Headship, the Trinity, and Headcoverings, Part 2 (1 Corinthians Sermon 37)
October 13, 2019 | Andrew Davis
1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Gender & Sexual Identity
Please turn in your Bibles now to the text that you just heard Nathan read, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Now we're in the middle of a section in which Paul is addressing a variety of problems with public worship and the next sermon that I'm going to preach next week is going to be on the Lord supper, which we're going to actually celebrate today. And then after that comes, three chapters on spiritual gifts. And as I've been preparing those sermons. I've been just drawn in by the delightful ordering of the body, the physical body, and how Paul uses that as analogy for spiritual gifts, and how it says in 1 Corinthians 12, how God has arranged the parts of the body each of them, just as He wanted it to be. And how beautiful that is and how we should delight in what God has made us to be in terms of spiritual gifts and we should not think of ourselves inferior to another if we don't have that gift. We shouldn't say, "Well, because I'm not this or that I'm not a part of the body." Neither should others feel superior, because they have maybe upfront, or show your gifts that they would have any sense that I don't need you. The hand can't say to the foot, I don't need you but that God has in a beautiful, and marvelous way arranged each part of the body just as He wanted it to be.
Now I don't want to steal the thunder of those terms. I'm excited to preach those as the time comes. But I want to just take that idea and bring it over to the issue in front of us today, that we began last week. And that is the issue of the proper roles of men and women in the life of the church. And that we should have that same sense of delight and a welcoming of what God has done, how God has arranged the body just as He wanted it to be. And that we should have a sense of humility, and a sense of wonder and delight in the roles of men and women in the life of the church. And we really need this, don't we?
We are a gender confused, culture. And friends it's getting worse. I was reading how in one public school system, in another state, how at the elementary school level the teachers were strongly dissuaded even forbidden from saying boys and girls, dividing the class into boys and... I grew up with that, boys and girls. But instead, divide them up into whether you like summer or winter better, or whether purple is your favorite color, or such and such. And so any divisions you would make would not be along gender lines. And we've seen lots of evidence of this in our culture. How confused we are in gender. Friends, God is not confused about male and female He's never been, never will be. And we Christians should not be either. We should delight in men and women as such. Now, as we come to the second week to this, last week, I deferred all of the heavy lifting to this week. So we've got a lot of verses to go through and explain that you just heard Nathan read. There may have been, may have been possibly some questions that popped into your mind as you heard those verses read. There have been questions that have popped into my mind even as I heard those verses read. But I alone among all of you have to get up here and talk about it. So pray for me, as I've already prayed for myself, that I do not say anything, amiss or something that would be hindering to the body of Christ.
I. The Timeless Principle: Headship (Last Week)
Let me just lay my cards on the table as I did last week. I think that this passage teaches a timeless trans-cultural principle of male leadership in the church, in the home, that's worked out in different cultures in different ways. And that the head coverings issue was one of those cultural ways. And that hair length and head coverings is not the timeless trans-cultural principle Paul's getting at, but male leadership is.
Now, as I talked to the guys this morning, we were praying together for the service I said, "I think logically, I think there's three ways we can deal with this passage and only three." This is what I do, I'm an engineer, I think in these kinds of ways. Alright, so we got this logical, you got three choices here. Choice number one, Paul was wrong. And we don't have to do anything he says, anything he wrote. He lived 2000 years ago, he was a this, he was a that he was a sexist, he was a whatever. We don't have to do anything. That's what the world, the unbelieving world does with this text. Set it aside, it's not relevant for us today.
Option number two, let's say, in my ordering, would be the one I gave you. That there's a trans-cultural principle of male leadership in the church that's worked out in different settings, in different ways. That would include women that do believe that they should wear physical head coverings, as many of our sisters do around the world, but most do not. And so, there's going to be cultural out-workings. And there was some culture outworkings there in Corinth, but that's not what he's saying is normative around the world.
Or option number three, that actually Paul is making that normative around the world, and he really does want women to wear literal physical head coverings in every setting. Those are your three options.
