A Response to “Marriage without a Helpmate”

This is an article written by Jason L Weatherly which can be seen here.

The article above with the Segraves response is here.

The magazine and workbook can be downloaded here.

In the January 2020 edition of Pentecostal Life, Dr. Daniel Segraves offers a thought provoking article regarding the biblical relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. In this article, Dr. Segraves begins in Genesis with God’s creation of woman as a “help meet” i.e. a “suitable helper” for the man in procreation. Then he examines the implications of man’s sin in the Garden, and how this affects the marriage relationship. Dr. Segraves contends, “When God told Eve her husband would rule over her, it was simply His observation about what their relationship would be as a consequence of sin.” He further postulates that because of Christ’s death, Christians can “seek to find the restoration of marriages as God intended … characterized by mutual submission of the husband and wife (Ephesians 5:21; I Corinthians 7:4–5).” Dr. Segraves contends that the word “submit” does not appear in the Greek text of Ephesians 5:22. Likewise, he asserts that the word “submit” in Ephesians 5:21 “calls for the wife to submit to her husband, but also for the husband to submit to his wife.” He further adds that the word “head” (kephalē) in Ephesians 5:23 and I Corinthians 11:3 does not necessarily refer to rank or authority, but indicates “the idea of source or origin.” Dr. Segraves concludes his article pointing out that Jesus included women among His disciples and closest friends.
While Dr. Segraves does not specifically mention women in ministry, I feel that his conclusion illustrates the article’s greater intent as an affirmation of women’s roles in the five-fold ministry. To this conclusion, I agree. However, a woman’s call into the pulpit ministry does not exempt them from the biblical precepts of a wife’s submission toward her own husband. This is the danger in fully embracing the Egalitarian interpretation. Many denominational errors affect the Egalitarian view, which is why we must affirm women’s roles in the pulpit ministry strictly from Apostolic theology.
Dr. Segraves correctly explains the difference between the mistaken term, “helpmate,” and the biblical term “help meet.” The phrase “help meet,” a noun-adjective phrase, later became misunderstood as a modified noun, “helpmeet” or “helpmate.”  The adjective “meet” in the KJV refers to something that is suitable, proper, or fit. Thus, God took Eve “out of” man to be his suitable helper or companion in procreation.
However, a wife’s submission to her husband is not the result of Adam’s sin in the Garden. Genesis 3:16 does not simply state that the husband shall rule over his wife. This statement actually contrasts with “thy desire shall be to thy husband.” God’s judgement that a wife’s “desire shall be unto her husband, and he shall rule over you” speaks of sin’s effect on the relationship of a husband and wife. The phrases “your desire shall be to your husband” and “he shall rule over you” are antithetical. The word “desire” translates from the Hebrew word teshûqâh, found in only three OT passages.[1]  The grammar of Genesis 3:16, in Hebrew, equals the same syntactical setting found just fifteen verses away in Genesis 4:7—both spoken by the LORD. Notice the comparison below:
Genesis 3:16b, … and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Genesis 4:7b, … And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
In Genesis 4:7, sin’s “desire” was to possess or control Cain, but the LORD instructed Cain to “rule over” it. This implies an active struggle between Cain and sin. Susan Foh explained, “The woman has the same sort of desire for her husband that sin has for Cain, a desire to possess or control him. This desire disputes the head-ship of the husband … as a result of the fall, man no longer rules easily; he must fight for his headship. Sin has corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband.”[2] The NLT renders Genesis 3:16 as “You will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” Thus, Genesis 3:16 does not describe a woman’s submission to her husband because of the Fall. In fact, the opposite is true. Genesis 3:16 declares that because of the Fall, the woman would desire to rule over or control her husband, but the husband would rule over his wife. The New Testament affirms, repeatedly, that the husband’s authority over his wife is due to the order of creation—before the Fall of man. Egalitarians casually overlook this point.
Dr. Segraves declares that the word “submit” is not found in the Greek text of Ephesians 5:22. However, the word “submit” (hypotassō) does appear in the Textus Receptus of which the KJV and NKJV translate. Likewise, the word “submit” (hypotassō) occurs in the parallel verse in Colossians 3:18, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” Commentators often refer to Ephesians and Colossians as the twin epistles. Colossians and Ephesians contain numerous synonymous passages. In one form or another, Ephesians contains approximately 75 of the 105 verses in Colossians. Just examine Ephesians 5:19–6:9 side by side with Colossian 3:16–4:4 to see that they are synonymous.
