Headship and Head Coverings

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Posted by Brian Sayers on November 12, 2023
Headship and Head Coverings
00:00 00:00

Main idea: Christians are called to reflect God’s created order in the home, in the church, and as a witness to the culture.

1. Understand Headship

  • The reality of headship (order and function, not essence – v. 3)
  • The expression of headship (look/play/be the part – v. 4-7)
  • The origin [foundation?] of headship (creation not culture – v. 8))
  • The purpose of headship (complementary partnership – v. 9)

2. Don’t Misunderstand Headship

  • Put God’s design on display (v. 10)
  • Practice mutually dependent partnership (v. 11-12)

3. Wisely Live Out Headship in the Culture Where You Live

  • What is culturally proper? (v. 13)
  • How does nature shape cultural expression? (v. 14-15)
  • What was the universal practice? (v. 16)
  • Automated Transcription
  • 0:13
    If you'll stand, let's read the text together. First Corinthians 11, verses two through 16. Though there's a lot in here about headcovering. I think this is more about headship and we'll see that as we go. But let's hear the word of the Lord Paul writes, starting in verse two. Now I praise You, because You remember me and everything and hold firmly to the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman. And God is the head of Christ, every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one in the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off. But if it's disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off, or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered since he has the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman but woman from man. For indeed, man was not created for the woman sake but woman for the man's sake. Therefore, the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman, for as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman, and all things originate from God. Judge for yourselves, is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it's a dishonor to him. But if a woman has long hair, it's a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor have the churches of God, this is the word of the Lord. God, we ask your help this morning to give us an understanding of what your Word teaches, give us clarity about how to live it out and reflect this in our world. And we pray do that, for the glory of your name, most of all, the good of your church and the edification of our souls. Amen. You may be seated. This text is full of ideas and concepts that we could explore. And I think it has a lot of practical implications and applications that equally we could spend time on. The most obvious one display a simple reading of the text, should women be wearing head coverings or some of some kind when participating in corporate worship? And you could probably take a look around, and I suspect you might be able to predict my answer. Probably. Hopefully, by the end, we'll all understand the reasons why we're convinced that is the answer. Perhaps most of you don't know. But for the first few years of my Christian life, I attended a small church in Michigan, where the leadership taught and practice the wearing of of head coverings. And there was a number of families there that I would say, also had an overstated and exaggerated view of what headship entailed in their home what a husband's leadership in the home was to be. It wasn't, in my opinion, abusive or oppressive, or anything like that. But it certainly leaned toward being controlling and authoritarian in nature, which is which is wrong, I would refer to something like that as hyper headship. That's how I've referred to it. So it's, it's men leading, but it's gotten out of hand in some some fashion. We'll talk more about that. We'll talk about what headship means. And we'll talk about what should that look like in in general terms. Today, this text is also a great text, for learning how to incorporate background information and archaeology and cultural data into a proper interpretation of the Bible. What we would not advocate is just