And so, as I've worked it through, I feel that the second is the best way to approach this text. The first one is devastating. At that point it just swallows the whole Bible alive. Because once you admit of a certain error, possibility of a human perspective that's wrong, then you've got that 1% of the Bible is not inspired 99% inspired. You'll find that 1% grows up like a boa constrictor to swallow the entire Bible. Wherever the Bible crosses you, wherever the Bible challenges you, wherever the Bible comes at you in a way you don't like, it might be part of that 1%, and you start finding it moving quickly to 2% and then 5% and practically wherever you have difficulty you can use that argument. Probably, this is not the word of God. Instead for me, I have been, all my Christian life, in awe of the Bible. I have been overwhelmed by its consistency, its unity, its beauty, its perfection. And just because I do honestly have trouble understanding all the details of this text, does not mean I desire to throw the whole thing out. Instead, I just want to say, "Lord, when I get to heaven, I'll... " I don't think the first thing I'm going to talk to Paul about is head coverings and hair length, but who knows at some point maybe it'll come up in our heavenly conversation. So let's go ahead and look by way of review, where we've been last week, and then let's go as best as we can through the details.
So Paul is addressing public worship, he's addressing various issues in the life of the church. He's gotten to this issue of male and female roles in the life of the church, and in corporate worship. He begins in Verse 2 by commending the Corinthians for remembering him in everything, meaning remembering his authority as an apostle. Not just said, "I'm so glad you have pleasant memories of me," But who he was. He was the church planner, he was their father in the faith. And not only that, for remembering everything, he passed on to them, from God. So the idea is that Paul was speaking not the words of men but as it actually is the word of God, as he says in Thessalonians. So he praises them for being obedient to his teaching. But then he has to address this issue of gender roles in the life of the church, the proper place of women.
Jesus’ Elevation of Women
Now we've talked last time about how Greco-Roman society did not have a high esteem of women and it really was Christianity and specifically Jesus Christ in the way He addressed women, the way He dealt with women, the way He elevated women, the way He embraced, that they would sit under His teaching as a disciple would and drinking in as Mary did while Martha was preparing the dinner. And Jesus said that she has chosen the better portion and it will not be taken from her. So that women should drink in doctrine and the way He zealously went after the Samaritan woman at the well, and yearned to save her and bring her to salvation. How God then used her to bring that whole village to come and talk to Christ. He elevated the role of women. Equally created in the image of God, equally redeemed by the blood of Christ, equally adopted into the family of God as sons and daughters of the living God, equally heirs of heaven, the same heavenly reward, equally gifted by the Spirit. Equally indwelt by the Spirit of adoption, equally, gifted by the Spirit, all of these things.
However, it seems that some of the women might have been going too far. There were nascent forms of feminism, even in the first century, that can be shown in Greco-Roman society. And it seems that while women were equal in all these other things, there still was the need for establishing male leadership in the church and in the home. And so that's what he's addressing here. And so he doesn't want there to be disorder, he doesn't want outsiders coming in, as we'll see in the teaching on prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14. He doesn't want outsiders coming in and seeing mayhem, speaking in tongues and no one's interpreting, and so, how that looks. So he wants everything to be done decently in good order. And there's a biblical, an ordering from God. And so for us, this is a matter of godly order, it is absolutely not a matter of intrinsic worth or value.
It's never been that way. And even though that's what opponents would slanderously charge the church for teaching this, that you're teaching that men are inherently worth more, intrinsically better or more valuable. That is absolutely not the case and we said that last week, but I'll say it more in a moment. But as you look at it, just elders within the church, leaders within the church are not intrinsically worth more than non-elders. Like most of the men in the church will never be elders, but the elders are not intrinsically worth more or more valuable than those that are not elders. This is just a matter of role within the life of the church.
Same thing with parents and children. God is in no way saying that parents are intrinsically worth more than their children because He commands the children, to obey them in the Lord. And the same thing in the husband-wife relationship. Paul is in no way saying because the husband is the head of the wife and the wife should submit as the church submits to Christ (as Ephesians 5 teaches), that that husbands are intrinsically worth more in God's sight than women. Our modern day egalitarianism and feminism and concerns about authority, and power, that Ben was praying about very well, appreciate that prayer. That the struggles we have with that and also the tyranny that people have used of abusing authority, and equal rights of focus that we have very much in our time, makes it very hard to see this timeless trans-cultural principle well. Tends to fight it, tends to resist it, and to question it.
