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:
2014 was a whirlwind of a year. That’s the best way I can put it.
It is ending on a very high note. I had many good things happen to me recently and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life and full of so much positivity.
But the year definitely didn’t start out that way. It was pretty rough.
I had a lot of goals and plans for 2014, as you can see in my New Year’s resolution post from last year. Looking at it now I just laugh because I broke every resolution except for the one where I grow my hair out and donate it haha.
One of my top resolutions was to stay single for the whole year. Because I was so bitter and so hurt from a bad breakup that left me in pieces. I broke that resolution before the year even started. My ex emailed me on New Year’s Eve of 2013, just before the ball dropped. I forgave him and spent the next three months working to patch things up again only to be stood up, cheated on, and to have the truth about the man I was so in love with revealed — I was in love with a man who was secretly already engaged to another woman and most likely had been for some time. I was in love with a fraud.
And I needed that. As strange as it sounds to say all of that. I mean, what woman would say “Yes I was stood up, cheated on, lied to, and betrayed and it was good?”
But everything happens for a reason. I spent way too much time trying to piece together my breakup, and in 2014, I got answers, I got clarity, and in a painful way, I got the truth.
Moving on didn’t happen overnight. Cutting ties was easy, getting over and moving on was another story. I finished destroying items, but I had people, including myself, still left to destroy.
For about half of 2014 I was miserable, depressed, and self-destructive. I became a stranger to myself and didn’t like who I was at all. I won’t go into details on what I mean by that — it is all buried in the past and not something I am at all proud of. But there were many times when I’d take a walk to a nearby elementary school to be alone, talk to myself, and just really try to ask myself “What the hell am I doing and why?”
And I brought some friends along the way. Who said to me, “And what answers do you get when you ask yourself that question? Do you ever get good answers?” And no, no I did not. Some friends helped. Some friends hurt. Either way the friends were able to show me the path I was on was anything but good. I needed that, but what I needed the most is what was lacking the most in my life at that time — I needed God. I needed church.
Just when things started to hit their peak and seem at their worst, I began to attend Gloucester County Community Church. My first church service was right before Easter. And I went to several more afterwards. There were a few times when I could have sworn the sermons were written and delivered specifically for me and my current situation. I’d come home and really think about the message and the things I was doing and I’d realize it was no good. I had to stop. I had to change. And slowly, I began to listen — not to society, not to friends, not to my heart or mind (both of which didn’t work too well at that time), but to the Lord Jesus Christ.
I gave online dating a try — because what did I have to lose? I met my current boyfriend within days of joining the dating site. We started talking straight away and immediately clicked — but I wasn’t quite ready for a real relationship. I got scared and kind of ran away. But that’s okay. I think that even that was all a part of God’s plan.
I befriended another Christian at this time. Strangely, he was someone who used to date my best friend. I vaguely remembered them dating, but I never really knew him at the time of their relationship. We talked for a little bit. Went on one slightly disastrous date (Pro tip: if you’re going out on a first date with someone don’t make it be your best friend’s ex, don’t go to the busiest restaurant on their busiest day of the week, and don’t choose a place where another friend works as a waitress….trust me). We had no connection. We had zero chemistry. We struggled to hold a conversation. There wasn’t much to say. Needless to say, our first date was our last date.
But we still remained friends — in a strange kind of way. We hung out once every few weeks. And talked a bit. This was never going to be a relationship and I should be thanking god for that because it would’ve been a terrible relationship! But it was a temporary friendship I needed very much at the time.
There are people who will enter your life for a season. That phrase is usually spoken in a negative way, but that is exactly what happened in this case and I believe it wasn’t negative at all — it was all a work of god. God had to use this person for me in my life at this specific time.
This person became my friend and in that friendship there was only one thing we had in common and only one thing that we ever really talked about: Jesus Christ.
He shared bible verses, devotions, and Christian music with me. He took me to church. He told me I needed a church and he almost scared me a few times since I didn’t have a church. He made me realize that going to church and connecting with church and having a church family were not necessarily the same things. I was going to church, but I didn’t connect with it and I didn’t have a church family. GCCC is a nice church, but it’s not the kind of church I was ever going to find a family in.
So I went searching for a church to call my own. Instead of taking walks to the nearby elementary school to swing on swings and spend time alone to think, I began to take random walks without destinations in search of a church I didn’t know existed.
On one of these walks I found Crossroads Assembly of God Church. It was obviously possible to walk to from my home — but not the easiest walk (lots of crossing of streets and kind of far). But I was still intrigued. I made plans to search for it again and learn more about it and possibly attend service.
But it never happened.
When I went back to find the church — it was almost like it never existed. I couldn’t find it anywhere!
