submission:: like a four letter word

If you’re reading along with the New Testament in 2017 reading plan, you know today we find ourselves in 1 Corinthians 11.  Paul is continuing to address questions that the Corinthian people have asked him.  Today we find instructions for worship & order at the Lord’s supper.  Seems simple enough…

Not quite.  Beginning in verse 5 we see Paul’s instructions regarding women covering their heads during worship services.  Specifically if she is praying or prophesying.  Hmmmm.  Head coverings?  I would love to just fly over this part of Scripture, call it irrelevant & move on.  But something holds me here.  Makes me pause to consider “should I be wearing a head covering at church?”

On the surface the answer appears to “yes”.  Paul is pretty darn adamant.  “But a woman dishonors her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head.”  Yikes!  But let’s dig a bit deeper into the meaning behind Paul’s instruction.  Paul’s message in these few verses is pretty clear from the get-go…Authority.  The head of man is Christ.  The head of woman is man and the head of Christ is God. {vs.3}  I realize that this is not a popular world view.  I am not writing this, just copying the Word.  And Paul clearly states that there is an authoritative chain-of-command.

With authority there comes submission.  Everyone cannot be in authority.  Someone has to lead.  Someone has to be submissive or follow.  According to this part of scripture and others like it, God establishes this lead/follow structure pretty clearly.  God leads Christ.  Christ leads man.  Man leads woman.  {I know.  Not a popular world view currently.  But Biblical nonetheless}  And in the culture that this was written, one way that signified submission was head-covering. It was not an uncommon practice nor was it thought to be out-of-place.

Today, however, head covering is not very common {at least in Western Judeo-Christian  cultures} and certainly does not necessary signify submission to my man.  If I were to suddenly begin wearing a head covering to church on Sunday, I would cause quite a stir.  No one would associate my wearing a head covering with submission. At all.  And in fact, I might actually feel incredibly uncomfortable, perhaps even embarrassed.  Paul’s instructions regarding head covering were intended to show submission not bring about embarrassment.  In order to fulfill the spirit of the instruction {showing submission} it seems more likely that a culturally relevant way to show submission would be a better fit.

What does that look like? I’m not sure, to be honest. For this, I don’t have an answer.  This is one of those sections of Scripture that may require some searching & praying to discover.  I’m not willing to just toss it out as irrelevant & move on though, because I believe that if it’s in the Word, it is important somehow to me today.

If you’re interested in reading up on this particular passage regarding head covering, perhaps digging a bit deeper & forming your own opinion on what it means, I found a great resource that does a great job of explaining the verses & going through several possible options.  Please check it out here.

The idea of submission to a man isn’t a super popular one.  Especially right now in our current culture.  I get that.  This was not a Scripture I wanted to try to lay out here & comment on.  Believe me.  But I couldn’t just let it go & move on.  Submission isn’t an easy word…or verb to live out.  Whenever I begin to feel like I want to be in charge, I want to lead and direct this ship though, I need only look at Christ.  In the hours before they nailed him to a wooden cross & lifted him into the air to die he submitted to the will of the Father.  Submitted.  It wasn’t easy for him {“take this cup”}, and he understands that it’s not easy for us either.  But He is good.  His instructions are good.


But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

In any case, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But all things come from God.