Fully Souled or Fully Sole?

   In case you haven’t already guessed, I’m tired of the Bible studies and church “women’s groups” that perpetuate and reinforce gender stereotypes, using “the Proverbs 31 woman” or “created to be his helpmeet” paradigms as a sole starting point for Christian womanhood or femininity. 


Having participated in and taught zillions of “women’s Bible studies” over the past 30 years or so, I’ve found that many of these *resources* base their definitions of “biblical womanhood” (and like terms) on a model of maleness.  (I could name specific “ministries” and titles, but I’ll refrain.)  I’m also tired of the mindset that essentially reduces “biblical womanhood” to a dandified cook and maid service, claiming “marching orders” from an unfortunate, inadequate rendering of Genesis 2:18. *



What frequently proceeds from the “helpmeet” paradigm  are narrow definitions and strait-jacketed stereotypes.  Rather than dignifying women as unique reflections of the imago dei,  “female” is defined in terms of or based upon “male.”  The result of this model is a definition of “Christian woman” that views women solely and wholly as ribs, helpers, appendages, accessories and after-thoughts, rather than as “full-bodied, fully-souled images of God.”


The Hebrew word ezer in Genesis 2 is usually translated “helper*,” sometimes “companion” or “partner,” which comes a little closer to the full meaning of the word.  But it means so much more.  It pops up several times in Scripture: Exodus 18:4, Deut. 33:7, Deut. 33:29, Ps.20:2, Ps. 70:5, Ps. 115:11, Ps. 121:1-2, Ps. 146:5. 


God calls himself an ezer


The word means “helper,” but just as a starting point.  An ezer – used to describe Woman in the Genesis 2 passage – is so much more: a delivering, warring, supporting, shielding, defending, rescuing, capable, strong, and vibrant female image bearer of God.  A uniquely feminine reflection of His glory.


 Think about that the next time you hear a sermon, read a book, or attend a Bible study that camps out at Genesis 2:18 and defines Woman as a “helper.”  We would do well to pencil these phrases into the margins of our Bibles to refresh and expand our understanding of Woman.


* For more on this “translation fossil,” visit:




Also check out: Theological Foundations for Male and Female Relationships from the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Dec. 1998, by Stanley Grenz:




2 Responses

  1. Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂

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