"Helpmeet"

How does God fit into our sex lives?
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2pak
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Re: "Helpmeet"

Post by 2pak »

mwpastor wrote: Thu Mar 16, 2023 3:18 pm
I also really like this distinction.
I believe service appeals to a woman's safety/security needs. Authenticity and attractive masculinity appeal to a woman's sexual side. I prefer to meet both of these needs...
I'm not sure I've heard you describe it that way before, but it makes a lot of sense.
...it's the tip of the iceberg, I have found...
And the men are taught that they don't really have to do anything but be willing to die, on the hypothetical chance that someone is threatening your wife.
They are also taught to "man up and serve and give up their life for her." Yet again, two extremes. It's the very reason I like to work with men with some tools that actually work in the short run and long.
Sometimes people have become so embedded in a certain culture it seems normal and accepted as true, and it's important to me to make sure they have every chance to see something better.
Let me pose a question. Is it possible that the servant leader paradigm has become so embedded in church culture for men that it is accepted and true?

Just because a chance is given to see something different, and better, does it make it true? Or just better?

(You don't know me. If you hung out with me and my family for a week you would probably wonder why I ask this because I serve my wife and family probably not much differently than those with a servant leader mentality.)
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Re: "Helpmeet"

Post by mwpastor »

I think you can make the argument that we sometimes define the "servant" part too narrowly. But, you are going to have a hard time convincing me that the overarching theme of Jesus' life was not to love and serve his bride, the church (by which I mean all of his followers then and now). You talk a lot about a mission. It's the first bullet point in your description of what Jesus did. I would argue, his mission was: "To seek and save the lost." The place we see that most clearly is on the cross. And everything he did was in service of that.

I had a bunch of branches fall in my yard during an ice storm. We had to clean up the mess. I used to think that is what the cross was. God stepped up and cleaned up a mess, but it would have been better if he didn't have to. I'm no longer so sure that the cross was some sort of accident in history, a one time event where Jesus responded to a problem and did what he had to do to clean it up. The cross is the clearest revelation of what God is like. It's the clearest revelation of what leading looks like. It's the way God is, and our sin gave God an opportunity to show us love in a way he couldn't have otherwise. It's dense, but Michael Gorman writes a lot about "cruciformity"-- the cross shaped love of God. It's worth checking out.

But I also think that its circular as well. Jesus also tells us to pick up our cross and follow him. We grow in our ability love him and others with the same sort of cross-shaped love. This is what we were made for. This is what we need to grow into. And so by leading towards the cross, he showed us how to love, saves us and helps us be everything we were created to be.

And this will either complicate things, or tie this thread back together.
This is from a John Eldridge blog post I just found on the Hebrew ezer kenegdo (help meet)::
"But Robert Alter says this is "a notoriously difficult word to translate." It means something far more powerful than just "helper"; it means "lifesaver." The phrase is only used elsewhere of God, when you need him to come through for you desperately."

In Ephesians, Jesus is the husband and the church is the bride. But in Genesis, where the question about help-meet comes from we can probably think about God as defining what it means to be the "help meet." We can also see him serving the bride function. And I wonder what happens if we connect this idea to the NT words about submission? The help-meet (bride) was created to be much more than just a sub. She gives the husband what he needs to be all that God created him to be as well.

:end note:
this is a fun discussion
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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2pak
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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mwpastor wrote: Sat Mar 18, 2023 5:34 am But, you are going to have a hard time convincing me that the overarching theme of Jesus' life was not to love and serve his bride, I would argue, his mission was: "To seek and save the lost." The place we see that most clearly is on the cross. And everything he did was in service of that.
Little for me to not like in what you wrote...

I would more state the Jesus overarching mission was to fulfill the law by introducing the concept of grace, teach and show this then die to bridge the gap between us and God - all because He loved us. Serving was part. I like your wording that everything He did was service of that death on the cross.

Let's get this back to how this relates to marriage relationships...
She gives the husband what he needs to be all that God created him to be as well.

If this is true, where does responsive desire fit in? Is her 'giving what he needs' dependant on him to some extent?


I am genuinely curious as to your take on "the love through service and focus on God to create a better relationship." message, which is opposing the 'abuse of power and manipulation' perception. That is where I came into this discussion.

You said:
Sometimes people have become so embedded in a certain culture it seems normal and accepted as true, and it's important to me to make sure they have every chance to see something better.
So I asked:

Let me pose a question. Is it possible that the servant leader paradigm (as currently disseminated) has become so embedded in church culture for men that it is accepted as truth?

Just because a chance is given to see something different, and better, does it make it true? Or just better?


