Monday, June 26, 2006

Bible time!

Alright Bible scholars, I have a question. Please read I Corinthians 11:1-16.
I stumbled upon this scripture and wasn’t sure what it means. Does this mean I have to have a hat on in church, or is it talking about hair?
Please explain. Thanks!


bigsip said...

Yes, I know the passage of which you speak.

The passage is "cultural" in nature. What I mean by this is that wearing veils and having long har were defining cultural elements between males and females during that time.

If a woman did not adhere to these standards, she was seen as dishonoring herself, her family, and God.

A common practice for prostitues was to have their hair short or shave during that time, too.

Today, we'd look at this passage more along the lines of women being women and knowing and appreciating their positions as women in society.

Long hair is still a distinctly feminine trait and helps to distinguish women from men in most cases.

More than any of this is the fact that back then, as today, women sought to supplant men as church leaders, family leaders, and social anarchists.

God DOES NOT consider wome inferior, but like men, gave them a plan and a place in life that is considered their "place".

This passage simply highlights women's roles in society and the church.

Verse 10, although it might seem out of place, drives this point home even better.

"For this cause the woman ought to have authority on her head, because of the angels."

Here's a simple hierarchy of spiritual leadership as presented in this passage and throughout the Bible:

God (Father, Son, Spirit)

The term "because of the Angels" refers to pride in life.

If a woman sought to supplant a man as a spiritual or familial leader, this would happen:


In other words, if women choose pride over a position of service to God, they choose to supplant devine, perfect beings. If man chose such a path, he would be so proud as to supplant God.

So, we must all know and keep our positions in service to God.

However, if this is observed, I believe that, in the Kingdom of Heaven, women are overall the better servants. After all, didn't Jesus say, "the last shall be first and the first shall be last"?

I know this might be more than you were looking for, but this is a difficult passage and requires some pretty in-depth explanation.

Hope it helps!

Jamison said...

i too always thought it was cultural... like, back then, a chick without a hat on was like a chick today wearing a mini skirt with no underwear... you would never wear that in church and likewise they wouldn't go without a head covering.

It kind of stinks that Paul had to get that specific, you know, after Jesus came and died things were supposed to be easier, but with all the converted Pharisees and stuff, wanting laws and rules, it seems like Paul may have just gotten frustrated and slapped a few specifics on them to make them shut up.

bigsip said...

Well, Paul was inspired to say what he said...

I mean, Paul said it, but God put it there for him to say.

I really don't think it's as much about hair and head coverings as it is about the roles of men and women and the "station" of each in Christ's church.

Hence the reference to angels...

Diana said...

But isn't the Bible absolute? Should we not practice passages simply because they are not culturally relevant today? That would be like saying it's not culturally relevant to wait until marriage to have sex. I'm not trying to be rebelious, I was just concerned I may wind up in hell because I don't wear something on my head to church.

Diana said...

I guess my point is this:
Why do we take the Bible literally in some places, but not so literally in others?

bigsip said...

Taking the Bible literally depends of the context.

In this instance, we are taking the Bible literally, but we're also applying our culture to its meanings.

For instance, back then, if you were caught in adultery, you would be stoned to death. We don't do that in our modern culture.

Taking things figuratively or symbolically is another matter completely. Much of Revelation is symbolic in nature, for example and must be taken in context. Such as when the Battle of Armageddon is spoken about.

The passage in 1 Cor is literal, though, although it's cultural tennets are not applicable today.

Wearing a head covering then was a cultural norm and expectation, but Paul used it more as a description of societal placement than a rule of behavior. Today, we could say the same thing as far as women being and acting "straight" rather than homosexual and recognizing God's plan for them in His Kingdom.

Again, the order I see in the NT is:


There are some women who take the head covering literally. In fact, I was looking around last night at DcoC and saw a woman wearing a lovely lace number on her noggin.

But, we don't see that as a cultural norm today, do we?

Our cultural norms would be defined more as Jamison mentioned. Dressing like a chaste, moral woman/man in accordance with what will leave attention on God in worship.

The other side of the coin: Sunday morning, we went to church with my parents. A girlfriend of a boy who grew up in the church walks in wearing a strapless dress.

It was pretty, but not appropriate for worship. Rachel and I couldn't concentrate because she sat up front the whole time and looked naked from the middle of her back up.

Anyway, I've said too much again, but this is how I see it, anyway...

Rachel said...

I can see a problem here, though. What gives us the right to say that this passage is about adhering to cultural norms and other passages, such as homosexuality being a sin, are absolute? Many people today would argue that being gay today is not sinful, that the Bible was referring to that time/culture and not ours. It's something that I've never fully understood.

Brewster said...

Tis a good point, and a slippery slope. If we are too say that in this case, the bible is speaking culturally and doesn't apply then what's to stop us from using that culture card on other things?

