I Don’t Want No Help Meet!

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'” [Genesis 2:18 ESV]

I Don't Want No Help Meet!

Helper is a very poor translation of what the Hebrew says in that passage. In Hebrew, it says “ezer kenegdo“. Ezer indicates a powerful rescuer, and most of its occurrences in the Old Testament refer to God. Kenegdo means “corresponding as to him”.  God didn’t give Adam a weak, subservient assistant; God provided a powerful companion who rescued him from what God said was a bad situation.

While the King James’ “help meet” translation is not horrible, it’s inadequate. Then on top of that are centuries of cultural garbage. I have never wanted a wife who was what helpmeet has come to mean. What I wanted when I was single is what God gave Adam, a powerful companion who was perfectly suited for me. I didn’t need a cook, or a housekeeper, or a concubine, I needed a strong life partner. Fortunately, this is exactly what God gave me when I married my wonderful Lori.

~ Paul – I’m XY, and I have no use for a helpmeet!

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18 Comments on “I Don’t Want No Help Meet!

  1. Thanks for your post on this. I think your definition here on “help meet,” though, is based on ‘years of cultural garbage.” A help meet the way I interpret it is synonymous with the powerful helper meaning you use in the first paragraph. “Meet” means equal and “help” is with regard to life challenges, not a servant. An equal companion yoked together through the thorns and thistles of life.

    • @Darren – I agree, the original language does point to a powerful helper. But the vast majority of what is written and preached about help meet has nothing to do with what the Bible says. With that very wrong foundation, we have no hope of figuring out what God intended. Complementarians are building on a false premise, while Egalitarians are building on something created to oppose that false premise. I don’t think either group starts with the foundation God intended.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Low Maintenance Isn’t No MaintenanceMy Profile

  2. THANK YOU for this. I am currently wrestling with gender roles in marriage and our current denomination, and though I feel our current church has strayed into toxic patriarchy (complementarianism gone wrong), my husband nevertheless treats me as you are describing here, and I am so thankful for that!

    I think the thing that hit me the most about this post is that I’ve mostly heard the servant version of helpmeet from other women! There are plenty of books that tell women that this is what men need/want… but are written by women! What do you think is going on here? Has this line of thinking just become so ingrained in conservative Christianity that even women are teaching it to one another?

    • @Kay – Yeah, patriarchy is the far end of the Complementarian scale. And yes, I’ve seen a lot of women promoting a view of this I find incompatible with the Bible. But then FGM is promoted and done by women, so I guess this is sort of the same thing.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…Low Maintenance Isn’t No MaintenanceMy Profile

  3. I’ve always hated the way “help meet” was translated. I heard someone speak recently about this passage. She said that kenegdo is most accurately translated “equal-but-opposite.” Like your left hand is the kenegdo of your right. And you are dead-on right that “ezer” does not imply subservience in the least. It is always attributed in the old testament to someone who lends strong support or rescue, mostly to God himself.

    And thanks for the mention!
    Scott recently posted…Why I’m a MegamysterianMy Profile

    • @Scott – I’ve heard left and right hand as well. As you no doubt know kenegdo is difficult because it’s not used elsewhere in the Bible. But ezer is much easier to deal with, and the idea of lesser or subservient is contrary to what the word means. With that fundamental verse misunderstood there is no hope for getting a proper picture of what God intended for husband and wife.
      BTW, I thought your post was excellent. I agree that focusing on labels isn’t a solution!
      Paul Byerly recently posted…A Less Taxing Tax SeasonMy Profile

  4. For the record I wanted a help mate. She gets loved like Christ loved the church, but she is my helpmate not my equal. I will lead my household and my marriage. I want to hear her thoughts and value her opinion but at the end of the day I will lead my household. I will work longer, sacrifice more and put myself between her and danger but I will lead my marriage.

    I don’t believe you are correct in your theology when it comes to women’s roles in marriage or church. I believe your theology on these issues does great harm to the body of Christ as both marriages and church (and society) break down within a decade of implementing them or sooner.

    • Interchangeable and equal are not the same. I am not interchangeable with my husband, but I am equal. This is best modeled in the Trinity itself. Just as the Holy Spirit is the Ezer form of God the Father; they are equal and unified yet completely distinct. Same as Jesus to the Father, who also is equal and unified yet completely distinct. So it ought to be in marriage.

