Not your helpmeet

The word “helpmeet” is thrown around a lot in Independent Fundamentalist Baptist churches. As a woman, it was held up to me as the ultimate goal for my life.

This word is a distortion of the phrase “help meet” taken from Genesis 2:18, “I will make him an help meet for him.” Throughout my life, this phrase was used in sermons and books to tell me that, as a woman, my greatest aspiration is to find a man, bear his children, and help him achieve god’s will for his life.

Professional and armchair theologians have been debating this phrase for decades. I’ve read a lot of articles saying, “it doesn’t mean what you think it does.” That may be true, but it doesn’t erase the fact that this concept was used to disempower me and all the women around me.

I’ve spent the last decade trying to understand what it means to be an “Independent Fundamentalist Baptist”, not just the definition, but how that mindset plays out in all sorts of implicit ways. And because I’m a writer, I’ve filled a Google Drive with thoughts and rants and tangents as a way to figure out not only how my parents became Fundamentalists, but how I got out.

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Exvangelical dispatches from the Christ-Haunted South.


Autumn Martin Privett

Girl detective. Champagne problems. Erstwhile postcaster @thereadingwomen. Exvangelical dispatches from the Christ-haunted South.