It's been awhile since I looked at this passage, but I believe I've read somethings about the "covering" for a woman being her long hair. That short, shaved hair was the sign of prostitution so to avoid that look a woman should cover her head with her hair.

Maybe that's why pentecostals never cut their hair?

When I've grown my hair out, I've always played bill clinton and gone "what's long?"

kellieja said...

I think I am going to put a hat on tomorrow

Brewster said...

I recommend something in blue

Jamison said...

I still reference passages like Romans 14:14-23... if you think it is a sin to not wear a ball cap to church, then you had probably better wear one. However, if you don't wear one, but around 50 other chicks who think they should wear ball caps, then it is in your best interest to slap one on your head so as to not cause them to stumble.

Rachel said...

Here is the most extensive info I've found on the net tonight. I skimmed a lot of it, and found some things a lot more useful than others.

Some arguments against the cultural interpretation, that were hard for me to ignore:

-Paul's appeal in v. 8-9 to Creation itself as a reason for head-covering, which supercedes time and place

-V. 16- "we have no other practice- nor do the churches of God" (not "nor do the churches of God in Corinth at the time of this writing")

But then here's something else I hadn't thought about. This is all in reference to "every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered" (v.5). There is speculation as to whether this refers to a woman speaking in the assembly, which Paul forbids later in the same letter. I'd assumed this meant women praying along with a man's leadership. But what about the prophesying part?

It's a lot to wrap my head around.

Jamison said...

no pun intended...?

bigsip said...

Something Rachel and I saw in verse 6 last night "For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered."

Today, not wearing long hair or a head covering isn't considered shameful, necessarily.

I'm still like Boy George, though; a member of the Culture Club.

This issue isn't one of morality, it's a matter of how women showed their place in society by the use of a symbol.

And yet again, Rachel brought up a good point to me that we shouldn't discount symbols (e.g. baptism, Lord's Supper, etc.)

But, this is another matter, I think.

Check out the above link. It's an interesting cultural study of Jewish/Middle Eastern culture.

I see this as a matter of conscience like Jamison referred to.

Since we've used this example before, homosexuality is not nor can ever be a matter of conscience. It is defined throughout the Bible as an unnatural sin.

However, eating meat sacrificed to idols is considered a matter of conscience. The culture of the day dictated some standards just as our's does today in reference to our conscience telling us whether it's alright to gamble, drink, smoke, etc.

I know it's not a cut and dried sort of thing, but I do feel that the passage has bearing on us for the explicit fact that it reveals the place of God, Angels, Man, and Woman in God's plan. The rest, from my own research and belief, was merely a practice of the day, much like our practice of Wed night services...

Rachel said...

What? Wednesday nights aren't explicitly commanded???

But seriously, I did think about and study the part about eating meat as a matter of conscience. My problem with this carrying over to the head covering issue is this- Paul comes right out and says it's okay to eat meat. He doesn't say that anywhere about baring the head in worship.

I think what's really tugging at my conscience and keeping me questioning this issue is that we in the Church of Christ are so concerned with the New Testament pattern for worship that we even infer from the absence of example (instruments). But here we are given a very specific account of their worship and throw it completely out the window.

bigsip said...

But, again, this was a sign in their culture. Head coverings mean nothing to us. If they were a symbol today, they'd be an empty symbol.

But, knowing one's place in the church as a man or woman will never be a matter of symbolism.

Jamison said...

I think that in many cases, we as christians may need to get away from looking at the Bible and the new testement as a book of LAWS. I see us do this ALL THE TIME and it opens my eyes as to how pharisee-istic we are becoming because of it.

When in doubt, take a few weeks and read the 4 gospels... it is pretty freaking simple, salvation and stuff... the only thing that confuses it are people... and due to ignorant people, the other letters were written, encouraging or chastising them.

I seriously doubt that the son of God came to this earth, lived over 30 years, forgave women caught in adultery, ate with tax collectors and sinners, healed countless people, died the death of deaths on a shameful cross, and rose again 3 days later to join our heavenly Father only to say "if you dont covver your head when you pray, you are hell-bound"

Sure, PAUL says it was okay to eat meat but he never said it was okay to uncover your head... but when you look at scripture (yes, I hold scripture very dearly) like that, you are looking at it as though it were a book of laws. We aint Jews no more, we dont have a bunch of confusing, seemingly pointless list of rules and regulations like they used to...

Jamison said...

FYI, bottom of the blog (for all you HP non-spoiling geeks) there is a count-down to the next harry potter movie release...

bigsip said...

Well, again it comes down to how you look at scripture.

There are these things folks ue called "hermeneutics" which help to interpret scripture.

The ones we hear about in the coC are necessary inference, example, and command.