simply writing off hard truths as being cultural, and hopefully will illustrate the difference between just writing something off because you think it's cultural, and recognizing where the text actually tells you that this is cultural or a temporary norm. As we read it In general, I think we see another obvious difficulty. And it's this, whatever was being practiced there in the church in Corinth, whatever was controversial about these things, Paul, and the original readers knew exactly what he was talking about. But I just read it. And how many of us know exactly what he was talking about? It's, it's not entirely clear that church would have been a very culturally diverse church. It's not even clear from historical records and archaeology, whether the prevailing culture was was Roman, or Greek, or, or the degree to which there was Jewish influence in the church. It was a city that was of Greek origin, but Roman, it was under Roman rule, and had been Romanized, if you will, but we know there was at least some Jewish home in the church. So not only is that difficult, but Romans and Greeks and Jews didn't all have uniform practices for what they did with their head during worship. And so you're left actually with a lot of questions that the text doesn't, doesn't answer in? Well, I would say as clearly as we would like. I do think, though, that Paul tells us enough, that we can sort out what the major points and principles are, and even what that should look like, in our culture. We get to dig in a little bit this morning, see some of what God's Word teaches on the roles of men and women of husbands and wives, we're not going to answer every question or describe every distinction between men and women. We gave away a book a few years ago at the transformed conference by Owen stran, and Gavin peacock called The Grand Design. It's a great little book, on men's and women's roles, the distinctions between men and women and masculinity and femininity, I think there's probably some in the bookstore unless those selfish people from first service bought them all. But I did see a few coming out of the bookstore. So I think they're in there. There are inherent differences between men and women. And there are resulting ways that by God's design, we are called to function together in our families, called to reflect this divine design to the world around us. And that if you're taking notes, that's our big idea this morning, that Christians are called to reflect God's created order in the home in the church, and as a witness to the culture. That is what we're called to do. And by God's grace, hopefully, we'll understand better, what that means by the end of our morning, there's a shift of focus here in First Corinthians, we've been studying this book together for many months now. And Paul has been talking about Liberty issues, he has been talking about matters of pagan religious rituals and Christians coming out of those pagan religions. And to what extent can I be loosely associated with those pagan religions and yet still be faithful to the Lord and it might be a little bit reductionistic. Meaning this is maybe not a great one sentence review. But this is what it seems like Paul is saying, and chapters eight, nine and 10 when it when it comes to the pagan religion that's happening around you. Proximity, and association, is not the same thing as participation, proximity and association, like eating meat sacrificed to idols is not the same thing as participating in actual pagan worship, idol worship. But he says, You should be diligent and careful to not pull a brother in Christ back into a false religion when their conscience hasn't quite sorted out the difference yet. So there were a number of believers in the church that hadn't quite sorted out the difference. What, what's the difference between being proximate close to all of this pagan stuff and actually participating in it? Can I eat that meat sacrifice to idols? Well, he shifts gears in in chapter 11. You could see that in verse two when he uses the word now, that's kind of a transition word. He's saying, given everything we've we've said so far.

