Pastor Paul and women in ministry

Every once in awhile I link to a blog that has material that I really like.  Today I want to link to a blog by Pastor Paul Burleson which has some good things about women in ministry even though Pastor Paul is “going against the flow” in the Southern Baptist Convention.

The first link is to a humble admission of his own problems in marriage that came from an old view that he used to believe about women as second class citizens.  He calls this one dealing with differences part 3.

The second link is a piece that he wrote concerning authority in the local church and women.  Pastor Paul has my deepest respect for his humble attitude and his willingness to speak his mind even when he may be in the minority in his denomination.

Where to next?

Hello all,

I should be done the verse-by-verse discussion on 1 Corinthians 11 (the head covering & hair issue verses) this week and I was thinking that I would move on to a discussion of God giving teachers to the body of Christ – are teachers part of the gifts of the Spirit or “offices” that must be filled by men?

While I am still considering my next set of posts, I thought I would open a post up for you to give some input.  What would you like to see discussed?  What questions do you have that could work into a post of their own?  What would you like to see me teach on?

God’s richest blessing to all, and thanks for popping in on my “Women in Ministry” blog!

Interdependence in the Lord

In our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we now come to verse 11:

1 Corinthians 11:11  However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

Paul once again breaks with tradition.  Paul gives the woman the right to make her own decision in verse 10 about what she will or won’t wear on her head when he says the woman ought to have “authority” (exousia) on her head.  Although the cultural tradition gave a woman no authority to make her own decisions, Paul dismisses that tradition as a non-Christian tradition.  However Paul quickly follows the woman’s authority to make a decision (exousia) with the qualifier “however”.  However, Paul says, “in the Lord”, woman is not independent of the man.  She has the right to make her own decision but she is not independent of the man.  In what way is she not independent of the man?  She is not independent of the man in the exact same way that the man is not independent of the woman.

Paul gives the reason for the interdependence in 1 Corinthians 11:12 –

For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God.

Paul makes use of the Greek word “gar” (for) which is a primary particle; properly assigning a reason  for his argument.  The woman is not independent of the man Paul says, because the man is the original source of the woman and she wouldn’t exist without him.  Paul also says that the man is not independent of the woman because the woman is the original source of all men since her creation.  No man would have his existence now without her.  Adam’s position of primacy as the first one created and his being the source of the woman is balanced out and equaled with the woman’s primacy as the source of all men.

Paul sums it all up by saying that the woman is dependent on the man and the man is dependent on the woman but the ultimate source is not man and it is not woman either.  The ultimate source is God.

So how does this all play out regarding decision making?  The woman has the right to make her own decision, but since she is also joined in a one-flesh union with the man, she must consider her husband and his conscience with the issue of the head covering because what she decides to do may bring his weak conscience deep shame.  The cultural tradition of the head covering which brought shame to a man whose wife was uncovered in public needed the time to be exposed and accepted as a faulty tradition.   Instead of bringing the man shame, Paul said that the woman is his glory.  The decision is now in the hands of the woman with her full knowing that she is not completely independent of the man.  As a Christian wife she is to respect her husband and to consider his conscience in her decision.

The woman is the only one given a choice regarding what she will do regarding the head covering.  The man is never told that he can choose to wear the head covering or not.  For him, the decision has already been made because there is only one who is shamed when he wears the head covering.  The cultural tradition that brought shame to Christ is to be abandoned.

Next post we will get into the “hairy” issue of the length of one’s hair in 1 Corinthians 11:13-16.

Shaming the head – 3

Continuing our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we come to verse 6:

For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

We have already discussed that the cultural view of women’s hair coverings is “covered” in verse 5. We have also seen that Paul takes a non-traditional view of women by telling the men that his wife is his glory. Paul reveals that the tradition of women being covered is not God’s way of dealing with glory. Glory is meant to be shown or revealed and not covered up. Just as a man reveals God’s glory and is not to cover his head, so a woman reveals the glory of man and she too should be uncovered.

