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Watch 2022 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Handling A Hairy Subject

Robert Jeffress - Handling A Hairy Subject

Robert Jeffress - Handling A Hairy Subject
TOPICS: Straight Answers to Tough Questions

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. In today's world, we're learning new phrases like gender fluidity, non-binary, and transgender. In light of these radical ideas, how do we reinforce a timeless biblical view on gender roles? Today I'm going to explain what God had in mind when he made them male and female. My message is titled, "Handling a Hairy Subject" on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.

A man walked into the Barnes & Noble bookstore, he went up to the information desk approaching the female clerk behind the information desk and said, "I'm looking for a book. Can you tell me where to find the book, 'man, master of women'"? The clerk responded, "Sir, I believe you'll find that in the fiction department". Now, the fact is many of our ideas about the role of men and women are pure fiction. They come not from the Word of God, they come from tradition or they come from our own prejudices. But tonight we're going to look at 1 Corinthians 11 where Paul begins a discussion that Carries through chapter 14 about the role of women in society, the role of women in the house, the home, and the role of women in the church.

So if you have your Bibles tonight, and I know you do, turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 11. As I said this morning, this is one sermon I wish I didn't have to preach. But if we're going to preach the whole council of God, we've got to see what God says about this very relevant topic 2,000 years later. And I would say to the women and the men present or listening, reserve judgment, hold your firepower until we finish and see if this is not indeed what God is saying to us. 1 Corinthians 11, as I pointed out last week, there's an unfortunate chapter division here. Remember all of God's word is inspired, but the chapter divisions are not inspired. Those were added years and years later.

And really verse 1 of 1 Corinthians 11 belongs with the previous subject matter that we looked at last week about the meat offered to idols, the new topic begins in verse 2 of chapter 11. Paul has already addressed a number of topics, discipline in the church, lawsuits in the church, divisions in the church, immorality in the church, meat offered to idols, and now he's getting ready in verse two to address a new subject. And that is the role of women in church and in the home. Look at verse two. "Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions just as I delivered them to you".

Paul was commending the Corinthians for holding fast to the traditions. Now, these were not man-made traditions, the traditions he's talking about is that a following God's word. A following what Paul had already delivered to them in a previous correspondence. This teaching came directly from God. And specifically what he is commending them for is that in spite of what was happening in their culture, where people were trying to blur the distinction between men and women, the Corinthians were following God's instruction of maintaining that distinction between men and women.

Now, a little historical background will help you appreciate more what Paul is saying in this chapter. You know, one of the greatest myths that liberals and feminists perpetuate about the Bible is that the Bible treats women as inferior. Haven't you heard that before? That the Bible denigrates women. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you understand the Greek, the Roman, the Jewish culture in which the New Testament was written, you'll understand that the Bible raised women. It exalted women in spite of the culture that was surrounding the first century believers. For example, in ancient Greece, the Greece culture treated women as no better than slaves or children. In fact, in a Greek household, there was a special section of the house reserved for slaves and children. The women were assigned to live in that portion of the house. They were definitely treated as inferior to men.

The apostle Paul, who's often referred to as a male chauvinist apostle, he was anything but that. He gave the greatest statement that was so contrary to the culture of the day about the equality of men and women. In Galatians 3:28, remember what he wrote? "In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus". That was a revolutionary concept in the New Testament: the fact that men and women were equal. Now notice equal doesn't mean the same, he's talking about their standing before Jesus Christ, both like Peter said are fellow heirs to the gospel of grace. Now, this will help you understand what was going on in Corinth. The Greeks, the Romans, and the Jews were discriminating against women.

Now, anytime you have a period of discrimination, whether it's against women, or whether it's against African-Americans, like it was in our culture not that long ago, there is always going to be a counter revolution, a counter rebellion in order to right the wrongs. And sometimes that counter rebellion can go too far, which is exactly what was happening in the city of Corinth. Women who were tired of being treated like chattel property, like slaves, decided to rebel against the Greek, the Roman, and the Jewish culture.