    I've got some other things I want to add. No, I think this given everything that we've studied together and the first 10 chapters, it might be surprising that Paul does what he does in verse two. Now I praise You, because You remember me and everything and hold firmly to the traditions just as I deliver Word them to you. So let's, let's review, shall we? He talked about them quarreling, of boasting of being divisive of dabbling in worldly philosophy of tolerating immorality, of taking their Christian brother to secular courts of being confused about marriage, and then misunderstanding their relationship to idolatry, and love for the brethren. Good job. It's a little surprising. So what is the transition? Because good job doesn't seem to be the appropriate introduction, unless he is talking about something a little bit different. And I think that he is, in general, I think he shifts gears here and says, I want to start talking to you about corporate gatherings. I want to start talking to you about when the church gathers, who are we to be what are we to do? What are we to reflect? And I think he's saying that, in general, when it comes to prayer, and instruction and baptism and gathering to sing that, in general, they were doing a good job of conducting themselves in corporate worship. But we need to talk about this roles of men and women. And we need to talk about some of the stuff that's going on around the Lord's table, chapter 11, verse 17, through 22, and we need to talk about spiritual gifts. So he's, he's shifting gear, in general, their corporate worship is going well. But there are some ways in which we need to screw down into a few more topics so that they can tighten up what is, in general, a healthy corporate worship, the topics, we just mentioned, headship, the Lord's table and spiritual gifts. We're going to only talk about that first one this morning. And we're only going to talk about it from the perspective of principle. As a general rule, we'll talk about some specific applications. But Dan is actually going to cover more of those next week. When we think about this matter of, of headship that's talked about here, and what is the proper way for men and women to reflect living out God's design for order and function in the home and in the church? What we have on on in our minds, and 21st century America is I got I got lost here, hold on. Dan is going to talk about matters like roles and offices in the church and job titles and things like that. So Dan will address issues like that I just have time to be the head covering guy this week. So that's what you get. In general Paul's saying, the church is doing the essentials. But they need to have their convictions and practices aligned on these these topics, the first one headship. So let's talk about the reality of headship, which he begins, which he states clearly in verse three, I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. There's two words in this context, that are used in a way that has two separate meanings. So we need to get the meanings one is the word head, and the other is the word for woman. The term for head can have a literal meaning as that somewhat roundish thing that is stuck on top of your neck. It can mean that, but it can also have a metaphorical meaning that communicates a kind of of leadership and authority over another. For the most part, with with an exception or two, I think it's obvious which one Paul's is referring to as the intersperses that term throughout this chapter, the other term is woman or wife. There's only one Greek word used to refer to a woman in general, or to a wife, in particular, that it's translated woman about 60% of the time, and it's translated wife, about 40% of the time. And which way Paul intends the term to be understood is pretty important in this context, because here in verse three, he essentially says, there is a relationship of authority and leadership between men and women. And I need to know which men and which women, it's actually a pretty significant question. He describes the three relationships in verse three with a kind of precision that I think is helpful. Notice he says, Christ is the head of every man. Man is the head of a woman, or wife. God is the head of Christ. The term head here is being used metaphorically to refer to, to leadership a position of authority of, of some kind, which we'll talk about. There was some very poorly done scholarship years ago that attempted to show that the word head metaphorically means source, and not authority. But it was wrong. I'm just gonna say that it was wrong. If you want to look that up, you can do that. There's no example in biblical or extant Greek coin, a literature where the word is ever used that way. So if it's being used that way, it's it's only here that it's being used that way. So it's it's significant, though in this context that Paul does not say, man is the head of every woman. He does say Christ is the head of every man he does not say man is the head of, of every woman. So in whatever sense, and to whatever degree, male leadership is espoused. Here, it applies not to all men over all women. And sadly, this idea of headship has been misused, I would say, even in the church by Christians, it has been mis used and misapplied to subjugate women to men in sinful ways. I would say Paul is very specific, that man is the head of a woman, which seems to imply the marriage relationship here and I think it would be better rendered. Man is the head of a wife. If God graciously calls a man and woman together in marriage, there is a relationship established, that involves loving, delegated leadership in the home. And that is called headship here, that leadership does not extend outside the home to be applied with women who are not your wife. So let's, let's make that very clear. There are other kinds of relationships, where there is a kind of leadership follower dynamic, right, like a pastor or Deacon, where a woman may follow the leadership of a man, but she does it under the auspices of her own home and own husband, et cetera. But again, let's just say that all leadership is by definition, a delegated leadership. In other words, you know, like Jesus says, you would have nothing unless the Father gives it to you, right? Leadership is one of those things. You don't get it just because it's always delegated. And then when leadership is delegated, that means that it's designed to be exercised under the authority and the design of the one who delegated it. In other words, if if Christ, God in the Scripture declares that men have some authority or leadership in their home, that authority and leadership must be exercised in a God honoring way must be exercised in the way the one who delegated it designed. So I would maybe say it this way. If, if the idea or the word headship is more significant to you, than loving, sacrificing, serving, honoring nourishing, cherishing, understanding, knowing intimately and partnering together as joint air, so the grace of life, did you hear all those words, man, if the word or the concept of headship is more important to you than all those other words, you have a problem. Okay, because whatever headship means whatever leadership and authority means it has to be exercised in the way that Christ has designed, which is loving, sacrificial, servant hearted, nourishing, cherishing, etc. That's the only kind of leadership the Bible advocates in the home. So just to make that clear, or at least as clear as I can, in the time, the I have. Now what our outline says headship is really about order and function. It's not about essence, it's not about some inherent qualities. In the man or in the woman. It's about order and function. And we know this, because of the third relationship, that Paul describes that God is the head of Christ. God is the head of Christ and there is there is no essential difference between the Father and the Son, meaning they're, they're the same I and the Father are One, they are of the same essence. They're of the same power. It is true that the sun came to do the will of the Father.