The Principle Restated
So look again at Verse 3, the principle restated. "I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ and the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God." And so we saw last week that the word head means authority, one authority over, not source here. The context here would imply authority. And so, when it says, the head of every man is Christ, that establishes the very thing he said openly in the great commission, in Matthew 28. "All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me…" Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, He is the ruler of all human beings. And specifically in the context here, all men. And so it's best not to see this as the ESV does within marriage, the head of every wife is her husband etcetera. Because that twists the grammar a bit you have to put a possessive in there, which isn't there in the Greek. And plus Paul here is not directly talking about marriage, I think he's talking about bigger than marriages within the life of the church. And so he's including marriage, but also male leadership in the church, the elders and the teachers and the leaders in the church should be men and not women. And so that works out in terms of practical roles, as he says very clearly in 1 Timothy 2:12-13 says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent for Adam was formed first then Eve."
So he's saying the elders, the teachers, the preachers, the leaders in the church, publicly, should be men. Paul is saying, therefore that a person's gender actually does matter when it comes to roles played in the church and in the home. God has ordained male leadership in the home first and in the church second, and that that principle is timeless and in all cultures, and it originates from creation. And there are aspects of it that we see in the Trinity, because it says the head of Christ is God. This is the final step of Paul's principle here, Jesus Christ, though completely equal with the Father, He is in very nature God, in His essence, God, He willingly subordinated Himself to the Father, and functionally. He obeyed His Father every moment of His physical life, on Earth, no doubt about that, He didn't even speak a word unless the Father commanded Him to speak it. He came down from Heaven, He said not to do His own will, but to do the will of God. And He obeyed Him, even to the point of death, on a cross. And so clearly in His life, right to death on the cross and in His resurrection, He obeyed His father. But there are indications that He was obeying His Father before He entered the world. Because He knew very well, He entered the world, He knew what He was doing and He was doing it in submission to the eternal command of the Father. And so for all eternity, from eternity past until He was incarnate, He knew He would submit to the Father.
And then the verb tense here is not past, not the head of Christ was God when He was on Earth, but is God, and He is up in heaven now. And so, though some pushback and concerned with eternal subordination within the Trinity, I understand the concerns, yet we are saying and asserting that Jesus is in every way, equal to the Father in terms of His deity. But there's a functional subordination and that's essential to the argument here. There is no inferiority between Jesus and the Father. None at all. But He is in very nature, God. And so there's nothing demeaning. So that's the timeless principle. Male leadership in the church, and the home.
II. The Principle Applied to Headcoverings (vs. 4-6)
But now we have to see and walk through in detail how he applies it and it has to do with this issue of head coverings and his discussion of hair. So, let's look at verses 4-6, "Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, dishonors her head. It is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head she should have her hair cut off. And if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head."
Focus: the Public Display of the Timeless Principle
So the focus here I think is the public display, of the trans-cultural timeless principle. How does it appear, how does it get shown in life? Paul wants this order clearly on display in their public worship and in their home. So if an outsider walks in, he wants it to be clear that men are leading the church. And that women are in glad submission to this God ordained structure. Now, the question we have to ask here is, what is the adornment that Paul has in mind. What's he talking about? And in this there's a lot of discussion. I think there are two basic possibilities. First is some kind of physical head covering, some kind of cloth of some sort, a prayer shawl. You could picture it like a shawl. Or he's objecting to hair, a specific hair style among the women that some of the women it seems were wearing their hair down, when the normal culturally accepted standard would be for her to tie it up in a knot or a bun and put it on top of her head. And so what he wants is for women to do that, those are the two possibilities for what he's talking about here.
However, even though there are certain arguments for it being just hair that we're just talking about hair style and putting hair up on the top of the head, I think he's talking about an actual cloth, a shawl of some sort. He says that he wants the men to pray with their heads uncovered. But if Paul, were talking about hair, that would require complete baldness, on the part of all you men. And some of you guys are really surprisingly, in love with your hair, I've found. It's quite remarkable. So you would not want your hair all shaved off. So that doesn't really fit. It seems like he's talking about some additional thing beyond the hair. Alright, one of the points about a woman is that if a woman wore her hair long it should be suspected of being a prostitute. And so he's saying if you have your hair down, there's a certain shamefulness to that. And so have the hair up. But even despite that, I think he's talking about some kind of cloth. Also in these verses, it seems like he's talking about something additional to put on, the covering, the word covering in verse 6 and 7, and verse 13 implies something other than hair.