Commands are things like sing. We are told to sing, so we do.

Example is something like meeting together on the first day of the week for worship. The Bible says they did, so we do, too.

Necessary inference deals with things we can infer from scripture like no musical instruments. They aren't mentioned in the NT in any worship context and when singing is commanded, instruments are absent, so we infer that instruments should remain absent in all other worship forums.

There are other things people use like historical research, but they aren't "authourized" as scripture is. For instance, coC scholars know that the first century church all the way up to Constantine didn't use musical instruments in worship. But, they don't use this as a proof text because it doesn't fall into sound hermeneutical principles.

No matter how you see it, the NT is simple, but we are told to study it and work out our own salvation. That's the hard part.

As far as head coverings are concerned, the precedent is about men and women knowing their place, plain and, yes, simple.

It's a cultural example of a bedrock principle of church organization and role definition.

That's my $100 worth...

mullinz8 said...

It’s too late in this game to throw in my loose change but I’m going to do it anyway.

Paul wrote letters to a few churches and they were rewritten and distributed to more churches. There is no way to say that every “service” didn’t not include musical instruments. I mean you couldn’t take a step in those days without finding someone jamming out. There are parts of the OT that are filled with musical references, who is to say that trend didn’t carry over in some NT churches? Not the point.

I would almost take this one on a matter of heart. If we were suddenly transported into another culture our norms could be radically different so I don’t know how comfortable I am with that argument.

There are a lot of elements we get from scripture telling us to abstain from something if it might hinder someone else’s walk. If you read and pray over the interpretation of a verse of scripture and feel like you should cover your head don’t let the cultural standards stop you. Don’t let someone else’s view force you to adapt to something you are not comfortable with or question.

You’ve got to consider the culture and the language of the age and era and draw your conclusions from that.

Maybe it’s in 2 Cor where it talks about not communing with those who are not of like minded faithfulness. Under that pretext I doubt there would be a lot of prostitutes hanging around service and require their heads to be covered. Then again maybe the early Christians had a prostitute outreach program.

Follow your heart because I doubt judgment is going to be broken down culturally and categorically.

Jamison said...

As far as music goes, ive changed my tune (no pun intended) dramatically...

Since I dont see any examples of music in worship services in the NT, I don't do it nor would I feel comfortable in being in a worship service where it is done, but my days of condeming anyone for going to a church that does it are over.

In revelations, Jesus tells Paul about all these crappy churches that basically make God mad... but then he says that there are some in those churches that are cool with God... which solidifies the fact that your salvation isn't based upon (at least largely) on the church you go to.

Also, after Brews time in France, my views on alot of cultural things have changed too. Alcohol is not a big part of my life, not at all. However, I am one of "those" people that doesnt think it is a sin to drink... as long as you arent addicted to it, let it run your life, let it cause you to make poor judgement, etc...

It causes alot of christians to stumble, just them seeing someone drink, so to them it is wrong, and i think it is wrong to make them stumble...

anyway,... whateva

bigsip said...

We're all in agreement...

I was simply stating some principles for scriptural interpretation.

I feel "safer" and better with a capella music, not causing folks to stumble, etc.

We just don't want to cause one of the "little ones" to fall...

Shall I say it?

"They took the little ones!"

Rachel said...

Here's what I've taken out of all this- we need to be careful not to get too legalistic with the New Testament. God meant to write his Law on our hearts; we have the Old Testament if we want a bunch of rules. When we pick and choose "commandments" that we want to enforce we become hypocritical and Pharisaical.

However there is a fine line to be walked here. You can't go too far in the other direction or you get to a point of "anything goes," which is just as bad if not worse.

I guess my point is, don't take it upon yourself to condemn other churches because of the way they worship. God didn't give us a play-by-play in the NT.

mullinz8 said...

I agree that it’s not our job to take a church or body of believers to task over ever differing POV on BCV but I do also thing at some point, most likely on a personal level, that you do need to be able to discuss those same differing points.

For instance I think there is a lot to be said for teaching the laws of God and the (here comes a dangerous word) fundamentals of Christianity, like say the Ten Commandments. Jesus believed in them, I don’t think we should discount them because of the book they were introduced in. That said, there is a systematic watering down of Christianity today and I think our kids are going to have to bare the fallout of this movement.

We’re pretty open in discussing some of the finer points of our faith and the issues we are dealing with, in the meantime there are a lot of churches that are minimizing what it takes to be faithful. I read an article put out by the Episcopal church that raised the question of Jesus being the only route to Heaven. The leaders of this faith were split on the fact that Jesus could be one of many paths to salvation. Cracked

Mega churches are not teaching the facts of the Bible they are teaching that if you’re an alright person the grace of God will over look your sins and you’ll be welcomed into Heaven with shouts of joy. Not.

