Suitable Helper

The solitude of man is the first thing God evaluates and declares not good. But, as with all His judgments, it is not merely a proclamation; He works in His judgment to bring a change. God divided the man to bring him a helper, to form culture and community.

In one sense, there was not found among all the animals a helper suitable to the man in what would be his cultural mandate. Certainly the animals were helpers, but they could not help man multiply and fill the earth. They could not have dominion and rule with the man. For these things, the man needed a helper that corresponded to him. However, this cultural mandate was given later, after the woman had been made. In this passage, the need for a suitable helper seems to be for some other purpose.

The garden is the first sanctuary. It is where God places the man and gives him the priestly duties of serving and keeping, of administering and guarding the way to the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. It is where God comes to meet with man, to see and evaluate his work and to receive his thanks. Later sanctuaries, the tabernacle and temple, are modeled after the garden with carvings of trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and cherub guardians. It is in this context that the woman is  given to the man as his helper, primarily as his worship partner. In the rejoining of the man and woman, the two become one flesh, and the community is formed as a body and participates in the life of the Trinity.

Paul addresses this community in his letter to the Ephesians. Now certainly not everything he says applies to each individual in the church. Sometimes he’s talking just to pastors or addressing some particular issue or sin that not everyone deals with. But when he says, “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” he is not talking just to those who happened to live in Ephesus a long time ago. Neither is he talking about some abstract thought of a person, the Ideal Christian. He is talking to everyone in the church, to us. This is God addressing us directly, “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” And we have the honor and joy of speaking this to you, “I urge you.” We all should hear this as God speaking to us because we are the saints; we are the body of Christ. He speaks to us so that we might grow up into our head, into the fullness of the maturity of Christ.

For more on this, and the role of men and women in the liturgical setting, please see James Jordan, Liturgical Man, Liturgical Women

 

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