Well, either way, no matter what he's talking about, he's arguing for women to adorn themselves in Corinth in a certain way that lines up with the timeless principle, we just gave in Verse 3. He wants them to dress like that or carry themselves like that. So you can see male headship, male leadership and then women submission, in submission. The principle is timeless, but the specific outworking in each culture is going to be different. In every culture in the world, there are certain customs having to do with appearance, of men and women. That includes hair style, that includes cosmetics, jewelry, all kinds of things that mark men out differently than women. And so the principle here is that men should clearly be men and leading the church and women should be clearly women and in submission to Godly leadership.
The Timeless Principle Applied to Men
Alright, then he takes that principle, and applies it to the men. Verse 4, "Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered, dishonors his head." So for a man to pray or prophesy with, let's say a prayer shawl, if he were to have a shawl on while he's praying, it would be disgraceful. Paul specifically said he would disgrace his head by wearing a prayer shawl like a woman. What does that mean that he dishonors his head? Well, it could be he's just dishonoring himself. Like your blood be on your own heads, you're dishonoring yourself if you act like a woman, that's possible. Or it could be referring to his head, being Christ. That he's dishonoring Jesus. And that relationship between Christ and him as head. Either way, he is dishonoring his head.
The Timeless Principle Applied to Women
Then he applies it to women. Look at verse 5 and 6, "Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, dishonors her head, it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head she should have her hair cut off, and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head."
So there's this discussion here about both the covering which I think is a piece of cloth and the hair and that's where things get confusing, but I think to some degree he's saying if you're not going to wear a prayer shawl you should go the whole way and have your hair cut off entirely and you wouldn't do that. So therefore, I'm arguing that you also have the head covering or the shawl. And again, he's saying that if she doesn't follow this principle she is dishonoring her head. Again, the same type of thing, either she's bringing dishonor to herself or she's dishonoring the relationship she should have to godly male leadership in the church. Either way, it is a dishonoring thing, and she should not do it. So it would be just as dishonorable as if she had shaved her head which would be for her I think in that culture and even more vigorous step toward masculinity. She's taking a strong step saying, "I am clearly identifying as a man at that point," if she had her hair entirely shaved off.
III. The Timeless Principle Rooted in Glory (vs. 7-10)
Alright, now the next thing he does is He roots this principle in glory Verses 7 through 10. "A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head." So he begins by saying, a man is the image and glory of God, he expands his reason here for the issue of image and glory. He is in no way saying here that man and not woman is the image and glory of God. That is clearly not true. Paul knew very well that God created man in His image, and the image of God, He created him, male and female, He created them. And so both male and female are clearly in the image of God. Genesis 1:27. Furthermore, Christ in eternity when redemption is done will make both the man and the woman every bit as radiant and glorious shining like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. So they're going to shine, both of them, in eternal glory in heaven. Paul knows that better than anyone else. So then, what does this mean?
Well, I think man is the image and glory of God, means that both male and female, but he's zeroing in on men here in particular. Both male and female are the greatest display of the glory of God made in physical creation. It's the crowning achievement of God's physical creation. The greatest thing that came out of God creating in the physical universe was man. It's His crowning achievement, it's His masterpiece. And so again, we're not saying that God is not glorified by a soaring eagle, or a powerful bear or a swimming dolphin. All of those things bring a kind of glory to God and He is glorified in all of those, but the greatest glory is in humanity in man, both male and female. The crowning achievement, the greatest thing that ever came out of the mouth of God in the physical world, I think that's what he means here.
Therefore take that same idea to woman is the glory of man. What is the greatest thing that ever physically came out of a man, not any of his works, but woman. I think that's what he's saying. The crowning achievement of man, when he talk about something that came out of a man is a woman. Now, of course, we're talking about that unique moment never to be repeated again in redemptive history in which the first woman came out of a part of the body of the first man. So you remember how it went back in Genesis 2:18, God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone." So there was a time that Adam was alone. And that's very important in this whole argument that the man was formed first and there was a time he was alone that there was no woman.
