2 teach us about women?"*

The main thing that stood out for us was that Eve was made to be Adam's suitable helper as he worked in the garden. Marriage isn't primarily about intimacy, but about partnership in God's work.

I know I'm made to be a helper, but I'd forgotten that God specifically calls me to help my husband in his work. I was reminded of this recently when I listened to a fantastic set of talks by Phillip Jensen and Carmelina Read called Marriage Matters (from EQUIP Ministry Wives 2008).

My husband Steve and I used to work side-by-side in university ministry. But like many mothers, as I've become absorbed in raising our children, my focus has diverged from my husband's. I forget that God calls me to help Steve in his work, which for us means his ministry. I’ve realised that I need to get my head out of my own separate ministry plans and into a future where we work together in God's kingdom.

It will look different for you. The nature of my "help" is influenced by many things, such as

  • the kind of work my husband does
  • our ministry gifts
  • the needs of our church and community
  • the season of life we're in
  • my husband's personality and preferences.
So, for one woman in my small group, "helping" means being open to her husband's suggestion to do more hospitality, even though she's an introvert. It's the opposite for me. While we regularly have meetings and visitors in our home, mostly Steve is tired after ministering to people all day and needs a place of quiet retreat. My friend’s husband, on the other hand, gets home and wants to talk everything through with his wife.

Lots of us mentioned that we tend to become so absorbed in our own need for our husbands' help, that we forget all about helping them!

I gave my group some homework: to go home and ask their husbands for one way they could help them better, especially in their work. If you're married, you might like to ask your husband the same question!

* We came up with a long list. Women, like men, are made in God's image: we're equal but different (Gen 1:26-28). Male headship is shown in lots of ways: for example, the term "man" is used for both men and women (Gen 1:27), Eve is made from and for Adam (Gen 2:20-22), Adam names Eve (Gen 2:23), and God approaches Adam first and calls him to account for "listening" to his wife and eating the fruit (Gen 3:9-11, 17). But they are also equal: she is his perfect companion, suitable for him (Gen 2:20-25). In Genesis 3, the created order is reversed and the "helper" role undermined: an animal (the serpent) leads the woman who leads the man into sin. The woman's focus is relational (Gen 2:20-25 cf Gen 3:16). We decided it was all summed up by the words "suitable helper" (Gen 2:20).

This article will appear on in tandem, that wonderful blog for ministry wives, on Friday (all going well!) so you could say that it appears here by permission. :)

image is from Lawrence OP at flickr

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