RESPECT ONE ANOTHER
Thank God for your church. Recognize that as you come to God now as an individual you are part of a wider body.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:2–16
On Covering the Head in Worship
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things 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 long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhat are some of your “traditions” of worship?
Christians haven’t always agreed about these verses and there’s a lot that isn’t clear. So let’s start with the things we can be sure of. Paul is writing about the church gathering for worship, and he wants things to be done properly. Everyone can take a part—both men and women can pray and prophesy.
Beyond this the problems set in. There’s a lot of technical debate about what “head” means. We can’t be absolutely sure why women with uncovered heads or short hair were a disgrace in Corinth (6). Quite where the angels come in (10) we don’t know. It looks as though the women in Corinth were taking their newfound freedom in Christ too far and giving offence to others. Paul’s underlying principle is that we respect others in worship.
So, leaving aside some of the detailed questions around the situation in Corinth and what it means for male and female roles today, we can think about our own worship practice. What is there in the way we dress or behave that might give offence to others in our own church and hinder their worship? Wearing hats (more probably veils) isn’t a mark of respect today, so how do we show respect and help others to grow?
How will you plan during the week to encourage others in your worship together next Sunday?
Humbly ask the Lord to help you come to him in a fitting and respectful way as you gather with others to worship.