Tag Archives: 1 corinthians

02. Modesty, feminine traditions, headship; honor God without contention

Women are to dress modestly and femininely, act like women, and embrace the unique role of special protection under headship given by God — as by nature weaker than the man.

Dress in a way that honors God, without contention – Lois

Hair and head covering, slacks, pants, trousers, and dresses – Lois’ viewpoint

This Bible study is based on 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, NIV

Is a woman’s hair to be her head covering?

To me, 1 Corinthians 11:15 is the key to the issue of head coverings for women. I see this verse as indicating that a woman’s hair is to be her head covering, not a separate wrap that she would wear over her head. I believe the Scriptures are teaching some general principles here.

Are pants, slacks, or trousers proper attire for women?

When I was a girl in the 1950’s, girls were not allowed to wear slacks to public school. Dresses were considered the appropriate feminine attire for school, business, and church. Slacks or pants were acceptable feminine attire for casual social occasions in the 1950’s.

But in the early 1900’s, trousers were considered “severe bigotry” for a woman. I have a wonderful hardcover book called, “What Can a Woman Do?” that was published in Albany, New York in 1893. A chapter on personal appearance describes appropriate dresses for a woman, and adds this commentary:

“Custom makes laws as irrevocable as those of legislatures, and the time has not yet come, possibly never will, when a girl can snatch her hat from its nail and get out into the open air as quickly as her brother. There must necessarily be certain restrictions of sex, and no amount of reform will change the laws of nature…. The working dress of American ladies to-day is a happy compromise between the despotic fashions of a court and the severe bigotry of a reform costume of the coat and trousers pattern.”

Modesty, feminine traditions, and headship

I believe the Bible teaches that women are to dress modestly and in accordance with femine traditions of their day. Even today it is the Middle Eastern custom for women to wear a cloth covering over their head. For a woman to have appeared in public without a head-covering in the time Paul wrote the letter to the Corinthians would have indicated rebellion to authority.

On the other hand, there are Scriptural principles that cannot be ignored. 1 Corinthians 11:3 begins this commentary on women’s head covering by pointing out that “the head of the woman is the man.”

Later in verse 14-15 the Scripture asks: “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?”

Verse 15 concludes with the answer: “For long hair is given to her as a covering.”

Verse 4 indicates that a covering dishonors the head of a man: Verse 4 says, “Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.”

Yet the Bible speaks of a special and binding Nazarite vow of commitment that a mother sometimes made for her unborn infant, or a man could make for himself. This vow included letting his hair grow long (Numbers 6:5). Sampson, Samuel, and possibly John the Baptist were among those who were set apart by a Nazarite vow.

A woman should look and dress like a woman

I believe Paul is teaching in 1 Corinthians 11 that a man should look and dress like a man and a woman should look and dress like a woman. For some women long hair is not difficult to manage and they enjoy this especially feminine touch. For others of us, long hair is very cumbersome, unbecoming, and time-consuming to manage. As such, it can become burdensome and a deterrant to the ministry God has for us to do.

If the Apostle Paul, or Jesus, were walking among us today, I believe they would instruct women to chose a feminine hairstyle and advise men to select a masculine hairstyle.

If they were speaking with women in the Middle Eastern countries where a cloth head covering is still worn today to symbolize woman’s submission, I belive they would instruct women to wear a head covering to show their lack of rebellion to authority.

In our American society where women have embraced women’s liberation and have attempted to be like men, I believe they would advise women to dress modestly and feminely, to act like women, and to embrace the unique role of special protection that God has given her since she is by nature weaker than the man (1 Peter 3:7).

Dress in a way that honors God, without contention

Paul concludes his instructions by saying in 1 Corinthians 11:16, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (I believe the KJV expresses this verse a bit more clearly and I have quoted it here.)

Commentators differ in their interpretation of this passage. I tend to agree with those who believe that “no such custom” in this verse is not referring to “no such custom” of being contentious, but rather to “no such custom” of head covering in the doctrine of the churches of that day.

I believe this Scripture is teaching that we should not defy social traditions in a way that would bring reproach on the name of Christ, thus in a society where it is a reproach for women to go unveiled, she should be veiled.

I think this is teaching us that we are not to be contentious on the issue of head covering. Some women will wear a head covering for the glory of God. Some will dress modestly in accordance with accepted feminine attire of their day for the glory of God. Since either way we serve with a pure motive of honoring Christ, let us not be contentious among ourselves regarding this issue.

–Lois

Next: Reader comment from Jo

This 2-part Bible Study was written by Tina and Lois in 2000-2001. Comment by Jo was received 2004.

