Friday, January 21, 2011

Part 20: Jezebel vs Sarah - The Image and Glory of God and Honor in the Church

Continuing from the last post, we may well ask why it is dishonorable for a woman to speak in church? What's wrong with that, or what's right with her silence? The reason given explicitly in 1 Corinthians 14:34 is a reminder that this is simply the testimony of the law, an abiding principle. That does little to satisfy our curiosity as the Lord prompts some of us to inquire further.

I consider that Paul didn't need to repeat what had already been revealed a mere three chapters earlier. A similar situation was addressed, where a man and woman are engaging in prayer or prophecy. There is in this particular circumstance a distinction between the genders. A man was commanded not to cover his head and a woman was commanded to cover her head. The reason given involves a deep spiritual reality, that the man is the image and glory of God and that the woman is the glory of the man. You're familiar, yes? If we come to read the 14th chapter having forgotten or never having understood the truth revealed in the 11th chapter we have in this related context no basis for insight into the deep spiritual reality behind the distinction made between the genders.

When the saints assemble together the men are still the image and glory of God, as revealed in 1 Corinthians 11:7, and the women are still the glory of the man.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
1 Corinthians 11:7

When there is prayer and prophesying in the assembly the heads of the men are uncovered, exhibiting in visual "glory language," the image and glory of God. In church the men speak, expressing words in languages of men (and potentially of angels) in the audible voices of those who are the image and glory of God. What is seen and heard is the image and glory of God! When a woman is present, with respect to prayer and prophesying her head is covered, hiding or concealing the glory of both the woman and the man from view, lest flesh should glory in His presence. She does not speak in church but holds her peace, because the woman is the glory of man and its dishonorable for the glory of man to be heard in church.

27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29) That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30) But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:27-31

When a woman is not praying or prophesying, is it proper for her to have her head uncovered? Sure. Can she speak? Is she "in church" where a male is present and the saints are engaging as a biblical assembly? In that case, no, otherwise, sure. Can she teach a man or usurp authority over him? Never.

If one is clever and seems to have discovered an exception to a rule, can one justify challenging and overturning that rule to establish a contrary standard? Sure, but not honestly. This is the simple response I will offer for all the "what about" questions that arise. More may be forthcoming, I cannot say.

The biblical narrative offers many examples of women who are honored for a variety of things. There have been and are now women of faith and ability who are worthy of honor. I have focused in this series upon the contrast between two women whose names are models of behavior, Jezebel and Sarah. One is a deadly rebel, who deceives and exalts herself to rule over the weak. The other is as her Lord, willing to subject herself, trusting that He recognizes her acknowledged weakness and will be faithful to remember her at the appointed time according to promise.

16) And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
17) Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18) I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
19) Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
20) At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
21) He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
John 14:16-21

11) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13) Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14) Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
15) These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Titus 2:11-15

In closing, once again I ask you to please be patient with this work as it unfolds here and in your life.

Shabbat Shalom

1 comment:

  1. In addition to the Jezebel vs. Sarah typology, I find insight around these things in Judges 4:4-9 -- a situation in which the man (Barak) is behaving in a 'wimpy' and ultimately disobedient fashion despite a clear set of (literal) marching orders from YHWH.

    We find Deborah, a prophetess, speaking of the things of YHWH in a public setting, and (it would seem) is not at all out of favor with YHWH as a result of doing so. (The mere fact that there is such a thing as a 'good' prophetess ought to expand and mature our understanding of how to interpret Paul's part of Holy scripture). Yet the reason things are happening in this way, in the Judges passage, and the result, are both instructive.

    Reason: the men are not stepping up to the spiritual plate. They are not playing their assigned part. They are not obeying YHWH.

    Barak basically asks Deborah to hold his hand and take the place of the word he received from YHWH. Her prophetic response (i.e., YHWH's response):

    "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman."

    Which all says to me that YHWH knows what is going on and makes provision and gets His word out and win battles regardless of what society has done to twist gender expectations. Yet in failing to live in the proper order of things, there are inevitable consequences -- e.g., in this case dishonor for the man for his failure to step up and out in faith and courage.