I regularly do searches on Twitter to see what people are talking about within the world of Christiandom, especially when it comes to women. Some form of this tweet pops up on a regular basis:

If u r a strong Christian woman, marry a strong-ER Christian man or you’ll be frustrated. (I take no responsibility for the horrible grammar.)

I have a confession to make:

Hello, my name is Shawna (Everyone: Hello Shawna!) I am a strong  Christian woman who did NOT marry a strong-ER Christian man. I married the man that I am a power equal to.

Everyone: Huh?

I married the man that I am a power equal to, which happens to be the literal translation of the phrase in Genesis 2 that is normally mistranslated as “helpmate.” In Genesis 2:18 Godde says, “I will make him an help meet for him.” And yes readers that is the good ole King James Version because the KJV is the only translation to translate ezer cenegdo correctly. Notice it does not say helpmate. It says help meet. In Old English meet means equal. Godde will make the human a help equal to him. Woman was created to be an equal. Normally when ezer (help) is used it refers to Godde. Someone or the entire nation of Israel is calling on God to come and help them. Help is not a term of subordination, not if the same word is used to describe Godde. Ezer has another meaning: power. Both help and power come from the same root in Hebrew. So ezer can be translated as either help or power: the reason you can help someone is because you have to power to do so. The second  part of the phrase, cenegdo means to stand face-to-face, or stand as equals. The literal translation of ezer cenegdo is a help/power equal to. Woman was created to be a help/power equal to man.

This totally changed my view of what I was looking for in a husband. Actually it didn’t change it. I just hadn’t had the words to describe what I wanted before. I always planned on marrying an equal; an equal who respected me and wholly supported me in what Godde called me to do. Now I knew who I was looking for: I was looking for the man that I was a power equal to. And I knew he’d be quite a man. I’m one heck of a force of nature to be reckoned with. It turns out the power I am equal to was right under my nose: one of my best friends. After eight years of being friends, we married, and he is the power that I am equal to. I am very happy that I did not marry someone stronger than me spiritually. I married someone who was equal with me spiritually. As far as I’m concerned that’s the only way to go.

I’m not the only one to think so. Priscialla and Aquila thought that too. Priscilla and Aquila are always mentioned together, and most of the time Priscilla’s name comes first in Acts and in Paul’s letters. This was unheard of that time. Wives’ names NEVER came before their husbands’ names at that time, in that culture. As far as Priscilla and Aquila, Paul, and Luke were concerned, Priscilla was not the property of Aquila, she was his ezer cenegdo, his equal. Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos together, they made tents together, and they pastored home churches together. Priscilla was the power equal to Aquila. Considering they planted churches in at least 3 cities across the Roman Empire (including Rome), I’d say that being equals worked out pretty well for them.

In other words, you as a Christian woman, will not be frustrated if you do not marry a man who is spiritually stronger than you. That’s not who you are suppossed to marry. You’re supposed to marry the man that you are a power equal to. Or anyway that’s what Genesis says and that’s what Priscilla and Aquila lived out. I’m pretty happy with the arrangement myself.

Related Posts:

Does It Really Mean “Helpmate”?
Career Women of the Bible: Teachers, Elders and Co-workers

(On Twitter I’m @shawnaatteberry.)