Now, if you were living in the first century in the city of Corinth, how is it that you would rebel? How is it that you would protest? How is it that you would say, "I'm tired of being subjugated as inferior to men". What they did was they cast off the veil that was typical of these women to wear to show their subordination to men. Now, this veil that women wore in Corinth was not a hat, okay? Now I know there's some very well meaning and respected people who wear hats, women who do as a sign of their authority submission to their husband. That is wonderful. We ought to respect them, respect their Godliness for doing so. But the New Testament, the veil was not a hat. The the veil was a covering.

I was reading more about veils than I ever cared to know this week getting ready for this sermon tonight, but basically there were two kinds of veils. Some of the veils in the New Testament time were full body coverings. I mean, it was kind of like cousin ITT walking around, you know, from "The Adams family". I mean, it covered them completely. But the more common veil was the veil like you see in the mid east today that covered the face. The word here that's used for veil means to come down from the head. So whatever this passage is talking about is not talking about wearing a hat, okay? It is talking about the veil that covered completely the woman's face. And it was a way in the Corinthian culture of saying, "I, if I'm married, I have no interest in any other man. The only man that I want to be seen by is my husband".

And so what these Corinthian women were doing to show their equality with men was they were casting off the veil. Now, what Paul is saying here is he is going to affirm women's equality with men, however, he is going to say equal doesn't mean sameness. God has assigned different roles to men and women in the home and the church. And in the home and the church, the woman is to submit to the authority of her husband. Now beginning in verse three, Paul is going to demonstrate and defend that principle of submission. Look at verse three, "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ".

Now, some might say who are cynical, now, Paul, this idea of equal but different, that sounds just like a rationalization for discriminating against women. It's kind of like in the south years ago, separate but equal facilities. You know, the African Americans have one bathroom to use, the whites have another, they're separate but equal, but they never ended up being equal, did they? Even though they were separate, that was just a way to further discrimination. But Paul said, "No, this is real". He's saying the fact that women are to submit to their husbands, submission is a part of God's divine order and you see it everywhere. For example, he says, "Christ is the head of every man". Men here tonight, you're not free agents to do whatever you want to do, you have to submit to somebody. You submit to your employer at work, you submit to governing authorities, you submit to the spiritual authority in the church, and if that's not enough, ultimately you submit to Jesus Christ.

The fact is we all live under somebody's authority. He says that Christ is the head of every man. Or here's another example of submission. "God is the head of Jesus Christ". Let me ask you, are Jesus Christ, the son, and God the Father equal? Are they? Absolutely they're equal. You don't have a hierarchy in the Godhead. The father up here, the son second in command, and the Holy Spirit third, that's heresy. We believe that God the Father, the son, and the spirit are equal. Philippians two says that, "Jesus Christ, although he was equal with God, he didn't regard his equality with God a thing to be held onto, but he emptied himself". Jesus Christ, even though he was equal with God, voluntarily submitted to the will of God the Father. He submitted to God the Father.

Now look at verses four to five. This is where it gets interesting. Every man, now Paul's defending the principle of submission, remember that? And so he's going to first of all defend it from theology. Now he applies it to the Corinthian situation. "Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved".

Now let me just say a word about prophesying or praying. Does that mean it's okay for women to prophesy or pray in the church? Do you see the words in the church here? Not even in there. Paul's going to talk about in the church when we get to chapter 14, he's just talking about a general principle. He's not talking about the assembled worship service on Sunday morning here. He says, "Every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head for she is one in the same woman with one whose head is shaved". Now, let me give you the bottom line of what I believe and then I'll show you why I believe this. I believe this practice of having your head covered with a veil for women is a local custom that applied to Paul's day and does not apply today. But although the custom of wearing this veil does not apply today, the principle still applies today. That we are to follow the God-ordained role that has been assigned to us.

Now look at verse six, "For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or head be shaved, let her cover her head". In other words, Paul is saying, if you're going to rebel against God and throw away your veil, go the whole way, cut your hair short or in fact, better yet, cut it all off, it's all the same. Paul is saying this is a local custom of wearing this veil, but it symbolizes an eternal truth that women are to submit to their husbands. Now he argues for submission also from creation in verses 7 to 12. Look at verses seven to nine, "For a man ought not to have his head covered since he is the image and the glory of God, but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man, for indeed man was not created for woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake".