    But of course, he does it in a like minded oneness, designed to redeem the world and says, I am the Father are One, right I came to do His will, but I am the Father are one and godly, intimate, properly functioning. headship, even in a marriage will also reflect that kind of mutuality, that kind of oneness, that kind of partnership and singular ame that's why marriage is called one flesh. Right? So that's the kind of, of it should, it should reflect something very similar in parallel to what we see in the statement. God is the head of Christ. godly leadership, it's going to cultivate unity of spirit, so that your leadership in the home men looks more like humble partnership. And not some kind of arrogant subjugation of another against their will. So has nothing to do with essence, it has nothing to do with qualities, has nothing to do with intelligence as leadership is about function and role, not about those other things. What does Paul go on to say then, about this headship, this leadership in the home in verses four through seven, he says, Look, whatever headship is, church, God's people, I'm calling you to look the part play the part, be the part, live out God's divine design. I think Paul now in, in this section asks the Corinthians to consider how are you reflecting the divine order in your public worship? I do think that's primarily what he's talking about, though the context doesn't specifically mention, like worship services or public gatherings. I think, recognizing that it's closely connected to what comes behind, which is a celebration of the Lord's table includes things that are part of public gatherings like prayer and prophecy. And then he goes on to talk about spiritual gifts and how they're to be exercised publicly. I think the connection with those things, all would indicate he's he's got that primarily and view the public gatherings of the church. And so what does he say about how we reflect God's design of of headship and the public gatherings of the church. This is what he says in verses four through six. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces, her head, for she is one in the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman doesn't cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off. But if it's disgraceful for a woman to have her hair, cut off her head shaved, let her cover her head. Here you have Paul, interchangeably using the word head to refer to the body in one situation spiritual head and another. And I'm not going to detail those again, I think it's intuitively obvious what he's, he's saying, perhaps more curiously, for the sake of understanding what is he talking about with this whole headcovering thing? Whatever that local custom was, more curiously, is the term Paul chooses to use here for for covered and uncovered. Paul, Paul doesn't use the very clear and available word for a physical veil, or a shawl or something that you would literally put on your head. Instead, he uses a term that's translated something like down the head, something on his head, verse four, and it literally means to have something down from the head and similar in verse five, though, it's a different word. The word for men there is different than the word for women. It's, it would be something closer to unveiled, though it doesn't have the concept of a veil again, it's just like, shrouded to kind of an idea is what's there. In verse 15, Paul will come back and he will use the word for the thing I put on my head periodontal on the thing that I wrap and put on my head that cover my head. He knows the term. He could have used it here, but he doesn't. So we need to ask why. Why would Paul do that he could have made it very clear that he was only talking about putting literal things on my head. And I'd suggest he doesn't make it clear for for at least two reasons. One, it's almost certain that what the men and women were doing in this church wasn't the same. If if they were wearing one at all, which is again, as we've said, it's not entirely clear, but the research and the history and the archaeology on these matters is spotty at best. And I did all that reading for you. Oh, some