Today a conference is going on here in Dallas for men entitled Kingdom Men. For obvious reasons, I have no interest in learning about being a kingdom man. But what I fear is that the Kingdom Man agenda has been so skewed towards the domination of men, that women get lost in the dust. I get the sense from some Facebook posts I’ve seen today that only men are kingdom warriors. The unfortunate reality is that it is a product of a poorly translated concept of the woman’s identity as a help-meet. What gets missed is that women are kingdom warriors too, co-regents with men over the earth.
The term helper is translated from ezer gets a bad rap as the woman being dependent upon the man as the head. A closer look reveals that ezer has the connotation of being a rescuer. When God saw that it was not good for man to be alone and that he needed a suitable helper, he sent a rescuer. The NET Bible notes:
Traditionally “helper.” The English word “helper,” because it can connote so many different ideas, does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.” The woman would supply what the man was lacking in the design of creation and logically it would follow that the man would supply what she was lacking, although that is not stated here.
Man was not meant to be alone because he could not accomplish what he needed to do without his rescuer. This is why suitable (kenegdo) refers to the companion as being uniquely complementary, without which the alone person – the man – cannot function as he should. Unfortunately, under the rubric of Complementarianism, misogyny has relegated the woman to an inferior role as a Kingdom Assistant instead of a Kindgom Warrior. In her book, Half the Church, Carolyn Custis James offers a helpful understanding of how men and women are to rule together. Here are some snippets from her chapter entitled The Ezer Unbound
Isn’t it obvious that the ezer is a warrior? And don’t we already know this in our bones? God created his daughters to be ezer-warriors with our brothers. He deploys the ezer to break the man’s aloneness by soldiering with him wholeheartedly and at full strength for God’s gracious kingdom. The man needs everything she brings to their global mission (p 113)
Descriptions of a woman as dependent, needy, vulnerable, deferential, helpless, leaderless, or weak are – to put it simply – wrong. Such definitions betray cultural biases and I fear a deep-seated misogyny. The ezer is a warrior. Like the man, she is also God’s creative masterpiece – a work of genius and a marvel to behold – for she is fearfully and wonderful made. The ezer never sheds her image-bearing identity. Not here. Not ever. God defines who she is and how she is to live in his world. That never changes. The image bearer responsibilities to reflect God to the world and to rule and subdue on his behalf still rest on her shoulders, too. (pg 114)
If Adam must think, decide, protect, and provide for the woman, she actually becomes a burden on him – not much help when you think about it. The kind of help the man needs demands full deployment of her strength, her gifts, and the best she has to offer. His life will change for the better because of what she contributes to his life. Together they will daily prove in countless and surprising ways that two are better than one. (pg 114-115).
Women, like men, are called to be kingdom warriors, too.