Egalitarians often misapply Ephesians 5:21, “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God,” as teaching a mutual submission between husband and wife. However, the participle “submitting” (hypotassomenoi) grammatically coordinates with the preceding participles of vss. 19–20 (speaking, singing, making melody, giving thanks) indicating a mutual submission among believers.[3]  The fact that a wife is to submit to her own husband in Ephesians 5:22 is made abundantly clear in Paul’s conclusion in Ephesians 5:24, “Therefore as the church is subject (hypotassō) unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”
Besides, Ephesians 5:22–24 are not the only NT passages, which instruct wives to submit to their own husbands. As already mentioned the parallel passage in Colossians 3:18 declares that wives should submit to their own husbands. Likewise, Paul instructed in Titus 2:4–5 for the older women to teach the younger women to be “obedient (hypotassō) to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” In addition, Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, charged wives to “be in subjection (hypotassō) to your own husbands” (I Peter 3:1) using the holy women of old as an example, who trusted in God “being in subjection (hypotassō) unto their own husbands” (I Peter 3:5).
Paul taught that a wife is to submit to her own husband because “the husband is the head of the wife.”[4] The basis for Paul’s teaching is not the judgment of Genesis 3:16, but the creative narrative of Eve being “out of” Adam’s flesh and bone and the marriage relationship that a man “shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.”[5] Dr. Segraves indicates that the word “head” (kephalē) can refer to rank, but also includes the idea of source or origin, as with the head of a river. Even if we were to accept the term “head” (kephalē) to indicate “source or origin,” this still would not negate the idea of a wife submitting to her husband. We commonly understand that “source or origin” establishes authority. Take for example that fact that children are to submit to their parents’ authority as their source or origin.
However, the word “head” (kephalē) in both I Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:23 refers to “authority, leader, or chief” as defined by the standard NT Greek lexicons (BDAG, Thayer, Cremer, and Moulton–Milligan).[6] In fact, the LXX utilizes the word kephalē metaphorically twelve times, with each of these occurrences referring to “authority, leader, or chief.”
Judges 10:18, And the people and princes of Gilead said one to another, What man is he that will begin to fight against the children of Ammon? he shall be head (kephalē LXX) over all the inhabitants of Gilead.
Judges 11:8, And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head (kephalē LXX) over all the inhabitants of Gilead.
Judges 11:9, And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the LORD deliver them before me, shall I be your head (kephalē LXX)?
Judges 11:11, Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head (kephalē LXX) and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the LORD in Mizpeh.
2 Samuel 22:44, Thou also hast delivered me from the strivings of my people, thou hast kept me to behead (kephalē LXX) of the heathen: a people which I knew not shall serve me.
Psalm 18:43, Thou hast delivered me from the strivings of the people; and thou hast made me the head (kephalē LXX) of the heathen: a people whom I have not known shall serve me.
Isaiah 7:8-9, For the head (kephalē LXX) of Syria is Damascus, and the head (kephalē LXX) of Damascus is Rezin; and within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people. And the head (kephalē LXX) of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head (kephalē LXX) of Samaria is Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
Jeremiah 31:7, For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief (kephalē LXX) of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Lamentations 1:5, Her adversaries are the chief (kephalē LXX), her enemies prosper; for the LORD hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy.
The LXX, the mother of NT Greek, never employs kephalē to signify “source or origin.” For example, in Genesis 2:10, “into four heads,” the LXX renders the Hebrew rô’sh (heads) as archē (source, beginning), not kephalē. Thus, the word “head” (kephalē) in I Corinthians 11:3 and Ephesians 5:24 describes the husband’s position of authority over his wife, not as the source or origin of his wife. Likewise, I Corinthians 11:8–12 appeals to the LXX creative narrative as the basis for a wife’s submission to her husband.
However, Paul qualified his statement in verses 8 & 9 with a “nevertheless” statement that man is not autonomous from the woman and woman is not autonomous from the man in the order of the Lord. Likewise, a wife’s submission does not imply or demand inferiority. In I Peter 3:1–7, although a wife is to submit to her own husband, they are still “heirs together of the grace of life.” Thus, a true, Apostolic theology of women’s biblical roles includes both their Godly call into pulpit ministry and a wife’s submission to her own husband. The fact that God calls women into the five-fold ministry does not exclude them from submitting to their own husbands.