But God said it is not good for the man, I think we could think of it as, to remain alone. We need a woman. That was always part of the plan. And so He said, "I will make a helper suitable for him," Genesis 2:18. Then he brings all these animals to the man to see what he would name him but no helper suitable was found among the animals. So Genesis 2:21-23, it says, "So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed the place with flesh, then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man and brought her to the man, the man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman for she was taken out of man.'" So that's the idea, the most glorious thing that ever came out of a man is woman.
Now, that moment we know is never repeated again. It's utterly unique in redemptive history, but it is significant and it's written down in Genesis Chapter 2. So we would know that it happened. Frankly, if we didn't have Genesis 2, we would assume just from Genesis 1 that man and woman were created, that the man and woman were created exactly at the same time which God could have done but God in His wisdom chose to have a period of time in which the man was alone. So Paul re-states the principle here: A man ought not to cover his head because as he exercises authority in the home and in the church he is acting in the pattern established when God made Adam first and then Eve for a time. And He gave him the responsibility of naming the animals and gave him the responsibility of naming her. He actually names her twice before the fall and after the fall, he names her woman, before the fall and he names her Eve, because she would become the mother of all living after the fall.
A male Leadership then is established by this creation order, therefore a man should not adorn himself like a woman when he prays. That's the logic here, because of the ordering that he says. In like manner, a woman should accept her submissive role as God establishing creation by covering her head. This harkens back to the created order and delighting in her existence as the glory of man, the most glorious thing that ever came out of man.
The Timeless Significance of the Original Pattern
Now in verse 8 and 9, we see the timeless significance of this original pattern, "For man did not come from woman but woman from man." Verse 9, "Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." So the original order matters. It matters that Adam was alone for a while and then Eve came. It establishes the reason why men should lead in the home and in the church as Paul goes to, quoting 1 Timothy 2:11, "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent." Why, Paul? "For Adam was formed first then Eve." And so, that creation order matters to Paul, therefore, to God. And so we see it that way, that ordering that time in which Adam was alone, and then Eve.
But Paul goes beyond that to remind us of the statement of to some degree in relation to the man, the woman's job description in Genesis 2:18, "I will make a helper suitable for him." A helper suitable for him. So the word helper is well connected with Paul's concept here. "Man, was not created for a woman," Paul says, "But woman for man." Helper is behind that language. I'm here for you, means I'm here to help you. Imagine and I do this analogy in premarital counseling, but imagine, let's say my wife were making a big meal for an event and she is working hard, and I come in and I say, "How are you doing?" "I'm fine. Alright." I say to her, "Do you need some help?" And she says, "Yes I would love some help." And I say, "Great." And while she's not looking, I take a bunch of spices and dump it into the pot where she's been working for the last 45 minutes. Friends, that is a bad idea. That is not helpful. Instead I should say, "What do you need me to do?"
So there's a sense of a leadership in that task and then a helper that comes to say, "How can I enable that task to go on? How can I be lubricant in that to get it to happen?" So here's how it applies to men and women. Let's take a young unmarried man who is interested in being married and a young woman who is interested in him. He should have a mission in life. He should have, somewhere he's going and I don't just mean a vocation or a good job that'll pay. I mean as a Christian. He should know what God wants him to do in this world. He should understand what his spiritual gifts are, and his calling along the line and have a mission in his life and then she has to decide whether she wants to be a helper suitable for that mission. That goes back to the original statement in Genesis 2:18, and I think he explained somewhat of this statement for man was not made for woman, but woman for man.
What that means, then, is that the role of leadership in the mission of the church and in the mission of the family falls to the men, to the man in the family. And that the woman her delight would be to help that mission come about. Now, this does not mean that a single woman, a woman like Paul talks about in 1 Corinthian 7 called to singleness, should not have for herself a mission in life, she should. She should have a way she's using her gifts. You could go back and look at 1 Corinthian 7, she says, "I am consecrated to the Lord, and everything I give, I give to the Lord. There are women like that." However even a woman like that will do her ministry in the context of a healthy, we hope a healthy local church in which men are leading. And so there's still the need for even a single woman to submit to male leadership at least in the life of the church.
