I have read through the New Testament in 90 days a few times now. I must admit, I have sped through 1 Cor. 11. quite fast; and to be honest, without much thought. I have felt the whole head covering thing was a custom of the times and something I didn’t need to pay attention to now since no one in Southern California wears anything on their head, except maybe a baseball cap or visor to protect from the sun.
However, today….boy did I ponder…..why do we take some verses literally and others we disregard as irrelevant since our culture has changed?
The chapter before (10) talks of the freedom we have in Christ. I take that seriously….
The chapter after (12) talks of instructions on taking the Lord’s Supper. I take that seriously…..
Why wouldn’t I hold Paul’s teachings on “propriety in worship” as seriously as his other teachings?
Well, let’s break this down a little bit.
First, I remember that Paul said, “Some from Chloe’s house have informed me that there are quarrels among you.”(1:11) So, Paul is using this letter to address the Christians in Corinth about some issues they were dealing with. One of those issues was the fact that some were not showing respect (or proper decorum) in public worship. According to one commentary, long hair on men and uncovered heads on women were custom for some idol worship.
“Judge for yourselves: Is it proper…? (11:13)
If you keep that in mind, one does not need to get upset about the whole “submissive” issue. That’s for another time. Today’s reading has more to do with showing respect in church.
The respect subject reminds me of my Dad. He loves the Lord and has been a faithful church goer my whole life. One thing that I remember from my youth was that when we went to church, my dad wanted us kids to have clean, presentable shoes. He didn’t do this to make his family look perfect. He did it because to him, you go to church wearing your best because it was God honoring. It set the day aside to be special for God. To him that meant, you go to church with spit spot shiny shoes!
I picked up on that behavior. When my kids were little, when we were getting ready for church, I would say, “Go put a church shirt on.” My boys knew that meant a shirt with a collar. Nothing fancy, just a little bit more special than a play shirt. It was my way of teaching them, show your respect when you worship God.
We all saw examples of respect set for us when we were younger, didn’t we? Whenever we watched a western movie or the Waltons, the boys would take off their cowboy hats, out of respect, when they entered a church. We still see this type of respect today when we see sports fans in the audience of a game take off their hats when they sing the national anthem.
So Paul’s teaching here, in no way, should be disregarded. Just as he taught how to take communion, he also taught how to come before the Lord with respect and decorum. Do you think the pendulum has swung too far these days? It swung far one way when the church was very formal. People got caught up in the show of looking perfect and forgot the heart of the matter. Then the pendulum swung far the other way where anything goes and it doesn’t matter how you dress or wear your hair.
I don’t know…what do you think in light of Paul’s teaching? Has the pendulum swung too far?
I think if we take ALL of Paul’s teachings and apply them to anytime in history, “it is useful for teaching and rebuking.” (2 Tim 3:16) I try to take ALL scripture for what it says and see how I can apply it to my life……after all, why should the national anthem get more respect than the Lord??? 🤔 Interesting stuff…don’t ya think?