      • Kay,
        Equality is the god of our age. It is satan whispering in women’s ears just as he did in the garden. There is no such things as equality, except in salvation to Christ Jesus. Even then we are told we will be rewarded according to our faith and how we live our life. I came to terms a long time ago that I am not equal to Elijah or John the Baptist in heavenly terms nor am I a general or president in earthly terms. I am content to be the person God made me to be and I will do it to the best of my ability with the Holy Spirits help.

        This post and your comments want to suggest, hint at, tickle ears into believing other than worth in Christ Jesus we are equal- especially in authority. It’s simply not so and is a lie straight from the pit of hell wrecking churches, marriages and losing thousands of souls for Christ. Heads are not equal to bodies, feet are not equal to hands- it is simply impossible. Stop worrying about being equal and be the best body you can be. The rest is pride and being uncontent.

        There is no equality. Equality is not of God but of gods. The quicker we get away from it the better.

      • @Kay – The word equal has become far too political to be of any real use, so I avoid it. Besides that, I think in terms of math, and in that sense, men and women are not and never will be equal/the same.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…A Less Taxing Tax SeasonMy Profile

        • I think I agree with you. Equal in what way? It’s too hard to define simply, so I think I will try and avoid this word going forward as well. Thanks for that! It’s no good if I am talking about being equally important/necessary when someone else is talking about not being equal in authority.

          • @Kay – I’ve seen people who agree on something get into an argument because they use different words or interpret a word differently. Learning and avoiding trigger words can make thing so much easier!
            Paul Byerly recently posted…A Less Taxing Tax SeasonMy Profile

    • Along similar lines, I was recently talking with Hebrew scholar about the acrostic poem found in Proverbs 31. He was talking about how unfortunate it is that it is most often translated a “virtuous woman,” when the Hebrew actually is best described as a “woman of strength,” that the adjective used there is most often applied in scripture to warriors in battle. He pointed out that that chapter was written for men, not women, and was not meant to be a list of things to look for, but to show that there are many ways to be a woman of strength, and not one way. Some women demonstrate their strength by staying home with the children, some women demonstrate their strength by working in real estate, and other women demonstrate their strength in direct sales. Etc. etc. I think the problem with our culture’s current view of a helpmeet as Paul described here is that it tries to box in or limit women in a way that God never intended. Even Ephesians 5 is quite vague beyond the principle ideas of sacrificial love and respect, and I suspect that was intentional because there is no one right way to live out these roles. There are only over arching principles that apply, and I believe this concept of Ezer is one of them. Women are not intended to be merely “in support of their husband in his work” but instead are designed to be strong warriors fighting beside him to bring about the cultural mandate of making disciples of all nations, which will look different for every couple—by design.

      • @Kay – Proverb 31 is very interesting. If you look at who that woman is, you realise many fundamental groups would call her a Jezebel! She buys a field without checking with her husband, how dare she! She shows a total lack of “proper submission”.
        If the Prov 31 woman is violating one’s understanding/theology of women, then I would say that person’s understanding and theology are wrong.
        Paul Byerly recently posted…A Less Taxing Tax SeasonMy Profile

    • @Bob – Please note I never used the word equal. Equal means the same, and men and women are not the same. However when you say “she is not my equal” it sounds like you think you are superior to her. That is contrary to what the Bible teaches.
      Beyond that, I won’t enter into this with you again because we’ve done it before and it generates only heat, no light.
      Paul Byerly recently posted…A Less Taxing Tax SeasonMy Profile

      • Superior? In what way? In being a husband, father and man? Most certainly. In being a mother, wife and woman. Most certainly not. And because our roles are very different I am most most certainly superior to her in a running my household and marriage, as I was ordained by God to do so and commanded by God to do so. Both you and Kay state that we are different and have different roles and then go on long diatribes to explain it all away. Just because I have the authority in my marriage does not mean I am stepping on my wife. Just because Christ has the authority in my relationship with Him does not mean He is stepping on me, even when He calls me to be His servant, to give up my life, to lay down my life, to hate my own life and the world.

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