Paul refutes a faulty tradition

Paul refutes a faulty tradition

In the last post we discussed that the man is the image and glory of God and Christ is his head. Why does Paul emphasize that the man is the image and glory of God but he says nothing about the woman having God’s glory? It is because Paul is working on a contrast that will blow the lid off a faulty tradition.

In Corinthians 11:3 Paul had just taught the Corinthians that Christ is the head of man. In verse 4 he relates that the one who is the head is not to be dishonored. How is it that a man can shame Christ? The head covering was used historically to show reverence for God and unworthiness to come into God’s presence because of the shame of one’s own sin (see this previous post for the discussion on the historical meaning of the head covering). When a Christian wears something that symbolizes the shame of his sin and his unworthiness to come into the presence of God, Christ is shamed and dishonored for it was Christ himself who died to take away our shame and to be the door of righteousness that takes us into the presence of God. By wearing a reminder of the shame of his sin, the man dishonors Christ. Instead of focusing on his sin, the man is to bring honor to Christ because Christ died to take away the shame of sin, and the penalty that it caused. The man is to respond by bringing honor and glory to Christ, his head. So when a man comes publicly before God through prayer and prophesying, he is to reflect the glory of God.

Now let’s skip down to 1 Cor. 11:7 to see the connection between Christ and the man, and the man and woman.

For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

Paul is saying that just as the man is the glory of God, so the woman is the glory of man. Now remember, Paul isn’t saying here that the woman is not the glory of God, but he is going to draw a specific comparison for a specific purpose. The woman is the glory of man, Paul says. This means that what she does brings him glory. She was created to be his glory. He is not to be intimidated by her nor should he consider her to be his competitor because she is his glory. Verse 8 says:

For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man;

Woman originated from the man and because of that she is to be his glory. Verse 9 says:

for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.

The man had a need and the woman was created to meet his need. Woman is man’s glory. The word glory means reputation, praise, and source of honor and glory.

Paul was saying something that was totally counter-cultural. The culture of that day did not believe that the woman was the glory of the man. They believed that it was a shame for her to be in public. They also believed that for her to be unveiled in public brought great shame to her husband. They did not believe that she was his glory. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul dismantles this false tradition.

Paul teaches that glory is meant to be shown not hidden. Glory is meant to be revealed and to be proud of because it brings honor. Just as the man is not to hide the glory of God, but to fully reveal God’s glory so also the woman is not meant to be hidden by a veil because she is the man’s glory.

But why then does Paul allow a woman to be veiled, if she really is the man’s glory? The answer is all about cultural shame. More in the next post.

5 thoughts on “Paul refutes a faulty tradition

  1. Cheryl, As always your thoughts are compelling and as always, the complementarians are still mired in tradition. Grudem, Moore, Kostenberger et. al. must now re-manufacture the trinity so that it has a divinely instituted hierarchy (eternal subordination of the Son to the Father). They do this to bolster their case for the continued subordination of women throughout the church age. Kevin Giles has written an excellent essay on this, in which he dismantles their thesis as simply a repackaging of the old Arian heresy in the early centuries of church history. Here’s the link and I do hope it’s typed correctly as this window would not allow me to paste it in:
    Bear in mind also that Kostenberger would not allow Giles to publish a rebuttal in JETS (Journal of the Evangelical Society). Giles’ stuff was returned to him as “unacceptable” by Kostenbeger. Whew! that was a mouthful! (window full?) Once again Cheryl,
    I am indebted to you for your patience.

  2. “H” my friend,
    Thanks for the link. I am familiar with Giles work and I highly recommend it. There are some personal conclusions on other issues that I do not agree with Giles on, however on the subject of the Trinity, his research is outstanding.

    I will also see if I can fix the link to make it work properly.

  3. Cheryl,

    This is all so compelling! I just finished watching your WIM videos with tears rolling down my face. I grew up with the Assemblies of God’s standard for women, but I also observed continual rebellion of women elders against pastors there. In my search for a better example, I wound up in a Shepherding/Discipleship group. They offered what seemed to be a more balanced view about spiritual gifts and healing, as well as an alternative to the rebellious example of the few women in my memory. I am so broken to realize that so many of the truths that you point out were truths I used to know and defend. My desire to find better role models and my disappointments in poor examples lead me into error.

    How grieved and broken I am over my falling away and years wasted in deception…
    And how full of joy and gratitude I am in having many of these truths restored to me anew.

    As so many people who fall prey to these deceptions, I should have been the least likely person to get caught up in an abusive group. I just finished Wendy Duncan’s book, and she is another unlikely example: both a social worker and a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. We all are vulnerable to these subtle deceptions when the timing and circumstances get the better of us.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. Under Much Grace,

    I am very touched by your testimony. To be honest, the tears are rolling down my cheeks! These are the kinds of testimonies that touches my heart so much and is the reason why WIM was produced with a heart of love for both men and women. God’s grace and the glorious liberty we have in Christ to serve the body of Christ are so amazing, it makes me weep with joy!

    Your sister in Christ,

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