There are a lot of hot button topics within Christianity, but one that seems to really get people going is on the topic of role of women within the church. One of the reasons that this particular section of Scripture becomes so difficult to interpret is we must determine is Paul giving instructions to be followed by all churches in all cultures, or is this specific to the church and culture of his day. Depending on which commentator you read or which pastor preaches this particular section of Scripture will determine which way they lean. For my own personal standpoint, I believe when it comes to a head covering in public and specifically in church, Paul was dealing with a particular church in a particular culture. However, there is a larger issue in these verses that I believe needs to be talked about and that is the idea of submission. Again, this is a hot button issue but I don’t believe it needs to be. If we allow the Word of God to speak for itself and interpret itself, then it is pretty straightforward for us.
There are a series of questions to ask of this text. First, who is to submit? If we look at verse three we can see both men and women are mentioned. If we go into another Pauline epistle, the book of Ephesians we see something similar in verse 21, “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” We can see from both of these verses that both men and women are to be submissive. First, they are to be submissive to God. Then they are to be submissive to each other. Sadly enough too often the idea of submission is just laid at the feet of women and it is in a demeaning way. However, the command is first given to men to be submissive to God. We as men are to set the tone for our marriage and for our family. For a man, as I submit myself to God then it is becomes apparent that I should sacrifice my wants and needs to fulfill my wife’s. As I put my wife first and she sees that I lovingly and sacrificially (Eph. 5:25) do that, many times she is not going to have a problem following my leadership. Secondly, what does it mean to submit? To submit means to willfully and voluntarily place ourselves under the authority of someone else. Remembering that we are to submit to one another, this means that we are choosing to give control of ourselves first to God, and then to our spouse. Finally, why does God give men the role of leadership? This answer goes back to creation in which God created Adam first and then Eve. We must be careful to understand that this doesn’t mean that women are inferior to men. That is not what the Bible teaches, nor is the Bible sexist. If we continue in the creation account we see that God specifically gave Adam the instructions concerning the Garden of Eden. With this responsibility also comes accountability. If we are to look in the New Testament we see that even though it was Eve who was deceived by satan, God personally held Adam responsible.
The truth about submission is that it is not meant to demean or show that one sex is superior to the other. We are all called to submit ourselves to God and then to each other. The clearest way to understand biblical roles of men and women is to say it this way; we are created in the image of God which makes us equal, yet we have separate, distinct roles. I realize that there are many out there who do not like this. However, I would say to them that after everything God created He said, “and it was good.” God set everything in its place, created it just the right way. Therefore, we need to realize that God’s way is the right way even if we don’t understand it or agree with it. When we violate God’s order, we are inviting trouble into our life. It is easier for us to submit ourselves to the fact that what God has done is what is best and what is right.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him