I did a google search for nearby churches. The church I found that was closest to my home was Washington Baptist Church. On the Saturday before Independence Day, I put the address into my phone and went on a journey to find it. I had some challenges….it was pouring that morning. I got soaked and almost broke my hearing aids. But finding the actual church was actually easy and I even found $20 laying on the ground on my way there. I always took that as a positive sign from God. A sign that I was supposed to go that church.
I looked around the church for awhile. It looked strange. Very small. I wasn’t sure it was really a church at first. It sort of reminded me of a long garage (yes, it was that tiny). But I saw a church sign out front that told me it was indeed a church. I made a note of the name — Washington Baptist Church. I walked home quickly and immediately looked it up and took note of what time Sunday School and service as the following day.
The following day I went to service for the first time at Washington Baptist Church. I woke up extra early to give myself plenty of time to walk there and attend on my own. I really wanted to go by myself so I’d have a completely unbiased opinion of this church. Going to my friend’s churches was nice — but it was THEIR church. My mom’s church was HER church. Sometimes it was hard to really decipher if I liked the church because I liked the people who attended the church or because a person was telling to like it or not to like or if I really liked it for me. By going to a completely new church where I didn’t know a single soul on my own, I’d be left with only my own personal opinions of it.
Long story short: I loved it. I was made to feel at home and welcomed by everyone just in that first day. The pastor delivered an incredible sermon that I really connected with and I knew I had my church family. The second week and every week after that only confirmed what I already knew. Each week my relationship with my church family, and ultimately with Christ grew more and more and I stopped participating in my destructive, un-Christian behaviors and watched my life improve gradually over time.
Not long after I began attending church, my friendship with my newfound Christian friend ended. I feel like stating it in this kind of way is too harsh. Nothing bad happened. We just didn’t have time for each other, didn’t have much in common, and were no longer gaining anything from each other in our friendship. God was using us. We needed our friendship at this given time for very specific reasons and we have finished our god given tasks, so it was time to move on.
I decided to give the online dating thing one last and final try. And I raised the standards. I was using OKCupid, which may not be the greatest dating website for a Christian (true story, someone actually messaged me to tell me they feared for me being a Christian on OKCupid and I should shut down my profile and join Christian Mingle. I couldn’t help but laugh). Most messages I ignored. I was close to deleting my account again and giving up.
But just before hitting the delete button, another message came through. From someone I already knew…kind of. The one who I ran away from in May and whom is now my current boyfriend — Larry.
They say in love to let it go, and if it comes back it’s yours. He came back and remembered me precisely. I was stunned. I remembered him of course, but I wasn’t expecting him to remember me or to want anything to do with me anymore.
Of course he wanted to know what happened. We were getting along so well for about a month before I fell off the face of the earth. We even exchanged numbers, connected on Facebook, and were talking every day. Then I deleted my OKC profile, deleted and blocked his number, and deleted and blocked his Facebook. It was never anything against him. I was just confused and made an honest mistake. And I told him every single thing I did and why I did it. I asked him for his forgiveness and by the grace of god, he granted me it. He said he appreciated my honesty with him. I admittedly made a big mistake by letting go once, but I wasn’t about to let him slip by me again.
Once we got that all cleared up, we picked up right where we left off and were back to texting every day and became Facebook friends again. We still wanted to take things slow. He asked me for a date later that week, but I thought we needed to talk more.
So we talked for a couple of weeks. When I felt ready to meet in person for our first date, he ended up being on a week-long vacation with his family. Just another prime example of how everything needs to happen in God’s perfect timing.
We did have our first date. On Labor Day of 2014 (September 1st). Safe to say Labor Day will always be a special day for us this day forward. It was the best date I ever been on — exactly what I have waited all my life for.
But we still continued to take our time and didn’t become “official” for a few more weeks. Our relationship was exactly what a relationship should be — a friendship that slowly developed into something more over time. And every day that we are together our relationship grows more and more and we get a bit closer.
I broke all of my resolutions for the most part in 2015, including the one I swore I’d keep. And it was a beautiful thing even if it was a bit messy and hard at first. Had I have worked to keep my resolutions I never would’ve met my boyfriend whom is my best friend of the love of my life. I wouldn’t be half as happy as I am now. I have learned not to focus so much on new year’s resolutions, but instead, to turn to and trust in god. On our own we can only accomplish so much, and we may not even know what is best for us. In the beginning of 2014 I was still stuck on a very toxic relationship that I was insistent on poisoning myself with. But once I got through all of that and began letting go and giving it to God, things got so much better. I learned the key is just that — to stop depending on yourself to make and keep and hold these resolutions. Instead, give it all to God and let him direct your life for you. He won’t always give you what you want, but he’ll give you what you need.
In 2014 God took away some things and I replaced him with other things that are so much better. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. I can’t wait to see what paths he leads me down in 2015! Here’s to a resolution-free New Year filled with giving it all to God and trusting in the creator!