Barrington H. Brennen
celebrate National Women’s Week in our country, I pause to
remind us that God did not create women to “help men out”
but to be their equal partners and companions every where on
earth. God’s original design was not for men to be in a
leadership position while women just come along to help them
as assistant leaders. I know this has been the notion for
thousands of years, but it is a misinterpretation of
Scripture. The King James Version of Genesis 2:18 states:
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should
be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Many other
versions translate the last part of the verse this way: “a
helper that is right for him.”
[ Take the
Survey On Gender Equality and
words “help meet” and “helper” have been causing a stir for
thousands of years. Many interpret this text to mean that
the woman’s purpose is to help the man out by being his aid,
maid, or servant. Men are taught that women are to stand
beside them as support, but not really as their equal. The
thought is that while the man has the position of
leadership, the woman is to provide assistance to his
leadership. This is a false assumption. To understand that
both male and female were created in a position of equal
leadership and power sharing, we first need to understand an
earlier Scripture found in Genesis 1:26-28: “Then God said,
"Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They
will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky.
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image
of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Then God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and multiply.
Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in sea. .
COMPANIONS NOT MAIDS
very important principles arising from these verses are: 1)
Both male and female are given equal power and authority
over the earth and not over each other. 2) Both male and
female are created in God’s image. These are important
points because the underlying reason for violence against
women is that men are taught that women do not have equal
power with them, they do not have the same authority, and
that they are of lesser value. How could this be so when
both male and female were created in God’s image? In a
previous article on the subject, I wrote: “Together
(Adam and Eve) reflected God’s image. In essence, male
dominance teaches that males were created in the image of
God and females were created in the image of man. There are
no Biblical texts or teachings that support the idea that
Eve was to be subordinated to Adam.”
men understand that women are of equal value and have equal
authority with them in the home, church, community, and
country, violence against women will continue. This brings
me to the meaning of the word “helper” in Genesis that is so
often misused. The original word in Hebrew is”Ezer.” It
simply means someone just like him, a companion, or a
partner. Note carefully that “helper” is used in Scripture
not to suggest a hierarchical order, but a person with power
and strength. Hebrew 10:13 states: “The Lord is my helper.”
Theologian Wendy Francisco states that “everywhere else in
Scripture that uses "ezer" describes the coming help of God,
or, in a few cases, an army. In short, there is no hint of
hierarchy in it.” The clear meaning of the word “ezer” is
one who is in position “corresponding to him,” “his
counterpart, his complement.” Power or authority “over”
someone is out of the picture here. What I find interesting
is that Scripture talks about God as an “ezer” – helper.
If God, our helper, is not inferior to us or subordinated to
us, why are women subordinated to men?
RAISING OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS
can stop the violence against women and girls in our country
by educating our children that boys and girls are equal.
Boys and men should not be granted any special privilege
that girls and women are not granted. They are not in charge
of women and girls. They do not own them. They are not
entitled to decide for them or place limits on them as they
seek to realize their full potential.
Several years ago, I wrote an article entitled: “Mom Ruins
Son’s Life.” I said: “A major reason many of our Bahamian
men are messing up their marriages or romantic relationships
is because their mothers made them believe that the best way
to build men’s character is to serve them as masters.
Instead of building responsibility and self-discipline in
their sons by allowing them to enjoy the privilege of doing
things for themselves, mothers spoil their sons by picking
up their underwear on the floor, washing their dishes, and
ironing their clothes. According to these mothers, boys are
just to play ball, rake the yard, and clean cars. The girls
are to wash the dishes, cook, sew, and clean the house. This
is a great disservice a mother can do to her son. In fact,
she is not only hurting her son but her son’s marriage and
her son’s sons.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
Violence against women and girls is a global crisis.
Violence against women and girls at the highest conceptual
level includes violating their human rights and civil
liberties and depriving them of individual freedom. At the
personal level it includes rape, sexual assault, sexual
harassment, genital mutilation, economic abuse (withholding
money), emotional/psychological abuse, intimidation, verbal
abuse, honor killing, acid throwing, rape in war zones,
gender selection (abortion or abandonment of baby girls),
forced prostitution, trafficking, etc.
are some global facts. Up to 7 in 10 women around the world
experience physical and/or sexual violence at some point in
their lifetime. As many as 1 in 4 women experience physical
or sexual violence during pregnancy. An estimated one
million children, mostly girls, enter the sex trade each
year. Worldwide, about 50 percent of sexual assaults are
committed against girls under the age 16. The truth is there
is no such statistics of violence against men around the
world. We must stop ignoring these horrendous acts of
violence and statistics. Particularly, the Church must admit
that it has committed a grave error in devaluating women by
subordinating them to men and begin the task of reparation
and healing by preaching the right theology.
Remember men, women are not our assistants, maids, cooks and
sex toys. They are our equal companions with equal value,
voice, vote, and power.
are you going to do to help end violence against women? We
can begin by educating our children about gender equality.
Let us start now.
Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and
board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA. Send your
questions or comments to
email@example.com or write to P.O. Box
CB-11045, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit
www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or