Women whose husbands are Christians and who understand the women’s freedom in Christ to reveal the glory of the Lord just as men reveal the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18) will have no reason to insist their wives cover themselves because of man’s tradition. So Paul says that “if a woman does not cover her head” then “let her also have her hair cut off”. Here Paul is talking about a woman’s freedom to have her hair cut. Is it wrong for a woman to get a hair cut? Is it wrong for her to have short hair? Paul says the tradition of not cutting one’s hair is in the same category as the tradition that women must wear a head covering.

The woman is her husband’s glory and as such she should be free from the tradition of having to cover her head. Covering the head symbolized both modesty and shame. See the previous post about what the culture thought was the woman’s shame. Once a woman is free from the tradition of covering her head, she is also free from the tradition that a woman must have long hair. She may cut her hair and this act is not breaking God’s law. This tradition is not God’s tradition. Why is that? We know that God does not forbid a woman to have her hair cut because God had regulations for a Nazirite vow that required men and women to grow their hair out when they took the vow and then later when the vow was finished, both men and women were required to shave their hair off. So if God required the woman who takes this vow to shave her hair off, then it could not be against God’s law for her to cut her hair.

If a Jewish woman who had become a Christian wanted to take a Nazirite vow, when the vow was finished, she would be required by God to shave off her hair. If a woman who had shaved off her hair was in the congregation without a head covering, she may experience shame because she had no hair. Paul made allowance for this last “shame” and he said that if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut or her hair shaved off, then she was allowed to cover her head if she had a bald head or her hair had not yet grown out. Paul gives her permission to cover her head by saying “let her cover her head”. Paul never demands that she cover, he just gives her a choice to cover.

The rules for the Nazirite vow are in Numbers chapter 6.

Numbers 6:2 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,

Numbers 6:5 All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.

Numbers 6:13 Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting.

Numbers 6:18 The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.

The man or woman who had taken a Nazirite vow was required to shave off their hair and put it on the fire as a sacrifice. Both men and women then who had taken this vow would be bald. Men would not experience shame from being bald, but many women would experience shame from their baldness.

Paul allows a woman who has a bald head and who would experience shame because of her bald head to cover her head with a head covering. Paul has given two reasons for shame in chapter 11 that a woman may want to continue to wear a head covering. The first reason was that she may bring her non-Christian husband shame if she is caught in public without her head covering, since he may divorce her for defying the cultural tradition of the head covering.

The second reason that a woman may be covered is because of her own shame. If she was bald or if her hair had not yet fully grown out after she had taken a Nazirite vow, Paul allows her to cover her head. Paul gives a woman permission to veil because of two possible kinds of shame, but Paul never gives the man permission to veil since the culture of the day did not bring shame to a man who had a bald head and the only cultural reason for a man’s head covering shamed Christ.

Paul’s purpose in the discussion of the head covering is to bring Christians to a biblical view of our reflected glory and to discard the faulty cultural view of shame. Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 the importance of the unveiled face:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

While some have seen 1 Corinthians 11 as a mandate for women to wear the veil, a close inspection of the passage shows that Paul is advocating the exact opposite. He is not upholding man’s tradition, but blowing that tradition out of the water. Paul shows that it is God’s will that glory is to be uncovered not hidden, and man’s tradition of forcing the woman to be covered because her uncovering shamed him, is the complete opposite of what God teaches. The woman is the man’s glory not his shame. And as the man’s glory she is to be revealed not hidden.

Since we have already covered verse 10 in a previous post, the next post will pick up at verse 11 and discuss the importance of origins and interdependence.

Here are links to the posts in this series:

Shaming the head 1

Shaming the head 2

Shaming the head 3

Thinking outside the box

The one thing that God seems to have gifted me with is thinking outside the box.  I quite enjoy reading from others too who have this gift.  It stretches me and gives me that “ah ha” moment which I really love.

Today I had an opportunity to read a blog from someone whom I sense is also gifted with thinking outside the box.

So today I give my first “outside the box” award to “Justa Berean” at

Outside the box

Congratulations and keep up the good work!