The Body – PART 7:
“North of 7”
23 March 14
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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Got any favorite texts? Probably the most popular scripture texts would be Psalm 23, 1 Corinthians 13 and John 3:16. Got any least favorite texts? How about the genealogy texts or the long list of tribes and names in the Pentateuch? Or for some, it might be some of the prophets who constantly are announcing words of judgment on the crazy behavior of the Israelites. And to that we could add another category - “Most Difficult” - passages that are hard to understand, passages that create lots of debate. Part of that difficulty is rooted in language, culture and understanding the context. I call it the “North of 7” dilemma. “North of 7” refers to an actual geographic area north of highway 7. For some, it’s cottage country, a place to retreat to fish, hunt, skidoo or just break with the normal pace of life. It’s where we encounter “different” - a different culture, and at times language, pace and focus.
One thing that is true about Scripture that’s “North of 7” and physically being North of 7 is that we share a lot of common issues. Our humanity ties us together, our dreams, wounds, brokenness and joys. We are very different but we can be quick to discover that we have much in common.
Today our text is definitely “North of 7” - there is much one could debate because not all is that clear. For example regarding verse 10, one commentator says, “But finally, again, we must admit that we cannot be sure.” Gordon Fee
My purpose is not to debate, but to agree on two very clear things Paul is saying in this text.
Big Idea: Both Genders Make the Body Better
Text: 1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Question: What are the two clear things Paul is saying in this text?
1. GENDER INTERDEPENDENCE
Have you seen a healthy model of interdependence, where the dependence issue went both ways? Or did you grow up in more of a sexist, chauvinistic background? For some, one gender’s opinion did not carry as much weight as another’s.
Note how Paul develops this issue of interdependence.
V.3. Note the word head (kephale).This is a “North of 7” kind of word. There are intellectual heavyweights on both sides of the argument who deeply love Jesus but are on opposite sides regarding interpretation. One side says that this word “head” is a word that refers to authority. The other side says that, in the Greek language, the predominant usage of this word would have meant “source”, like the source of a river… that the original audience would have understood the word head in this way.
Now regardless of how you land on this word’s meaning, gender interdependence is something we all can agree on that Paul is driving at. Personally, I side with the “source” crowd.
“the head/source of every man is Christ” - Jesus is the source of our salvation. Paul is making a singular point about men, not at all saying that Christ is not the source of salvation for women as well.
“the head/source of the woman is man” - Why would Paul say that? Verse 8 give us a clue - he is obviously referencing Genesis 2, where woman is created from man. The source is man.
“the head of Christ is God.” - Probably referring to the incarnational work of Christ - God is the source of Christ - who through his redemption became the source of every person for salvation.
V.9 - “woman for man” – This is not a statement that speaks of her subordination but that she was necessary for him. Check out Genesis 2 the very text that Paul is referencing. Without her, Adam was incomplete, alone, without a companion. The animals will not do, he needs bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, one who is like him but different.
And just to clarify, also note, v.11,12 - Paul is not so much driving at authority but that we need each other - mutual dependence or interdependence - connected and in need of one another.
As a man, Jesus is an example of interdependence. He could list names of women who played a key role in His ministry.
One example is Luke 8 - we are told that the group that travelled with Jesus were both men and women - It would have been scandalous having a rabbi travelling with a group of men and women relating to one another as brothers and sisters. Not to mention the fact that Luke goes out of his way to tell us that women were the ones helping bankroll this mission.
Paul could list names of significant women that he relied on – interdependence - Junia, Priscilla, Phoebe, Julia, Trophena, Tryphosa, Persis, plus Eudia, Syntyche in Philippians who labored alongside Paul as missionaries for the early church.
“Questions can make hermits out of us, driving us into hiding. Yet the cave has no answers. Christ distributes courage through community; he dissipates doubts through fellowship. He never deposits all knowledge in one person but distributes pieces of the jigsaw puzzle to many. When you interlock your understanding with mine, and we share our discoveries, when we mix, mingle, confess and pray, Christ speaks.” Max Lucado, Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear (Thomas Nelson, 2009), p. 144.
Both genders are in that community mix.
Men… who are the women who have deeply impacted your life, who currently speak into your life, who you learn from, grow from, are challenged by?
Women… who are the men who have deeply impacted your life, who currently speak into your life, who you learn from, grow from, are challenged by?
