Friday, August 16, 2013

CTNAHM-Created to Need a Help Meet (Why men need wives)

pages 21-26

In this section, Michael lays out his reasons as to why every man should be married.  Hint: It's because they need a help meet. (shocking, I know)

I Needed Her
   The reason I chose Deb to be my bride was because I had developed a need for her.  Not sexual at first.  I had possessed a sexual need for thirteen years and knew many girls I felt could satisfy that hunger.
   Before I met Deb, she was already involved in winning guys to faith in Christ. [She was involved with military ministry] Over a four-year period I found myself increasing relying on her as a friend in the ministry.  We became buddies.  I liked her, she made me laugh, she challenged me.  She was good looking, but I knew other girls that were strikingly beautiful.  I chose her because my life evolved to where I needed her.  Not just her body, but her-her spirit, her mind, her courage, her wisdom.  We were not romantically involved during those years.  There was just the basic need that she alone came to meet, and I realised that if I could have her all to myself, I would be fulfilled as a person.  I didn't know it at the time, but I was created to need a help meet, and everything about her seemed to meet my need.  She made me whole.
   The first thing I notice is that he calls women "girls".  Frankly, if she's old enough to marry you, she's a woman.  And what's with the compliments to Debi, and then the bringing in comparisons of other women?  Why can't he just say "I was physically, spiritually, and emotionally attracted to Debi."?  But other than that, I think he makes good points.  I'm actually a bit surprised that he says he wanted her for more then her body, considering how last chapter worked out.  It almost sounds sweet when he says if he could have her, he would be fulfilled.  I like it when my husband says similar things.

Adam and His Helper
   Just as I did, the first man Adam discovered his need for a woman.  God created Adam alone, without Eve or any other human creature, and then gave him the job of naming all the animals.  Observing the animals relating to one other in pairs and groups, Adam searched for his counterpart and found none.  The author of Genesis observes "...but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him (Genesis 2:20)".  It was in Adam's nature to need his yet uncreated counterpart.
     I'm reminded here of an experience we recently had at the zoo.  We were in the petting zoo section, and a few of the goats were mating.  Of course, all the kids were super-curious ("What are they doing?"  "Is he hurting her?")  and the parents were all red-faced and trying to get the kiddos to move on to another exhibit.  I'm imagining Adam hanging out in the garden, and seeing other animals getting it on and being super confused, so he asks God what's going on.
    "Well, Adam,"  says God "It's called reproduction.  When a boy zebra loves a girl zebra very much..."  and Adam's eyes get big
    "Oooooh.  That sounds interesting.  Can I have one?"
    "A girl zebra?"  God asks, jokingly.
   "No. Not a girl zebra.  Just a girl."
   God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone..." because Adam had just discovered a fundamental fact of his nature-he was, in fact, created to need someone.  So the creator said, "I will make an help meet for him (Genesis 2:18)."
   Adam needed sex, but that is a small need compared to the need to have a soul mate. Sex is less than 90 minutes out of a week.  That leaves 9,990 minutes for companionship.  Less than 1% of our time involves sex.  Good sex is great, but marriage is built on much more.
   Holy cow.  I totally agree with something Michael says.  Marriage should be based on more than sex.  It should be based on mutual communication, respect, giving, learning, and growing.  It should be based on building each other up and becoming stronger together than either was as an individual.  Great point, Michael!
 
