Calling women a “HelpMeet”

helpmeetIf you’ve ever referred to women as a “help meet” for men you might be a fundamentalist.

The use of this phrase is an odd phenomenon pulled from Genesis 2:18 where the Lord says, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Translated in other ways God is saying that He will make man a helper “fit for”, “corresponding to” or “suitable for” him. But one supposes calling a woman a “help corresponding” just doesn’t have the same ring to it and more importantly those phrases do not imply that a woman’s main function is to meet a man’s needs.

There’s no record of who started using “help-meet” as a noun but it’s clear that fundies think that’s what the King James Bible intends for us to do. It’s hard to say what they’d think of husbands being called “lover submitters” per Ephesians 5. I’m sure they’d consult the Greek and find it lacking.

53 thoughts on “Calling women a “HelpMeet””

  1. I was married once to a fundamentalist. He loved to quote the “woman submit” verses to me, but managed to forget the “husband love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for her” verses.

    I don’t think fundyland knows what to do with divorced single women. Who are they supposed to submit to? 🙂

    1. Yup! I think somewhere deep down it pisses them off royally… 😈

    2. My extremely Fundy father always quotes that to my mom, who was born and raised Fundy and is used to abuse. Misery all around. Ticks me off. LOVE her, you idiot. Nope that ain’t important..SUBMITTING is! Ugh.

  2. Don’t forget the frequent mispronunciation: help-mate! (I’d hazard a guess that the corrupting influence of the Southern constituency of Fundamentalism is partly responsible for that.)

  3. Aww, yeah – my suggestion got used 🙂

    Seriously, it seemed like 3 out of every 5 preachers that spoke in chapel at MBBC used this non-word. Drove me CRAZY!

  4. Help-meet Requirements:
    *wearing a dress or culottes at all times
    *having as many children “as the Lord allows” (since the King James Bible never condones birth control!)
    *Always greeting your husband at the door after work with a smile and his dinner on the table.
    *Letting your husband relax after work (after all *HE* worked all day, you merely relaxed as you cared for his twelve lovely children, cooked, cleaned up the house, did laundry, etc. . .) while you continue your “household duties”.
    *Never speaking up in church or Bible study, because you wouldn’t want to “usurp authority over a man”.
    *Submitting diligently to your husband (translation: letting him make all the decisions, and never questioning any of them).

    There are probably more requirements–I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

  5. I love proper grammar (I know. . . weird personality quirk of mine). Connotations of the phrase notwithstanding, you’ve managed to point out one of the biggest errors in it: did anyone think about what they were doing when they turned “meet” into a noun?

  6. I’m so thankful I’m married to a man who puts more importance on loving me the way he should than how submissive I am to him. He makes it so easy for me to be submissive by the way he respects and honors me.

    I think the helpmeet idea is great, if used properly. If the husband is a jerk, he doesn’t deserve a submissive wife. He’s already making it impossible for her to submit properly if he isn’t loving her the right way.

  7. I just found this site and I hope its what I think it is. I am a pastor of a Southern Baptist church. Do I need to be here?

  8. On the lighter side, during my years as a fundamentalist, I noticed this trend of treating “help meet” as a noun. My own little way of countering the bad grammar bound up in this phenomenon was to, when praising my wife for something she’d done and done well, I would tell her, “Thou art an help MEET for me!”

    On the more serious side, now that I’m Reformed (yea, Presbyterian even) and my wife remains IFB in her convictions, the Lord is using the tension between her responsibility to submit and my responsibility to “lovingly lead by example” (my summary of the biblical role of the husband) to work the rough edges off of both of us. What I’ve come to learn over the years that we’ve spent at this stalemate is that, I believe, ideally, I am to see to my own role without regard to how well she is performing hers, and vice versa. Basically, it’s the crucifixion of the selfishness of both the husband and the wife.

    Another thing I’ve been learning is that crucifixion is not an instantaneous death, but long and drawn out. The ancient Roman method sometimes took days, the spiritual application for me is that it will last my entire life.

  9. Since I’m a nerd with OCD-like research impulses, I looked up “helpmeet” in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED describes it as “A compound absurdly formed by taking the two words help meet in Gen. ii. 18, 20 (‘an help meet for him’, i.e. a help (HELP n. 2) suitable for him) as one word. Already in the 17th c. the Scripture phrase is found with the two words improperly hyphened; which led the way to the use of help-meet, helpmeet, without ‘for him’. But its recognition as a ‘word’ is chiefly of the 19th c.: it is unknown to Johnson, Todd, Richardson, and to Webster 1832. In the 17th c. they used more grammatically meet help, meet-help: cf. sweet heart, sweetheart.” Turns out it’s been used as a word in non-biblical literature since at least 1673 when Dryden said, “If ever woman was a help-meet for man, my Spouse is so.” (Yes, I know I’m a nerd!)