The Perplexing Mention of Angels
Then Paul interestingly mentions angels. I thought to myself this morning, "How in the world am I getting through all these verses?" And you all are waiting for this moment. What do the angels have to do with anything? Well, I'm going to do my best to tell you. I don't know for sure this is what Paul means, and because of the angels, but I'll give it a shot. Look at verse 10, "For this reason and because of the angels, the woman ought to have authority on her head or a sign of authority on her head." Alright, so what do angels have to do with it? Angels, we're told in Hebrews chapter 1, verse 14, are ministering servants or spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation. So they are out and about friends. I don't need to freak you out but they're here. They're here in corporate worship, they're invisible servants, they're here to serve God's people and minister to them as they are going to inherit salvation.
Secondly, there's clear biblical evidence that angels are active even in worship. That they're active even in the advancing of the Gospel. It was angels that mediated the Word of God to prophets in the Old Testament, and to the apostles, in the New Testament for example, in the Book of Revelation, Revelation 1:1, was given to John by an angel. And so angels deliver the Word of God.
Furthermore, it seems that angels deliver prayers up to God. In Revelation 8: 4, it talks about an angel that gives up the smoke of incense together with the prayers of the saints. So, angels are active when it comes to worship. Beyond this angels are perfectly submissive to God-ordained authority, they're very submissive beings. They, when Jesus says, "May your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." He's talking at least about Angelic obedience, they perfectly obey and there's structure within the angels. We have a glimpse of this with the word Archangel. An Archangel's literally a ruler angel. So it means other angels who are not archangels submit to their authority as they submit to the authority of God. And so angels are very submissive beings.
It's remarkable that even the Archangel Michael didn't dispute with Satan over the body of Moses. He respected Satan's authority at some level. It's a mysterious passage. But it's there in Jude. He has a respect for authority, he just said, "The Lord rebuke you," and buried Moses. It's very interesting there, but these false teachers that second Peter and Jude talks about despise authority, they're arrogant toward authority, but Angels aren't. So they're very submissive to authority, they take it very seriously and here's the kicker, angels seem to evaluate human behavior. They are not our judge, but they do evaluate. And we get that in the book of Revelation, when the angel is pouring out judgement on Earth, and He's saying, "You are right, our Lord for doing this, turning water into blood, for they shed the blood of your servants and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve." Angels are saying that.
So putting it all together, Angels are here, they're watching, they care about authority and they would not delight in a throwing off of God-ordained authority. That's what I get out of "Because of the angels."
IV. The Beautiful Balance (vs. 11-12)
So, verses 11 and 12, we see the beautiful balance that God intends between men and women. "In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born a woman, but everything comes from God." Just a beautiful balancing statement and it's given me the whole just the whole demeanor and attitude that I have about this topic. And that is, it's a delightful thing for a man to be a man, and it's a delightful thing for a woman to be a woman, and we should delight in all of that, God knows what He's doing. And He has created a beautiful interdependence and so I think Paul gives this balancing statement through the Holy Spirit, so that men will not run amok either. He didn't want the women to run amok with their freedom and equality and so he puts an ordering here but he doesn't want the men to act tyrannical and boastful and arrogant toward the women.
And so he's pulling them in, he wants them to work together. We can't do this task alone. Men and women have to work together, and he makes an argument here from origins in verse 12, "As woman came from man," the first woman came from the body of man. But that was a unique one-off, never to be repeated again. From then on Paul says, "Every single man that's ever walked on Earth, got his body from a woman, namely his mother." And so at conception, and birth every man gets his body from a woman. So if you go that beyond that, to just look at the family a godly man who wants to be a father of children and raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, has to have a godly wife to do it. And the two of them come together, there's no way when God says it's not good for the man to be alone, He had already said, part of the plan was, "Be fruitful and multiply." Friends you can't do that alone. And so there's this beautiful interdependence. Beyond that, we have to see the strategic power and importance of the relationship. I think specifically between a mother and a growing child. I think categorically, there is no more influential person on planet Earth than a Christian mother who raises their children in the Gospel.
