1 Corinthians 11:1-16

1 Corinthians 11:1-16 … In this letter to the church at Corinth, Paul is addressing conflicts and controversies in the church and the roles of men and women seems to be one of them. To determine the truth of the Scripture, we need to recognize, but look beyond the local culture, which is to say the passage is not about head coverings, it’s about mutual relationships between men and women in the church and at home.

Here are some principles we might glean from the passage: First, who’s in charge? Many point to verse 3 and conclude the matter is settled. But is it? A comparison is drawn between the image of the triune God and marriage. Within the Godhead, is the Father superior to the Son or the Son superior to the Holy Spirit? The teaching of Scripture is that they are equal in power, authority and character. Jesus said: I and the Father are one! Yet He also said (John 14:28): “The Father is greater,” indicating voluntary submission to the Father’s will. That’s the relationship of marriage: loving, sacrificial leadership and loving, sacrificial followership. But there’s more: verse 9 indicates that woman was made for the man and the sense of that is that man was, and is, incomplete without woman. God’s definition of man is male and female (Genesis 1:27); in His image He created man male and female, the incomplete and the completer. 1 Corinthians 11:11 declares their mutual dependence, they’re not independent of each other, they’re very dependent, bringing different abilities, attributes and emotions into the relationship that creates completion of the whole man (which we’ve defined as male and female).

Now about those head coverings: from the text, it appears that the issue in first century Corinth was that the lack of the customary head covering was becoming a distraction in worship. That distraction seems to be what the passage is addressing and the point is that God has created male and female for harmony, for cooperation and mutual dependence. When that happens, that’s what God intended and it is a beautiful thing to see.

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