2020-11-08 – 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 – God’s Order for Marriage
2020-11-08 – 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 – God’s Order for Marriage
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
If you have seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you will probably recall the scene where the mom manipulates the father in thinking he had a great idea, when actually it was her idea all along. The mom then counsels the daughter in her thick Greek accent saying “the man is the head, but the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases”. Well I want to start the message today on a good note as we are going to get into some very challenging text about marital roles and religious practices. Let me remind you that this is God’s Holy Word, and as scripture says, we are to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). This is our goal, and that is our prize.
Please turn now to 1 Corinthians 11:1, page 1017 in your pew Bibles, which is the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God. Prayer..
We are covering today the first 16 verses of this chapter 11. Keep in mind as we go through this section in scripture that this book Paul wrote is actually a problem-solving letter to the newly established Christian church in Corinth. You’ll remember that they had written to Paul about various things that were going on in the church, so Paul provided answers to them, and now us, to consider.
At this point Paul is addressing the issue of whether it was appropriate for a woman to take part of the worship service with her head uncovered. At the time this was written, this was a big deal in their church and community. There are many today that might claim this is instruction for that specific time and it doesn’t apply to us. But there are also some who hold to the standard that if it was applicable to the Christians then, it should apply to us today as well. It would be very easy to argue and scrutinize each other’s stance in this regard and make that a divisive issue within the church. These days you might see a lady wearing a head covering, but mostly it is just a stylistic effort, or since we live in the north, many people wear hats to protect themselves from the weather. Sometimes we might see ladies wearing hats for religious reasons, but it is more rare than not these days in our culture. However, during Paul’s days, and even still in many places in the Middle east and Asia, you would see ladies wearing hats or scarfs as part of their regular daily lives including religious services. In the context of which Paul was speaking, if a woman was in public or church without a head-cover, then it would be considered unusual or even disgraceful.
So that’s the backdrop of our message today, but I will also add that for the most part, Paul is referring here to primarily married ladies in these scripture verses. The Greek word for woman used in these verses is gunē, and it can mean both “woman” or “wife”. Many of the other Bible versions use the word wife instead of women in these verses. Therefore, the title of this message is God’s Order for Marriage. And I will explain that more as we endeavor to dissect the scripture text this morning. So starting at verse 1 Paul wrote:
1 Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ. 2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold fast to the traditions just as I delivered them to you.
Let’s us just pause here briefly. What an amazing statement he used here. Paul used this same gesture in several of his other letters to the new churches he started. At first glance some might think Paul is a bit arrogant and prideful in this suggestion. However, you must understand that these Gentile believers never had the privilege of meeting Jesus in person. Most all they knew of Jesus was through Paul’s words and Paul’s example. Even the Jewish traditions were foreign to them, so they had to trust Paul’s in this regard. Likewise, I myself would love to be able to say to everyone here, do as I do, live as I live. But I also know that I am far from perfect. Instead I will tell you to dig deep into scripture yourself to learn how you should live out this Christian life. The Corinthian believers didn’t have the New Testament as we do. We are so blessed. Paul continues at verse 3.
3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. 5 Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head since that is one and the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman doesn’t cover her head, she should have her hair cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her head be covered.
So at first glance, one might surmise that this verse is just about religious standards or practices, specifically for a woman or a wife. However, as we will see in the next verses, Paul’s instruction here has more to do with the order and authority within church but more specifically within the marriage institution and our relationships with one another as God had designed. Lets read on..
7 A man should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God. So too, woman (or wife) is the glory of man (or husband). 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman came from man. 9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 This is why a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, and man is not independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman, and all things come from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to argue about this, we have no other custom, nor do the churches of God.
So how do we apply this letter of instruction to our situation today? If this was a command by Jesus then there wouldn’t be any question. Paul is obviously addressing the custom of that day. That custom or standard is not the same as ours today, but it is still a beautiful and humble offering, if you will, to the Lord and it might represent your love and sacrifice for Him. My personal thoughts are that if a woman wants to wear a head covering then she should wear a head covering. However, I will suggest the main meaning in our text here has more to do with how God has designed the husband and wife’s relationship within the context of marriage. Again, the head covering was merely a symbol in that day, that conveyed a woman’s love and respect for God and also His design for marriage. That order is shown to us very clearly in verse 3. It says that, “God is the head of Christ”; “Christ is the head of every [husband]”, and “the husband is the head of the wife”. I frequently use this example when I council couples as they prepare for marriage. Even Adam and Eve demonstrated this Godly design. Scripture is very clear here and the order is simple. In our marital relationships we must put God first, then spouse, then Children, then other family, and everyone and everything else. When we mess this order up we have problems.