Maybe they are antiquated but the parts of the 10 commandments talking about lying, thieving, blaspheming and adultery (lusting with your heart over another person) are there for a reason and maybe that reason is that they are still relevant. It doesn’t matter if they are carved into a stone in a courthouse because they were removed from peoples hearts years ago.

I’m glad that we are actually discussing these issues because we’re concerned how it affects our walk in faith because there are people out there that are more worried about minimizing the constraints of their walk to appear righteous to the masses. I don’t revel in my flaws but I’m constantly becoming more and more aware that I need Gods mercy. I don’t think a guitar or a covered head will determine my salvation but my, and our, awareness of the real truth of scripture will.

tnmommieof2 said... clarify something with me..
Should I grow out my hair? I have always worn it short, and would like to keep it that way...but is it wrong? I know I'm literal, but shouldn't you be?

bigsip said...

I've always wanted to see you with longer hair, but that's beside the point.

The passage deals with knowing your place in God's hierarchy of leadership and maintaining your femininity and men maintaining their masculinity.

You seem feminine to me. Just don't get a sex change and you're cool.

Jamison said...

Jules looks great with short hair!
I vote keep it that way!

bigsip said...

I agree, Mullins. Rachel and I were talking about it last night and we both agree that what defines us as Christians is more the understanding that baptism is essential to salvation and a good conscience toward God combined with a Holy life.

As far as music is concerned, I maintain my stand that instruments are divisive and distracting. I also believe they take away attention from a congregational focus on God.

I'm pleased and happy with the coC stance on absolutely no instruments, but I don't condemn others for using them.

I look at musical instruments in worship as a mutation, not an abomination. Mutations in nature cause no advance in a species 99% of the time and the other 1% are a detriment.

Musical instruments do pretty much the same thing.

The detriment comes in where musical instruments distract from, take the place of, or inhibit the worship of God.

Reminds me of a story, if you'll permit me.

A lady we went to church with in Georgia had grown up in a denominational background. She eventually left it and became a member of the church after she married her husband.

On a visit back home, her Mom talked her into going to a worship service with her. The entire "worship service" consisted of a Mariachi Band playing tunes while everyone sat and listened. Unfortunately, there were no accompanying words for edification and every tune was unrecognizable.

At the end of the show, they announced that they would play "Nearer My God to Thee". Elated that the band would finally play something she knew, the woman relaxed only to become angry when they played a rousing rendition of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling".

I'd say that's a bad mutation...

Jamison said...

I'll admit though, in my studies and thoughts, I've come to one conclution...

It is either easier than we think, or harder than we think... to get to Heaven.

Jamison said...

yes... a great example of people using the church of our Lord as an excuse to entertain and perform and bring glory to themselves.

Though, it can happen in any church I assume to some degree.

bigsip said...

I think you came to 2 conclusions...

The Bible does say, ""Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it."

Matt 7:13-14

That's why I'm glad we discuss stuff here. I think we keep each other honest.

I'll see y'all in Heaven.

mullinz8 said...

I feel a lot like Jamison, the fact that other people have instruments is fine me but I like mine without the added accompaniment.

Jules I love your hair and I have always loved long hair but I love you for far more than how you style your hair. If you want short hair cut it, if you want long hair I won’t stop you from growing it out. Sipper wrote out a list of how scripture should be interpreted and all of those that might fall into a societal category should be scrutinized to see if “we” are taking those subjects under a legalistic view or not.

I think the greater truths we have to watch for are those that really affect our personal worship and praise to our God. I don’t think getting wrapped up in antique or modern social norms is going to do much for us.

Are those ancient patterns doing something that is contrary or supportive of the teachings in scripture or are they just there. Maybe the subject of music and other social issues is left out of scripture is because God knew those things were missing the point of loving him. Sort of like not sweating the small stuff. Bruce Lee said it best when he said, “It (martial arts in his context) is like a finger pointing to the stars. If you only focus on the finger, you will miss all that Heavenly glory.” If all we focus on is the smaller aspects of our walk we’re going to miss all the opportunities and beauty of his teachings.

I also think that maybe we should take a more literal reading of scripture in some cases rather than a figurative and rationalistic reading. Maybe God and his messengers mean just what they mean and their context is secondary. I doubt a being who is determined to hold and love us for an eternity based on several ancient texts is going to rely on mans frailty, inconsistency and constantly changing social structures (not to mention language) to relay his message.

I think you hit on something Sipper when you were discussing baptism, good conscience and a Holy life.

bigsip said...

Where'd Di go?

Talk about hit and run posting...

Diana said...

I"m sorry. I didn't get a chance to get on the computer for a few days. All of your answers have been very helpful.

bigsip said...

I was just kidding...

I appreciate you asking excellent questions like this!

Just wondered where you were.