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He/Her/Xem and Head Coverings, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2023 9:00 am

He/Her/Xem and Head Coverings, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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March 22, 2023 9:00 am

Pastor J.D. wants you to see how difficult topics demonstrate created order and the gospel. In this message, Pastor J.D. continues to look at what this passage in 1 Corinthians 11 communicates to us today.


Today on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Women in general have a stronger relational sensitivity and a stronger nurturing instinct than men do and that is by design. Those instincts bring invaluable perspective into every decision in the family in the church. Churches or families where men make all the decisions alone are going to end up in trouble. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian J.D. Greer.

As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovitch. We are in a teaching series called Cutting Through the Noise, working our way through the book of 1 Corinthians. You know, it's easy to look at difficult topics in the Bible, like male headship, for instance, and write them off as cultural accommodation for an archaic society.

I mean, we all do it to some degree, right? But today, Pastor J.D. wants you to see how difficult topics like this often demonstrate both God's created order as well as the necessity and sufficiency of the gospel.

So even though they're tough to understand, we can rest assured that God put them there for a reason. Pastor J.D. continues to look at 1 Corinthians 11.

So let's jump in where we left off yesterday. Here's Pastor J.D. Paul says in verse three, he says, but I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man and the man is the head of the woman and God is the head of Christ. God is the head of Christ. God there, by the way, means Father. God exists eternally as a trinity, which means there are three distinct persons in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, but there's only one God.

Jesus, of course, being the Son of God, is not any less than God because he's of the same essence of God, right? He's the same essence of the Father, which means that he is fully equal to the Father. But when Jesus came to earth, he submitted to the Father. When he was on earth, he said things like, Not my will, Father, but yours be done.

Though Jesus was fully equal with the Father, he looked at the Father as his head. That was not an assault on his dignity, nor did it reduce his equality with God. The point is, if it was not an assault on Jesus' dignity to do that, it's not an assault on you or me when we are in a relationship where we submit either. Submission is something that God commands of all of us in various capacities. Submission is a Christ-like quality that all of us have to learn, all of us have to learn, and it doesn't imply inequality.

That's the first thing it doesn't mean. Secondly, male headship does not imply the subservience of the woman, as if my wife exists as a serf in my house. While the command that is given to her to submit to me as the head, while that's the command given to her, the command given to me is to lay down my life for her, to love her like Christ loved the church.

I would very humbly suggest that I have the harder of the two commands. I have to get up every day and think, How do I lay down my life for Veronica today? How do I put her first? Where do I need to suffer so that she can thrive? If I am obeying this command, by the way, it means that I will lose 95 percent of the disagreements in my house voluntarily, because in every situation and every argument, I'm putting her needs and her interests above my own. Yes, I've been given some authority to leave, but it is not an authority to get done what I want to get done. It's authority to help her and the family flourish. It's like Pastor Tony Evans says, spiritual headship for the man is not licensed to do whatever you want to do. It is empowerment to do what you ought to do, which is to lay down your life for your wife. Guys, if you as a man are not regularly asking your wife, How can I serve you? If you're not losing about 95 percent of the disagreements, you are not fulfilling your role in your marriage.

Forget about submission for a while. You focus on God wants from you, and you might find that submission from her begins to come a lot more easily. Number three, or letter C, male headship does not imply independent decision making on the part of the man. God gave to each gender a different set of filters through which they see situations, and they work best when they're leading together. Listen, ladies, even though God always refers to himself as a he in the Bible, he often compares himself to a woman.

You ever notice that? There are certain qualities of his character that are better revealed in women than in men. For example, he often talks about how he relates to his people in terms of a mother, a brokenhearted mother. In Isaiah, he says that he's more attentive to his children than a doting mother.

In Matthew, he says he cares for his prodigal child Israel like a brokenhearted mother. Women in general have a stronger relational sensitivity and a stronger nurturing instinct than men do, and that is by design. Those instincts bring invaluable perspective into every decision in the family and the church. Churches or families where men make all the decisions alone are going to end up in trouble. No, saying that man is the head and that the wife should submit to the husband does not mean that women are absent from decision making. It just means that in a tie, the man bears the weight of making the final decision. Again, spiritual headship is not license to do what you want to do. It's empowerment to do what you ought to do.

I will tell you, the number of times this has actually happened in my marriage, I can count on one hand. It's not often, but there are times that, yes, I get the tie-breaking vote. So headship in the whole means that in a tie, the man has to cast the deciding vote. In the church, the headship of men means that they bear the weight of occupying the office of pastor or elder. In several places here in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, Paul makes clear that the office of pastor or elder, and by the way, in the New Testament, those are the same office. It's not pastor or elder. They're the same thing. There's no distinction. And that office, he says, which carries the weight of the official teaching ministry of the church, the governance and the guidance and the guardianship of the church, that office sits on the shoulders of qualified men because that's how God designed it, which is why here at the Summit Church, only men serve in the capacity of pastor or elders.

