Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Post 3: The Controversy: Women, the Veil and Submission of 1 Corinthians 11

  • veil2.jpeg

    Paul considers women wearing veils in the assembly of God, not as a sign of submission to men, but a custom that is null and void in the Church of Christ.


    Fact 1: The Apostle Paul was not a misogynist or prejudiced against women. In fact he was quite the opposite and instead he reproved those who sought to subject the women in Christ to a subservient role within the body of Christ. Some say that Paul, with this letter, is putting women in their place in the following passages below (1 cor. 11); however, as we will see Paul is not putting women in their place, but he is correcting those who are contentious regarding this matter.

    Fact 2: The church of Christ is not meant to be a hierarchy in which the men are representatives of God for the women in the church, nor for their wives at home. A woman's identity is in Christ, and God is their Father, therefore, they have direct access to God, and Christ alone is their mediator. Nor do the women of God need permission from the men of God to exercise their gifts in Christ. God gave gifts to the church, in which these gifts are backed by the authority of God, whether you are a male or a female. These gifts are given for the edification of the church, and no one is authorized to lord it over the body of Christ, to decide for God who will be allowed to exercise their gifts, and who will or will not be allowed to exercise their gifts, as long as all things are done decently and in order. "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:3). These gifts are given to and for the whole church, and are not segregated to and for a specific gender. God is Spirit, and it is His Spirit that is expressed through a person, and that Spirit is neither male nor female. The Word of God spoken is the Word of God, and does not become less effective because of one's gender.

    Fact 3: According to one's culture the word "head" can be understood to mean "authority," or the one in charge, but to apply the same understanding of this word to these biblical passages is out of context to the message given. To do so, is a misinterpretation of the Greek word "kephalē," interpreted as "head," as connoting the right of men to have a superior role over women in the name of God. As we will observe, the meaning of this word is clearly understood as "source, not boss."

    William Ramsay in his book "The Layman's Guide to the New Testament, on page 127, lists the 11th chapter of Corinthians as a reply to questions that the Corinthian church asked Paul in a letter. As we will see, it was logical for Paul to state the complaints written in the letter, and reply to them. In chapter 11, Paul first edifies the church, and are found in the first 2 verses of the chapter, then he leads us into the issues under dispute in this church. These are the complaints of certain members of this church, in verses 3-10.  Paul then responds to these complaints in verses 11-16 of 1 Cor. 11. Let's take a look at what was said, starting with v. 3, where Paul begins to speak about these complaints.

    1Co 11:3: But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of [note: head of and not head over] the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

    The word "head" is speaking about "origins" since the following verses 7-9 declare the reasons for insisting that a woman wear a veil in the congregation (cf. Liddell and Scott, Greek-English Lexicon). The complainants base their argument on the premise that a man was created first, and the woman was created from the man and for the man, but not the other way around. The complainants also claim that they are created in the image and glory of God, but in contrast, the woman was created for the glory of man. They (the complainants) have direct access to God; however, a woman has access to God only under their authority.

    Below are verses 4-7 and as we will see they further expound the issue at hand:

    1Co 11:4-7: Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head; for it is one and the same thing as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not veiled, let her also be shorn: but if it is a shame to a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be veiled. For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

    Would Paul contradict the Scriptures? I say, Paul would not contradict the Word of God.

    This leads us to the question, was Eve made in the image of God? The answer is "YES' and is found in the book of Genesis below:

    Gen 1:27:

    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    If Paul is not addressing the issues under dispute in this church, then why would he contradict the Word of God, and emphasize man as being created in the image of God and not the woman?

    We know from the Word of God that both male and female are in the image of God.

    The following verses 8-10 will demonstrate the reasons why the complainants state that a woman is not in the image of God, but was made for man's glory.

    1Co 11:8
    For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man:
    for neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man:

    1Co 11:10 for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

    As we can clearly see the "origins" of male and female, or who came first in the creation process is the emphasis for this complaint, and has nothing to do with the truth of God's Word.

    The Greek word for "authority" is "exousia," meaning "power." The Greek custom for women was to wear a veil in expression of their subjection to men. This differs from the Hebrew custom, in which the Jewish religious leaders wore veils to express their authority with God. Why would Paul institute in the church of Christ the customs of different cultures? My answer, he didn’t, as we will see in the following verse, Paul does not agree with the above complaints. Paul now responds to the aforesaid with the word "nevertheless," or in spite of what has been said.

    1Co 11:11: Nevertheless, neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman, in the Lord.For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God.

    Here Paul is speaking about origins and concludes all things originate with God.

    1Co 11:13 Judge ye in yourselves: is it seemly that a woman pray unto God unveiled?

    Paul then returns the question back to the individuals for their consideration, and does not give an answer. In other words he is saying "figure it out for yourself,"he asks, Is it a lack of decorum for a woman to pray to God unveiled?

    As a matter of fact, Paul now presents the natural state of the man and woman for consideration.

    1Co 11:14: Doth not even nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair, it is a dishonor to him?

    Paul differentiates the natural differences in appearances of the sexes.

    1Co 11:15: But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

    Paul states that instead of a veil, a woman's long hair is her glory, and is her covering, and he makes no implication of the need to wear a veil.

    Most importantly,

    In verse 16, the last verse regarding this complaint, Paul declares that there is no such custom regarding this matter.

    1Co 11:16: But if any man seemeth to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

    Although Paul reasons with the complainants regarding this matter, the end result contradicts the idea that Paul wrote an entire letter of instruction, for women to wear a veil, or shave their head.

