The text I picked today is 1 Corinthians 11:5
5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:5
The reason why I’m a bit late today is that I unexpectedly had a very interesting conversation with my dad about more than just how to read and interpret the Bible.
So when I read this text an old question came up: how should we interpret the Bible? We can take everything literally, we could see it in a cultural light, or interpret it however we want. Without placing one above the other, I think in this case I have to admit I cannot but read this in light of the culture of that time. I don’t see any reason for women to cover her head when see goes to Church. Surely, they can do it when they want to, but they shouldn’t oblige others to follow in their lead.
In my opinion it is valid to say that it is not God’s command that women cover their head to church and are therefore free to chose. Paul admits that it is a custom to do so, and whoever wants to be contentious (my Dutch translation actually says something like wayward) has to know that. Paul also says in verse 13: judge for yourselves.
But that can be dangerous as well, because where do you draw a line? When do you say that this or that custom/prescription is cultural related and we can judge it ourselves to live it or not? I have met several people who are struggling with this. We live in a modern society where situations occur that are not described in the Bible and therefore seem harder to deal with.
Once I read this text my dad came upstairs and I told him what I just read. We had shared some thoughts on homosexuality lately and I wanted to come back on the topic. I am like my dad in that sense that I think things through and rather get to the bottom than leaving it behind unanswered. Homosexuality is one of those things that I want to fully understand: how God sees it, how we have to deal with it as individuals, how the Church has to deal with it. These are all very hard questions, because even when you accept homosexuals as an individual but condemn the sin, how should you act as a Church? Do you invite them to the Last Supper or not?
Without getting into the specifics of the conversation I had with my dad I do want to emphasize the conclusion we drew in the end: when we as humans don’t know the answer there are only two things we can do. We can pray to God for clarity and while we wait for an answer go back to the basics. Jesus told us to love God with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves. “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
You know, I read a very nice comment about this on Reddit. Someone asked whether God saves in spite of bad theology or not. The commenter said something in the light of: “Salvation is no theology test”.
Amen to that! It’s no license to interpret the Bible however we like and what fits us best, but it very neatly states that it’s not about getting all doctrines/theology together. Salvation is about grace, not about interpreting every letter of the Bible correctly. God loves us, even when we have trouble accepting His sovereignty.
Praise to God for His unfailing love for us. Praise to God that he helps us in our unbelief.