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

01. Hair or head covering, breeches, robes and dresses?

Hair or head covering, breeches, robes, dresses? Greek ‘katakalupto’ = ‘hanging down, completely covers;’ ‘peribolaion’ = ‘cast on or thrown around like a coat.’

“I choose head covering and dresses” – Tina

Hair or head covering, breeches, robes and dresses – Tina’s viewpoint

This Bible study is based on 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, KJV

Is hair the covering?

During a Bible study I stumbled across these Scriptures. I had never read these Scriptures before and I had to find out what was meant by …“if a woman prays with her head uncovered she dishonors her head.”

I began by asking my friends what their interpretations of this Scripture were. I also wrote letters to several popular ministries. “Hair is the covering,” became the consistent reply.

I prayed about this and the more I prayed the less hair is the covering made sense to me. If hair is the covering then why aren’t men shaved bald? I asked myself and others. After all, hair is hair no matter how long it is or who’s head it is on! How can hair be a covering for a woman but not be a covering for a man?

No one could answer these questions with any kind of logic. The unsupported “Hair is the covering” continued to be the response.

When no one I asked to give me logical answers, I decided it was time to turn to the churches who taught about veiling. Men and women are equal in God s eyes, but God is a God of order. That being said this is what I have learned:

“For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered” verse 6.

The word covered in this verse is the word “katakalupto” which means something hanging down which completely covers. The word “also” is a clue that the hair is to be covered.

If hair is the only covering needed, a woman would never be uncovered: Therefore, it would never be necessary for the woman to cut her hair short.

“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering” verse 15.

The word covering here is “peribolaion” which means “something cast on or thrown around like a coat.” This is a completely different word than in verse 6! This would mean that our hair would be removable:-) It seems to mean that the covering in this verse is a covering that can be put on and taken off. Hair can not be taken off and put on (at least not mine:-)).

“But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God” verse 16.

I am often confronted by it was just a custom in Corinth. My usual response is that Paul was probably addressing the fact that it was not the custom to go uncovered simply because he was just telling woman to be covered. Why would he have addressed the issue of covering in verses 3-15 otherwise?

For me this makes much more sense than the typical “Hair is the covering” response. This is why I choose to cover. Each woman has to decide for herself concerning the issue of covering.

Are breeches or pants proper attire for women?

“And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness; from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach: And they shall be upon Aaron, and upon his sons, when they come in unto the tabernacle of the congregation, or when they come near unto the altar to minister in the holy [place]; that they bear not iniquity, and die: [it shall be] a statute for ever unto him and his seed after him” Exodus 28:42-43 KJV

I wear dresses 99% of the time because of the Scripture above. Through the ages, dresses are what women have worn.

During the time that men wore robes as well as the women, the men wore the breeches under their robes. Men would often times tie the robe under the girdles exposing the breeches. The women never did this.

Men, over time, discarded the robes but kept the breeches. The women continued to wear robes but over time changed the styles into what we now call dresses.

–Tina

Next: Lois writes…

Tina came to us about two months after we started our email support group, and she became a leader in the group soon afterward. We appreciate her faithful service a a leader during our early years, 2000-2001. This 2-part Bible Study was written by Tina and Lois during those years.

Scripture taken from King James Version unless otherwise noted

In times like these agape love never fails

A commitment to charity and God’s agape love to reach our mate and marriage. Tearing down walls of protection and becoming vulnerable in service, flexibility, courage, forgiveness.

from 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter.” The Greek word “agape” is translated “love.”

In times like these

I’ve heard that after the wedding bells stop ringing, marriage partners begin to reduce each other to fit their own molds. Ah, but that could never happen to us! Or so I said before we got married.

But now I’m beginning to feel uncomfortably reduced! I thought we knew each other well, but sometimes now I feel I hardly know you at all.

It seems you’re trying to squeeze me into your mold, yet at the same time you’ve smashed all the boundaries which held my cast of an ideal mate.

In times like these, my love can no longer afford to be merely an emotion. In times like these, my love must mature into a ministry, because…

Love is selfish when it swoons, “I love you because of who I am when I am with you.” Love is agape when it declares, “I will serve you regardless of who I am when I am with you.”

There will be times when you will sin against me. During these times I promise to follow the example of our Lord in his relationship with Judas Iscariot. Jesus demonstrated the same love toward Judas that he lavished upon the other apostles. During their three years of companionship, Jesus’ treatment of Judas never gave away the fact that Jesus knew Judas was an impostor (John 13:1-34.)

Forgiveness is not passive.
Forgiveness aggressively makes itself vulnerable.
Forgiveness is turning the other cheek. 70 x 70.