  10. Amanda, you are my hero. The OED rocks.

    I think this whole thing could have been cleared up with a comma–“an help, meet for him.” Another example of how much fundamentalist absurdity it due to ignorance and linguistic carelessness.

  11. Jordan, if the Holy Spirit wanted a comma, He would have written a comma. I, of course, do not try to correct the KJV. Sheesh. I thought you were saved. (shakes dust. walks away.)

  12. I hope this means that the husbands are helping their wives with the dishes, laundry and the kids.

    1. Yuck, that was disgustingly fundy, nauseating. Here is how this kind of man is and here is what you should feel about him you stupid woman. Especially gross is the “Steady” man section. Just shut up and accept him as he is you controlling hussy! Sorry, I divorced him instead! 😈 🙄 👿

  13. That passage in Ephesians also says to submit to one another.

    I’ve heard it said that single women should submit to older, spiritual men in the church. So should a seventy year old widowed woman submit to a ninety five year old man?

    BTW there’s a button down here that says submit! subliminal message?

    1. No, the person a single woman, regardless of age, needs to submit to is God. Not a man. Not ever.

    2. The image just popped into my head, of the 70 year old woman submitting to the 95-year-old man, is extremely unprintable. 😳 “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means,” especially the part with the whip and the black leather straps. 😈

    3. Or should a 70-year-old woman submit to a 71-year-old man?
      In many cultures that place an emphasis on the authority of elders, you are to regard a person as an elder if he or she is even a month older than you. In fact, an elder twin is supposed to have authority over the younger twin even if the difference in their ages is a matter of minutes (see Jacob and Esau).

  14. So, one year the Fundy ministry I worked at gave this book to all the staff ladies – singles included. We wondered if that was supposed to be some sort of hint …

  15. This book nearly broke me with improper use of God’s LAW, man-made fear tactics and promised quid pro quo that if I followed their advice(equated with Scripture) that I’d have a happy marriage. Bottom line I nearly lost my faith, almost ruined my marriage and had health problems for a year until Jesus opened my eyes when reading Matthew 11:28-30 and pulled me out of their thicket. I realized they’d imposed a different yoke for wives and lead you to follow THEIR teaching. Jesus gives us what we need and changes us with love but the Pearl’s motivate with fear and lies. Bottom line this book uses the law WITHOUT the Gospel, it’s creepy and God does not promise that we can have a better marriage by being a godly wife, period. This is an old post but thought I’d give my 2 cents. Here’s a great review of this book by a concerned pastor.

    1. That review made me feel a whole lot better. Thanks for posting the link. That woman should not be writing books… 🙄

  16. “If you’ve ever referred to women as a “help meet” for men you might be a fundamentalist.”

    You MIGHT be? Seriously, have you ever heard anybody other than a Fundamentalist use this term? I haven’t.

    1. I actually came across it in a Mark Twain story a couple months ago. It was in a book of short stories though so I’m not sure which one off the top of my head.

  17. Someone tried to tell me that the Bible says that ‘women are supposed to submit to men’ with regard to his dating relationship. I corrected him on this count, saying that the Bible actually says that the wife is to submit to the husband (and that the husband has a further obligation to love his wife as Christ loved the church–i.e., sacrifice for her, not exploit her, treat her with due consideration, etc.)

    He still pushed the issue, so I asked him if, by his reasoning, his mother should submit to him?

    He had no answer to that. I never spoke to that guy again. No loss.

    1. I really hate that idea that some fundys have that all women should submit to all men. Bull puckey! We are only required to submit to one man, our husband, our “own” husband. (which rules out polygamy as well but that’s another topic). Where do these men (and sometimes women who seem to hate themselves) get the idea that we have to submit to every man?

      I also hate the term “help-meet” as it seems so limiting. If a man refers to his wife as his help-meet it seems he’s only referring to what she does for him. How about referring to her as his wife, the woman he loves, or the love of his life? A whole lot more romantic than help-meet and one she will be more inclined to reward him for in private. 😉

    2. Wives are supposed to submit to husbands and husbands are supposed to submit to wives. It’s an equal relationship.

  18. I believe that the verse telling women to submit to their husbands and for the men to love thier wives as Christ loves his church, is instructing the spouses not to one-up each other and for married couples to hold each other on an even keel with equal consideration and due respect.

