This is something I’ve struggled with for years because I’ve grown up to be taught Eve was created because Adam was bored and that Adam needed someone to cook and care for him. I grew up in a religion that taught that women cannot be fulfilled, truly fulfilled, until they have a husband and children.
I’ve never really accepted that teaching because I always knew it was wrong, but I never really did my research on the subject.
Digging into scripture, I’ve learned that God did not design women to be submissive doormats who revolve around their family’s needs.
I’m a wife and mother, so obviously I’m not bashing the roles of family, because they are an important part of God’s design. I am saying, however, that because we have taught people that our purpose lies within marriage and family, we are not only limiting ourselves, but we are hurting those who are not married or have children.
I’ve encountered plenty of women who have called themselves the “helper” or “helpmeet” for their husbands, as it says in Genesis. Their purpose being a wife. Again, God does call many to be wives, but author Carolyn Custis James breaks down the true meaning of “Ezer” (which has been translated to “helpmeet”.
“For years I’d been troubled by interpretations of Eve that left me (and a lot of other women) out in the cold. I could relate to what one single woman confided, as she tried to fit in, “I don’t mind being called a helpmeet. I like helping people. But helpmeet doesn’t encompass everything about me.” Little did I realize that the “helpmeet” version of Eve was about to topple and something better—for all of us—would take her place.
My attention zeroed in on the word God used to describe the woman when he created her. “Ezer” (usually translated “helper”) has historically been defined in terms of marriage, motherhood and domesticity. According to this line of thinking, a woman fulfills her highest calling when she marries, bears children and manages the home. Wonderful and significant as marriage and motherhood can be, this definition creates serious problems for all women.
When we are little girls, God’s purposes for us are pushed out into the distant future, to the day we don a wedding veil and head for the marriage altar. It intensifies the difficulties of singleness and the heartache of childlessness. Elderly women are troubled by the thought that God’s purpose for them has expired. Like Cinderella’s stepsisters, we end up trying to squeeze ourselves into a creation blueprint that simply doesn’t fit us all.
The word ezer appears in the Old Testament twenty-one times—twice for the woman in Genesis 2:18 and 20, three times for nations Israel turned to for military assistance when they were under attack, and sixteen times for God. This information resulted in upgrading the ezer from “helper” to “strong helper” and led to a divided (and at times heated) discussion over the word strong. How strong is strong, after all?
I decided to look up the references. To my surprise, I discovered powerful military language in every passage. Whenever ezer appeared—for the three nations, obviously, but also for God—it was always within a military context. God is His people’s helper, defender, deliverer, sword and shield. He is better than chariots and horses. He keeps sentry watch over his people and with His strong arm overthrows their foes. Based on the Old Testament’s consistent usage of this term, it only makes sense to conclude that God created the woman to be a warrior….
…Reading through one of those tedious genealogies (the passages we tend to skim when reading through the Bible) I spotted ezer again—in men’s names. Ezer was one of Judah’s male descendants. Moses named his son Eli-ezer. Abi-ezer belonged to the elite band of David’s mightiest warriors. Samuel raised a monument to God’s glorious deliverance and named it Eben-ezer.
Even today, the name Ezer still carries a lot of weight. Ezer Weizman was an Israeli military hero, a world leader who served as Israel’s seventh president. I doubt if anyone made fun of a man like that because his parents named him Ezer.
Ezer represents the strength and valor of a warrior. God created women to be warriors. “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Our brothers need us, and God calls us to join forces with them in advancing His kingdom wherever we are.
We are all ezers—from our first breath to our last. We follow Jesus, and He calls us to advance His kingdom no matter where He puts us. I agree with the single woman who didn’t quite fit the “helpmeet” mold, but found the ezerfit her perfectly. “Warrior covers all of who I am.”
I’ve always been going against the grain of what I was originally taught about the purpose for women. I’ve struggled with it because I felt a calling to write, to be in ministry, to speak, but held back because I was afraid I was sinning against the roles God designed. Though in my heart, I always knew the truth, I rejoice in finally having the knowledge in God’s design for me.
A friend reminded me that our value is not found in a husband. Our value is not found in children. Our value comes solely from the Lord because we are made -in HIS image-. That alone gives us value, worth and dignity. Nothing else. The enemy loves to attack women in the church and make them think they have no value because of motherhood, singlehood, work status, etc. but the word of the Lord says otherwise.
I’ve done so much research on the topic and I’d love to share more if I had the time or readers that are interested in reading it.
But for now, I leave you with this…
“We view men’s gifts as vital to the church. In contrast, we caution women to exercise their gifts discreetly to avoid causing problems or trespassing some invisible line — which changes location from church to church, sometimes even within the same denomination.” Don’t hold back your God-given gifts out of fear that a man will feel less than because of your calling. Don’t put limits on yourself out of fear you are only meant for one thing.