beautiful maps happened in the process. It's it's not scintillating reading, just just to let you know, but there were pictures. So that helped. But anyway, it's it's spotty. It seems the best conclusion we could draw is that men being covered in the city of Corinth was likely Part of pagan worship the pagan Roman practices of worship where a man when offering sacrifices to the pagan gods would take his his toga, which is wrapped around him and drape it over his head in the process of making sacrifices and prayers to pagan gods, so he wasn't wearing a veil technically, which explains why Paul wouldn't have referred to it that way. But it was a practice that would have been associated with the idol worship going on the Roman idol worship, which is actually a matter that's very much in view in this context, right. He's just transitioning out of that. As a matter of fact, the women in Corinth, though likely had a different veil, a different covering in mind involved placing a veil over their head that happened as part of Roman marriage ceremonies, and wearing that veil on their head would symbolize their union with their husband. The problem is that the taking on of that veil in the marriage ceremony, and, and wearing it later, was not a universal practice. So if you if you pick up and see artwork, and statues and blah, blah, blah, the married women sometimes have a veil on sometimes they don't. So there wasn't this universal practice. But when it was taken on in the marriage ceremony, and if it was worn in public later, it was a social indicator of her marital status. And that indicator made it made it clear to everyone. Again, the problem is it wasn't very uniform. Corinth is a big city, a cosmopolitan city, a very diverse city, with Greek and Roman and Jewish elements. And so it's kind of kind of like Spokane, every man does what is right in his own eyes, right? Or the book of Judges, whichever. Basically the same except for anyway. So it's it's suggested that women may have been wearing but then removing that symbol of marriage, in they're praying and prophesying in the public worship, and in doing so they were dishonouring, their husband, kind of expressing an independent spirit and unwillingness to reflect God's design and of roles in the church. And though that's somewhat unclear, he's he's obviously saying, this shouldn't be happening. So I suggest that it must have been happening to some degree. But those unique elements and the diversity of what may have or may not been happened, I think does help provide a second reason why Paul uses these different words why he uses a term for down the head for the men that imply something other than a physical veil, because that's not what they're wearing this, this is what I come away with it. And the part that I think is clear in verses four, five and six men should not be covered in their worship, and the women are dishonouring, potentially dishonouring their head or their husband, when they pray without something on their head, that would be reflecting honor toward their husbands and God's design. Paul then says this uncovered state for the women is similar to it's parallel to the possible act of a woman shaving your head or chopping all her hair off. Now, that was an act that we know a little bit more about actually. chopping off your hair, shaving your head as a woman was typically reserved for times of mourning, times of sorrow or potentially punishment, for the shame of some impropriety like adultery. You can find examples of that in the Old Testament, you can find historical examples of Jews and Germanic people, but 100 years after Paul wrote doing that, so it seems that whatever was going on, I don't think women were literally going out shaving their heads and Korath. But everyone was aware of Ooh, that looks that looks wrong. There's something wrong there. And you can think whatever you want about women and shaved heads, but almost everybody who would see it would go ooh, something's wrong. Right. So we'll talk a little bit more about hairstyles later. Won't that be exciting? Being on it being an expert on hairstyles. I did get a fresh haircut yesterday.