  19. Submission is slavery (to yield to the will of another), and the term ‘helpmeet” is probably meant to describe this status.

  20. Ah yes! This is just another perfect example of the messed up lexicon that is rife in the “church”. How do phrases like this become so “mainstream” in churches? Is it a lack of critical thinking? No checks on what the man behind the pulpit says? Our language is so far removed from the kjv translation that any contrived phrase that fits modern vernacular passes and gets passed along regardless of its true meaning? Its funny and sad at the same time!

  21. I have not had such a good laugh in soooo long…. The Bible talks of scoffers and lovers of self… and G*d will harden their hearts. I love it when the folks of this world that refuse to see what is required in order to be accepted as over comers. Do none of you do as you are told by a boss to get your pay check? Do none of you drive within a reasonable speed to avoid a ticket? If you are willing to follow the laws of the land… why is it so hard to believe in following G*ds laws? OHHHHH… maybe ya’lljust do not believe that the big picture is as real as the book says it is… maybe it is just a simple matter of vision. Some may say I am short sighted, blinded and brainwashed… at least I am washed by the blood and willing to take up my cross… and so leave you with this: Acts 2:38 & 42… God Bless!

    1. at least I am washed by the blood and willing to take up my cross…

      By saying this you prove your fundie creds by disdaining anyone who disagrees with your views by bringing their salvation into question. Your proof-texting is classic passive aggressive judgmentalism.

      Here let me leave you with a text you may want to take to heart:
      Luke 18:9-14
      9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:*

      10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

      11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

      12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

      13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

      14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

      *emphasis mine

      1. What you say is true of every person that entered this discussion… lest any of us judge… Tis a pity we … humans that believe that Christ lived, died and rose again for us can not all agree on that, and let the rest alone… So what if some of us find it sweeter to walk a narrower line that our brothers and sisters… Do you wish us to stumble in our walk because we do not walk like you? Has not He has given freely to each of us in different measures… and just as He loves us all… sinners and saved… Jew and Gentile… Why does this forum see it amusing to cast stones and revile those who differ in the way one choses to live a life for Christ?? Why make others feel belittled and scoff? It has been over 2000 years and the pleading of the apostles for peace among the body is still not to be found…. woe….

        1. ” Do you wish us to stumble in our walk because we do not walk like you? ”

          This could be said of every single IFB church I ever attended. Because I choose to wear pants, because I chose to marry outside the IFB, because I chose to work (a working mom!!! For SHAME!), because I chose to finally leave when the judgment got too great, I was considered less-than. No one cared about helping me in my walk. They only worried that I would somehow smudge them with my sin.

          For the record, I tend to think that those who refuse — adamantly — to love their neighbors (their non-IFB neighbors, for example) are at a far greater risk of facing God’s judgment than I am for wearing pants.

        2. Jesus did tell the Apostles to leave alone the other group preaching in Jesus’ name, but that’s probably because they were getting Jesus’ message correct.

          FFtls, you are probably attending a fundie-lite church that isn’t as extreme as ones most of SFL readers have been exposed to. The more extreme, man/hero/pastor worshiping, works driven, easy-believe-ism, scandal hardened, fundie churches and their pastors, have wreaked havoc in the Western/American church. Unfortunately, most of the folks that comment at SFL are the damaged, abused, confused, people who came out of these kinds of churches.

          Not to excuse the many sarcastic comments, most have valid points and are made from personal experiences. Extreme fundamentalism that supports preachers like Jack Schaap, his false teachings, wicked deeds, and blind followers, needs to be called out and addressed. Indeed, Christians have a biblical right to do so!

          This particular post doesn’t seem to be contradicting God’s word that women be submissive, rather, it’s addressing how many IFBxer’s have distorted scripture to fit their particular brand of theology.

          Sincerely, if this site is too disturbing to you, I’d reccommend not viewing/commenting here, but leave it all in God’s hands.

        3. What you say is true of every person that entered this discussion

          No, I was very specifically aiming at you. Because you brought up the passive/aggressive back-handed questioning of everyone’s salvation who you don’t agree with.

          You are playing the role of the the Superior Weaker brother/sister. You are attempting to rule from your narrow piety, setting your personal standards as the universal standard.

          Sorry, but Christ set the standards and he has allowed a wide range of behavior outside of the specifics he set forth as sin. I don’t see where he recognizes you as co-author or your standards as authoritative.