What is a Help Meet?
   It's not helpmeet, as one word; it's two words, a verb (help) used as a noun and modifier (meet).  When helper is modified with the word meet, it speaks of a particular kind of helper-one that is designed to fit the needs of the one being helped-a suitable helper.  As two pieces of a puzzle meet in exact profile, so a man and woman meet the natures of the other.
   My issue with this paragraph is how one-sided he makes help meet sounds.  "Designed to fit the needs of the one being helped".  Why can't both parties help each other?  I'm starting to feel like eventually we're going to get a lecture similar to the one about 3 types of men from Debi's book.  I'm finding it very hard to argue the logic of the puzzle pieces, though.  Is one puzzle piece created to fit perfectly into another, or are they both created to work together?  How can you tell?  It's seriously blowing my mind.
   Michael then gives us 8 Bible verses about suitable helpers and help meets.  If you're curious about the references, shoot me an email.  If not, we'll just move on to the analysis.
   Adam was missing something, so God prepared a helper that would meet his needs.  A right hand glove is made to meet a right hand. It is not meet for the left hand.  Eve was a perfect right hand fit for the right man Adam.  She was created to be his right hand wo-man.
   Read the passage pausing after the word help, and then read the last three words together: meet for him.  "I will make him an help-meet for him."  She was a helper meet for him.  Got it?  That's easy, and we didn't even need the Greek or Hebrew!
   Thank you, Michael for dumbing it down for us.  We got it.  She was created to help him.

Man is Male and Female
   Notice how God speaks of himself in the plural: "And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness..."  The one God exists in a plural fellowship, so mankind created in that image would reflect that plurality.
   The text says, "...in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them...and called their name Adam (Genesis 1:27, 5:2)"
   God would create persons in his own image, but one person was not adequate to portray his image.  He divided his attributes, putting half into man, and half into woman.  The text is clear: it is the man and the woman together that reflect the image of God.
   It may be just me, but I don't get this.  Because it sounds to me like God has both male and female attributes, but people couldn't handle that much majesty, so he split his likeness into 2 and gave half each to men and women?  I've always believed in some type of Mother God.  I mean, everything else has a male and female, animals, flowers, trees, people...why not God?  So if anyone can dumb this down for me in the comments, that'd be great.
   This is a point you must fully appreciate, for it is the underlying principle for the entire book.  So let me approach it from a more literal perspective.  "Male and female created he them; and blessed them and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created (Genesis 5:1-2)".  Adam was "male and female".  The human race is split into two parts, one part male and one part female.  Together they are Adam, God's creation.
   Looking at it another way, God created a single man with no capabilities to reproduce, for he has no womb.  So the human race was completed with the addition of a womb-man (woman).
   Huh.  I think I'm starting to understand where the evangelicals come from when they think that man is the head, and why Debi doesn't deserve credit for helping with this book.  Adam (man) is singular-plural.  Since Adam and Eve are one, and go by Adam, that makes Adam the boss...right?  Or something like that.  Also note that reproduction is most important, and the only real reason for a womb-man.  Things are starting to make sense.
 
God's Program (or Michael shares his vast computer knowledge)
   It is as if God created "MAN Version 1.0" and then released him into the garden for beta testing.  MAN worked beautifully but was not created as a stand-alone program; he seemed to lack a certain something that made his function complete.  God then created a patch, calling it WO-MAN, and released it to support the original program.  When downloaded together, you have heavenly software capable of communicating with God, becoming "heirs together of the grace of life".  MAN will function alone without the upgrade, but don't expect him to integrate well into society.  He's a bit (pun intended) imbalanced and unpredictable.  I know that's corny, but my wife thinks it's cute.
   I've heard the anecdote that God created Man 1.0 and said "Well, I could have done better" and created Woman 1.0 and then rested because he got it right.  I've never heard that woman is nothing more than a "patch" to make the man program better.  Michael makes the point MAN will function alone, but it seems obvious that a patch without a program is nothing.  I guess Michael is once again affirming that with a woman, man is complete, but without a man, a woman is nothing.  Which is degrading to both sexes.  Both men and women can be perfectly complete and happy single (or with other men and women).  But I suppose that is heresy in the Conservative Christian world.