    Anyway, so a shaved head, chopped hair on a woman not not a good look. Long hair is a glory to her. It says in verse 15. So a potential of a woman's beauty shining through through beautiful hair. So I think this is all the way for Paul to illustrate the principle that a woman shouldn't purposely do something that might paint themselves as shameful or on Rulli that's that's the idea either one of those. So these verses are saying this basically we've stated there's a proper order and function. But men and women, that headship is a biblical reality. Verse three, therefore, simply pulsing, live out those realities in your appearance, and practice in the church. That's really all he's saying. Verse three headship is real. verses four through six, therefore live out those realities in your lives and in the practice of the church, as he states in verse seven, for a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man men don't. In other words, because of what was going on there. In all likelihood, men don't practice. Don't mimic the practices of pagan worship and dishonor God and detract from his glory, and worth and reflecting his design. And women, don't dishonor your head, your husband, but instead reflect the beauty and the glory of God's design, for roles in your home and in public worship, and do so in the manner in means of dress in your public worship. Now, this headship, he then grounds and something that's not cultural. So again, we got to be careful what's cultural and what's not cultural he, he grounds the reality of headship, and it's something that's not cultural. And verse eight, he says, the origin, the foundation of headship is His creation, not the culture. He says, For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man, this is God's original design in order from Adam and Eve on down, and he's referring to the creation account in Genesis, where God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam. And he cut them open and took out a rib and closed up the wound. And from the rib of Adam, he fashioned Eve. And Adam woke up and was like, wow, this is gonna be good. And he named her Eve. There were no cultural or social norms on the planet, when it was just Adam and Eve, right? Like they were the culture. So I think God was all the way back to the these ideas of headship can't be cultural, there was no culture, social norms. In the Garden of Eden, this design was always the plan. It is the way that God has established marriage relationships and roles to work in the home. And that ought to be reflected in the corporate worship of the church designed to function seamlessly. But obviously, we've we've messed that up. And you can even see in the Genesis account, how when Eve took that, that fruit, right, she took charge of what we're of what we're doing what we're going to have for dinner and Adam and says, took the fruit he was with her. And he took the for you I think you see suddenly Adam and Eve not following that divine design of godly loving leadership of the man and and willingly coming along. And being the helper to the man, I think you see them you serve those roles and punch the entire human race and to sin. I think that's another reason why God would go back to the Genesis account. He hasn't stopped there, though. I think he talks a little bit here and a lot a bit later, about the purpose of headship like what's underneath the design that God has for men's and women's roles, he starts to talk about it in verse nine, when he says, For indeed, man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. So I think he's referring back to, to Eve being the suitable helper in Genesis to the account of the creation. She's his suitable helper, a complementary helper. The purpose of headship and roles is not, nor should it ever look like or sound like dominance or control, or subjugation, or self will, or third authoritarian leadership. Again, biblical leadership headship looks and sounds like love, service, sacrifice, nourishing cherishing, knowing, honoring partnering together as joint heirs of the grace of life. Memorize that gentleman, put it on your steering wheel, say it to yourself all the time. But in the context of that relationship, and in the context of God's commissioning of Adam and Eve, Adam needed a helper, suitable helper a complement. Eve was given to Adam, for that purpose for the man's sake, because there were aspects of the Creation mandate that Adam could not do on his own. Right. Together. Adam and Eve were called to Capo We rule the earth to exercise dominion over the earth, and to fill the earth. Right? Adam definitely can't fill the earth on his own. I think we're all in agreement on that. So Eve was given to him for the man's sake, that doesn't mean a woman was given to Adam to fulfill all his needs and desires. It means she was given by God to complement him to make up for what was lacking, in His purpose, His person, and that was needed to fulfill God's mission for mankind. That's why she was given he's going to state and illustrate that interdependence later. But now he turns, he turns a little bit of a corner, just so we're following the text in order, he turns a little bit of a corner and starts discussing some of the implications of this principle. There's a therefore in verse 10, or I think, in the ESV, it says something like it is this way, because, or something like that. This is why something like that, but the word is, therefore, it's an explanation. Because these principles of headship are true, because they're, they're supposed to be reflected in your lives and in the life of the church, because these principles are rooted in creation and God's design. Therefore, verse 10, the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head. It literally says authority on her head, almost all the translations add the symbol, because, well, I just don't think there's any way any other way to understand it. He doesn't say, however, that she needs to have a veil on her head. I'm going to point that out again, he could have very easily said that instead, its authority on her head, marital status, the marker, the indicator that she was in relationship to a man a marriage relationship. So I again, I think Paul doesn't use the word for Vale, because he didn't want the Corinthians or you to think that a physical veil is the only way to express to reflect God's design for headship. It was one way it was being reflected in current in that day. And so this practice could be done to reflect God's design there. There's a bigger issue, right, a heart issue. He also says, notice verse 10. I like it because of the angels, because of the angels. I think that refers to the interest the angels have and observing God's wisdom and redemption and creation. So Ephesians 310, talks about Paul's talking about putting the manifold wisdom of God on display, to the heavenly authorities, as he's calling the church building the church. First Peter 112 and Peter's extolling the virtues of the gospel and of our eternal heretics in heaven. He says, things that angels long to look into, that the angels are always watching, as, as God is putting his redemptive power and plan on display, they love to watch. They're watching. Always watching. That's for the kids. The angels are watching, I don't know where they are, I don't know probably sitting on these speakers.