        4. I am so sad that ya’ll have been hurt so deeply from the pulpit and the pews… I ask forgiveness for being critical and short sighted. We must each work out our own salvation with fear and trembling… we each have our own crosses to bear. And because I lay down my sword in this battle and surrender it into Christ’s hand… I shall leave your forum, as suggested. I ask for your prayers as I will also be praying for all of you who have been hurt and wounded. May this stripes heal each and every one of you and may you find the peace that He promises. I will not be returning to see your replies… may our Father be with you always.

        5. I hope some day “female fundy that lovingly submits” shares her thoughts again. You are a prize among women. Thank you for your comments.
          My father was a policeman so your analogy about following the speeding laws was familiar to me.
          I truly believe that in these last days nearing The Great Wrath of God prior to the Savior’s 2nd Coming — most who claim to be christian do so as pretense– for if that were not the case why would they be so opposed the role of a Woman as Commanded by God The Father as a “help meet” as anything but Glorious? Eve was deceived and women can be deceived. So God did something special he gave two commands to Eve (and in turn) to all women as a reminder of God giving Dominion to Adam and the role of a woman to protect her from Satan’s Guile and the resultant Captivity of Satan that is the consequence of sin (certainly to continuing and often escalating sin– and that of un-repentant sin). What Did God Do? — He gave Commandments (and never forget a commandment is a specific pathway when followed exactly brings a specific blessing or set of blessings) God told Eve and all woman “thy desire Shall Be To Thy Husband” {emphasis added} That is a Command– Eve and her daughters were not to let their desires be after what the Liar (Satan) would present — or the desires to compete against or oppose what her sweetheart her love the person from whom she was taken (figuratively) to be created — her husband. Each woman was commanded to let, form, focus upon, yearn after, place the affections, drives, passions, goals and aspirations towards her husband. How could that ever lead to anything but a sweet and abiding Love?
          [Now don’t any of you dare denigrate that goal
          by saying a woman might marry a man who is a beast
          pretending to be good. Or that a man might fall and
          become a monster.– For the ideal is the ideal by which
          we set our compass. Do you fault the compass or the
          map when a storm arises on that perfect plotted
          navigation? NO Do you blame the captain or pilot
          when a pirate or warship crosses your perfect plotted
          navigation to your ill, or set to your destruction? NO
          For God’s Sake you nay-sayers must not set
          yourselves against this woman or me or any of those
          seeking Light and Truth– and The Path of Holiness —
          just because you have addressed sin your life or have
          encountered the horrors Satan schemed to bring into
          mortal life against those That Chose Christ and to live
          The Plan of Salvation and Exaltation.]
          After God gave Eve the duty to be a “Gehilfin” a blessed helper (in German) or a help meet (in English)
          A man named Jeff Benner provided this insight in Hebrew
          The Hebrew phrasing for “help meet”
          is “ezer kenegedo.” The word “ezer” means “helper.”
          The word “neged” comes from the verbal root “nagad”
          meaning “to be face to face.”
          So all of us — always have the chance to seek and embrace the Truths (as properly translated of course) that are in The Holy Scriptures–
          OR the choice to reject God and the Quest for Light and Truth.
          I solemnly witness to each of you that a ‘help meet’
          is the true role of a wife – with a sacred blesing
          to share with her husband (by all the Laws of God)
          the Riches in Christ. By her husband’s side a
          woman seeking to be the treasured companion
          and ‘help meet’ — in obedience to God to set her
          heart (her desires) to her husband–
          God Shall open the Treasures unto them both
          I, and i would imagine this woman to whom i am giving this reply, are seeking the ‘Straight and narrow Way’
          that leads to Life Eternal — the life style and blessing of Jesus Christ our chosen Master.
          If you others seek to reject Him and His Truths — that is your God given Right – by Agency — so to do! But there are consequences. For obedience the consequence is blessings. For humility and submission a man to Christ — a woman to her husband — again unto God — gain the blessing of true harmony and a chance for Eternal Love in the next life– what have you to say against such a noble goal? The Consequence for sin are what are ‘curses’ some seen in mortal life; and many in the life after death that extends into the Eternities. Every thought and act has its counterpart– Good for good and Evil for evil. God is not a respecter of persons– He is totally and Perfectly Just– you sin and you will pay for it. you do well / good / justly — and you are rewarded accordingly. That makes His Perfect Plan Just– Each of us will have the chance to know the Full Plan the Perfect Plan and the Perfect Delivery System of that Perfect Plan of God from his chosen empowered