It is the most significant influence because she is teaching her sons and daughters, not only the so-called, mother tongue but she's teaching them the Gospel from an early age. And I think we'll find in heaven just the staggering number of elect people that were brought to faith in Christ in part through the influence of a godly mother. And so there is a beautiful interdependence here between men and women. So, this Biology is clear that we cannot procreate alone neither the man nor the woman can but we need each other in far deeper ways and this, it's hard for me to even put words to it, but let's just put it this way. Men and women are different and they just approach things differently. I've been learning that for 31 years. Well, longer than that, but I am learning we just have different perspectives and both of those perspectives are beneficial and helpful.
Obviously both can be tainted with sin, I know that but there is a woman's perspective that's beneficial and a godly husband should seek to get his godly wife's perspective. There's a woman's instinct about things, and a sense of things. It's not errant but there's a benefit and a value to it, there's just a perspective that godly male leaders in a church should seek input and wisdom from godly women in the church. So there's a beautiful what we call complementarianism, a complementing of men and women working together, and that's what we get out of verse 11 and 12.
Everything Comes from God
Now, verse 12 he says everything comes from God, it is a wonderful thing for a man to be a man, because that's what God wants. And it's a wonderful thing for a woman to be a woman, because that's what God wanted her to be from conception. The man was to be a man and the woman, a woman and God wants this. So all of this comes from God and it's a beautiful thing. It is Satan that is viciously attacking this concept of gender in our culture. It is he who in every generation has fostered the battle of the sexes and has fanned in the flame discontent in the hearts of one or the other and arguing in conflict. That's what Satan does. God produces peace and unity and beauty, in what He has ordered. So everything comes from God.
V. What Nature Teaches (vs. 13-15)
Now verses 13-15, these are some of the hardest verses for me to interpret. And we're just about out of time, here, so I don't know. Maybe we should go ahead and go to the Lord's Supper. No, I'm going to go ahead and do it. I may never have a chance to explain hair length again. Friends, I have never thought so much about hair length in all my life. I mean, I'm a guy, I don't think about hair length. I sometimes need to be reminded to get my hair cut. I don't always think of it. I was thinking in geek terms too, engineering terms, like worldwide, if a person's hair is one foot or longer, what are the odds she is a woman worldwide? It's not a 100%. We know that. Forget it, that's not helpful. Let's just move on.
Verse 13-15, "Judge for yourselves is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 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. For long hair is given to her as a covering." Paul is arguing here, from nature, what nature teaches, that's what makes the verse so difficult. So as I've wondered how does nature teach you about hair length? Ponder that with me. What do you learn from nature about hair length? Hair length is inevitably an individual choice and frequently culturally informed choice for the most part. No, not for the most part. All babies come into the world with remarkably short hair, have you noticed, or no hair. And so at some point, it grows also we are aware of special cases, sometimes medical conditions like cancer and all that caused both men and women entirely to lose their hair, they're no less feminine, and no less masculine. So trying to work through what nature teaches here. The best I can do is to say from Romans Chapter 1, that men who are sexually inflamed toward other men is contrary to nature and women sexually inflamed toward other women is contrary to nature, that aspect has to do with reproduction. Nature teaches us that men and women are different. That's what I learned from nature. Hair length seems to be a personal choice and a cultural choice that at best lines up with those differences and often lines up with those differences.
Now, our gender confused culture is blurring a lot of those distinctions. More and more you can see people out in society that you look at them and you honestly, I'm talking about adults, you honestly don't know if they're male or female. And I think in many cases, it's an intentional choice, it's a look, it's an appearance and it's a blurring and I think that's almost the very thing Paul's getting at here. He wants men to be visibly clearly men and women to be visibly clearly men because nature teaches you that there are differences. That's the best I can make of it. I think with longer hair, I think it is the tendency that those with long hair are women worldwide, generally.