That's going to lead me to D. This is a really important one. Male headship does not mean that women cannot teach and lead in the church. Notice in this passage, Paul assumes that women are praying and are prophesying publicly in the church. Verse five, women, when you stand up and pray, not if, but when, when you stand up and prophesy in the church service, when you deliver a Spirit-given word from God like Mary did in the Gospel of Luke or Deborah did in the Book of Judges or Huldah did in 2 Chronicles or Priscilla did in Acts or Phoebe did in the Book of Romans, when you're proclaiming God's message, do it in a way that doesn't overturn God's design for the genders. That is, don't do it in the capacity of an elder or pastor. Here at the Summit Church, we believe that women, we believe Scripture teaches that women are given, given access to all the spiritual gifts that men have access to, including teaching and leading.

And they can and should develop those gifts and use them in the body of Christ at the highest levels. We have women that lead teams here, they teach, they speak into decision making and just about everything else, but we respect what God says in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy and don't have them do that in the capacity of pastor or elder. Bible teacher Jen Wilkin, who has spoken here at the Summit Church, says, the challenge, the challenge of those of us in church leadership, of those of us in church leadership is to consider whether we are creating, crafting a church culture that permits women to serve or one that pursues women to serve.

We want to be the latter here, and where we have not been that, I would ask your forgiveness. Finally, on this, letter E, male headship does not mean that women cannot lead in society. A lot of times, passages like this get over applied to say that women shouldn't have jobs outside the home or they shouldn't lead men in any context like the government or the workplace. That is far beyond the scope of what Paul says here.

Paul's main arena for application is the home and the church. Beyond that, we should not make any rules because God didn't make any rules. The paragon of the wise woman in Proverbs 31 clearly has a robust, high responsibility job with lots of people working for her. Deborah in the book of Judges was a ruler at the highest levels of national leadership, so was Queen Esther.

Let's not over apply this. That's our first question. What is headship? Secondly, is it the whole concept of male headship? Isn't that just a cultural accommodation for an archaic society? Isn't Paul just making a cultural accommodation for a backwards people, one that's irrelevant to us now that we are so enlightened and we've progressed so far?

No, for two reasons. Paul says, first reason, that the divine order is rooted in creation itself, not in Corinthian culture, but in creation. In verses 12 through 14, Paul says, these things are true because of how God created men and women. In verse 14, he says, nature itself teaches us these things. Other places that Paul talks about headship, he does the same thing like Ephesians 5. He points back to the created order as the pattern, not to a contemporary situation. If Paul was just talking in one particular situation, he would not have pulled all the way back to creation, because creation applies to all cultures. By the way, when he references creation, he references pre-fall creation, before the human race fell into sin. I point that out because some people say that gender distinctions are the result of the fall, and once you come to Christ, all gender roles and distinctions are removed, but that's just not true. Whenever Paul talks about headship, he appeals to the pre-fall design.

Creation, as God originally intended it in paradise. The second reason we know this is not a cultural accommodation is that Paul ties this role-playing to the demonstration of the gospel itself. He says that how men and women relate in the church and in the home gives a picture to the world of the gospel. In our marriages and in the church, we are reenacting the gospel. Men, their role in that play is to give a picture of Christ by leading and laying down their lives for their wives like Christ did the church. Women, their role in that stage play, that drama, is to give a picture of Christ and how they submit to and serve and bring glory to the man. That's question two. It's not just a cultural thing. Paul ties it to created order and gospel demonstration.

I'm going to do these last two questions together, questions three and four. What's the deal with head coverings, and how in the world does it apply to us? Verse four. Paul's application of honoring male headship is to say, every man who prays or prophesies with something on his head dishonors his head. Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, which in this context is the man, and that in turn dishonors Christ.

In those days, covering your head, whether by means of a veil, by the way, when I say veil, don't think like a Muslim, nothing but your eyes veil, but a shawl or a scarf. That was a sign of femininity. It was a sign of modesty and respect. Historian Kyle Harper said, he says, Roman women in late antiquity were to be marked above all else by pud, I don't know if I can pronounce this word in Latin, pudacidia is how I would say it.

If you're a Latin teacher, don't correct me. And for a mature woman to wear her hair unveiled was one of the chief signs of sexual immodesty. That's what it communicated. That was then. This is now. Is that still what it communicates? That's the question.