and glorious servants — whether in this life or in the next- You Will Hear The Complete Truth– and then again, as in this life, you will choose to hearken– then to act in faith, humility, submission and obedience to embrace and incorporate those Truths and that life-style of Christ and so become worthy to Return to the God that gave you life– or to live with other like-minded ones who reject God or love darkness. It is your choice. All born in unequal situations and opportunities are made equal– by what — the Gospel – which truths and commandments and covenants make all equal by the Holy Requirement that each of us give our whole souls unto God– our utmost. For me it might be a thimble of my little heart– For you it might be a gallon size– As long as we give our ‘whole heart’ unto God in obedience and submission — we pay the price. That is the equality that so many bandy about with the corrupt ideas of utopia of socialism or the religions of men and not of God.
          But recall there was another gift / a command of God to Eve and her daughters– It was “He shall rule over you”
          it was that He (Adam and his sons– the future husbands) were to rule over their wives “in Righteousness”
          Just as The Apostle Paul taught — a man living unto Christ and loving his wife as Christ loved The Church (members). So too, a wife is to follow in The Order of Heaven — established by God with Adam so we might have a chance to have things on Earth be as they are in Heaven– all of God’s laws are to prepare for and to mirror in their effect if not in their end goal– to establish life on earth to be as Life is In Heaven.
          Why or Why then do so many of you balk at, scream against, and proliferate so many arguments to hide your mind and heart from God’s pure and holy pattern for a man and wife – to be a husband and his help meet? God sent Eve and women in the course of mortality to earth to be cherished and loved “companions” to Adam’s sons.
          There is nothing ugly or demeaning, harsh or of domination in God’s Plan. The only person who loves Darkness is The Adversary — Satan — The father of Lies– and all of the discussion above that criticized and rejected the beauty of a “help meet” are those people who have been injured and deceived by Satan’s lies, religions, and the acts of those who love darkness rather than Light.
          This sweet girl and myself choose that narrow path to Christ– Joy in this our choice– and let our choice, determination and beckoning call — be a lovely seen; a treasured sign like the rainbow — a token that God has a better way made after the cleansing of the earth from the cruel and darkness of the Great Flood. The Path of Christ is strenuous- it takes effort– indeed ultimate effort– your whole soul. But Would Not Eternal Life be from supreme effort. Jesus saw by prophesy His role and actions as The Christ– on The Day of Judgment — and He proclaimed & taught that those who are the pretenders and think a word or fake actions (less than 100% — or the whole heart standard would be sufficient). Do you not recall that he said not all that say unto me “Lord, Lord” will enter into Heaven:
          Matthew 7:21
          Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord,
          shall enter into The Kingdom of Heaven;
          but he that doeth The Will of My Father
          which is in Heaven. [he also means ‘she’
          that doeth The Will…]
          And in the spirit of this woman I am writing about–
          recall this statement by Christ — The Master of Heaven and Earth– The Lord God Omnipotent– for He said:
          And why call ye me, Lord, Lord,
          and do not the things which I say?
          Luke 6:46
          If you all want to partake of the life and blessing of Jesus
          Try actually obeying Him: do the things which He says!
          The role of men and women are different — each vital; each special and glorious– they were never to be rivals, or enemies, never to vote against one another; never jealous or envious. That is the Path of The Order of Satan– his plan of Lies of turning “hatred against that which is Evil” (i.e., the enmity given in the Garden unto Adam & Eve) to turning Enmity into
          “a hatred of that which is Good”
          There are too many that call GOOD Evil and again
          call Evil Good. — try sticking with the filter and spectacles God gave to see Reality–
          By their fruit, ye shall know them!
          Please Pray To Father in The name of Christ
          and see clearly and you women will seek to
          be “help meets” to worthy honorable men
          And you men will seek to be worthy & honorable
          and seek God to direct you to a woman that
          seeks to live to be a “help meet” & bless your life!
          yours truly

    2. FFtls, I congratulate you on one of the best troll names I’ve seen in quite a while.

    3. How do you reconcile your first sentence about laughing at all of us with your second sentence about “scoffers”?

  22. If you’re not helping your husband get to heaven, to be a good father, husband and eventually an elder in the church, then you’re hurting him . The two shall become ONE. You can’t be ONE if your struggling with power issues.

  23. “If you’ve ever referred to women as a “help meet” for men you might be a fundamentalist.”

    Yea, a KJV (or KJB) only-type of fundamentalist.

    Nevertheless, a help who is fitting is quite appropriate in a relationship built on faith.

Comments are closed.