    But they're watching. Because God is one. So we fall in right we've the human race has fallen into sin. And God is restoring us into the image of Christ. And he's empowering us to live out the realities of redemption. And this is one of those realities that he's empowering us to live out, is loving one another as husbands and wives and fulfilling the roles and, and functioning in a God honoring way in the church. And that's what the gospel is empowering us to do. That's what I think pulsing actually angels love to watch. It's reflected not just in functional headship, though, I think it's reflected in the interdependent partnership that marriage is designed to be impulse, I think ahead of his time in so many regards, as he goes on, to continue. Notice in verse 11, he's he starts in the NES. It starts with a however, you know, that's, that's how that's the word we would choose when we're about to say now, don't get me wrong. Right. Let me let me make a little bit of a clarification for you here. Just to make sure you've got the bigger picture. Excuse me, that this isn't all about authority, headship leadership there. There's more to the story. However, he says in the Lord, neither is women independent of man. whereas men independent of a woman, for as a woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman and all things originate from God he is describing in the relationship between men and women and husbands and wives and interdependence, a mutually dependent partnership. I think it's completely consistent with Genesis 127, where God says Adam and Eve, both of you exercise dominion over the earth, both of you fulfill the creation mandate together. What Paul implies up in verse three, when he, you know, God is the head of Christ, this can't be about essences can't be about qualities in ourself what he implies up there, about equality of essence and equal standing before God, I think he states definitively here by using this, this description of inter dependence. He's telling us this to ensure that the right kind of balance is maintained and understanding and implementing whatever headship leadership looks like. He taught, seven through 10 Women are created for the sake for man's sake, and that she's to reflect the glory of man and God by submitting to her proper authority and function within her proper role. Those Those are, those are principles that could easily be misused, right? We've all seen it. We've all seen somebody who gets authority, and then misuses it. To hurt someone. Right? And Paul says, clarifying No, no, whatever I mean, by headship, you can't misuse it. Husbands wives, you are interdependent. This is an interdependent, mutually dependent partnership. That is what marriage is designed to be. So headship and roles can't ever be the justification for misuse of authority or misuse of power to be controlling or self willed or whatever. Never the design of God that that people are subjugated to another. That's not submission. subjugation is a different thing. headship, understood biblically and lived out properly. It's a beautiful and biblical thing. I think Paul does a wonderful job of stating here's, here's the design. Here's how to understand it. Here's how to make sure we don't miss understand it. Now, how do we wisely live that out? In our world, we're not Corinth, are we? We're not Corinth. Thanks be to God. I'm tempted to say, we're not Corinth. But how do we live out headship and our culture where we live? Paul gets to this point in his argument, where he's telling the Corinthians to draw some conclusions about how to live it out in their context in their city in their church. Notice what he says in verse 13. Judge for yourselves, is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Paul refers the conclusion of the matter to the good sense and discernment of the Corinthians. That is what he's saying. He doesn't invoke another higher authority he doesn't use a phrase like it is written when it comes to head coverings is written. He doesn't invoke his own opposite Dalek authority do not I have a right to command you. Like he did earlier in the book. He doesn't do something like that. He doesn't even make an appeal to let's call it sanctified reason. Like he does so often when he says things like, What shall we say then? That that's a famous Paul phrase. He says it all the time. What shall we say then? Let me tell you exactly how to think Paul does it all the time and Romans, he doesn't do any of those things here. In fact, in the original the preposition is in the emphatic position and the group's role is reiterated. And you really should translate this among you yourselves decide, Is it proper? It kind of says this very emphatic. Paul appeals again, not to an idea of, of law and transgression, or to something that's authoritative he he appeals to this concept of propriety. If it was a command of God to wear a physical covering, Paul would just say so instead, he says, let's, I want you guys to think carefully about this in your context, what would be the proper thing to do? B now propriety that it's not like the word proper or propriety doesn't have any moral implications there? There are moral implications to proper and propriety but it's not as strong of of language as what we might be otherwise accustomed to Paul for Paul using so He's saying it remains for the Corinthians himself and then I believe for us as well, to determine what is a culturally acceptable way to reflect God's design, I think that's what he's saying. And in the process, he appeals to consider another aspect of creation, natural creation, how would natural creation shaped the way the Corinthians are thinking about this and perhaps us as well, he says this in verse 14, does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it's a dishonor to him. But if a woman has long hair is a glory to her, he appeals to nature. Nature means something that's that's created and natural and it's unavoidable based on on who I am or how I'm made. So like the apostle Paul says, he was a Jew, by nature, like ethnically, genetically, he was a descendant of Abraham, I'm a Jew, by nature, it's who I am. I can't change that. Idols. Galatians four, eight, Paul says, idols by nature are not really gods. Why are they not really God's? Because they're wooden stone. That simple. By nature, they're just wood and stone. So nature is what is true because of creation because of the biological order of things. And Paul is saying, doesn't nature teach us that men would naturally have shorter hair? And women would naturally have longer hair? Does that nature teach us that? And how does it teach us that? Well, by observation, there are way more bald guys than bald women. Just that's a simple observation, no science involved there at all. Right? Scientifically, we know that testosterone speeds up the process, it causes hair to fall out, and estrogen slows it down. So there's a little bit of science. Is that some kind of absolute? I don't think Paul knew that. So I think he's just making the observation that the rest of us can make, and, and, practically speaking, just practically speaking, women have nicer hair. Because of those I think hormonal reasons. Naturally soft. When it grows long. It usually is nicer looking, took a little straw poll for service. No one wants me to grow long hair. I got a big Amen. From Dan and my wife seconded it. I wouldn't look good in long hair. So I think Paul's going on to state the opposite women generally do write glory here. He uses the term if a woman has long hair, it's a glory to her. I think it's just a way of saying that there's something radiant, and and beautiful about a lovely hairdo. Can I can I say it that way?