I ask this based on what I wrote to OBG concerning my observation in many men and in my former experience:
I desired a killer relationship with a varied sex life. Wasn't happening. So I talked, asked, negotiated - to no avail. I wanted something I saw as good but if I decided to drive what I wanted, I wasn't loving, I was being pushy and demanding. Well, I didn't want that because I'm a good man so I turned to the 'serve her' route. Maybe that would do it. Nope. My needs and desires were not met no matter what I did. So it became my service to God and my wife to give up my desires and relational needs for the greater good. And there's the 'no win' box I described. It is so common among men and creates two unhappy people.
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Re: "Helpmeet"

Post by mwpastor »

2pak wrote: Sun Mar 19, 2023 6:03 am

Little for me to not like in what you wrote...

I would more state the Jesus overarching mission was to fulfill the law by introducing the concept of grace, teach and show this then die to bridge the gap between us and God - all because He loved us. Serving was part. I like your wording that everything He did was service of that death on the cross.


We are getting deep here, but it's the theology section so... I'll give it a shot,

I would want to say that underneath the rules, at it's essence even the law was about relationship . It was limited, but it provided a way for God to be with his people, even though his presence was mediated (see Hebrews 10). It was always his desire to be in relationship with his people (" I will be your God and you will be my people"), and the law was like a beta version of how to do that.

But it's sort of like a relationship with an immature person. You need more rules and expectations and boundaries. They might not know what a mutual, loving relationship is, because they've never experienced it. So the rules and guidelines help. It's transactional, but it's still a relationship. It helps you learn some fundamentals.

So I wouldn't want to make a distinction between Jesus' love as being about relationship and the Law being about rules. It was always about relationship, and what Jesus did was move it to a more mature relationship. One that isn't based on transactions and duty, but one of love. The grace part was that he did it despite us showing we couldn't handle the simpler version.

He loved his bride all the way to the cross... so there will never be a time when his bride will have to wonder about his love, affection, faithfulness, dedication, willingness to give fully of himself for her.

His love creates an environment in which we can also respond in love. Then Jesus says "behold, I stand at the door and knock."

But that standing and knocking also means waiting. Will she respond to his love? Will she love him back? If she open the door and let him in...she will experience the fullness of hi love. The Ephesians passage talks about making her holy, cleansing her, etc. making her the best version of herself she can be. This is his desire, but his desire is for her to be her best, but he can't make that choice for her.


He loves her with with his life, but she has to respond.
This is the answer to the question about responsive desire and his needs.

Jesus says "if you love me, you will keep my commands." The bride responds by loving him in the way he wants to be loved.

But what if she doesn't? Does he love her less? He can't. He has already loved her to the cross. He emptied himself to love her. But even here he waits, not demands, not manipulates. He is still knocking, inviting.

Let's get this back to how this relates to marriage relationships...

I ask this based on what I wrote to OBG concerning my observation in many men and in my former experience:
I desired a killer relationship with a varied sex life. Wasn't happening. So I talked, asked, negotiated - to no avail. I wanted something I saw as good but if I decided to drive what I wanted, I wasn't loving, I was being pushy and demanding. Well, I didn't want that because I'm a good man so I turned to the 'serve her' route. Maybe that would do it. Nope. My needs and desires were not met no matter what I did. So it became my service to God and my wife to give up my desires and relational needs for the greater good. And there's the 'no win' box I described. It is so common among men and creates two unhappy people.
I definitely think we can talk about serving wrongly. And you make me think about changing the way I talk about it to make sure that people aren't hearing something I'm not saying. The demanding and coercing posture is wrong, but what you describe here is just a really nice version of manipulation. And I say this out of my own experience, because I could have written every word of this also. All of that loving and serving really wasn't actual love and service, it was just about me getting what I want. It wasn't love, it was a transaction. It's not fundamentally different than demanding, it's just nicer. And the sex was just as transactional as the service.

The difference is the differentiation. Instead of thinking "how can I have a killer relationship with a varied sex life?" I think, what do I have to do to be the person she wants to have a killer relationship and a varied sex life with?" How can I make that life with me attractive? My goal is to love her like Jesus loved me, and to create the environment that she will want to respond to my love.

In another thread I gave my favorite definition of love. "Love is a rugged commitment to be with someone, for someone, unto Christlikeness. It's much more wholistic than just "serving." It's making sure she feels, respected, listened to, valuable, important, etc. It also involves really knowing her, sometimes better than she knows herself, so I can love her in the way she needs to be loved (at a much deeper level than cleaning dishes and vacuuming the floor). This kind of deep love moves each of us towards our best. But this kind of love requires the recipient have a choice to respond or not. Desires can and should be there. Details about how you want to be loved well should absolutely be there. But the choice of how to respond is also necessary. So I also get a choice about she loves me. I also get to tell the truth about how she makes me feel. I'm also going to do my best not to get sucked into games and manipulation either. Because love is always trying to move us toward Jesus, and that version isn't good enough for either of us anymore.

