What example does Paul set in 1 Corinthians for how to live in relationship with each other?
1 Corinthians 11:1-16
1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
7 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 did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
Well this is a hard passage to read as a woman and not be completely confused by what this means for us in our context now. To be honest even after doing some reading and talking with others who have done some study into the context of 1 Corinthians I’m still a little confused. In my reading and re-reading of this passage there were 3 verses that stood out to me pretty clearly. These are the verses I have bolded above, verse 1 and verses 11-12. For me these are the key verses to this passage.
Paul is telling the church just before he goes into talking about head coverings to follow his example as he follows the example set for us by Christ. For me this is key – I need to be following the example of Christ who laid down his life for all of our sins even though he was sinless. It makes me think of the saying that was big in the late 90’s WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). What would Jesus do in this situation? He would love others and point them to his Father.
The other two verses I have bolded stand out to me as I think they show me an example of the way we should be living in relationship with each other. Everything comes from God and as such we should be treating everyone as dearly loved children of God just like Jesus did. I like the words that Paul has used here that we are not independent of each other. Men and women were created to live alongside each other, to support and care for each other. We cannot live independent of each other as this was not how God created us to be. For me this is a beautiful picture of us all working together for the good of each other and to glorify God.
Head: In reading this passage what do you think it means that men and women are not independent of each other?
Heart: How can we be setting an example for others in the way we are following the example of Christ? What does it look like for us to love and care for each other the way Jesus loved us?
Hands: Today in your relationships with each other, as dearly loved children, what is something you can do to show others that you love them and point them to God? How can you show you love and respect men/women in your life?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that you sent your one and only Son to die on the cross for us to show us the best example to follow. Please help us to follow Christ’s example in all we do but especially in the way we interact with and love each other. Please help us not to live our lives independently from each other but to live in a way that helps each other live lives that glorify you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
A song to listen to: This Life I Live