1+1=1
   Adam the man was created completely in the image of God and in God's likeness.  His nature is after God's nature, (mind, will, and emotions) and his body is fashioned in God's likeness (to see, hear, touch, taste smell-in short, to interact with the universe in physical awareness).  But just as the Heavenly Father is supported by the Son, and the Son is supported by the Holy Spirit, and the three equal one God, so Adam is designed in God's image to be supported and completed by another-woman.
   Arguments about the philosophy of the Trinity aside, this comparison doesn't work.  If we start from the assumption that God, Jesus, and the Spirit are one, then it doesn't translate very well for man/woman.  Let me try to be more clear.  God, Jesus, and the Spirit have different functions, and are mentioned separately in the Bible many times.  Michael just implied that women are merely a "patch" to make the man-program better.  Being a patch is far from being an autonomous being.  Sure, the Son and the Spirit support God, but they have their own personalities and ways of doing things.  I just don't see that autonomy for women supported anywhere in this book.
   In holy matrimony man-male and female-reach the highest expression of the divine image.  Therefore "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD (Proverbs 18:22)"  You, Sir, were not created to stand alone.  You are insufficient to the task. You were made to be one of two parts functioning as a whole.
   Again, it really is OK for a man to be alone.  Some men prefer to be alone.  I think the whole idea of men needing women and women needing men to be complete is the basis for unhealthy relationships.  I was taught that in order to be a good spouse (or person), I had to be complete and sufficient in myself.  Yes, my spouse supports and helps me, but I am fully capable of being an adult without him.  I think this type of teaching limits and hurts men, as well.

Two Are Better Than One
   The job God designed for humanity was too demanding and complex to be met by one soul and body, so he created a complementary pair, tailoring each to specific tasks, equipping each to posses the skill and temperament necessary to perform their respective duties for the good of both and the benefit of the family.
   I wondered why this seemed awfully familiar (and gendered).  Then I remembered the Marriage and Family class my husband and I took before we decided to stop attending the Mormon church.
       From the LDS Marriage and Family Relations text:
                      Except Adam and Eve by nature be different from one another, they could not multiply and fill the earth. The complementing differences are the very key to the plan of happiness.
Some roles are best suited to the masculine nature and others to the feminine nature. Both the scriptures and the patterns of nature place man as the protector, the provider.
Those responsibilities of the priesthood which have to do with the administration of the Church of necessity function outside the home. By divine decree, they have been entrusted to men. It has been that way since the beginning, for the Lord revealed that “the order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son. … This order was instituted in the days of Adam.”
A man who holds the priesthood does not have an advantage over a woman in qualifying for exaltation. The woman, by her very nature, is also co-creator with God and the primary nurturer of the children. Virtues and attributes upon which perfection and exaltation depend come naturally to a woman and are refined through marriage and motherhood.
    Well...This just makes me feel very awkward.  Both Michael and Mormonism preaching the same thing.  And that "thing" is: regardless of your personality, talents, experiences, or intelligence, you are to do nothing more than live out these created gender roles.  If you're a man who would prefer to stay and raise the children, you are going against your masculine nature.  If you're a woman who would rather run a company, you are sinning against your female-ness.  It makes me sick.  The idea that who I am inside matters less than my genitalia is insulting and frustrating.  It's also one of the major reasons I don't believe in the Christian God anymore.  Why would a "loving" God want people to only fit into 1 of 2 molds?  Why would it be OK with him that they are miserable, as long as they are doing what He says makes them happy?  Ugh.
Man is not to live unto himself.  He is designed to be a social creature, to care, to assist, to nurture, to protect, to love to the point of sacrifice.  In that flowing-out process man expands to be something bigger than his original created state.  To build for self is selfishness; to build for another is humanity beyond itself.  You, sir, were created to be part of a union of two.  Only in embracing your nature as a member of a duo will you discover your purpose in life. Utilizing your other half for selfish purposes is not what God intended.  Your wife was not there just to scratch your itch.  that is not the path to fulfillment.  This a spiritual, intellectual, and emotional journey of two souls becoming one.  Neglect that fact of nature and you will die and old, loveless, lonely loser.  Dedicate your life to elevating your woman to a place of maturity and fulfillment and you will save your own life and experience heaven's best.
   Call me crazy, but I don't see the "manly man" Michael seems to want to portray as caring, nurturing, or assisting.  And I'm rather confused by this paragraph.  Knowing what we do what Debi says about a wife being a submissive help-meet, it's boggling to read Michael say "Your wife is not there just to scratch your itch."  Because it sounds a lot, in Debi's book, that yes, that is a wife's job.  Scratch any itch, willingly and cheerfully.  It's amusing to see the scare tactics used in Debi's book here as well.  Instead of being a lonely woman, alone in a cold bed in a dumpy duplex, the man without the woman is a lonely, loveless loser.  Wonder if he's in a duplex as well?  I really do like the line "Dedicate your life to elevating your woman to a place of maturity and fulfillment."  It sounds very noble and what I want my marriage to be (well, mutually mature and fulfilling)  He doesn't clarify, at least yet, how to do this, but I have a feeling I'm not going to like it.  Guess we'll see.
You Need One
If you are a man alone, you have a need.  You will always be looking, wanting, hoping until you become one with your helper.  Likewise, if you are married but do not function as one with your wife, you are still alone.  The aloneness is worse than it was when you were single and still had great expectations of fulfillment, for your empty relationship now mocks you like a thirsty man who spent his last dollar to buy a well only to discover that the water was too bitter to drink.  It is not good for a man to try to make it through life without one of those female helpers designed to meet his needs.  Man was created so that his soul needs the company of a woman.  Many wives don't know how to supply their husband's needs and many husbands won't let their wives perform their essential function as a helper.  Or maybe at one time your wife was a good help meet, but something caused her to change toward you.  Once again, she will become that wonderful helper when your life and your speech demonstrates that you need her.
   Good golly. Man alone is terrible.  He needs "a female helper designed to meet his needs".  There is nothing about mutual need-meeting.  Just "You, my good man, need a woman to help you." End and full stop.  The last few sentences are a bit foreboding.  "Many wives don't know how to supply their husband's needs" and "She will become that wonderful helper when your life and speech demonstrates that you need her."  I can't wait to find out how Michael plans to teach this.
PS. Let me know if you would prefer if I chopped a chapter into smaller bits.  I'm realizing these make exceedingly long posts. Thanks!

