Paul’s message to us today concerns a physical expression of spiritual authority. His teachings here fly in the face of our 21st century “liberation” attitude, BUT they still represent God’s desires for us eternally. Let’s see how we can apply Paul’s meaning even if we don’t still display his practices in dress.
The first thing Paul says in today’s reading is a commendation to the church in Corinth. They “maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you” (verse 2b). He has modeled these traditions for and spoken of them to the church when he was with them initially. These were NOT commandments from God on how men and women should dress for all eternity. Instead they were a representation of a spiritual concept that does stand the test of time and comes directly from God.
The “head covering” Paul is addressing was a symbol of authority. When God created man He created man first. He then created woman from man and set him as the head of this couple. Adam was directly answerable to God. Eve had a layer of authority between herself and God; her husband. She was expected to follow God’s commands but her husband was ultimately responsible for her conduct. That is why when she sinned in the garden, the higher burden of responsibility fell on Adam. He was supposed to protect her from going astray. He was the one who hid them from God. He was the one God initially voiced the question of “What’s going on here” to.
When Jesus died for us on the cross He didn’t do away with that headship. He fulfilled the law but the authority structure still remained. We are each responsible for our own sins under this model but a believing spouse can provide some protection for an unbelieving one, and for the children of that union.
Something else I want to not here is that Paul did NOT forbid the woman from praying or prophesying. She enjoyed the same access to God and His Spiritual gifts as the man. She was simply asked to show her respect to her husband while exercising her giftings. Paul does not demand these same “coverings” for the unmarried or widowed woman. They have no husband as their head so Jesus occupies that honored place for them.
Paul also ensures that the men he is addressing don’t think themselves superior to women in all things. He reminds them that although woman was made by God from man, each man was then born of a woman. BOTH are important and have their roles. BOTH have been made uniquely by God.
I wonder what Paul would say about our society today. We have so many different customs from many different cultures. Some still adhere to women wearing head coverings. Here in the United States I see more men wearing hats than women. I think the hat here is more of a covering from the elements instead of a symbol of authority or respect. However, when showing respect, a man will remove his hat to convey honor to another.
My bible helps likens the wearing of wedding rings to head coverings for our society today. I think it is time I got mine resized. I want to show my respect and submission to my husband’s God given authority.
Our liberal society has strayed SO far from this principal. We don’t want anyone to have authority over us. We chafe at any form of “control”, including law enforcement. We see authority as oppressive and submission as weakness. That is NOT how God created them to be.
God’s authority is our protection. While under His authority Satan can’t destroy us. He may come at my body while it resides in his physical domain but my spirit is secure in the hands of my Father. He cares for me and watches over me constantly. There is no better protection available than God’s authority. My husband’s authority is intended to be an extension of that same design. I am to be safe in his arms.
Submission to God’s authority demonstrates love and trust. I trust God to care for me no matter what. I don’t try and wrestle the reins from His hands because I know He has everything in control. (Or at least I pray for His forgiveness when I do try.) I honor His directives because I know they are for my good. And I do it out of love so there is no resentment in me. This is how I am to honor my husband as God intended. In submitting to him I’m recognizing his submission to God. I’m trusting God to lead him in the ways that are best for me too.
Father God, my daily life is so far from typical. Because of illness I have had to take on so many leadership roles. I pray I’m still allowing my husband to fill that role wherever he can. Other than appointments I try and allow him to lead our daily schedule, even when it means we stay home more days than I would like. I will entertain these four walls in an exercise of submission. Please forgive me for the times I wrest the tasks from his hands just because he is moving too slow. Help me honor him with patience. Also keep me mindful of the balance that he needs between independence and assistance. Protect his heart from my impatience or over willingness to offer help.