October 8, 2008

Equal Partners But Not Equal

My wife and I met when I was 16 and she was 15. It was love at first spike so to speak. I was wearing a spiked haircut that rose about 2" off my head with a set of bangs that went below my eyes...she had this 80's mall hair that went about 4" straight up. It was a match not even Paul Mitchell could have dreamed up! Luckily our compatibility went further than hair products...we actually liked each other and fell in love (or at least she tolerates me).

We were young when we got married (18 and 20), but we understood the meaning of a lifelong commitment. There was something different about our relationship. In areas where she was strong I was weak. In areas where I was strong she was weak. We both understood that I was in charge as long as she wasn't awake. We complemented each other.

When God created man He took the initiative to find him a partner, a helper, because it wasn't good for man to be alone. The term "helper" has often been used to demean the role of women. They see being a helper as a subordinate role. The problem with this understanding is that the same word is used repeatedly of God in relationship to Israel; God is Israel's helper. With God as the primary example of a helper, the word "helper" certainly doesn't indicate a subordinate role. The woman was to be seen as a partner.

The original Hebrew does something else to indicate the non-subordinate nature of the woman. Not only is this a helper, but, in the English, this helper will be "suitable for him." The original Hebrew can be translated as "one like unto him." This helper will stand "face-to-face" and be able to go "toe-to-toe," to borrow a few idioms. They will be co-rulers and partners in their commission to care for and rule over the world.

It would be wrong, however, to call them equals in ability and responsibility. They had different responsibilities and gifts, but they were called to rule over the earth together. Neither one was given authority over the other. Their relationship was one of mutual love, respect, and submission to fulfill the purpose God had given them. This very literally was a match made in heaven.

Sin's entrance into the world, however, changed everything!

The next post will discuss how things changed in the relationship once sin entered the world. To read the previous posts in this series go here.

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