Sunday, April 23, 2017

Headship in the Church - 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

Suggested Scripture Reading 1 Corinthians 11:1-16

As was stated in the introductory article to this series there are seven mentions of the truth of 'Headship" in the New Testament - 1 in 1st Corinthians, 3 in Ephesians and 3 in Colossians. We are going to look at each mention in that order.

Christ and Headship defined – 1 Corinthians 11:3

The teaching about Christ as ‘Head’ is first brought to the attention of believers in Paul’s First letter to the Corinthians. The term 'Headship' describes an orderly structure that God has designed for the good of home life and church life. It should be the norm in all of society but sadly it isn’t – thus society is often in chaos and disarray. The reason - 'Headship' was lost at ‘the fall’, when Adam sinned.

The structure of 'Headship' is as follows; “the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God”. These are not stepping stones to the top or levels of importance but the way that God has arranged things for good order.

Now a little explanation. We live in a society that has dismantled most roles and structures so that we now believe that everyone is the same. The truth is that there are different roles for men and women in society. Men are different from women but neither one nor the other is better or superior. 

Let me illustrate this from the relationship that the Lord Jesus has with God, the Father.  The Lord Jesus Christ is never described as being inferior to God, the Father. He is the Son of the Living God and is described by Isaiah as the “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6. The Gospel writer, Luke, records that Jesus would be called “the Son of the Highest,” Luke 1:32. In fact all references in the scriptures state or infer that the Lord Jesus Christ is equal with the eternal God. Therefore the fact that 1 Corinthians 11 states that “the head of Christ is God” cannot infer that Christ is inferior to God.  

So, it follows that man being the head of the women is not one of superiority or inferiority but it is part of the structure and order that God has put in place for the good of mankind and for the fulfilment of the purposes of God.

Some people debate that the practice of head covering (for women) or uncovering (for men), which is the symbol of headship, should not only be practised when the church gathers but also in times of private prayer. While I respect this view I feel that as Paul is addressing a local church in the Corinthian letter that this is where head covering should be practiced. Paul stresses in verse 16 that it was normal practice for men to uncover their head in church gatherings (and for women to cover their heads).  

This truth often causes people to get hot under the collar. When the passage was first written people did not want to accept it. Therefore, Paul deals with any opposition by stating “if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God”.

The world has tried to undermine this truth in every way possible. Equality of the sexes has been promoted on the basis that anything else makes the female inferior, weak and suppressed. The word of God paints a different picture.

It is God's desire that everything is done decently in and in order, 1 Cor. 14:40, and that God is honoured when Christians gather. The practice of 'Headship' is one way that this is done.


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