Troy is super excited that tomorrow he gets to preach an entire sermon on hats. He's also thrilled that this particular section of scripture, largely dedicated to hats, happens to be one of the most difficult passages to interpret. He's been preaching through Corinthians, verse by verse, and tomorrow we land on head coverings.
I happen to be teaching a Bible study on the book of Judges and one of the things that the author, Sandra Glahn, wrote in her commentary says:
...here's my point: We have to be careful, very careful, about reading our own cultural practices and values into the biblical text and our understanding of what was happening at the time it was written. Otherwise, out interpretations and applications may be way off.
I love that quote. It's such a concise explanation. Not only do we have to be careful about reading our own cultural values into the biblical text, we have to study and know what was going on in particular parts of the world at specific times. In short, we have to know our Bible and we have to study it in relationship to the history of Israel and the early church. We have to know whether the books we're studying were written under the old covenant or the new. We have to know whether we're studying a book of prophecy, a book of history, a book of law, a gospel, etc. We have to use tools--like Bible studies and concordances--to understand the original Hebrew or Greek meanings of the words we're reading. In short, we cannot just walk into church on Sunday morning, listen to a sermon for 45 minutes, and walk out thinking we all need to start covering our heads OR that we absolutely don't need to cover our heads.
Not every pastor knows what he's talking about. Case in point. Two weeks ago, my husband said--from the pulpit--that Paul Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress. Of course he meant JOHN BUNYAN and of course this has no bearing on his knowledge of the Bible but we must be responsible believers. We can't assume our pastor won't make a mistake--whether unknowingly or, God forbid, knowingly. We must check our pastor's words against Scripture and, in order to do that, we must know the Word.
I've got A WHOLE LOT to learn about the Bible. I could study it my entire life and not be able to comprehend it in its entirety. But, in order to be growing in my faith, I must continue to gain knowledge. For example, if I took 1 Corinthians 11 at its face value, I'd be pretty confused. But I know from studying the history of the church in Corinth, that this issue was related to the culture of the Corinthians and was causing a great disruption in the church.
For a woman to have a shaved head was a disgrace (and, in Jewish thinking, a sign of mourning, Deuteronomy 22:12). Her hair was her "glory". In the Corinthian culture, women normally wore a head covering as a symbol of their submission to their husbands. Paul affirms the rightness of following that cultural mandate--to dispense with the head covering on women would send the entirely wrong signal to the culture at large. In fact, Paul says that, if a Christian woman refuses her head covering, she might as well share her hair off, too. A woman who refused to wear a covering in that culture was basically saying, "I refuse to submit to God's order." Therefore, the apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthians that hair length or the wearing of a "covering" by the woman was an outward indication of a heart attitude of submission to God and to His established authority. gotquestions.org
Tomorrow my husband will talk about hats. Or scarves. Or burqas. Or what have you. Because he's preaching through Corinthians. And I'm reminded, as he prepares, that I have to read every word of the Word responsibly.
Otherwise my only option is to go shopping for a trendy head covering.