    I think that's really what he's talking about here. Remember, the passage is intended to teach us about headship about roles and functions, divine design. It's not really intended to teach us only about one expression of that the head covering. And so I think Paul takes us down this road of saying, men be men, women be women. That includes maybe you should try to look like men and look alike. Women. Does that mean men can't have long hair? I do not think that. I think there are masculine hairdos that are longer. And there are feminine hairdos that are short, and that's perfectly fine. We know the difference between masculine and feminine. Most of the time, right? Now we live in a world. We live in a world where the culture is trying to destroy all of that, aren't they? Like, they would like nothing more than every single person on the planet to walk around and reflect gender confusion, and not reflect the differences of the sexes by God's design. The world would love that. I actually think this is this is Paul's solution to that. Men be men, women, women, be women reflect God's design. Yes, certainly in the way you function, perhaps also in your appearance. So I think that's what he's doing. That's the essence of verses 14 and 15. I have no idea where I am in the notes here. So let's just jump right to why you don't have to wear a veil because look at the second half of verse 15. Talking about women reflecting men reflecting masculinity and femininity it says, If a woman has long hair, it's a glory to her for her hair is given to her for a veil covering. That's the first time Paul uses the word for a physical veil, the thing I put on my head. And he says a woman's long hair actually doesn't use the word long, they're just her hair is given to her for or instead of a covering in place of a covering, it's the same word that's used for Jesus died in place of you. Jesus died instead of you a woman's hair is given to her instead of a physical veil. I think Paul makes it absolutely clear whether a physical veil is a unnecessary expression, cultural expression of God's design, he says no, a woman's hair is sufficient for expressing the beauty and the glory of God's design men be men, women, be women reflect that in your lives. And I think he continues as he goes on for 16. Remember this, this whole context is Paul talking about the pagan worship and not confusing. The things that you're doing outwardly, with the realities that are happening happening inwardly that eating meat sacrificed to idols is not necessarily a bad thing. Sacrificing titles very bad, right? eating the meat, not so much, that there's this thread in this whole context ripples like, it's not the outward thing. That's, that's the most important thing. It's the inward reality. It's not that outward isn't important, but the inward reality is so much more important. And when I think of the broader context, that Corinthians and I get to verse 16, I can't help but read it this way. If anyone is inclined to be contentious about whether or not you should practice this local custom of wearing a veil, if anybody is going to be contentious about that, I want you to know, we have no such custom. Nor do the churches of God. I traveled all over the known world, talking to Christians and planting churches. We're not wearing head coverings. So stop fighting about it. I think that's what Paul is saying. Very simply, though, I think the words mean that we have no such custom. Again, he doesn't refer to it as a command or a law or instruction custom is it's a different kind of word. Again, it's not devoid of moral meaning. But I just really think he's saying, we don't have this custom. We're not teaching it advocating it. And so let's not be contentious about it. So there's, there's the there, I'm the headcovering. Guy, there you go. Let's understand that there is divine design of headship and leadership, loving leadership exercise in the context of a home with applications in the context of the church that Dan will talk about next week. So let's reflect that divine design, in the way that we live as, as an overflow of our being changed and transformed into the image of Christ to live out the realities of our sanctification to put God's wisdom and goodness and glory on display by living it out. Let's not get caught up in some local custom. Instead, let's reflect the divine design from the heart out. Let's pray. God help us to be a church and to be men and women who understand and appreciate and actually rejoice in your divine design. We thank You that You have made us the way you have. And we thank you that you have called us to live life together in a way that reflects even some of the realities of the Godhead. In our homes, in our lives help us to do that. Well, what a weighty, weighty responsibility. It is. God I pray that you'd help the men here be those loving, nourishing cherishing, sacrificial joint heirs of the grace of life that you've, you've called them to be help us to honor our wives. As you've called us to God, I pray that you'd empower the women to come under that loving leadership and compliment their husbands in ways that make their ministry together fruitful and effective. For the building up of your church and the glory of your name. We ask it all through Christ, amen.

Brian Sayers

Brian is the Pastor of Counseling & Equipping at Faith Bible Church. He is passionate about the local church, and equipping the saints to effectively serve one another. Before coming to Spokane, he spent 14 years serving God's people as a pastor in rural New England (Vermont & New Hampshire).

View Resources by Brian Sayers
Resource Tags
More From This Series