Today we read two chapters from 1 Corinthians. The first, chapter 10, is pretty straightforward. The second, chapter 11, offers a bit of controversy in today’s culture. We’ll see if we can tackle the controversy without stepping on too many toes.
So can you guess where the controversy lies? Sure. It’s in the discussion about men and women.
I think it’s most beneficial before we get into this discussion that we look at what Paul said near the end of his talk on the subject of men and women. In verse 11 he said, “…woman isn’t independent from man, and man isn’t independent from woman in the Lord. 12As woman came from man so also man comes from woman. But everything comes from God.”
It looks to me as if Paul is giving equal respect to both sexes in this. Wouldn’t you agree? There are other places in his letters where that attitude comes through, as well. Some have made the charge that Paul didn’t like or respect women, but I don’t see that when I take the totality of his writings.
The difficulty lies in cultural bias. Today, the women’s equality movement that began in earnest in the 60s tries to make the assertion that there are no differences between men and women. Of course that is not true. God made us different. He didn’t make one better than the other, He just made them different.
And this is what Paul is saying in chapter 11. Men and women have different roles. One is not better than the other, but they are different. And that’s a good thing.
Remember back in Genesis when God said that it was not good for man to be alone. So he made a woman for the man. Men and women compliment each other. They complete one another. And then, after God looked at what He had made, he said something that He did not say when He completed the previous elements of creation. At those times, He looked at what He had made and said, “It is good.” But when He had finished creating Man and Woman, he said, “It is very good.”
It is good to remember that neither men nor women are to abuse their positions, just as Jesus did not abuse His position. Jesus, as God, has the right to do as He wishes with His creation. What He chooses to do is to love us. And this is how we should treat each other.
So Paul laid out the different roles of the sexes in the Corinthian church. Men had a role, women had a role. There should be order in church, not chaos. But what was happening in Corinth was not order, and Paul’s answer was that if the sexes adhered to their proper roles, there would be order. And if they treated each other as Jesus treats us, there would be love.
Paul will continue with the themes of order in church and love in the next couple of chapters. Stay tuned.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.