There will be times when we are angry with each other. When I am angry, I promise to abide by this counsel:

Scripture says, “When you are angry, do not sin.”—(Psalm 4:4) Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Don’t give the devil a chance.

Those who have been stealing must never steal again. Instead, they must work. They must do something useful with their own hands. Then they will have something to give to people in need.

Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.

Do not make God’s Holy Spirit sad. He marked you with a seal for the day when God will set you completely free.

Get rid of all hard feelings, anger and rage. Stop all fighting and lying. Put away every form of hatred. 32 Be kind and tender to one another. Forgive each other, just as God forgave you because of what Christ has done.

–Ephesians 4:26-32, New International Readers’ Version (NIRV)

There will be times when I will sin against you. During these times, I promise to say the three hardest words in the English language:

“I am wrong.”

Some of our friends are getting divorced. Others are living together in “emotional divorce.” But our marriage will be different, because…

1. I will honor our wedding vows before God. I promise to abide with you in love until death do us part.

2. I will let nothing you do destroy me, for I will trust in the Lord at all times.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
–Psalm 62:8

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
–Romans 8:28-29

3. No matter what you do, I will not protect myself by building a wall between us; for how can I love you through a wall?

4. No, I will not do those things. You see, my love for you is aggressive enough to serve, if need be. It is flexible enough to adjust, if need be. It is brave enough to hurt, if need be. Whatever you do, my love will forgive, because God’s love has been born in me.

Many marriages have failed, but ours will not fail; because I will saturate our marriage with God’s love — agape love — and…

“Agape never fails.”

Definition of “agape”

The Greek word translated “love” in 1 Corinthians 13 and many other passages of Scripture is “agape.” Theologians tell us the Bible speaks of three types of love. “Eros” is sexual, “phileo” is based on friendship, and “agape is the love God has for us and wants to develop in us toward others. Many have tried to define “agape,” but I believe the greatest definition of “agape” is 1 Corinthians 13.

It’s not a failure till it’s finished.

Update April 16, 2009: I wrote this item several years before my husband and I were separated in 1999. Some would say my marriage failed, but I say it is not a failure till it is finished. It is not finished until we kneel before God’s throne. If I never see the answer here, I fully expect that God will show me that agape didn’t fail when he brings me to his throne room. Don’t ask me how that can be — I do not know. Just meet me at the throne, for the answer is in God’s hand.

The truth is that both of us failed our marriage and each other in many ways. There are no perfect marriages. I was not always as consistent with agape as I longed to be. Had I been, would it have made a difference? Only God knows the answer to that question. But I can tell you that God’s Word says “Agape never fails.” My experience does not change God’s promise.

We all fall short of what God calls us to be at times. My goal is to be what he calls me to be today. My part is to be faithful to the wedding vows that I made to my husband in the presence of my God. It is to be kind to my husband and seek his best interest, whatever the state of our marriage, and to pray for him.

God has never promised me he would restore my marriage. It would take a tremendous miracle to restore our union, but I have no doubt that God is capable of doing that if he so chooses. So I cannot give up on the restoration of my marriage as long as my husband is not married to another.

What God has told me is that the agape we put into our marriage will not fail. It will accomplish whatever God sends it to accomplish. How do I know? “Agape never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

In God’s agape,
Lois

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

Diary of a selfish Christian

Dealing with marriage and social problems, measuring our lives by verses of the great love chapter of the Bible, changing selfishness to God’s love, challenge to serve freely.

Studies from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Lord, recreate me in your love.

It’s just not fair: one brown sock peeking out from under the recliner (and who knows where the other one is?); a brown and beige striped sport shirt crumpled under the stereo; and, slumped over the corner of the dresser, a pair of brown slacks spilling out a ring of keys and thirty-two cents.

“Love is patient…”

Here comes Diane again. Since she and her family moved next door last month, she has appeared at my door at least three times a week to “borrow a cup of sugar,” or “see if you have a recipe for banana pudding.” Once inside she’ll follow me into the kitchen and ramble for two hours about her sister’s wedding, or her gall-bladder surgery (I’ve heard that four times already), or what a great pitcher little Joey is. Maybe I’ll tell her I don’t have any — no sugar, no recipes, no time.

“Love is kind…”

I wish she’d move again. Better still, I wish we could move to Lakeview Estates, like Sidney and Marie. What a house they’ve got. Split level with a sunken bathtub and private boat dock! And here I sit in this grey brick cracker box across from the convenience store.

“Love does not envy…”

Actually, I just don’t have time to visit with Diane. I need to prepare for tonight’s session of the ladies’ Bible class I’m leading. Let’s see…what is the topic? Oh, yes, the Golden Rule, I think. “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also unto them likewise” (Luke 6:31). That will be easy. I’ve done that since childhood. I’ll tell them how just last week I gave ten dollars to the collection for underprivileged children. Some people never stop and think about others’ needs.