The idea of authority in our world today is kind of messed up. But generally, where there is authority there is peace. When you don’t have order and authority then you have chaos and anarchy. There are many places in the world where there is no real authority applied and in that there is much chaos. Within marriage too there is much chaos when there is no authority recognized. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, we are all under some type of authority. We have authorities in our governance, and we have authorities in our schools, and we should have authorities in our homes as well. You should recall in scripture when Satan challenged God’s authority, sin was ushered into our world. As God appoints our leaders, He also expects us to honor those appointments. We may not understand God’s ways, for His ways are higher than ours, but we must bow down to His authority. Our bible also tells us also that Jesus Himself chose to humble himself, He gave up some of His authority when He came to Earth as a baby. He chose for himself to humble himself. And the same dynamic goes for all of us as well. We need to choose for ourselves to come under the authority of God and others. And God loves a humble heart. God loves it when we choose to be His servant for the benefit of His glory, especially as it relates to His design for marriage and our religious practices.
God wants us to submit to one another. And as the wife sacrificially gifts her husband her willing submission, the husband is to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and He died for His church bride. In Paul’s context, the head covering was a outward symbol that the wife honors her relationship with God and her husband. For the Corinthians, specifically the women in church, their new Born Again Christian relationship provided them an opportunity to be equal with their male counterparts for the first time. Talk about breaking the glass ceiling. They hardly had any civil or religious rights before. That is why both Paul and James in the New Testament gives specific guidance for them as they didn’t want them to get carried away in their new found freedoms.
Again, God’s Order for Marriage goes all the way back to the creation story. I am a firm believer of Creation Science as is well depicted in Genesis 2 of our Bible. I am a firm believer that God made man from the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life. Then God created the first woman Eve, from Adam’s rib and God presented Eve to Adam as a help mate. I believe this with all my heart and just as it is written.
One of the most interesting arguments for Creation verses Evolution in my mind is how could we evolve into two very different but very necessary sexes. How could a man evolve to what he is, but yet a women evolved to be so different but perfectly matched so as to bare their children even?
That is God’s amazing design, and who am I to question it. And just as there different rolls between God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, there is different rolls between husband and wife. Each has a significant role to play in harmony with the other. When they work together, it is a beautiful thing indeed.
Again the primary message today isn’t about head coverings. It is about God’s design for marriage. Whenever I perform a marriage ceremony, the question of using the words Honor, Obey, and Submit always come up. They are very important words, especially when the couple is laying a foundation for their future together. In most of the wedding ceremonies I recite what it says in Ephesians 5. In that Paul addresses this same issue with the church members there in Ephesus, so I thought it would be good to read them now. Starting at verse 21 Paul wrote:
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. [SLIDE]
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. [SLIDE]
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Overwhelmingly I have witnessed that a man’s number one need in a marriage is respect, whereas a woman’s number one need is love. When a wife respects the husband, and the husband overtly demonstrates his love for his wife, then a beautiful marriage is created and sustained. And in that, they are actually demonstrating and honoring Father God in the process.
So regarding the woman’s head covering, may I point you out to you in these verses, Paul used frequently the words “Ought to”, and “Should” and “choose”, and he referred to their “custom”. all of which might convey this is an optional exercise. However, I will also say that if you are a Born Again Believer who simply adores the Lord and wants to please Him, then you should show honor and respect as the Holy Spirit leads you. Also if a wife wants to overtly show honor, resect and love for her husband and the Lord by exercising that head covering idea, as well as modest clothing, and adornment then she should. These are all wonderful things. Let the Holy Spirit guide you in this regard.
You may not agree with everything I have to say on this matter and that is okay, but in closing I will use another quote from that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, [Greek accent] “Tell me what to say. But don’t tell me what to say.”
God loves you so brothers and sisters, and He always will. May you believe it, May you live it, and may you show it. Amen?
“A FRIENDLY CHURCH IN A FRIENDLY TOWN”