Both Genders Make the Body Better.
2. GENDER DISTINCTION
It is amazing that even though we are “North of 7” we have so much in common with these folks. This next issue may surprise you.
“This week (March 11) marks the 40th anniversary of an event close to the hearts of gender activists everywhere. On March 11, 1974, ABC aired Marlo Thomas’ “Free to Be…You and Me” — a musical program celebrating gender-free children. Thomas and her fellow co-neutralists envisioned a world where the sex distinction would melt away. Instead of “males” and “females,” there would be mutually respectful, non-gendered human persons. The project resulted in a platinum LP, a best-selling book, and an Emmy. More than that, the idea of gender liberation entered the national zeitgeist. Parents everywhere began giving their daughters trucks and sons baby dolls. Like so many dream boats floating on the utopian sea, this one crashed and sank when it hit the rocks of reality.” Christina Hoff Sommers (a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of several books, including The War Against Boys. Follow her on Twitter @CHsommers)
“In a wide-ranging interview in the Wall Street Journal, Camille Paglia says most feminists today deny the basic differences between the sexes, and as a consequence are setting us up for a huge fall. “What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” she says. Male neutralization, Paglia says, includes the idea that men and women are biologically the same and that gender is nothing but a social construct. And this is why we shouldn’t be surprised that California schools have started to allow kindergartners with supposed “gender identity” issues to go to whichever bathroom they choose.” (Academic trained at Yale, Camille Paglia)
So what was going on “North of 7”in our context regarding blurring the distinctions?
There were eschatological women. Their definition of spiritual somehow broke down the distinctives in the sexes. They were like angels, they perhaps thought where there was no sexual distinction. What do we know about angels? They do not marry (Mt 22:30), so they could be regarded as sexless;
How would you, “North of 7” in Corinth remove the distinctions?
Check out the text.
V.4-6 What about this tells you that you are “North of 7”, in a very different world? In verse 6 Paul uses a technique called “reductio ad absurdum” (to take something to its logical extreme) to show them the logical extension of their position. For a woman to shave her head in that culture would be absolutely unacceptable. Note v.13.
In Paul’s context (because this issue did differ amongst Romans, Greeks and Jews) in a Roman city like Corinth, it would not have seemed strange for women to have their heads covered during religious acts. In Corinth, it symbolized immodesty and even seduction to not cover one’s head. In some cases in this context, hair was viewed like a private part. But there were women who wanted to remove head covering to remove the distinctions, and in the process they were dishonoring the men and shaming themselves. For example, in the Corinth of his day, the only women who appeared in public without some kind of head covering were prostitutes.
V.7- What does Paul mean in 7a? We know that Gen 1:26-27 clearly says that both are created in the image of God. One writer states, “Paul does not deny that woman is created in the image of God, or that she too is God’s glory - his point is singular - she is related to man as his glory - a relationship that seems to be jeopardized by current actions.” (Gordon Fee)
V.14,15- What does Paul mean by “nature”? He is probably meaning natural feelings of contemporary culture.
In Paul’s day (as, in many ways, in ours), gender was marked by hair and clothing styles. We can tell by looking at statues, vase paintings and other artwork of the period how this worked out in practice. Paul employs hair only as an illustration from nature. Paul is saying there are differences; there are distinctions that need to be honored and upheld. In the culture of that day, some form of a head covering defined those distinctions. Don’t transcend them, embrace them.
Should we, or shouldn’t we, employ head coverings today? Why or why not?
Why is it that when we start talking about distinctions between the genders in our culture today, some can get all defensive?
Discuss the following:
It is these differences, distinctions that make the Body strong.
How have you seen this?
People need to realize that one of the gifts they bring to the Body is their gender, not just their spiritual gifts. Both genders are huge gifts to the Body.
These differences are what make interdependence so crucial.
Do you have an example of how the opposite gender brings strength to your team because of how uniquely they are wired?
Three final words as we wrap.
Embrace - This is how the healthy Body of Christ works. There is no plan B.
Pursue - Make the effort, burst your gender bubble. Some of us don’t live in balance.
Listen - Learn, ask, and expect great insights. Your gender has blind spots, and your opposite gender has great insights.
Both Genders Make the Body Better!!!! And all God’s men and women said….!
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