Who is Your Headship? - 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Who is Your Headship?

You see it on the news every day. People have issues with authority and submission to the authority above them. As Christians, we still see it in marriages and within the church. This problem can detract from the public obedience to God’s authority over all of us. 

We are called to be submissive with our hearts, and God established a ‘hierarchy’ of sorts for obedience and roles. All are equal under God, and no one is inferior, but we must be reminded of the role God gives each of us. 

Are you fulfilling the role God has given you within your church, marriage, work, as a parent, or everyday life? 

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

After reading this, do all women need to cover their heads when praying and worshiping? The answer to that is ‘no.’ Paul addresses this issue with the Corinthian church with the intent of demonstrating who has authority over us. In his time, a married woman who uncovered her head meant she was ‘available.’ This was a custom and tradition. One of the most shameful acts was for a woman’s head to be shaved because it was a punishment for adultery. Paul points out that some women may have been enjoying more ‘freedom’ in Christ than was appropriate. 

What Paul is getting to is more of God’s authority over us and the layers associated. Paul says that God the Father has authority over Christ the Son of God. He isn’t saying that Christ is inferior. Christ is part of the Holy Trinity and is equal to God the Father. He is completely submissive to the authority of God the Father while still being equal. Therefore, in our marriages, the husband is the head of the marriage and has authority over the wife. The wife is in no way inferior to the husband, but she submits to the authority God has placed for her husband, just as the husband must submit to Christ’s authority over him. It requires voluntary submission from us. However, being under someone’s authority does not equate to inferiority. God gives man and woman different roles, but they are equal. Nevertheless, a woman must submit to the authority of her husband, just as her husband must submit to the authority of Christ. 

Paul says that if a woman refuses to submit to authority, then she should go ahead and shave her head. If women are going to forsake authority, they might as well ‘shave their heads.’ But the same goes for a man as well. If he is not submitting to the authority of Christ, then he is shaming himself and his wife. If a man only rules by abuse and without love, then he should likely remain single. If a woman is unable to submit to the authority of a man in marriage, then it may be better to remain single. Within the church, he says that the women are under the authority of the pastor and the elders. Women are still equal and valuable within the body of Christ, but we all have different roles to fulfill the glory of God. Just as Christ submits to God the Father, the church's men must also submit to Christ’s guidance and lead the church with love for all in the congregation. Man and woman are on equal plains and necessary for each other, but God provides different levels of authority and submission. This is God’s plan for all of us because all things are from God. 

In today’s world, it is getting more difficult because everything needs to be ‘fair’ and ‘equal.’ God created all of us in His own image. No one is inferior to the other. But everyone today seems to be unwilling to submit to the authority that God established for us. The world forsakes God’s authority; therefore, marriages, churches, and interpersonal relations are failing. We have women who want to be men and men who want to be women. Paul addresses the length of hair with the likely intent to point out that men should not dress and try to appear like women. Long hair in itself is not a sin. 

Just as Christ is not inferior to God the Father, yet He still submits to God’s authority, we too must also be submissive in the roles God places for us. We must live and lead with love. Every culture has different views on what ‘headship’ is, but it all comes down to our hearts being submissive to God and our public obedience to God’s authority and order in the world. 

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