I thought that there was a little book written just for preachers that gave the instruction not to ever say "This is what the Greek actually says," especially if every single Bible translation that has ever existed in English does not mention that option for translating a verse. However, last Sunday I heard a preacher say, "The Hebrew actually says 'opposite' - woman is opposite to man."
This was an overtly complementarian sermon, based on the text Gen. 2:18, that God made woman as a helper who was opposite to man. Now it is true that if one looks in the Koehler-Baumgartner lexicon, then the entry reads,neged
- original noun 'opposite', 'counterpart.'
However, if one looks back at the preceding entry it reads,ngd
- put something up conspicuously in front of someone.
So, opposite, in the sense that a man and a woman may sit opposite each other at a table. Not, opposite, in the sense of different, that men are teachers and women are learners, men are leaders and women are followers. Obviously some men are not very good leaders and some women are not very good followers, and some of us aren't good at either.
The pastor preached an entire sermon on how women were 'complementary' to men, 'opposite' to men, from Gen. 2:18. He did not mention the lexicon entry which suggests that woman was simply, among all other creatures, conspicuously put in front of man and chosen as what man wanted. No, the preacher did not think of that.
When in doubt, I think a preacher should go for the most common translation, a woman is 'suitable' for a man, how can one go wrong with that; and not attempt to make a position paper out of an alternate lexicon entry.נֶגֶד
- what is conspicuous, what is in front of adv
- in front of, straight forward, before, in sight of
- in front of oneself, straightforward
- before your face, in your view or purpose with prep
- what is in front of, corresponding to
- in front of, before
- in the sight or presence of
- parallel to
- over, for
- in front, opposite
- at a distance prep
- from the front of, away from
- from before the eyes of, opposite to, at a distance from
- from before, in front of
- as far as the front of
My imagination suggests that, if we were talking about breeding dogs, a complementarian would breed a German Shepherd sire to a poodle bitch, and an egalitarian would breed a pit bull with a pit bull and a cocker spaniel with a cocker spaniel. That is what Adam was looking for, after all, a female of the same species or variety as himself, a female who corresponded to himself.
PS. Puttering around the book store this afternoon I ran into an older woman friend who is also member of our congregation. And I said,
"Well, what did you think of that sermon?"
"The gospel chapel down the road invited me to preach last Sunday so I missed it."
Postscript: I apologize to anyone who misunderstood my comment on dog breeds. I own and walk a dog and associate with other dog owners. I have papers that use the language of parentage which I used above.
I did not intend to use the breeds of German Shepherd and Poodle, Standard Poodle, with any pejorative intent. I did not realize that it was not a well known fact that poodles are probably the most intelligent breed of dog. Try it out - google this! I truly meant to name a breed associated with loyalty and dedication, and a breed associated with intelligence and good humour. As for the pit bull, oh well, just for a laugh. If you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?