Today my bible plan told me to read Chapters 11 and 12 of 1 Corinthians. I was definitely excited to see this on my bible plan for today because 1 Corinthians is my favorite book of the bible. This book has taught me so much about what it means to be a Christian woman and the roles of a man and a woman and the relationship they should have with one another and with God.
When I read these chapters today, verses 4-15 of 1 Corinthians surprised and confused me at first. These verses say that women must keep their heads covered at all times, whereas men are to keep their heads uncovered. The first thing that came to mind was honestly Muslim women. They must always keep their heads covered – is this the same thing? Have I been dishonoring God my whole life? Are the Muslim women onto something?
I breathed a sigh of relief when I read verse 15 which states, “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” This verse seems to confirm that by a “covering” all that is really meant is hair. But what about women with short hair? Are they dishonoring God? How short is too short?
I decided to Google this issue for more information. Here are 3 sources I looked at:
I feel like most of these sources say “we don’t really know” combined with “it was a cultural thing”. I am leaning towards it being a cultural tradition or custom. If we look back to scripture in verse 2 Paul states, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”
Here, the word “ordinances” stands out the most. I assume an ordinance is a tradition, but what does Google say?
Okay, so not quite tradition but rather law – something much more serious. But whose law is it? Is it God’s law or is it the church’s? Context is everything here. I believe it was church law at the time since Paul is talking to the church of Corinth and helping them to remember their first love – the church. He is helping them to restructure since their church was filled with so much sin and unworthy of honor. In this verse then, Paul is praising them for holding the ordinances – or laws – of the church…the laws that Paul has put into place for them.
Verse 16 also stands out to me where it says, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the church of God.” Two words stand out to me here: church and custom. I think of the word “custom” the same way that I think of the word “ordinance” – as meaning “tradition”. However, I was wrong about the definition of ordinance, so I could just as well be wrong about the definition of the word “custom”, so let’s look at Google.
Oh look at that – I was right on this one! Paul’s use of the word “custom” here shows he was talking about a tradition. Furthermore, he was talking about a tradition that is very specific for that time period. I believe this means that it’s not a defined, universal law for all of mankind meant to survive the test of time, but rather it was a church law for this specific church or this specific region (the people of Corinth) during that specific time. We can’t know exactly how specific this law was for the people or exactly how Paul intended us to interpret it, but I think it’s safe to assume that this law was for a specific time period. The word “church” used in this verse further confirms that it was a church tradition, not a law ordered by God.
So, where does that leave us and women in the church today? Well, I don’t think it’s “wrong” for women to adhere to this old custom and to choose to wear a head covering, but they also aren’t required to. I think it’s their choice. However, I think that the head covering was a symbol during that time that pledges a woman’s loyalty to her husband. Verses 13-15 states, “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair; it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” The covering was something specific for women that men were not meant to wear. I think our society/culture has created its own version of that today. Some of the above sources I looked at say that it’s wedding rings, but I don’t think that is quite right because men wear wedding rings, too. However, I think they are on the right tract. This is what I think it is:
Yes, I know sometimes men will wear an engagement ring these days, but it is still far less common and by some even considered “taboo”. Male engagement rings are also usually much more masculine than female engagement rings (the traditional diamond ring). In the past when Paul was talking to the church of Corinth the head coverings were meant for married women to wear as a symbol of their loyalty to their husbands. I think the engagement ring has the same purpose in our culture today. A woman who is about to be married wears it to show her loyalty to her husband. Once the woman is married she adds a wedding ring but the woman usually wears the engagement ring with the wedding ring. Either way, it is still a symbol of her loyalty to her husband.
Another verse from chapter 11 that stood out to me was verse 17 that states, “Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worst.” Here Paul is condemning the church of Corinth for saying that the church is not uniting in a way that lifts up the congregation, but rather, it tears them down. When I read this I thought of the people of Corinth staring at women and whispering things like “Look at her hair, it’s not nearly long enough!” (assuming that the head covering was a woman’s hair and not an actual head piece). What good would that do? Paul is saying we shouldn’t be quick to judge and gossip and bring down people in the church, but instead we should unite and help each other out, for we are the body of Christ and when one member stumbles it is our job to help them back up.