I likely do more of the "serving" now than I did before. But I do it with a different attitude, and a different goal. My only goal is to love her well. And when that changed... all that "serving" stuff started having more of an impact too.
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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mwpastor, I won't even try to quote bits of this that touched me... because it all did. It might not have been tight to read this at work because I had to fight back tears, so I went outside.

So much of this has hit a spot and I'm going to need time to sit with it a while. It will be a good thing...

I wanted to reply to the last couple of posts but didn't know how to say what I was thinking/feeling. But you have said some of it here. Thank you.

Nope... it's not easy to cover raw emotions at work... when it's so personal!
💜 Tread gently, sit compassionately, love abundantly 💜
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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mwpastor wrote: Sun Mar 19, 2023 2:57 pm
But that standing and knocking also means waiting.

But even here he waits, not demands, not manipulates. He is still knocking, inviting.

The Instead of thinking "how can I have a killer relationship with a varied sex life?" I think, what do I have to do to be the person she wants to have a killer relationship and a varied sex life with?" How can I make that life with me attractive? My goal is to love her like Jesus loved me, and to create the environment that she will want to respond to my love.
I'm not a fan of theology. It has caused more division in Christians that it honestly saddens me. That being said, I'm saving your write up. You and I could talk for hours on that piece alone. I grew up in a more fundamental setting where love and relationship was dependent on my behavior. So thank you for that write up. It shows why youre a pastor and I am not. Also, thank you for letting me press you and your very low ego responses to me.

A couple things and I'll let you off of my hook...:).

Up above, you said...
But that standing and knocking also means waiting.

But even here he waits, not demands, not manipulates. He is still knocking, inviting.
I found my myself in this space, after I gave up on manipulations/negotiations.. But the waiting went on for another 12 years with inches of change. It wore me down. (Remember, I am coming from a place of a life of an 18 year sexual minefield to being handed 52 cards for whatever my heart desires in less than three years - with enthusiastic follow through. Amongst other non-sexual changes that are really beyond what I thought possible. )

You also said...
Instead of thinking "how can I have a killer relationship with a varied sex life?" I think, what do I have to do to be the person she wants to have a killer relationship and a varied sex life with?" How can I make that life with me attractive? My goal is to love her like Jesus loved me, and to create the environment that she will want to respond to my love.
Let me parse these words to see if you can see a distinction. I'll word what I did, because we are so close to where I wanted to take you...

"My goal was to learn to love myself and to become a congruent, attractive man who understood the very good parts about myself and own them. I asked myself what I wanted and needed and where my missions in life lied and wrote it all out. I began to live this life in full, inviting her to join if she wished. This also included much more sexual initation." (MW, there is so much in here it would also take hours...). Notice I did this for me - not her. This way it was real. Then from a place of wholeness I could love her without strings attached and interestingly I found 'serving' as I hear it preached was barely a part of the changes I made. This could sound 'selfish' and it is and it isn't. It was what we both needed and I knew that.
It also involves really knowing her, sometimes better than she knows herself, so I can love her in the way she needs to be loved (at a much deeper level than cleaning dishes and vacuuming the floor). This kind of deep love moves each of us towards our best.
There is more in this than you realize and a lot of why I hit on the communication here. I figured this out with probably 90% study and 10% verbal communication. Much of what I learned was not what I thought and even what she had the ability to articulate to me. This action I took created such a level of desire and safety in her that the communication doors opened up - two years in.
We could spend hours here as well.

Edit to add: You can see I have very little desire to talk about the specifics of my sex life. It's not my interest. My interest lies much deeper...
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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2pak wrote: Mon Mar 20, 2023 5:02 am I'm not a fan of theology. It has caused more division in Christians that it honestly saddens me. That being said, I'm saving your write up. You and I could talk for hours on that piece alone. I grew up in a more fundamental setting where love and relationship was dependent on my behavior. So thank you for that write up. It shows why youre a pastor and I am not. Also, thank you for letting me press you and your very low ego responses to me.
OnlyByGrace wrote: Sun Mar 19, 2023 7:59 pm mwpastor, I won't even try to quote bits of this that touched me... because it all did. It might not have been tight to read this at work because I had to fight back tears, so I went outside.

So much of this has hit a spot and I'm going to need time to sit with it a while. It will be a good thing...
Thanks both of you for sharing that. It means quite a lot. Most of the time I feel like I’m sort of an accidental pastor, and mostly still figuring out what that means.
2pak wrote: Mon Mar 20, 2023 5:02 am I found my myself in this space, after I gave up on manipulations/negotiations.. But the waiting went on for another 12 years with inches of change. It wore me down.
I want to circle back to Jesus, because I think I know what you are getting at, and I think we are on the same page.

