Wednesday, December 15, 2010

1 Corinthians 11

Numbers 6 describes the protocol for taking a Nazirite vow~growing out one's hair and not cutting it until the the end of the vow.  I suggest that this would mean that a male having long hair would be alright for this purpose.  In Acts 18, we saw that Paul shaved his head according to Jewish custom, marking the end of a vow...perhaps a Nazirite vow? But it seems he had some unruly hair...maybe a tad too long or perhaps biker-long (depending on how long his vow was); but the cutting was significant as it relates to the vow.

From what I can understand, ladies from that time and culture did cover their heads as a sign of modesty, a tradition which endures today in some areas and cultures, (i.e. Orthodox Jewish, married women, Muslim females).  I searched for "head" in the Bible and  in over 400 references did not find, apart from our chapter 11, a specific command to cover a woman's head.  Similarly, I found a few references to shaving heads which seemed to be a shameful thing or a thing done to demonstrate a captive state.  Following are a few verses which I submit for your edification and information, (from NASB).

When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. 2 Kings 9:30.  (not recommending this example)

"O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle.  Psalm 140:7  (It is God Who did the covering)

Hear my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching.  Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head  Prov. 1:8-9  (Their wisdom grace your life and lead you to success when you keep to their instruction)

(Acquire wisdom...) She will place on your head a garland of grace ; She will present you with a crown of beauty."Prov. 4:9  (wisdom brings triumphant grace and a beautiful reign in your life)

Blessings are on the head of the righteous, Proverbs 10:6  (Result of being righteous (what God does yields what God gives))

For you will heap burning coals on his head...  Prov. 25:22  (ouch)

He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head ; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.  Isaiah 59:17  (This is Messiah's description)

"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face...Matthew 6:17  (specific instruction to us...for fasting...look good and healthy while you fast...stay cleaned up and presentable)

Perhaps Paul was addressing that culture trends and traditions are okay but the focus must be on honoring God the Head of All, Christ the Head of every man and man the head of a woman.  If we were in a middle-eastern town, quite probably the females would be dressed much differently than we do here.  Culturally, we would engage with the dress code - as long as it did not offend or prove indecent.  We sort of do that here in our coastal Florida area, as we do not typically dress as formally as our counterparts do in more northern and non-coastal regions....flipflops, anyone?  Additionally, it seems the style was for men's hair to be short and neat, women's hair to be under control and maybe wrapped (there is a verse about a unloosing the hair of a woman suspected of infidelity...).  Also, men were to not cover their heads in church; (Sunday, I was behind two men who came in during worship when we were standing, one of which was wearing a hat...I noticed that he quickly removed the hat and held it for the remainder of the service.)
Paul also says for us to "judge for ourselves" and "... if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches." 

I understand this to mean that it is okay to dress in accordance with the local customs.  Yet, Paul emphasizes not being disgraceful or dishonoring, too.  So, that takes me to the part where we are created in God's image and for His glory and Paul says  man "is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man."  God does not judge by external appearance; but He sees the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  In thinking about all of these verses of truth, these questions now beckon me for consideration: 

How am I catering more to culture and less to Christ?  Do I adorn myself like a servant of the Most-High or a patron of Macy's?  With whose chains/labels am I most obviously branded?
Am I letting trends and traditions speak louder to others than my relationship with Christ does?
What consideration to I give to honoring my Lord in my dress and my inward attire?

NASB Psalm 45:13a  The King's daughter is all glorious within...the princess's beauty originates from within her - not from what she wears or shows.  Her cultural relevance is not the King's consideration...His comment is on the " all glorious within"....the inward attire of grace, peace and love.  Especially in this season of insanity, I need to focus first on the how I dress my inward person.

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