    Paul concludes with a contradiction to verses 7-10, that her hair is her natural covering and her glory. The subject is the "custom" of the time which is not a part of the church of Christ, as Paul stated in verse 16.

    In conclusion, it would seem that the idea that a woman was made from a man meant that women in some way needed to show their submission to men, and somehow allotted them an inferior or second class position in humanity and in the Church of Christ. Members of the Corinthian church disputed over the issue of having a women wear a veil in her service to God, and by wearing this veil, her subordination in the kingdom of God is clearly defined. This idea was negated by Paul and not only Paul but the very Word of God.

    more to come . . .

    Vamp said...

    Interesting. . .

    Anonymous said...

    God is neither male or female,He is both!

    Anonymous said...

    A woman is a Helper for the man like the Holy Spirit who never nags or forces or threatens or fights for His rights, but rather He is gentle and soft.

    Magdalene said...

    That is correct. God is neither male nor female, He is Spirit and in Galations we read,

    Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

    God calls upon all Christians male and female to grow in the fruits of the spirit and there is no difference in regard to gender.

    Gal 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

    It was also the Holy Spirit in the words of Christ who said to the unjust Pharisees,

    Mat 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

    By speaking the truth Jesus was in no way acting contrary to the love of God.

    To be humble is to humble yourself first and foremost to the truth of God's Word and to speak that truth not only to the world, but also to your brothers and your sisters in Christ.

    God Bless!

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    zaphenath paaneah said...

    God cannot be both male & female & most emphatically, the scriptures do not teach this. there is a natural order of things & for anything to have both would be against gods principles. He is only ever called Father, not once is he ever referred to as mother! I and my FATHER are one...this model is also true of humanity where it is written of the FATHER of our lord of whom the whole family in heaven & earth is named. In witchcraft & any form of idolatry, the figure that is worshiped is almost always female in nature...especially astoreth, astarte or even mary as is worshipped by the catholic doctrine for that matter.

    zaphenath paaneah said...

    The lord showed me something concerning the statement he made about his creating them male & female in his image, and it relates to the conception of a human embryo. gender is determined at the precise moment of conception. the mother CAN only provide X chromosomes(XX), the father can supply both X & Y because he is an XY chromosome pattern & each sperm produced is either an X or a Y. so, an X from the mother & an X form the father would equate to XX=female or her X & his Y would equate to XY=male. and so, in the man god made, there was both male & female but from god's own mouth, this thing he created was called MAN & in col we read, & scripture can NOT be broken, that HE(jesus) IS THE IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD meaning tht jesus is the manifestation of the 'thing'(cause i dont quite know what to call it) the FATHER(not mother) was talking about in gen 1:27.

    zaphenath paaneah said...

    While i most definitely do not agree with many of the 'revelations' put forward by the honorable member as a doctrinal teaching i do believe that in him there is neither greek nor jew nor black nor yellow(just dont ask me to eat my pets) neither male nor female, which should take care of the womans lib thing as well as the boy's club members(GOLF=Gents Only Ladies Forbidden)...BUT marriage is a christian act & the male is the head of the house! The woman is the 'weaker vessel' & it was the woman thru whom the transgression came. she was deceived just like it says in 1Tim & from her very own mouth in Gen 3:13. In Gen, when the man said she is now flesh of my flesh what was actually happening was contrary to his speech because his flesh was coming undone so to speak. there were now 2 fleshly vessels, but his words were something to the effect of 'we are now one', a truly mind boggling anomaly!! yet we see the fulfillment of this UNITY only between JESUS & the CHURCH which IS HIS BODY!!! gotta go but if i can leave you all with this parting corinthians we see that he(or she) who is joined to the lord is ONE SPIRIT WITH HIM...not "sPIRIT" but "SPIRIT" there is a UNION that takes place at 'rebirth' in which we are all partakers. ask the lord concerning these things & he will shown even you, if you will only listen to this spirit within you(if you indeed have it)!!!

    Magdalene said...


    In response to your 3 comments:

    There is no need to complicate matters because God is Spirit. He is neither male nor female.

    Also, regarding your statement that Eve was deceived - see my response to your other comment on Post #2 "Adam and Eve," in which I address this issue, as well as female worship.

    Second, in reference to your statement about "Father" please note that God many times also uses the feminine to communicate His characteristics. For example, "as a mother comforts her children, so will I comfort you." (Isa. 66:13)

    Third, as Christians we are all made in the image of Christ, and every believer is referred to as "sons of God" whether they are male or female. We are all joint heirs with Christ and one cannot "genderize" the gifts of God nor the Kingdom of God.

    Fourth, in a marriage, the man and the woman become "one." God formed man and woman to be attracted to one another and to have a relationship in every aspect. Physical strengths and weaknesses have nothing to do with intelligence and wisdom, or the ability to spiritually lead in the Church. Both male and female vary in their intelligence and gifts. One cannot prescribe what a person's gifts should be, since they are what they are, and God is no respecter of persons. Paul never said men are to be head of the household because women are weak and deceived. Rather, he reminds the church that women are "joint heirs" and she is to be honored.

    Paul said:

    1Pe 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

    Lastly, both committed sin in the garden of Eden and no one is innocent. Again, see my response to your other comment on Post #2 to understand the reason Paul mentioned Eve's deception. There are other scholarly views on this subject that need to be considered.

    God Bless!