We are in the world of metaphors, and I’m even switching back and forth between a few, so it’s dangerous. But what you describe is just the limits of the metaphor. “Standing and knocking,” is there because it’s a biblical quote, and it does serve a purpose in the contrasting ideas I was trying to make. But the Jesus of the gospels is not that passive. He cares deeply, and is affected by the responses. He is alternatively inviting and challenging. He gathers people around and then he says really hard things that push people away. He’s both incredibly differentiated, and also knows exactly what people need.

Look at how he was with Peter. Peter is forever missing the point, he’s on the water, then he’s in the water, and Jesus rescues him. Peter makes the perfect confession of Christ, and the very next section, Peter says, “Let’s conquer the world.” Jesus says he is working with Satan. Jesus washes feet, Peter says “give me a bath.” Jesus is transfigured, Peter says “let’s set up camp and stay here.” Jesus says he is going to deny him, and Peter picks up his sword and attacks, before doing exactly what Jesus said he would do. Peter is first to the tomb, and Jesus shows his love and care for him on the beach when he asks if he loves him. Through all of this Jesus is consistent in his love for Peter. He doesn’t get absorbed into his anxiety, he doesn’t change who he is, or what he is doing to accommodate Peter. He knows where he is going and what it will take to get there.

The other story that is relevant here is the woman at the well. Immediately, at the beginning of the story Jesus is different with her than she is used to. Rather than avoiding her, he addresses her. She wants to have a theological discussion, but Jesus goes deeper with her. Jesus knows her, and addresses a need she has. He talks about her past, but I don’t think it was a judging/condemning comment, it was a “knowing” comment. Later she goes back to the town, and says “he told me everything I ever did. So he wasn’t passively waiting, he knew what she needed, and he led her forward. At the end of the story, she is witnessing to an entire village about Jesus. His love not only saved her, it helped her grow into something she wasn’t before him.

He is different with Peter than he is with the woman at the well, but he is consistent in his love and care for both. He knows what they need, and he moves them towards it. Sometimes it’s gentle, sometimes it’s not. He’s never passive and uncaring, but he does leave room for them to respond (or not).
2pak wrote: Mon Mar 20, 2023 5:02 am Edit to add: You can see I have very little desire to talk about the specifics of my sex life. It's not my interest. My interest lies much deeper...
I'm here as well. It's a big difference in how I engage here now as opposed to the old days.

My question to you relates to that 12 years of small incremental changes, followed by quick growth. How much of that was simply too much passivity? And how much of that was creating a new atmosphere of trust and reliability to the point where she would respond? Would she have responded the same way at the beginning, 3 years in, 6 years in?

I'm still earlier on in the process, it's a been a few years, but I think we are both still figuring out how much we trust the way things are.
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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mwpastor
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Re: "Helpmeet"

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@tracking-- you bring up some good questions.
"Like similar actions some might say the above is manipulative as well or self serving?"
It's only self serving if the goal is what I want. This is a fine line, but my needs are not the goal. They are incidental. I hope they come true, but I had to start this journey with the expectation they might never be. Even so, it's worth it.
"There seems to be caveats though for this kind of love moving us to our best? I believe you mention reservations? You talk about what seems to be additional requirements? Choices, and communication on desires, details, and truth! These items seem to cross correlate with the what being sought in my first paragraph?"
These aren't goals or caveats or expectations. they are suggested responses. Does your wife ever ask what you want for your birthday? I still don't have expectations, but a healthy relationship will have honest conversation both ways, and will involve honest desire to meet each other's desires. that is love.

One's desires, and truth may not be the others? My opinion is this brings down the house of cards. She may not be able to give her husband what he needs to be all that God created him to be as well or a helpmeet in my opinion!
maybe this is true maybe not. Who am I doubt the one that raised Christ from the dead? Look at @2pak's testimony a couple posts ago. Who I am today is nothing like I was a few years ago, and the same is true for my wife. What is true today might not be true tomorrow, or a few months from now.
Said another way each cannot provide the atmosphere the other wants or needs if no agreement on the truth
Here's the million dollar question. "Can't provide, or won't provide?" If our model is Jesus who gave up his very life for his bride, how far am I willing to go? and what parts of my life am I still holding on to that I need to let go of, for her to experience the kind of love that will allow her grow?

At the end of the day, I had to trust that it was worth it. Giving up expectations, and loving unconditionally is THE WAY. The worst case scenario is that she doesn't respond like I hope. But if that happens it will be an opportunity for me to grow as well.

I read a Dallas Willard quote recently- "The main thing God gets out of your life is not the achievements you accomplish. It's the person you become."
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