Proper Worship (Day 15)

Read 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
   Why did Paul say, “Follow my example?” Paul wasn’t being arrogant; he did not think of himself as sinless. At this time, however, the Corinthian believers did not know much about the life and ministry of Christ. Paul could not tell them to imitate Jesus because the Gospels had not yet been written, so they did not know what Jesus was like. The best way to point these new Christians to Christ was to point them to a Christian whom they trusted (Galatians 4; Philippians 3; 1 Thessalonians 1 and 2; 2 Thessalonians 3). Paul had been in Corinth almost two years and had built a relationship of trust with many of these new believers. 
   The phrase a woman is responsible to her husband does not indicate the man’s control or supremacy but rather his being her source. Because man was created first, the woman derives her existence from man, as man does from Christ and Christ from God. Evidently Paul was correcting some excesses in worship in which the emancipated Corinthian women were engaging. 
   The principle behind Paul’s words is submission, which is a key element in the smooth functioning of any business, government, or family. God ordained submission in certain relationships to prevent chaos. It is essential to understand that submission is not surrender, withdrawal, or apathy. It does not mean inferiority, because God created all people in His image and all have equal value. Submission is mutual commitment and cooperation.  
   Thus, God calls for submission among equals. He did not make the man superior; He made a way for a husband and wife to work together. Jesus Christ, although equal with God the Father, submitted to Him to carry out the plan of salvation. Likewise, although equal to man under God, the wife should submit to her husband for the sake of their marriage and family. Submission between equals is submission by choice, not by force. We serve God in these relationships by willingly submitting to others in our church, to our spouses, and to our government leaders. 
   Verse 10 may mean that the woman should wear a covering on her head as a sign that she is under the man’s authority. This is a fact even the angels understand as they observe Christians in worship. 
   God created lines of authority in order for His created world to function smoothly. Although there must be lines of authority even in marriage, there should not be lines of superiority. God created men and women with unique and complementary characteristics. One sex is not better than the other. We must not let the issue of authority and submission become a wedge to destroy oneness in marriage. Instead, we should use our unique gifts to strengthen our marriages and to glorify God. 
   In talking about head coverings and length of hair, Paul is saying that believers should look and behave in ways that are honorable in their own culture. In many cultures long hair on men is considered appropriate and masculine. In Corinth, it was thought to be a sign of male prostitution in the pagan temples. And women with short hair were labeled prostitutes. Paul was saying that in the Corinthian culture, Christian women should keep their hair long. If short hair on women was a sign of prostitution, then a Christian woman with short hair would find it difficult to be a believable witness for Jesus Christ. Paul wasn’t saying we should adopt all the practices of our culture but that we should avoid appearances and behavior that detract from our ultimate goal of being witnesses for Jesus Christ. 
   These verses focuses primarily on proper attitudes and conduct in worship, not on the marriage relationship or on the role of women in the church. While Paul’s specific instructions may be cultural, the principles behind them are timeless: respect for spouse, reverence and appropriateness in worship, and focus of all of life on God. if you are doing something that might easily offend members and divide the church, then change your ways to promote church unity. Paul told the women who were not wearing head coverings to wear them, not because it was a scriptural command, but because it kept the congregation from dividing over a petty issue that served only to take people’s minds off Christ. 
   Paul’s main concern is irreverence in worship. We need to read it in the context of the situation in Corinth. The matter of wearing hats or head coverings, although seemingly insignificant, had become a big problem because two cultural backgrounds were colliding. Jewish women always covered their heads for worship. For a woman to uncover her head in public was a sign of loose morals. On the other hand, Greek women may have been used to worshiping without head coverings. 
   Paul’s solution came from his desire for unity among church members and for appropriateness in the worship service. He accepted God’s sovereignty in creating the rules for relationships.