13 comments:

  1. I've wandered over here from Libby Anne's CTBHHM review and am really enjoying your analysis of CTNAHM. Personally, I like the long posts - good to get your teeth into.

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  2. Re the dual nature of divinity: I understand your point about the divine logically being both male and female based on the observations of the nature around us however I would also point out that some species have the ability to morph from one sex to another in times of great need. Personally I look at it this way, who am I to attempt to limit the divine to something I can understand? I acknowledge the possibility that all aspects of god are really one divinity, but that makes it really hard for this human to have a relationship with the divine, so for practical purposes I speak to a God and a Goddess.

    And then you get to the point where Michael really starts to confuse me... if their name is Adam then Adam (ie man) is plural and both deserving of honor. I mean really, which Genesis would he like us to believe is the 'True' one?

    "Why would a "loving" God want people to only fit into 1 of 2 molds?" I think the problem here comes from the fact that everything Michael is talking about comes from the old testament which describes a wrathful authoritative god. I've always found that the loving of the god of Abraham comes later, after he sends his son to live among his people.

    Overall I feel like Michael is a really good salesman. It seems as if he has the devil's own tongue at times, because he makes this stuff sound so good and if I had not been raised to question and search for the divine in my life, I can see where these promises would look really good... it's sickening.

    Oh, and I also like the long post format for these. I feel like I get a better picture of what's going on in his head.

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  3. Makes sense. I guess I'm still caught up in figuring out what I actually believe about God, and still basing my ideas on what I learned growing up. That's been one of the difficulites I'm facing in studying Wicca, actually. Because I was raised on the vengeful (but loving) God, and the idea of an equal God and Goddess is causing some speed bumps. I like the idea of both divinity, but my mind is having trouble jumping to that. Guess it will just take time.
    I'm glad that someone else is confused about the way Michael uses words. Devil's tongue is a really good way to put it. It's kind of creepy how good he is at getting into my head. Guess that explains why Debi is the way she is.
    And thanks for your continued feedback!