Because back then it communicated either cross-dressing or sexual immodesty. This is Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. As always, you can find out more about this ministry by visiting As we continue our study of the book of 1 Corinthians, I want to remind you about a valuable resource that might just help you get more out of your study time. It's called Cutting Through the Noise, 14 Five-Minute Studies in 1 Corinthians. It's a 14-session study guide that's perfect for personal growth or for use in a small group setting. This guide will help you apply the teachings of 1 Corinthians to your daily life and help deepen your understanding of God's design for you and his ultimate desire for his church. There's so much to learn from this book of the Bible, so don't miss out on what God is trying to teach you even today through its pages. It's yours with your generous gift to the ministry, so give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at Now let's return to our teaching. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Let me teach you something really important about Bible interpretation, because you can go wrong in one of two ways with a passage like this. You can either overapply it or underapply it. Paul and other Bible writers will sometimes teach a timeless principle, and then they will encourage their readers in that first audience to apply it in a culturally appropriate way, whatever makes sense in their context. The first way you can go wrong is to make their cultural expression normative for everybody. That's overapplying. The other way you can go wrong is by failing to extract the timeless principle and dismiss all of what the Bible writer is saying is cultural, applicable only to that one group. That's underapplied.

The right thing to do is pull out the timeless principle and then figure out what it looks like in your context. Let me use a different biblical example to help illustrate what I mean. A few chapters later in this letter, 1 Corinthians 16, Paul's going to end this letter with this command. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

In those days, kissing somebody on both cheeks was the common way to show friendship, intimacy, warmth to the person that you were meeting, particularly if they were family. Now, that's just not what we do today. So you can take that verse literally and say, I'm going to obey literally what the Bible says and insist on kissing every Christian you encounter, which is going to creep everybody out, get you fired off of our greeting team, and make you the kind of person everybody at this church avoids.

That's just not a good thing to do with that verse. Or you might say, well, since greeting one another with kisses is just not what we do anymore, that verse doesn't apply to me. But then you fail to see the timeless principle that does apply to you, and that is greet one another with the warmth and the tenderness of family. The right thing to do is figure out the culturally appropriate way of expressing that principle in our day. For us, that would probably be greet one another with a warm handshake or a COVID-approved fist bump or the patented Christian co-ed side hug, the Christian side hug, or if you're in the same gender, the Christian fist in the back bro hug. We're supposed to take the unchanging principle of greeting, greeting each other like family, and we're supposed to put it into the changing expressions of our culture.

Got it? Same is true in this principle of head covering and long hair. What communicates in our day what these things communicated in their day? Well, what did head covering communicate in their day?

That's the question we start with. First, what he said is femininity. Verse 14, nature itself teaches you that men and women are different, and thus they should look different and not try to look like each other. The point is not long or short hair. The point is every culture has things that distinguish men from women, and we should not blur those. In Corinth, men did not have long hair unless they were trying to cross-dress, and women didn't have short hair unless they were trying to look like men.

Paul said, don't do that. That was their culture, but it's no longer true in ours. The question is, what does dressing in gender-appropriate ways that honor the distinction in its nature look like in our culture? Well, probably it would mean men not wearing skirts, unless you're listening in from Scotland, and that's common there.

A bunch of Scottish people writing me angry emails right now. Okay, I get it. That's different, but the thing here, if you're a guy, it's probably safe to say you shouldn't be wearing a midriff blouse with lace and sequins and mom jeans. You shouldn't dress like David on Schitt's Creek. God made you a man. You dress like a man.

What that looks like changes from place to place and even within cultures. Fifty years ago, a man with an earring may have indicated that he was looking feminine. That's just not true anymore. Fifty years ago, a girl with a tattoo indicated that she was looking like a man.

That's not true anymore. I love what Kevin DeYoung says about this passage. He says, however we apply this passage, we can assert without equivocation that God wants men to look like men and women to look like women.

What that physically looks like will vary from time to time and place to place. The Bible here affirms an essential truth no longer obvious in our day. It is disgraceful for a man to appear to be a woman and a woman to appear to be a man. It is dishonoring to God to do things that mask or confuse your gender.

First, men in every culture should look like men and women should look like women. Second, when women lead and teach in the church, they should do so in ways that demonstrate, not attempt to subvert, God's order. Like I said, here at the Summit Church, we believe that women have access to all the spiritual gifts that men do, which includes teaching and leading, and that they can and should and must develop them for use in the body of Christ at the highest levels. We have women that lead teams here, that teach, that speak into decision-making, cast vision, baptize, lead in communion, and just about everything else. But we believe, based on this chapter in 1 Timothy 2, that they can and should do so in a way that shows that they respect the order that God has established. Having a woman wear a head covering when she's on stage no longer communicates that respect like it did in Corinth. But this is the reason, for example, we don't, at least for now, have women give the main message on Sunday morning.

Because in our context, people assume that the one who does that on Sunday morning is the elder pastor. That's not to say that women don't have a lot to say in the church. Some of the people I learn from most in the body of Christ are women. Elizabeth Elliott, Jen Wilkin, Elise Fitzpatrick, Beth Moore, Hannah Anderson, Rosaria Butterfield, Rebecca McLaughlin, Jackie Hill Perry. Not to mention the numerous women we have on staff here that I've gotten to work with over the years who have, in many ways, not just influenced me, but some of them mentored me.