1 Corinthians Chapter 12 further discusses the body of Christ and the role of the church and its members. In verse 26 Paul says, “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it, or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” This reminds me of what Pastor Lex DeLong has preached – we are all united in Christ. We are one body of Christ and when one of our brothers and sisters of Christ falls, we all fall. When one of us rejoices, we all rejoices. We are all made up of one.
I don’t think this is the case in a lot of churches today and that makes me really sad. There are too many churches that are quick to judge, scorn, and gossip when one of the members sins or goes through a rough patch in life. Not only is that unbiblical, but I think that is sin in itself. God doesn’t want us to scorn other church members. I think he would want us to confront the individual and to help them to correct their behavior, but that’s it. The key word here: help. He would want us to help our brother or sister in Christ back up and if we’re gossiping and judging, that is not helping.
When I read these verses I also felt extremely thankful and blessed to belong to such a wonderful church now – Washington Baptist Church in Turnersville, NJ. We are not perfect, as nobody is except God, but I do believe that we are doing an incredible job with striving to become the kind of church Paul talks about in the bible in chapters like Corinth. I know that from my experience being a member of this church we are a group of people that make up the body of Christ that really does care for and love one another. Some churches I’ve been to and you’re just another nameless face. Yes, our church is small, but I truly believe that even if we grew exponentially, this would still be the kind of church where everyone takes the time to get to know everyone and to pray for each other. When someone is hurting in the church, we all feel it and when someone is succeeding, we feel their joy. We’ve cried together as a church, but we’ve also laughed, smiled, rejoiced, and ate way more than we probably should (we’re a church that really loves food :)).
Are you looking for a new church to attend? Washington Baptist Church would love to have you! Come join us for Sunday School on Sundays at 9:30 followed by our sermon at 10:30. For more information:
I gave WM. Paul Young’s book Eve 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads. But I’m not sure any stars could or should be given to this book. I’m not even sure if I can really review it at all. But I feel that I have to because the book left me with so many feelings that if I don’t get them out in one way or another, I’ll probably explode.
It was by far the weirdest book I’ve ever read in my entire life. And as an English graduate who frequently had to read bizarre ancient British literature, that’s saying a lot.
Here’s the thing. The book is a work of fiction and I knew that from the start. It was fairly well written and really holds the reader’s attention. It’s really interesting and fast paced and you can’t put it down.
But it’s also really strange and confusing, especially in the beginning. One of the writer’s biggest flaws is that he introduces too many characters too quickly and I don’t think half the characters really need to be in the story at all. There’s the main character, Lily/Lilith – a witness who is a human trafficking survivor that washes ashore in a container filled with the bodies of other women who didn’t make it out so well. There’s Jonathan who is a collector I think? Or is he a scholar? He’s something. There’s Letty who ended up being an angel. There’s a million other scholars, witnesses, collectors, and random people. Plus, there’s Adam and Eve of course.
I was so excited about this book and had such high hopes for it initially. The story of Adam and Eve has always been one of my favorite biblical stories. I knew it was a work of fiction but I still trusted that it would be a good book. This is the first book of Young’s I have ever read, but I heard many great things about him and his other book The Shack so I trusted this would be good as well.
But this isn’t exactly the biblical version of Adam and Eve that I remember. In this story Lily is Eve’s daughter. Correct me if I’m wrong, but in the bible I am pretty sure Eve didn’t have any daughters. She had sons; Cain and Abel. But I knew this was a work of fiction and I thought maybe the author was doing something unique. I thought Lily being Eve’s daughter wasn’t quite literal but rather the author’s way of saying that we as humans are all connected together in Christ.
