1 Corinthians 11:2-16

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1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Corbin Randall

The passage of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has caused great division in the church. What is the word “head” suppose to mean in this context?Are women to wear head covers? In what way is the head of man Christ? And why does Paul go into detail on creation? These are all questions that anyone might ask concerning this passage. From a personal examination, I would have to say that I agree with the main point of the complimentary perspective. In the body of Christ, gender differences assign males to a hierarchal authoritative position. That being said, the two sexes have different roles with the body of Christ. [1]So while the male may have the leading position, in no way is he superior in essence. At the same time though, all of the obligations given to women through this passage should be for everybody. Just like women shouldn’t dress in a way which leads men to stumble, men should be mindful of how they dress as well. In this case, I would be taking the Egalitarian position, arguing that this passage is for everyone to be mindful of how they reflect themselves, and their family.

Christians have argued that the word “head” being used in verses 2-16 of 1 Corinthians 11 is used to either mean “authority” or “source”. [2]In viewing the “head” as the source, Gordon D. Fee argues that the Greeks would use the term in a many number of ways. While he admits that the Jewish community would use “head” in reference to a leader, the Greeks would see the word “out of their anatomical understanding of the relationship of the head to the body...” So in other words, Egalitarians believe that Paul understands the head to be the source of all of the body’s abilities.[3]In addition, Richard S. Cervin argues that the word “head” is used to refer to the Tearus River’s sources of water. So this non-biblical passage about the Tearus River gives an example of the word “head” being used to also mean source in Greek literature. [4]On the other side of the spectrum, Wayne Grudem goes through 2,336 Greek works of literature and doesn’t find one example where “head” is used to mean source. The numbers also showed 49 instances in which the word “head” was used to mean “ruler”. Another factor that made this clear in the Bible is that Jesus is under the authority of God the Father. In no way is Jesus inferior in essence, but by humbling himself and taking on the role of man, he lowered himself. So just like Jesus is under the authority of God the Father, women is under the authority of man. Even in John 14:28 Jesus says that God is greater than him. So if God is greater than him, then God has authority over him. Due to this evidence, I feel led to believe that the word “head” in this passage is referring to “authority over” and not “source”.

There are multiple perspectives on the meaning behind Paul’s call to head coverings. First off, Egalitarians believe that Paul wanted women to wear head covering during this time because it was causing problems within their society. [5]In fact, according to Keener, a portion of women that had uncovered heads during this time were dressing like prostitutes. So in this case, the Egalitarian views the scripture literally. In fact, Keener goes on to say that there is no way the head covering could mean that women need to be under authority (p.38). For obvious reasons, the Egalitarian view stresses the women’s “authority over her own head.” In regards to women’s hairstyles, it is dishonorable for women to have shaved hair because that would mean she was unfaithful (p.39). So when Paul goes into detail about the need for women to have long hair, it is merely for cultural reasons. Egalitarians believe that Paul stresses the need for head coverings in order to call believers to “give up personal rights for the sake of honoring our families” (p.36) In other words, this can apply to anyone. Paul uses women for an example, but we should all be willing to sacrifice our image for our...
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