Wow, chapter 11 is another excellent example of a church memory that I had growing up. I remember my mom always wearing a scarf or veil on her head when we went to church. I never knew why she wore it, come to think of it nor did she… It was “just tradition.”
Today God has been so gracious as to bless me with the opportunity to dig into chapter 11 where Paul lays out some pretty strict dress codes for the believers in the church of Corinth.
Before we start here are some things to remember, in Paul’s day:
- Corinth was the carnal capital of the Roman Empire.
- There was a mix of languages, cultures, and beliefs.
- The church of Corinth was filled with baby Christians (new Christians in the faith).
Knowing this may now help you understand Paul’s correction and guidance over the baby Christians of Corinth.
If you read Paul’s letter through today’s church dress and appearance standards, you might think what’s the big deal, Paul? But remember that he was dealing with a church in his day that felt like “all things were lawful” so Paul thought that the church was bending the rules so much that it was causing people to stumble so he had to step in. As a retired military man I can appreciate Paul’s correction. Rules are rules… Right?
I liked the fact that Paul doesn’t give wishy-washy instruction, but real-world relevance (for his day) to help guide and correct the believers that were veering off course. For example concerning women’s head covering, this had a peculiar and particular application for Corinth because in that day unveiled woman in Corinth were actually prostitutes, many of them even had their heads shaved. Paul also had to correct the congregation on The Lord's supper, these guys were getting that all wrong too!
As I was reading this chapter, I wondered what would happen if Paul visited a typical Sunday service today? Would he be appalled at the women with no veils? Are the guys safe? The hairstyle for most men today is short hair, so I think that we are ok, but what about if the guy is wearing a hat, or what if Paul comes across a guy wearing shorts and a t-shirt, or heaven forbid someone with ripped jeans. Yikes.
Do you think that Paul would rebuke me for not wearing a suit and tie to church? What if he sees a sweet church lady from the south wearing a giant hat? I honestly don’t think Paul would be blown away with today's dress codes, ok well maybe a little, but I think that eventually Paul would inspect the heart and find out if:
- You love Jesus
- Are you remembering the Lord's Supper Biblically
- Are you serving, teaching, and correcting people in a loving way so that they don’t stumble.
Then and only then I think that Paul would be ok with what you wear in church because, in reality, God looks at the inside, not the outside appearance. Amen!