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1 Corinthians 11 - Bad Hair Day

Does it really matter how your hair looks when you come to church?

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1 Corinthians 11 Summary

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.

Dig Deeper

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.

Conversely, the important instructions about how to properly partake in the Lord's Supper are universal and must be followed exactly as written.

AAA Prayer:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God, the Father of all, created mankind in His image, male & female (Genesis 1:27)

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the invitation He gives you to the table, and pray that He guides your preparation for the next celebration on August 14.




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