Lesson 36


Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:11 Nevertheless, neither is the woman independent of the man, nor the man independent of the woman, in the Lord. 11:12 For as woman came from man, so a man also comes through a woman; but all things are from God. 11:13 Judge for yourselves. Is it appropriate that a woman pray to God unveiled? 11:14 Doesn't even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 11:15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering. 11:16 But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither do God's assemblies.


Today's Lesson 

In Today's Scripture Paul continues his discussion of whether a woman should worship unveiled. Paul relies on arguments to traditions, culture and, in today's verses even nature itself. While this issue might seem archaic to those of us that do not come from culture where the veiling of women is still practiced, it is interesting to see how Paul addresses this issue in light of the revelation that God had given him for the churches.

 

In the last lesson Paul emphasized the priority of place that God has given to men. He wrote that woman came from man not man from woman. He stressed that such was the tradition of the churches and the culture that established it. Some have taken such words from Paul and declared that he was a misogynist and believed women to be inferior to men. To be fair, Paul would very likely be declared a misogynist by our standards today. However, these passages do not teach that women are inferior and given the standards of his day Paul was very progressive in his thinking towards women.

 

As in most cases, today's passage balances out the last one. In this passage Paul reminds the Corinthians that man and woman are not separate beings before God. Man was made for woman and woman for man. When a man and woman are joined together in marriage they are one in God's eyes. So it is easy for Paul to say that we are not independent from one another. It was Paul that wrote in Ephesians that in Christ there is no male and female but all were made one.

 

What he wants to do more than anything is to avoid contention over this issue. Thus he appeals to the customs and traditions of the assemblies and he reminds these Corinthians that such are the customs in all the churches. The Corinthians have a problem with contentious people in their midst. Contention can sometimes be a good thing when it stirs up people to examine the truth. In many more cases, however, contentious people stir others up toward their own ends. Contentious people often set themselves up as arbitrators and authorities that are the means of solving the very problems that they instigate.

 

Jesus Christ is described as the prince of peace and where Christ is there is peace. Contention is like a disease to any group of people and the churches of Christ are not immune to that disease. But, like any body, the churches of Christ have a defense mechanism to deal with contention. The best cure for contention is the light of truth. Where people stir up contention, the best means of dealing with it is to shine the light of truth on them.

 

In dealing with customs and tradition in churches, there is bound to be friction that develops between people of opposing views. Where the Spirit of God prevails, these differences of opinion do not have to lead toward contention though. The Spirit of God leads us towards unity with God even to those brothers and sisters in Christ with whom we disagree. We will not always agree with other Christians, but we can be at peace with them despite our differences.

 

Just as man is not independent of woman, Christians are not independent of each other. We are all one in Christ -- even when, or perhaps especially when, we disagree. Christ came to bring peace. He came to reconcile us to one another and reconcile us to God. In Christ there is neither male nor female, slave or free, Gentile or Jew. We are all one, even as God is one.

 

Have you ever been guilty of bringing contention into a group of Christians? What can you do to promote unity and peace with those that you worship with today?

 

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