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    1. If it helps 13 years into identifying as a Pagan and I'm still figuring out what I believe about the Divine. Then I remember that God is so big, I don't think I could ever know the whole truth of God, so I stop worrying about the bigger pictures and focus on maintaining and strengthening my relationship with the parts of God I do know. But I also 100% believe that everyone has a unique relationship with the divine and I do my best to honor and support the choices of people around me.

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    2. I never thought of it like that. That it's OK to only know a few parts. I'm going to need a few days to process that...

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  4. "She was good looking, but I knew other girls that were strikingly beautiful. I chose her because my life evolved to where I needed her."

    Two things. A)he makes it sound as if he could've had any woman he wanted...I highly doubt this to be true; and B) notice that he CHOSE Debi...not he was interested and oh thank god she saw something in him as well. Nope, he chose her and that was the end of it.

    This actually reminds me of my cousin and how he got set up with his wife. It was a match made by the church pastor, and the two seemed to hit it off and were married not too long after. Well, lo and behold, it was discovered by the family that she had basically told my cousin that she never was really into him and had just married him because she felt pressured. Amazingly, she stuck with him (because divorce is evil) and now they have like 3 kids. I mean, I'm sure you can grow to love someone, but I don't know how you ever truly find happiness after that conversation. I think that Debi probably felt the same way, "well, this is the hand god dealt me, so I guess I better get used to it..."

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    1. Well, in her book, she talks about how she'd been crushing on him for like the past 8 or so years. She sounded positively elated that he was into her, too.
      And wow. That's an awfully harsh thing to say. I agree with you; it would be hard to every trust someone fully after that statement.

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  5. "God's Program (or Michael shares his vast computer knowledge)
    It is as if God created "MAN Version 1.0" and then released him into the garden for beta testing. MAN worked beautifully but was not created as a stand-alone program; he seemed to lack a certain something that made his function complete. God then created a patch,"

    Really?? The all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect god fucked up and had to make revisions? It's the same problem with the flood story...God claims to be the perfect creator of all things, but by all accounts he's spectacularly bad at it.

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    1. Yeah. I've thought that, too. Why make people if you know you're going to get ticked off and wipe out most of them with a flood? It never made sense to me. Why not just A) design them better or B) concentrate on unicorns and forget about people.

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  6. Hey Mikey, never miss the opportunity to get another jab in at Debi, right? Can't let her for one minute pretend you think she's the whole package rather than just adequate in your service. [eyeroll] Guess that's part of her conditioning.

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  7. In regards to the male/female aspects of God, one thing that was eye opening for me when I first began to question the patriarchal/ complementarian teachings I had been immersed in for thirty years, was that one of the names for God found in the Old Testament is El Shaddai, which translates to "the breasted one." In other words, God nurses his children in the same way that a mother nurses her children, which is definitely not a "masculine" quality. Conservative Christians will argue that this is simply intended as a metaphor to display God's tenderness, but that is because they can't handle the idea of a God who doesn't fit their male-centric worldview.

    I am of the opinion that the Bible uses male pronouns and calls God the "Father" because humanity's capacity to understand abstract concepts is limited and wrapping our brains around the idea of something that is both fully masculine and fully feminine simultaneously is just too much to grok. I've read several things from more progressive Christians in which they view the Holy Spirit as the feminine aspect of God while the other members of the trinity are masculine, and that seems to be comforting to them, especially those coming from an abusive background.

    I'm still trying to grok God being fully masculine and fully feminine, cos I'm stubborn that way. Hopefully my brain doesn't explode!

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    1. Good luck! I had heard about the El Shaddai translation, and had gotten the same response. It was unsatisfying. I agree with the idea that God is called Father because that's what we can understand. Sigh.

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