Now we notice that God said that it was not good for the man to be alone in this task. God determined to make a helper suited to the man (Genesis 2:18). In context, the woman is to help the priest guard and beautify the sanctuary, home, and workplace. Two things we need to notice from this.
First of all, the woman is in the garden. That means that the man is to guard and beautify her. As regards the Church, this means that the Adam is to guard and beautify the Bride, something the first Adam failed to do, but which the Last Adam does perfectly. In accordance with this, the officers who represent the Last Adam in the Church must be men, who guard and beautify the congregation, which is theologically feminine.
In the home and workplace, it is the man’s task to guard and beautify the woman. We see this in the Song of Solomon. It is the duty of all men everywhere, and it is a duty that has most often been rejected. The history of the world is a history of men exploiting, degrading, and abusing women. We speak of “wife-beating” as if it were something other than assault. If a man assaults another man in the street, it is a crime, but if a man assaults his wife at home, in most cultures it is his “right.” Christianity has reversed this trend to a degree, but there is much left to do. In Christian cultures, it is the women who are adorned in beautiful clothes and jewelry, while in non-Christian cultures the men strut as peacocks.
Second, the women is given to help the man guard and beautify the world, including the world of the sanctuary (worship). As the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) shows, it is particularly as mothers that women become fierce guardians, but the Bible does not restrict their guarding work only to the home. Deaconesses will help the elders guard the holiness of the Church.
But I wish to make another point about the woman as “helper” needed by the man. The arts are not simply a masculine pursuit. The Christian artist needs the feminine perspective if he or she is going to be fruitful. Outside of Christianity, artists tend toward homosexuality, and I believe this is precisely because in their hearts men reject God and His command to take the woman as helper. It has only been in Christian cultures that women have begun to blossom as writers, artists, and musicians–and there is still much progress to be made in this area.
The importance of the woman’s perspective in art must be seen first of all in worship. In worship there are three dimensions. First, the Spirit comes alongside the Bride and calls her to become herself. The Spirit and the Bride call others into the Church, and in worship the Spirit leads the Bride to confess sin and become whole, before proceeding further in worship. The Spirit is, so to speak, the Divine Matchmaker who prepares the Bride for the Groom (like the eunuch in Esther 2:10-12 & 3:15–save that the Spirit is not at all powerless!).
Then the Bride is led by the Spirit into dialogue with the Son. In this dialogue, the congregation is feminine before her Lord and Husband. We impoverish the arts of worship if we do not make full use of the contributions of women in this area, because the woman’s intuitions (when renewed by the Spirit) are wonderfully suited to help the men respond to Christ properly in praise and adoration. (Also, in my opinion it is important for women to “vote” in the Church, because they have good instincts when it comes to selecting the men who will represent the Divine Husband to the congregation.)
Finally, united to the Son by marriage and “one flesh” with Him, the congregation participates in the dialogue between the Son and the Father. From this perspective, we are all sons, and here the masculine perspective is needed as a contribution to the art of worship.
What is true of worship must also be true of all of life, as we do God’s will on earth as we have learned to do it in heaven. The beautification of life is every bit as much the woman’s task as it is the man’s, and the man is called upon to appreciate fully the woman’s contribution. Sadly, in the history of the world, perverse definitions of manhood and of womanhood have arisen, and these have warped the Church all too often.
James Jordan is scholar-in-residence at Theopolis. This originally appeared at Biblical Horizons.