But that doesn't mean that women can't have, and I've had a number of women talk to me about how long hair is hard to care for and it's better to have short hair and all that. Do what you want. Again, I've said this is a timeless principle that gets worked out with personal choice and culture, all over the world. So I'm not saying that there's any mandating of hair length here. This is the very thing that makes the passage difficult, because Paul seems to be very adamant on this point. And again, you go back at that point to one of the three options, you either throw the whole thing out, but then you're challenging all the scripture where you say look this is a personal choice to be making, cultural expectations where Paul is actually making normative statements not just about head coverings but about hair length worldwide.
VI. A Warning Against Contentiousness (vs. 16)
And as we go to the final verse, verse 16, he says, "If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice nor do the churches of God." So, Paul actually says, "You don't get around like I do, oh Corinthians, but let me tell you all over the world, this is what we're doing." And he's going to make the same argument later. Now, here's why, when I look at the three options, I reject the third option because for the most part the church has rejected this third option. If you go, and I've been to local churches all over the world very, very few of the women wear head coverings. And so it seems that God has worked this out providentially that He is not demanding a normative physical head covering for all women in all time but He is ordering men to lead in local churches. So this is the norm worldwide. But he also warns the church about being contentious. So, contentiousness comes up as I said a moment ago from the devil and a desire to fight against it, and to challenge it, and all that, it's not from God. If you have legitimate questions about the text, friends, I do too. At some point if you ask more and more details, I'm going to say, "I don't know." But I do believe that this pattern of male leadership is well established.
So what applications can we take for this as we finish? Well first, as I said last week, what you believe about head coverings, what you believe about hair length will not save your soul. The most important thing I can do every week, is tell lost people how their sins can be forgiven and how they can spend eternity with God in heaven. And so, just to nestle with in what we've been saying sinners like you and me are saved because Jesus submitted to His Father's command, to go to the cross. It's because He came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. He died on the cross so rebels like us and we are all rebels, we all challenge authority, we have a problem with authority, especially God's authority. Jesus submitted to His father, died in our place that we might have eternal life. So come to Christ. Trust in Him, look to Him to save your soul. And cry out to Him, "Say, I have been a rebel, I have been a sinner, I need a savior." And Jesus is that Savior.
Now, if you are a believer, you've come to faith in Christ. Just understand where we're at, understand the attack on gender that's going on in society, and let's resist it. Perhaps no society in Church history has so needed to hear this suddenly controversial teaching on the significance of gender as us. Satan's attack on gender is widespread and pervasive. They actually say now, that if you declare your newborn infants gender at birth, it's a boy, it's a girl that's a form of child abuse. I think it's exciting point of news. I actually knew it before my wife did a split second before she did. In every case, and I was excited to be able to tell obviously, our relatives were first and foremost, concerned about Christy's health and the baby's health. But then there's that question. And I remember standing and looking through the glass of the nursery and seeing all of these bundles of joy and they were marked pink or blue.
You know the cards are pink or blue. I don't know where we're going friends in our weird culture. I really don't. I am... Fear for it. I think transgenderism is a form of mental illness similar to anorexia nervosa. They're very similar in which you have a faulty self-image that in the case of anorexia, will literally kill you, and people know to get around that person and say, "You need to eat, you need good nutrition." They know to say that anorexics. But when it comes to gender dysphoria people are surrounding and encouraging and exhorting and enabling that. No, gender matters. Males are males. Females are females. And we need to just continue to tell our culture the truth. And it's going to take courage to do it. Concerning the head coverings, the desire that we have in this church is to have men clearly lead, for men to preach, for men to be leaders, to be leaders on Sunday mornings. Whether we do every detail exactly the right way I don't know, but I do believe that when an outsider comes in, they should see men in a Godly leadership role. And so we desire that.
Thirdly, embrace masculinity. Delight in it. And embrace femininity. For you as a man, definitely embrace that and raise your boys to be men who'll one day take leadership, perhaps in a home, and in a church, and raise your daughters to be feminine women, and don't shrink back from that but the delight in it, see the delight and the beauty in all of this. And then finally, let's delight in our more significant equality of the genders, as I've listed many times equally in the image of God, equally redeemed by faith in Christ and totally forgiven, equally adopted into the family of God. Equally indwelt by the Holy Spirit, equally gifted by the spirit to do significant works that are indispensable to the life of the church and equally going to Heaven when we die. Close with me in prayer.