Like Bonnie Shrum or Laurie Francis or Lesri Hildreth or Amy Whitfield or 15 others I can think of. And sometimes I want to bring them on stage and have them share with you directly instead of me just quoting them. But you'll notice that when we do that, we've chosen to keep me or another pastor on stage when they're here.

It's not because we don't trust them or they're not capable, far from it. We just know that in our culture, being alone in this spot communicates pastor-elder. And what we communicate is important.

Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, who is a literature professor over at Southeastern, she said it well. She said that the reality of Christ being head of the church is reflected metaphorically in the appointment of men as the source for the delivery of the Word to the church. That is a biblical distinction we want to honor because the apostles said in 1 Corinthians 11 that not to do so was dishonoring to God. There are other ways a woman can communicate this submission and respect for divine order, like wearing a wedding ring, taking her husband's last name, how she dresses. These can all be symbols that she recognizes and respects the order that God has set up in the church. Now, I know some of you hearing this might say, well, people, once this gets out, they're going to say that we're on the wrong side of history with all this. I get it.

I really do. But I made up my mind a long time ago that it is much more important for us to be on the right side of the Bible than it is the right side of our culture's ever-shifting view of history. The wise man built his house upon the rock of God's Word, not on the shifting sands of cultural opinion. So you go ahead and be on the right side of history. I'm going to stay on the right side of Jesus. Amen?

All right. I love Andrew Wilson's conclusion of 1 Corinthians 11. We have to strive, he said, to display these two facts. Men and women are different. Number two, men and women are of equal value. Andrew Wilson says, if the way you're trying to show distinctions actually degrades one gender, that's a failure.

If the way you're trying to display equality actually erases a distinction, that's also a failure. That's what we strive to do here at the Summit Church. We do so with the knowledge that I started with, that God's Word is good.

His design is the best, even when it goes against culture. We'd all do well to heed it. Maybe the other thing I want to leave you with is this. Ladies, we need more of you to sign up in leadership here. Forgive us if we have ever implied that what you bring to this church is less important than what a guy brings.

We need a lot more women leading and being developed than we currently have. Why don't you bow your heads? Let me pray. Father, we believe your Word is good. We believe it not because we understand it, but because it comes from you. I know my own marriage has been enriched, my own experience in the church has been enriched by people who sought to be faithful to these kinds of things. God, make us countercultural in all the right ways. Let the Summit Church be a picture of Christ-like husbands who lay down their lives and Christ-like wives who submit to serve and honor and bring glory to their husbands. Father, I pray that in the church, God, we would have a healthy culture of men and women, sisters and brothers in the church who are focused on lifting each other up, laying down their lives and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. And we pray all this, God.

We ask it all. We ask for your help. In Jesus' name. We always want to be on the right side of the Bible's message rather than the right side of shifting culture. An important message here on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. To access more teachings like this, visit, where our entire preaching library is freely available, made possible by the generosity of our supporters. You know, one of the best parts of working here at Summit Life is getting to hear from you. In fact, Pastor J.D.

and I talked about this recently. Yeah, Molly, you know, speaking on behalf of all of us at Summit Life, and you and I have talked about this, there really is nothing as special or as encouraging for us as hearing firsthand from you about how God is using this program, this teaching, to change lives for eternity, whether it's yours or somebody that you know. And we hear from people, literally all across the country, who have been touched by Summit Life, some of the most moving letters that I get to read every month come from you. We would love to hear from you how God is using this program in your life, or maybe just to let us know how we can be praying for you.

This for us is not a performance. It really is a privilege to be able to come into your cars, your homes, maybe your headphones while you're running, and to just be a part of your walk with Jesus. It'd be a privilege for you to reach out to us and let us know how we can do that better and how we can be praying for you. To everybody listening right now who has supported Summit Life financially, I just want to say on behalf of all of us, thank you. You have a part in every one of these incredible letters that we get, and I hope that you will feel a sense of gratitude and satisfaction at the way that God is using your prayers and your generosity to make His word grow and multiply in the lives of a lot of our listeners.

So thank you for giving. And for those of you whose lives are being impacted or you know of stories, reach out and let us know because it really is such a privilege and joy to be a part of your life daily and to be a part of your spiritual growth. And like Pastor JD said, we'd love to hear from you. Email us anytime. Our address is requests at You can also call us at 866-335-5220. And if you forget any of this information, you can always visit us at That's While you're there, check out our featured monthly resource, a study guide that adds to this teaching content that's been on the program. I'm Molly Vidovich, and we'll see you Thursday as we talk about communion.

That's right. We'll see you right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-22 11:11:14 / 2023-03-22 11:22:10 / 11

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