The book deals a lot with Adam’s turning and the fall of mankind. At first it makes sense. He eats the forbidden fruit. He doesn’t accept God’s love for him. He chooses the world instead of God. And I can see how Lily is living that now in the modern day. She must choose whether she wants to continue living her worldly life or if she wants to change and follow Christ. This is the part of the story I agree and connect with and really love.
But the book is still beyond disturbing. The way the author shows creation and Adam is simply bizarre. I am struggling to even write it right now because of how odd it is. Unless you’ve read the book you’ll probably think I’m making this up and have completely lost my mind. That’s how I felt when I read it. But excuse me, but did the author really write that Adam became pregnant with Eve and gave birth to her? Was there really a whole scene on how God (referred to as Adonai) had breasts full of milk and nursed Adam? Genesis is one book of the bible that I’m very familiar and I’m fairly sure certain that none of this is biblical. Where did the author even come up with this? It’s beyond bizarre and disturbing.
Eve was made from the rib of Adam. It says so right in Genesis 2:22. Men and Women are biologically different. A man cannot conceive a child. Just no. And even if Adam did become pregnant with Eve that would make Eve’s Adam’s daughter, not his wife unless it was incest which we know is far from being Godly or biblical. And the part about God nursing Adam as a baby? I don’t even know where to begin with that so I think I’m just going to not even comment on that one.
But I think this is only the second and third most disturbing parts of the book. The most disturbing part being that the book focuses much on Lily/Lilith. I’ll admit I didn’t get it at first. I thought it was just a name. But then I knew that their had to be a reason for the name changes and I think that the book does mention at one point Lilith is Adam’s first wife. Huh? Where is that in the bible? Oh that’s right, nowhere.
It turns out there’s an unbiblical unfaith-based myth that Lilith was Adam’s first wife. She was very sinful and rebellious and pretty much a Satan worshiper. She didn’t want to submit to Adam and she drove Adam nuts until he finally pushed her out of the garden of Eden and then asked God for a new wife which is where Eve came from.
….yeahhhhh I believe that about as much as I believe in Greek mythology. I’m not buying it. At all.
But once I learned of this myth, the book did make more sense. The character Lily does seem a lot like Lilith. She is not godly. She is worldly. But in the book they tell her not to be Lilith, but rather to be Lily. Lily is godly. Lily chooses God. Lilith is the opposite. This here is where I am unsure how to process this book. I’m torn because a part of me is thinking that this is a work of fiction. The author is making a comment on a common belief/argument against Christianity made by atheists. A lot of atheists believe in the story of Lilith. They believe that she was Adam’s first wife and that the Catholic church deleted this story from the bible. Maybe this is a worldly view? Lilith represents the old world. Lilith represents sin, ungodliness, rebelliousness, and feminism. Lily on the other hand is the new world, one that follows God and accepts his love. They keep telling Lily to be Lily, not Lilith. Don’t conform to the world. Follow God.
They also make the point that no matter how broken or how far gone you think you are, you are still worthy of God’s love. He loves you no matter what. His love endures forever. Lily feels worthless since she is a human trafficking survivor and unable to have kids. But once she begins to know God she begins to see she is worthy and God loves her. I love this part of the book.
But if this is supposed to be a true Christian book — why bring up the whole Lily/Lilith thing at all? That’s dangerous. It could be taken out of context and as saying that yes this is true Adam’s first wife was Lily/Lilith. It is in other religious texts that are not a part of Christianity. Any true Christian believes that the bible is the one and only truth. You do not add or subtract from it. So in order for us to believe this strange story of Lilith, we need to turn to other religious works, which means adding to the bible, which is not at all Christian.
After writing this review, I think I like the book a bit less now. There are some parts I love and agree with and connect with, but when compared to the other parts it’s just not enough. A man like WM. Paul Young is in an important position as a Christian author where he can use his talent and skills and career to inspire others and teach them the word of God – but this isn’t really what he’s doing at all with this book. What he’s doing is confusing Christians and potentially harming those who don’t know God at all. He might not be doing it intentionally, but either way it’s downright dangerous. This is a book that if read at all, should be read with caution.