Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 23, 2019
Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 (NRSV)
Of all of Paul’s writings, 1 Corinthians 11 may be one of the most perplexing and divisive in the entire Bible. Libraries could be filled with centuries of reflection upon and explanation of this text. On first reading, especially to a Western, 21st Century audience, it raises far more questions than it provides answers. “Was Paul rigidly reinforcing gender stereotypes and oppressing the women of his day?” “How does this square with his ‘no longer male and female’ language from Galatians 3?” “Is it wrong for women to have a short haircut or for men to grow their hair out?”
Rather than shrugging our shoulders and dismissing this ancient text as outdated and completely irrelevant, I believe we have much to gain from Paul’s words here. Though the cultural contexts in which we find ourselves are vastly different, and therefore the source of much of the confusion surrounding this passage, Paul offers clarity of vision on what it means to be fully and truly human, a vision that we desperately need in an age in which confusion around gender and sexuality abounds!
In Genesis 1 and 2, the Bible lays out a beautiful and remarkable vision of a flourishing world living in harmony with God and one another. What was the source of this harmony? All of creation was ordered and directed to God, finding there its purpose and identity. God creates beauty and distinction and call this diversity “good”- creatures that creep and creatures that fly, day and night, sea and land, male and female. By design, our diversity is meant to show the creative diversity of God. Yet in our quest for “freedom”, humanity rebelled against this vision and now struggles with animosity and division. Left to ourselves, we war against creation and one another, seeing our diversity as a threat rather than a gift.
In worship, we are meant to enter into a taste of God’s reordered and restored creation. We are invited to live as citizens of another realm, showing in our relationships those kingdom values. And so in a world in which men and women are so often stuck in adversity and animosity towards one another, viewing the other sex as a source of oppression or possession, Paul invites the church into another reality altogether.
Worship is all about God, his goodness and his glory, with our unique stories fully directed towards him and pointing away from ourselves. You and I are never the focus or attention of worship, yet in God’s kindness and good design, as we focus our hearts on him, we learn who we truly are and how to honor, love, and serve our brothers and sisters in the Lord by helping them be the woman or man God has made them to be!
Father, thank you that your creativity and diversity is displayed in our gender. Help us to focus fully on you and there find our identity, hope, and purpose. Amen.
How can you honor and respect someone of the opposite sex today?
Without God we war against creation and one another, seeing our diversity as a threat rather than a gift. #WisdomHunters #diversity
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