Thursday, November 1, 2012

Headship and the Cause of the Gospel-1Cor. 11:3

What role should women have in the church? Should they be allowed to teach? If so, should it only be to other women? Are they allowed to pray publically within the context of the worship service? Can they be Pastors / Elders? Questions such as these have been a source of division and rancor for much of the last century and still causes confusion today. Many people go to Paul's letters to answer these questions (whether or not these are the questions Paul is even addressing). Specifically, 1Corinthians 11:2-16 (along with a few other passages) has been used (misused?) to justify a number of positions on how women are to minister within a local church. How does Paul address these concerns, if at all?

1 Corinthians 11:3 gives us a clue as to how Paul thinks about these things: the principle of "headship". And this principle of headship must be understood in a very specific way: as defined by God in the inter-Trinitarian relationship within the Godhead. The relationship between God and Christ is the key. The relationship between the Father and the Son is emphasized as the model for all human-to-human relationships; in this case, specifically between male and female. There are four main points about the relationship between the Father and the Son that are relevant (taken from the outline of the sermon found here):

1. Complete and Absolute Equality

2. Relational and Functional Distinction

3. Exhaustive Intimacy

4. Mutual Submission

While this sermon is not specifically a treatise on the Trinity, it does provide us with one of the most succintly presented explanations of the inter-Trinitarian relationship that defines God in His Person and His Purpose. If we can apprehend who God is in Himself as Father, Son and Spirit in relationship, then we can begin to live into the freedom of the "sons of God" who have been taken up in Him through Christ by the Spirit. Only in this way are we going to be able to authentically live out the life of Christ in us in all of our relationships; in other words, to live and relate to others as an authentic Human Being.

This sermon is not just about the role of women in the church or even male-femal relationships. It is about the inter-Trinitarian relationship between Father and Son (specifically) and Spirit and how this must inform our understanding of every human relationship. Check it out.