Last week we wrote an article called 7 Tools that Could Transform Your Scripture Study. One of the things Britt and I hoped to help people see is that we can get so much more out of our scripture study if we put aside the things we think we already know. There’s something powerful about approaching the scriptures as if there are all sorts of spiritual treasures yet to be discovered (and there are).
Today we’re going to share a powerful example of how cultural understanding can sometimes obscure what the scriptures are actually saying.
So, we don’t know about you, but Dustin and I grew up learning that God gave Eve to Adam as a “helpmeet,” or sometimes “helpmate.” In countless discussions and lessons, that is how Adam and Eve are almost always characterized.
The problem is that the terms “helpmeet” and “helpmate” are nowhere to be found in scripture. In fact, research shows that the origin of those words comes from a misreading of Genesis. It’s not just Mormons who have misread these verses, so have Christians in general.
As it turns out, Eve was not Adam’s “helpmeet.” Help and meet are two separate words (hence the space between them in the verses). Eve was “a help” (pause) “meet for him.” There’s a difference, and it matters.
We probably misunderstand this phrase because we don’t typically use this type of “meet.” The usage found in this verse has become outdated. However, looking up “meet” in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives you a better idea of what is meant in Genesis, Abraham, and Moses when God says that Eve is “a help meet for [Adam].”
“Meet” (in these verses) means “to be suited to,” “adapted to,” and “qualified for.”
Wow. That adds some pretty profound meaning.
God didn’t just create Eve to be a “helper.” He created her as a “help” divinely suited to Adam. On a fundamental level, they were made for each other. God shaped their natures to best help, complement, and inspire one another. He tailored them to the unique strengths, weaknesses, and differences they would both bring to the table as husband and wife.
God wants His children to become exalted and to take part in His work. To this end, God provided an extraordinary “help” from the very beginning. Man was not left alone; he was brought into divine partnership with woman. Together, as co-equals who were “qualified” for each other, they would help one another fulfill their eternal potential and destinies.
Understood properly, these verses illuminate the divine role that gender plays in God’s great plan for humankind. Men and women are different, but those differences are intentionally created as part of a plan to help exalt all of us as we come together in sacred and eternal unions.
God intends for the differences between men and women to be ennobling and empowering. When we understand this doctrine, we get a clearer glimpse of the purpose of marriage. It motivates us to live truer to this purpose and leaves us with the certainty that little matters more than that most sacred of institutions.
As husband and wife, we’re not just in the ride together; we’re partners in each other’s exaltation and in God’s eternal work.
That little phrase, “a help meet for him,” has a lot of significance for all of us.
By Dustin and Brittney Phelps
This article is part of a series of articles that aims to help people see that there is more to the scriptures than sometimes meets the eye. If you enjoyed this article and are interested in thoughts about making scripture study a delight, like our page or give us your email (scroll down to bottom of page), so you don’t miss future posts.