May 28, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.”—1 Corinthians 11:1–6 (NIV)
If you couldn’t already guess after reading today’s Scripture, this passage is fairly controversial in the Christian world. Today, and the next two devotionals after this, will each cover verses that are often debated and misunderstood in the Church. Before we begin, we must remember that everything in Scripture ultimately points us to who God is and who He’s created us to be. With that being said, let’s get started!
Paul introduces the topic of head coverings with instruction and affirmation. He instructs them to imitate him and he imitates Christ, and affirms them in their attempts at doing so already by holding to traditions in worship. An important thing to note; however, is that the Corinthian Church held a wide variety of people. In a city with lots of commerce and trade, the result was many pagan religious influences and sexual corruption and confusion. People from these ways of life were coming to faith and believing in Jesus, which meant there was still a lot of normalized sin and societal bondage to be broken! Paul does this by providing clarity on how men and women should view and maintain their identity and relationships in their worship of God. Let’s take a closer look!
Identity here means gender identity. In that day and time, a woman’s long hair reflected her femininity and a man’s short hair reflected his masculinity. After Paul talks about head coverings, he calls out an extreme practice of women in their society who would deny her sexuality by shaving her head. Part of this issue in worship is that men and women are not recognizing that worship is about a lifestyle and not solely about prayer or singing. Men would worship with head coverings and women would not, which displayed they had hearts set against God. This is why todays verses hold so much more weight than simply a debate on head coverings. Paul is talking about obedience and submission to God’s design.
In this specific time and setting, head coverings in worship were a norm we don’t necessarily have today. Within the Christian Church, women would wear it to honor God and her husband. It represented submission to God’s authority and the authority of their spouses as given to them by God, yet even unmarried women would wear head coverings as a symbol of respect for their fathers. This is because, as our Creator and heavenly Father, God established that man would be in a role of authority in his relationship with woman, yet in this role he would imitate Christ in the way he loves, protects, and provides for the woman.
Whenever we study Scripture, there are eternal truths that can always be applied. Those truths from today include the honoring and respecting of God’s design for relationships and sexuality and the importance of worshiping from a surrendered heart. In our society, head coverings may not be used and length of hair may not be a huge indicator of sexuality, yet there’s still an underlying truth here. The way we behave physically, how we present and dress ourselves, should be rooted in our desire to be obedient and submissive to God’s authority and design for our lives. The way we worship matters because worship is about how we live and act both inside and outside of the church building!
Pause: Have you considered that the way you act, the way you interact with others relationally, the way you dress, and other external factors are all included in your worship to God? Consider today if there’s an area of your life where you’re living for yourself instead of truly worshiping God?
Practice: This passage ultimately prompts us to question whether we’re trusting God with His commands and design for our lives. Take a moment to contemplate God’s glory and goodness. Remind yourself of why He is worthy of our trust and worship—and sing that to Him!
Pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for being worthy of my surrender and obedience! You have rescued me from the chains of sin and death. This world is full of brokenness and darkness that can get confusing at times. I don’t want to get confused because You are the light of the world and Your truth is what sets me free! I want to worship You with every area of my life, so help me work on the areas that are less easily surrendered. I want to truly give You the glory and honor You deserve. I love and trust You Jesus! Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.