Each year, there are days marked for celebrating women, and I come to ponder, "what is the state of women today that's worth celebrating?" Most assuredly for one, we can celebrate women's empowerment. Not a totally new concept, but women's empowerment has gained much momentum these days, as seen in recent politics when women picked up many seats in the US congressional election. Similar increases of female presence in leadership are happening also in other countries. What does this trend mean? Is this trend an indicator of an increase of women's worth?
About woman's worth, we need to look no farther than the first few chapters of Genesis. In one of the most empowering acts of God, woman is held up as the helper of man.* That is a role that applies to any woman in any nation, a stewardship of trust marked out for women. This role comes with the responsibility and the right to execute that role. It encompasses motherhood, the feminine expression of womanhood, and the unique partnership with man in stewardship or governance.
To fully appreciate this role, let us examine the Hebrew word for helper—"Ezer." This word means assistance, aid, support to fulfill a need—especially in distressful times when the person cannot do something for himself or herself. God is addressed as Jehovah Ezer in Psalm 33:20, meaning, "God our help." Hebrews 13:6 says, "the Lord is my helper" (boethos). This Greek word describes a runner hearing a cry to give assistance. The Holy Spirit is called the helper or enabler in John 15:26. In other words, woman's role reflects God's, as the helper. Women operate from a position of strength, not inferiority.
We can be tempted to quantify women's worth as in equal pay and equal opportunity. After all, "we get what we pay for" is a fair trade. But wisdom tells us this trade is not the real measure of women's worth. Women can dream, plan and pursue not only rights they are given or strive for, but also, the full realization of their God-endowed role. Women must persistently reclaim the role of women, regardless of region or race, to emphasize God's essential creation plan for all womankind.
The Bible shows that there are ways to empower women without sacrificing their natural God-given endowment, such as to speak clearly because they have the mind of Christ. To stand courageously because they have the support of millions of likeminded women. To stay in control of the gift of femininity because they are made in God's image.
Paul's teaching on the interdependence of man and woman is one often overlooked in his instruction on the roles of male and female.** This mutual dependence reflects the relationship of the Godhead, in whose image humans were created. Competition between the sexes is never the intended image. Man without woman cannot compete well in life. In the God-given role of helper, woman is not to lag behind man, compete with man, hate man or kick man out. Rather, she is to be working closely, competently, harmoniously, and uniquely contributing to help what is lacking in man. In other words, they work hand in hand to help one another to build and govern.
To build or achieve anything, how do man and woman need one another? Do women take pride in outperforming men especially in traditionally male tasks? Do women strive to see a reversal of roles so men are in servitude of women? Do women obstruct the progress of the other sex in a bid for equality, freedom, strength or superiority? Does stepping on others to lift up ourselves makes us true warriors?
Rather, shall women instead bless the expression of our given role? Shall we instill life in the name of Eve—"the mother of all the living?" Shall we preserve our God-given freedom with uprightness, like the heroic feat of Queen Esther? And shall we spread the truth and true love like the Samaritan woman by the well, to whom Jesus exemplified compassion without compromise?
*Gen 2:18; **1 Cor 11:11-12
— Shirley Yco Wong is a a missionary and professor of Biblical Counseling at Global Enrichment Theological Seminary. Culminating a lifetime passion of helping people change in Christ and a decade of teaching counseling in different countries, she authored the book Counseling the Heart where she introduces the Three Heart Counseling method which helps unravel the root of problems quickly. Her trainees have seen even non-Christian counselees turn to Christ as a result of this method of dealing with their issues.
Shirley's exposure to different cultures and religions challenged her to search for the Truth and understand human weakness at a tender age. Follow her blog at counselingtheheart.com. Her books/ebooks may be found at https://www.amazon.com/COUNSELING-HEART-trouble-overcome-world-ebook/dp/B07JND8JFJ/ and https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/counseling-the-heart-shirley-yco-wong/1129119648?ean=9781545633588.