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Study No. 5         Public Worship

 

BIBLICAL FOCUS:   1 Corinthians 11:1-16  

 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Cor 13:4-7 NLT)

 

It was inevitable that the general Corinthian attitude of lack of love should pervade the worship services in the Church. These touched 3 main areas which we will deal with in this and the next two studies:-  

a)The place and conduct of women in the Church

b) The abuse of the Lord's supper.

c)The abuse of spiritual gifts.  

 

1.  THE DIFFICULTY  

 

Christianity, unlike many other ancient religions, was not just for men.  In Christ, such religious distinctions had been removed and that fact brought women into a new place or status, in a spiritual sense (Galatians 3:27,28).  

 

Culturally, the social status of newly converted women in Corinth was unchanged out in the community.  But these Christian women did not recognise this and something akin to a "women's liberation" movement resulted. The veil which women wore was a symbol of social position, femininity and modesty. To be seen without the veil conveyed (at least a suggestion of) moral looseness.  Not 'burn the bra' but 'burn the veil' was the motto of the 'liberated' women in Corinth.  

 

To stress their new liberty, women were coming to church and participating in the services in what was, in the eyes of the community, virtually a state of undress. This was fast becoming a public scandal. As with the issue of meat offered to idols, in this instance the question became, "How far do we press our new-found liberty in Jesus?"  

 

2.  THE DOCTRINE  

 

The doctrine is drawn from the Creation record in Genesis and emphasizes the divine order for man and woman.  In their standing before the Lord (i.e. spiritually), men and women are equal.  But there are differences in purpose or function in that men and women complement each other.  So the doctrinal basis for the correction is to be found in the roles God has assigned to His creation.  See also Ephesians 5:22-27.  Paul was showing that this liberty was bordering on rebellion against created order.  

 

3.THE DECISION  

 

1. Don't burn the veil;put it back on (v.6) and recognise and submit to the divine order or function that God has given for our welfare and benefit.  Let your submission be internal; not just outward.  

2. The principle that emerges for our 21st century is not that women must wear hats in church (strictly they ought to wear veils if the letter of the law prevails - from head to foot!)   Rather it is that women should recognise their God-given role and express a submissive spirit - not to men but to God.  

3. A woman can wear a hat in church and still not be obedient to the principle set down here - a quiet submissive spirit to the Lord.   In last week's study we discovered that the eating of meat was not the primary issue; rather it was a loving attitude to the brethren because our influence on them is very important: It is just so in this study.  

 

THINK TANK  

1."The modern day Women's Lib' movement may already have become yet another expression of rebellion against God's purposes." Do you agree or disagree?  

2.  Are concepts like the husband being head of the family still applicable today or were they just cultural necessities of former days?  

3.  What problems and advantages do you see with trying to implement passages like Eph. 5:22-27?

4. What advice would you give to a newly married couple who sought counsel on the nature of their relationship to each other?      

 

HOMEWORK FOR NEXT WEEK.....READ CHAPTER 11:17-34    

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