WHY THAT BUT NOT THIS? It's not that surprising to us to read things in the Bible that are no longer politically correct. We are reminded often in God's Word that we are being prepared to be citizens in the Kingdom of God, therefore we will often be in conflict with what the world thinks is right at this particular moment in history. As we go on in Corinthians, we will encounter texts in which Paul prohibits women from having leadership roles in the church. Churches who wish to remain faithful to God's Word continue to abide by those guidelines even though they are immensely unpopular in our society. Yet even conservative churches like ours don't require women to wear hats to church (v5) or frown upon men who have long hair (v14). Are we being inconsistent in our application of God's Word then?
We must remember the genre and context of each different book of the Bible. Remember that epistles like 1st Corinthians are letters that were written to churches in a particular place at a particular time. Most of what's written in these letters is useful and has application for all Christians in all times and places, but some of what's written is only applicable to the original recipients of the letter because it deals with cultural norms particular to their situation. The difficult question to answer is when is Paul addressing just the first century Corinthians, and when is he speaking to all Christians?
One of the ways we answer that question is by looking at how the rest of the Bible addresses these topics. We find lots of support for the general principle of ordered submission like what is written in v3 & 11-12, but there really isn't much else in the Bible about hairstyles. Certainly this is a complex passage that deserves more study, but by using the time honored approach in which we let the Bible interpret the Bible, we can conclude that the instructions for head coverings and hair lengths given here were for the Corinthians, not for the church in general. In our culture women don't need a hat for church, and men can let their hair grow as long as they want.
GETTING SICK & DYING IS A BIG PROBLEM: Paul warns us in v30 that improperly partaking in the Lord's Supper leads to church members becoming "weak and sick," and even dying. As people who are preparing to participate in the Supper, we need to take this warning seriously and closely follow the instructions we've been given:
Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves (v28-29).
We look forward to celebrating the Lord's Supper this coming Sunday at Worthington Christian Reformed Church. We will be preparing for this by following the guide given in the Westminster Larger Catechism, #171:
Those that come to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, are, before they come, to prepare themselves by:
Examining themselves to see that they are in Christ, and remembering that on their own, they are sinful and lacking the holiness God requires;
Examining the truth and measure of their knowledge, faith, repentance;