“Love…does not boast, it is not proud…”

Like Tom for instance. You’d think a twenty-eight-year old man could pick up after himself. I got even last night though. Tom’s new friend commented that he likes his home to look lived in. “That’s one thing you can say for Tom,” I quipped. “When he comes home, he immediately begins to add that lived-in touch. He doesn’t even know we own a hamper!” Tom looked embarrassed, but it served him right.

“Love…does not dishonor others…”

He never thinks about me. When he decides to go somewhere, he just goes. And I’m stuck here to referee three kids. But he is always here at time to eat. Why doesn’t he ever consider my happiness?

“Love…is not self-seeking…”

Maybe I’ll just tell him what I think of his behavior.

“Love…is not easily angered…”

I think he is selfish, inconsiderate, and immature!

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs….”

I am a better person than he is. At least I’m not selfish!

Love…does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…”

He will never change. And I’m tired of putting up with his selfishness!

“Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…”

I think I’ll just give up.

“Love never fails…”

Never?

God, my love fails. My love demands a return on its investment. My love is conditional.

O Lord, recreate me in your love.

All circumstances and names in this diary are fictional.
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted

04. Rid youself of selfish attitudes: Needed and honored

If our attitudes are wrong at home, they are wrong everywhere. There is only one right answer: Rid yourselves! Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander can destroy a home.

Daughters of Sarah Bible Study session 4 (1 Peter 2:1-8).

We Are Needed

Does this mean we are not to have any role in the decisions of our home? Not at all. We owe it to our husbands to share with him our insights on the issues we face together. But we are not to force these insights upon him. We are to offer them in love with respect for the leadership role that God has given to him. The Bible says, “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (2:1).

Rid yourselves! Rid is an action word. We tend to think of this Scripture as referring to someone else. Or we think it refers to our attitudes toward other people in general. We need to bring this verse home where it hurts. If our attitudes are wrong at home, they are wrong everywhere. This is not multiple choice. There is only one right answer: Rid yourselves!

In your home, toward your husband, is there

  • malice?
  • deceit?
  • hypocrisy?
  • envy?
  • slander?

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (2:1)

A newborn baby craves only one thing — pure milk. When we are born again, we are born to crave God’s pure milk. We feed on it. We are nourished. However as we grow, and develop an appetite for more solid food, we often turn away from God’s wholesome word to the delicasies of the world.

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

We are like a two-year-old whose favorite word is “me.” We stomp our feet if we don’t get our candy bar. We bang our head on the wall when our husbands fail to live according to Godly standards. We sulk and pout when our husbands attempt to lead us against our “better” judgment. What we don’t realize is that our role of submission is just as important, and just as honorable, in the kingdom of God as our husband’s role of leadership.

We Are Honored

Where is a wife to turn when her husband fails to honor her as he should?

“As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame'” (2:4-6).

Are you rejected by others, maybe even your husband? You are chosen by God. Think about it: not just accepted, but chosen! You are “…chosen by God and precious to him.” He uses the same words for you that he uses for his Son when he calls him a “chosen and precious cornerstone…” You are chosen and precious.

By submitting, we are not accepting a role of second class citizens. Some husbands may treat their wife as though they were inferior. But the wife who submits her heart and actions to God is highly honored by God. He himself was rejected by men and he understands the plight of a wife whose husband has rejected his responsibility to care for her in love. The real problem is not our husbands. The problem is our own hearts.

We Are Obedient

“Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,’ and, ‘A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for (2:7-8).

Many women stumble at the command of submission. They fall because they disobey. They miss God’s best.

Let us rid ourself of the selfish attitudes that keep us from God’s best for us. Let us submit to God and experience the security and richness of a life rooted deeply in the Cornerstone of life itself, Jesus Christ our Savior.

Prayer

Lord, help us to rid ourselves of attitudes that hinder us from being obedient to you by respecting the authority you have given our husbands. Thank you that we are “chosen by God and precious to him” as we are built upon the foundation of your Son, “a chosen and precious cornerstone.” Thank you that you promised us that “the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Amen.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What should we do when we do not agree with our husband’s decisions for our home?
  2. How do the attitudes listed above from 1 Peter 2:1 hinder us from being the wives God has called us to be?
  3. How can we rid ourselves of these attitudes?
  4. How would you respond to someone who argued that to submit to our husbands as head of our home is to acknowledge that we are inferior to them?
  5. Explain how our role of submission is just as important and honorable in the kingdom of God as our husband’s role of leadership.

Next

Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted.