Anarchy Doesn’t Work – 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

YouTube video sermon

Wives, if your husband is dropping the ball in being the spiritual leader then I applaud your strength in taking up that role. I simply encourage you to pray for your husband that he would be the leader God made him to be. Husbands, if your wife is rebelling against you, stay strong and pray for the Lord to give you strength and grace to lead your household in love and righteousness. Church, it will be a glorious day when we learn these truths, if they are hard to accept, pray to the Lord of Hosts to give you wisdom and discernment over these matters, but please let us not quarrel and argue over them, amen‽

Introduction

  • Well, there are three sections of first Corinthians that I have dreaded having to preach ever since God called us to go through the book.
    • We have passed one and that church survived, and I know God is good and well help me through this one…
    • And church, let me tell you, if it were up to me I would probably NEVER preach this section of scripture from the pulpit.
    • But praise God, it’s not up to me, it is up to Him, and He know so much better than me, amen‽
  • Alright, with that, buckle your seat belts, because we are going to talk about men and specifically women’s role in society and in the church.
    • Aren’t you guy’s excited? Alright, here we go, 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 ESV  (2)  Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.  (3)  But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.  (4)  Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,  (5)  but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.  (6)  For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.  (7)  For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.  (8)  For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  (9)  Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.  (10)  That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.  (11)  Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;  (12)  for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.  (13)  Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?  (14)  Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,  (15)  but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.  (16)  If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

  • OK, everyone got it? We all understand loud and clear, we can just pack up and go home now right?
    • Unfortunately this little passage of scripture is one that is up for much debate. Differing interpretations of this scripture lead to church splits, and even denominational splits.
    • Failing to apply this passage properly can lead to spiritual turmoil and the destruction of churches and families.
      • And yet at the same time the Enemy uses this very passage to attack churches and cause division.
    • This passage seems convoluted and legalistic. If we look at it through our own cultural lenses we might conclude that Paul was a sexist.
    • If we study this passage through church history we will see some very confusing doctrines coming from it.
  • So, instead of looking at this scripture from our cultural perspective or even a church history perspective, I simply want to look at it through a contextual perspective.
    • Can we do that?
  • It’s called hermeneutics… specifically eisegesis it means understanding what the original author was saying to his original audience.
    • Remember, Paul did not write this letter to Christian Life Church in the year 2016 in the United States of America.
    • No he wrote this letter in the year 54 or 55 AD to the church of Corinth in Greece.
    • So the original audience is first Century Greek Christians.
    • So we need to look at this text through the eyes of first century Greek believers.
  • You see if I referenced Yoda getting poked in the head by Seagulls one two thousand years from now would understand that reference unless they studied the culture of 2016 and my personal youtube watching history.
  • And thus Paul referencing head coverings and hair length can seem nonsensical to us unless we understand the culture that Paul was writing to.
  • Now time for the most confusing title slide ever, would you bring that slide up for me?
  • Now what on earth does what we just read have to do with military haircuts and anarchy? The answer is EVERYTHING.
    • And the reason I made this slide the way I did was because I did not want the focus of today’s message to be an attack on women, but instead a call to order.
    • And I think that is exactly what Paul was saying to the church in Corinth, it was a call to order, and he used an analogy about hair and head coverings that makes no sense to us, but would have made perfect sense to the church in Corinth.

Point One – Anarchy Doesn’t Work

  • Point one this morning is the same as the Title… Anarchy doesn’t work.
  • It has been said that every ordered society in the history of mankind is built on two pillars, Authority and subjection. Or in otherworld’s, every government is built on two classes leaders and followers.
    • Now anarchy says everyman for himself. Anarchy says we don’t need a government, we don’t need a ruling class, we don’t need authority.
    • Unfortunately for Anarchists, Anarchy never works. Why? Because in an Anarchy eventually someone realizes they have a bigger stick than everyone else and they start telling people what to do. Insto-Facto, the man with the bigger stick becomes the ruling authority.
  • Thus, every society, big or small, great or wicked, has been centered around the two pillars of Authority and Subjection.
  • No what’s amazing is that this principle is not a worldly one, but a heavenly one! The principle of Authority and Subjection is one that even the God head… that is, even the TRINITY obeys this principal.
    • I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. How many of y’all know that Jesus did not say or do anything unless the Father told Him too? It’s true

John 12:49-50 ESV  For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment–what to say and what to speak. (50)  And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

John 8:28 ESV  So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.

John 5:19 ESV  So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

  • In these three verses Jesus says “I am not the authority here, I am subject to the authority who is God the father!”.
  • This idea of authority and subjection is a Biblical one, it is a spiritual one, and it is a Godly one.
  • And in today’s passage from 1 Corinthians we see that emphasized look at the last clause in verse 3:

1 Corinthians 11:3c ESV  and the head of Christ is God.

  • The head of Christ is God the Father. Christ has a head, He has a leader, He has a ruler, it is God the father.
    • Can you imagine what would have happened if Christ was not subject to God the Father. If God the Son did not obey God the Father? It would be ANARCHY and I assume the universe might implode! Remember, Jesus’ prayer in the garden before being arrested? It was essentially “God I don’t want to do this, but I will do whatever is your will”

Matthew 26:39 ESV  And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

  • If Christ was not subject to the father that prayer might have been “I don’t want to do this, so I am not going to”. And then we would have been in big trouble!
    • So again, Christ is subject to God the Father.
  • Anarchy doesn’t work church, it doesn’t work on earth and it doesn’t work in heaven. Now I want you to fully grasp that, grasp that it is OK to have a leader, to be subject to an authority. Not only is it OK, but it is CHRISTLIKE!
    • Now if you understand that, this next point will make much more sense:

Point Two – We have spiritual anarchy in the church

  • Point two is this: We have spiritual Anarchy in the church! We do, it’s all messed up, just like in the Corinthians day. Let me tell you what I am talking about…
    • You see God set up an order to things we have all but abandoned, that Order is found in verse 3. Check out verse 3 in its entirety.

1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV  But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

  • He starts this verse out with the phrase “I want you to understand”, he is not saying these things a mater of fact, but as a point of instruction “I want you to understand” implies that there is a lack of or a tendency for a lack of understanding.
    • The church Paul is writing to probably doesn’t understand this, so he is teaching it to them.
  • “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God”
  • So here is the Spiritual order to things. The head of every wife is their husband, the head of the husband is Christ, and the head of Christ is God the Father.
    • There’s the order: wife -> husband, husband -> Christ, Christ -> God
    • This is how God set it up since Adam and Eve left the garden.
    • And it is not a bad thing, it is a good thing to have spiritual order!
      • What is a bad thing is Spiritual anarchy, and that is exactly what we have in the church today.
    • We have men who’s head is not Christ. We have wives who’s head is not their husband.
    • We have marriages were the wife is the head, marriages where there is no head, and marriages where both the husband and wife try to be the head.
    • And because marriages in the church are in disarray, because we are not willing to submit to the authorities set over us, husbands to Christ, and wives to husbands, because of that we have spiritual anarchy.
  • No then, Paul uses head coverings and hair length as an example of anarchy in the church. And this is where context and cultural understanding is key:
    • In Paul’s time women covered their heads to pray and men prayed with their heads uncovered. Regardless of religion, this was the case. It was a cultural thing. In fact it was a sign of open rebellion for a man to cover his head to pray or for a women to pray with their heads uncovered.
      • And as such, Paul parallels that rebellion with the rebellion of wives not being subject to husbands and husbands not being subject to Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:4-6 ESV  (4)  Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head,  (5)  but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.  (6)  For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.

  • Now what Paul is not doing here is commanding all Christians on what they ought to wear or not wear on their heads when they pray.
    • Some Christians take this verse to literally mean that ALL women must wear head coverings, and men must never wear a hat when praying.
      • And praise God for those churches because they are trying their best to honor and obey the word of God, but I think they have it wrong.
    • Paul is not giving instructions on what to wear or not wear, the church in Corinth already understands that. What they don’t understand is the order that Christ has places over husbands and wife. So no, Paul is not telling women to wear head coverings, what he IS DOING is using a cultural norm to explain a point.
  • He is saying “Women, when you try to be the authority over your husband, that is as crazy as you not covering your heads when you are praying”.
    • You see the women in the Corinthian church understood that culture dictated covering their heads when they prayed. They did not understand that God dictates that their husband be the head of their house.
    • Yet that is exactly what Scripture says. And it is not just here in 1 Corinthians:

Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  (23)  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  (24)  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

  • Wives, let me be real with you for a moment… it is not your job to tell your husbands what to do. So many arguments would never happen if wives learned this simple truth. God did not put you on this earth to tell your husband how wrong he is about everything. He just didn’t.
    • BUT MY HUSBAND IS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING, I hear you protest. Then it is your job in love to pray your heart out for him, while submitting in love to his God given authority. Pray that God would guide your husband, that He would correct your husband, and always be there to be a helping hand and loving shoulder for him to lean on when he is weary.
  • Now hear me men, this only works when men are doing their job and subjecting themselves to Christ.
  • The problem of Spiritual Anarchy is not the women’s fault though, church, at least not in America… the problem of Spiritual anarchy is on the MAN’s shoulders, that we are so utterly failing as husbands, and fathers, as MEN. That we are so utterly failing at leading.
    • Men we have to step up our game!
    • We have no right to point our fingers at the women and say “See you should submit to me the man of the house” when we are so utterly failing at being leaders, and worse yet failing at submitting ourselves to Christ.
    • And so Paul also rebukes the men of the church!
      • Bring the Title slide back up.
    • How many of y’all heard the term “High and Tight”? That is the military haircut! High fade, very tight and short haircut.
      • In fact it is against the code of grooming standards for each branch of the US military to have long hair!
      • Not only is it against the rules, but it is culturally unacceptable in the military to have long hair.
        • I was watching a sermon by a pastor who served in the marines in Vietnam. His hair was maybe 3 inches long and he said his wife likes it that long, but he hates it because it was quote “Hippie length hair”.
      • So in most cases having long hair in the military is a shameful thing.
      • And so it was in Corinth, men having long hair was a rebellious and shameful act. That’s why we see this verse here:

1 Corinthians 11:14 ESV  (14)  Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him,

  • Paul is calling out the men. He is saying just as much as it is shameful for you to have long hair (as it was in his culture) it is shameful for you to NOT lead your household why submitting yourself to Christ.
    • Paul is NOT saying that all men in all generations have to have a high and tight haircut, not at all, he is using the culture of the day to illustrate a point.
  • The point is, men, we are failing and should be ashamed that we are not leading our households.
    • I love Jay and Teresa’s relationship, because it is a perfect illustration:
      • I am sure Teresa knows how to use a gun, and I feel sorry for any man that would cross her.
      • But when we go out to situations that may be dangerous, such as working on the streets to end human trafficking in San Fransisco… It is Jay who is the protector. He is on the lookout, he is guarding over his wife. He takes it as his personal duty to defend his wife, as he well should.
      • And I hope all of the men in this church would do the same.
    • Why then do we fail so hard at doing the same when it comes to spiritual matters?
      • Men are we looking out for our wives spiritually? Are we protecting them from the enemy? Praying over them? Encouraging them in the Word of God?
      • Are we leading them to be closer to Christ, or are we dragging behind them and only slowing them down?
    • It’s why I am so hard on our men’s group and I make every man pray and sing. Because I don’t want to be the church where all the women sing, and serve, and pray, and the men just sit silently or stay home.
    • I want a church full of mighty men who are leading mighty women as we all march forward toward the Goal of Christ!
    • And men, if we have put our wives in a position where they HAVE to be the spiritual leader because we have failed to do so then the shame is not on them, it is on us! And we as men need to repent, suck it up, and grow in Christ to the point we can lead our household in a Godly way, amen? COME ON MEN! Amen‽

Point Three – Men and women are Equal, and both subject to God

  • Now that brings me to my final point this morning, men and women, we are equal, just as God the Son and God the Father is Equal.
    • Just because Christ submits to the Father it does not make Him less than the Father, does it?
  • Now there are a lot of verses in this passage that we have read today that can be taken out of context to demean or debase women.
    • Pastors uses verses in this text to show that women should never minister in a church, but in context that is nonsense, after all in verse 5 women ought to be praying and PROPHOSYING in the church!
      • So clearly we should not be taking this passage out of context to mean that women can’t minister.
    • Not only that but we should not take this verse to mean that women, in anyway, are inferior to men. In fact Paul goes to great lengths to make it clear that men and women are equal.
  • Sometimes us guy’s like to joke and call our wives’ “Rib”, right, because Eve was made from Adam’s rib.
    • “Rib! Make me a sandwhich!” “Rib, do my laundry!” “Rib, you better clean those dishes!”.
    • Well hold on there slick, Paul puts that nonsense to rest in verses 11 and 12:

1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV  (11)  Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;  (12)  for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

  • First he says that we are not independent from one another, we need one another, guys we were literally made for one another. We complement each other, we help each other in our weaknesses, neither the husband nor the wife is independent. Just because the husband is the head, what is a head without a body? And what is a body without a head? Both are dead and lifeless.
  • But then he goes on to address the rib argument.
  • “For as woman was made from man” yes, the first woman was made from the first man’s rib… but hold on “so man is now born of woman”.
    • Men, we all go moms don’t we? If women did not exist we would not exist. Thus we are codependent on one another, a perfect spiritual harmony.
  • So yes, the man should be the leader, but no he is not better than his wife.
  • So please do not take anything I am saying to mean anything other than this “Anarchy doesn’t work! We need rule, and the way God set it up was for God the father to rule over Christ, Christ to rule over the husband and the husband should lead the wife”.
  • And once we get that in order we are going to start working like a well oiled machine, the way God meant for us to operate.
    • Divorce rates are going to plummet in the church
    • Church splits and church drama is going to be drastically reduced
    • And the world is going to be shook by the power of Christ’s church.

Conclusion

  • Paul end’s this section with this line:

1 Corinthians 11:16 ESV  (16)  If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

  • He is saying “Look, don’t argue about this, the church is not trying to cause arguments”
    • And so I too would say “Church this is not something to argue over”.
  • Wives, if your husband is dropping the ball in being the spiritual leader then I applaud your strength in taking up that role. I simply encourage you to pray for your husband that he would be the leader God made him to be.
  • Husbands, if your wife is rebelling against you, stay strong and pray for the Lord to give you strength and grace to lead your household in love and righteousness.
  • Church, it will be a glorious day when we learn these truths, if they are hard to accept, pray to the Lord of Hosts to give you wisdom and discernment over these matters, but please let us not quarrel and argue over them, amen‽ Amen!