It seems as though the Apostle Paul placed all of his powder-keg issues in one text: I Corinthians 11.
We spent 2 Sundays combing through the first 16 verses of this chapter, and by the end of the second message it was clear that we could have spent 3 more sermons camped in this text! So, in order to cover at least one of the topics left hanging, I thought I would write it as a blog post.
In I Corinthians 11, Paul is contending that a women should maintain these cultural practices.
- Wear a head covering to show they were married and under the headship of their husbands.
- Maintain a hairstyle that didn’t send provocative signals.
Though Christ frees us from the law, we are not free to defy God’s natural order (the headship of a husband over his wife), and we are not free to live outside of cultural boundaries of modesty and propriety.
Paul hones this point by teaching the God-established realities of manhood and womanhood, and applies it to the home, church, and culture.
How does this relate to the church? Interestingly, in I Corinthians 11:1-16 as Paul speaks of a husband’s headship over his wife, the context falls within the local church. This speaks volumes! Hence, what is true in the home should be true in the church as well.
This text is not alone in drawing parallels between the church and the home. Ephesians 5:25-33 asserts that marriage is simply a picture of a bigger reality—the church! In other texts, the church is called the “bride” of Christ.
In I Timothy, Paul writes to a struggling pastor of the church in Ephesus (Timothy) and encourages him to discharge his ministry faithfully. Throughout the entire book Paul continues to draw the allusion that the church is the “household” of God. This is so important to him that when he gives the qualifications for pastors, Paul says, “He must manage his own household well, with all dignity, keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (I Timothy 3:4).
Is I Timothy 3:4 saying that Pastors are the “fathers” of a local church, and therefore have headship? Yes and no. It’s never that easy!
For one thing, the New Testament seems to prefer a plurality of pastors in a local church, but it does not teach a plurality of husbands in a family! Therefore, we know the comparison is not apples to apples.
What we do know is that Jesus is the head of the church—the groom of the bride. He is the head and exerts headship and authority over the church. He is the Chief Shepherd. However, pastors are called “overseers” and “under-shepherds” in the New Testament. Whereas pastors do not function exactly like a father in a household, it is proper to say that Jesus has given pastors the responsibility to help carry out his headship in the church. That’s why I said the answer is yes and no. I could say a lot more here regarding church polity, but that’s not where I’m headed.
In relation to I Corinthians 11, what does this teach us about order in the church? If husbands are the heads of their homes, and Christ is the head of the church, and Christ discharges his headship to be carried out by Pastors, then the strong implication is that pastors must be men, otherwise the illustration and the flow of headship is broken.
I Corinthians 11:3 says that the Father is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the husband, and that the husband is the head of the wife. This verse led into a discussion of male headship over wives, but the context was in the local church.
A female pastor would upset the order given to us in verse 3, and would ruin the parallel between the home and the church. I Corinthians 11 does, however, open the door for women to have significant teaching and praying roles inside the church, but the office of the pastor must be reserved for men. Unless God would allow a wife to be the head of the home, she cannot become Mrs. Pastor!