Summary: Confusion over issues like what to wear, who should preach or pray, etc, often clouds the issue. Worship is all about Him!
March 3, 2002
Paul is a very old and dear friend of mine; he is also a troublemaker! Before the days of my preaching every chapter, every verse, straight through a Bible book, I used to nimbly avoid the trouble traps Paul laid out. Today I am cornered!
If I tell the truth about this passage some women will not like the truth and lynch me. If I skirt around the truth, the men who don’t understand (as well as those who do understand) will also probably lynch me. If I bail on the truth God will get me. What shall I do? Well, I am much more scared of God than any of you. And lynching only means I get to go home to Jesus…and look up that troublemaker, Paul! So….here comes the truth.
One disclaimer must be in place, however, before we begin. While there are plenty of theories on this passage about women and covered heads, no preacher has the passage totally in control. I know this to be true – at least in Thomasville. At last week’s minister’s breakfast meeting I asked several of them for guidance on this troublesome passage. One by one they told me about the coverings in worship:
One pastor told how a man sneezed while their congregation was singing a hymn. The man’s toupee flew off his head and forward, over the shoulder of the man in the pew in front of him. The kind gentleman reached down, picked up the rug, shook the dust out and handed it back, like a quarterback making a handoff.
Another pastor shared how after he baptized a man and brought him back up out of the water; the toupee he was wearing was bent half-over from front to back, like a halo.
Grabbing on the baptism-and head-covering theme another pastor told about the woman who wore her wig to the waters. When he brought her up, the wig stayed behind. With lightning speed, yet dignified grace the preacher plucked that wig out of the water like a floating muskrat, deftly planting it back on the lady’s head…sideways.
My, oh my! Headcoverings aside – and that’s where they really belong here – this passage has a much more significant point to make to us this morning. The point is that worship is much more important than what the worshipper looks like. However, that does not mean we should not pay attention to such things. The fact that Paul mentioned it at all in a didactic manner indicates we should investigate.
Paul describes worship “practicalities” with how relationships were given by God, and how they are to be treated by men. This gives us the understanding of corporate worship being an act of acknowledgement (like the tithe represents our stewardship). The acknowledgement, as we worship corporately, is that we will live out God’s order of relationships in our everyday lives. In this way, it becomes more than useless for people to “dabble” in attending church – it becomes sin to casually sit-in on a worshipping community’s holy assembly if there is no intention of carrying out that holiness in the other 167 hours of the week.
Paul is didactic in this passage. He is a teacher, giving us time to think through some very important issues. And, like your high school math teacher, there are assignments to help us do the thinking. As with all assignments it is good to look them over, then make a definite decision as to whether we accept them, or not…
I. Looking at the ASSIGNMENTS in Bible Times
What kinds of assignments are given here?
A. AUTHORITY ASSIGNMENTS
1. All should follow Christ.
1Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. First Corinthians 11.1
The first assignment of authority is that of everyone following in Paul’s footsteps – not because Paul knows he is a good example, but because he has placed his faith, trust and life into following Jesus Christ. Christ set the example for Paul as He laid aside equality with the Father in heaven to become submissive, coming to earth to die for our sins.
2. Paul’s Godly walk was worth following.
2Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. 3But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. First Corinthians 11.1-3 (KJV)
Paul begins the description of an “authority-chain” by showing how he is under the authority of the true head of mankind, Christ. He further shows us that Christ is subservient in this order to God, and that women (within marriage and ministry – that is the context), are to be submissive to their own man (not anyone else’s).