Now I know that goes against the grain of everything we hear today. But look carefully at what Paul is saying and what he's not saying. He's basically making the same argument here that he does in 1 Timothy chapter 2 about why women are in the assembled church service to be silent. They're not to lead out, they are not to preach. But the role of the wife is to help her husband achieve his God-ordained task and to bear and to rear children. That is the primary function of women. Now, not of every woman, not every woman is called to be married. But if you are called to be married, there is no greater or higher calling than to help your husband fulfill the assignment God has given him and to rear godly children. That's what he's talking about here in this passage.

Look at verses 11 and 12. And he says a word to the men here. Men, before you get too haughty and puffed up about your importance, remember this, "However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman: and all things originate from God". You realize there was only one man who was ever created before woman, and that's Adam. After that, the woman was created first and then the man. Paul says to these Corinthian men, look around you, which one of you would be here today if it were not for a woman? You owe your existence to a woman, your mother. You originated from the woman, the woman did not originate from you like eve did from Adam. And he said, furthermore, all of these roles, they're all assignments from God, so there is nothing to be prideful about whatsoever.

Now Paul's going to give one more reason that women in Corinth should submit to their husbands, and that is nature itself teaches that. Look at verses 13 to 15. He says, "Judge for yourselves, is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it's a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering". Now, this is a different word here. It's not the word for the veil. It is a different word here. Some people say, "Well the covering Paul's talking about is wearing your hair". No, that's not what he's talking about. This is a very real mid-Eastern veil. But he says as even in nature, there's an illustration that there's a physiological difference between men and women.

I was reading one commentator this week who was talking about this very fact. He said there are three stages of the growth of hair. Stage number one, growth and formation. Stage number two, resting. Stage number three, fallout. And you may not know this, but it is the male hormone, testosterone, that speeds up that process in the man to go from stage one, to stage two, to stage three. And some of you are in a serious stage three-situation here tonight. But if anybody kids you about that, your baldness, just say, "I have so much testosterone, that's why I am bald," you know? Bald men make great lovers, you know? Just wear it as a symbol of pride, okay? Your baldness.

Now, it's male testosterone that speeds up that cycle in the male but it's a woman's estrogen that keeps her in stage one for a longer period of time. And that's what he's saying here, he is saying, "Nature itself teaches us that there is a distinction between men and women". The way their hair grows says that God has created us for different principles. Now you say, "What in the world is all of this about hair and covering? What does that have to do with me"? Let me just point out three quick applications tonight. Three applications. First of all, to the church. I think to the church, this passage reminds us that the Bible, not culture, should dictate our practices as a congregation.

Look at verse 16, Paul says, "But if one is inclined to be contentious about this issue, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God". In other words, this is what God says, not what i, the apostle Paul say, this is God's word to us. We have been taught in our culture in a way that is antithetical to the Word of God. And if we're going to be Christ's followers, we must allow scripture rather than culture to shape our practices. Secondly, I think this has a direct application to men here. Men listen to this, husbands, God has called you to be the head of your wife. But the word head is not a synonym for tyrant or dictator. Head means the life-giver.

Think about this. You're a brain, you're a head, what does it do in the human body? It controls the action of the rest of the body but it also protects the rest of the body. I mean, if there is a need for oxygen or blood in another part of your body, it is your brain that gives the order to go take care of that rest of the body. And in the same way, husbands, as the head of our family, we have a great responsibility to take care of our wives, our children, to make sure their needs are met. Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her". I believe, personally, that those of us who are husbands are going to have to spend a longer amount of time at the Judgment Seat of Christ than perhaps our wives or children. We're going to be held accountable for the responsibility that has been entrusted to us.

Remember, this idea of submission and headship for men, it is not a privilege to be exploited, it is a responsibility to be lived out. And then ladies, I think there's a word for you here as well. Before you may get upset about maybe the one or two functions that God says you cannot perform in the church. And I think we make a mistake in the church of always harping on those one or two things women can't do in the church. We ought to celebrate all of the things that women can do in the church and in the home. And don't forget, ladies, especially those of you who are wives, God has entrusted to you perhaps the greatest responsibility of all, and that is rearing godly children.

I was reading this week a story about someone you're very familiar with. She lived in another day and yet her life impacted millions of people around the country and continues to do so today. Her name was Susanna Wesley. In the last part of the 17th century, she married an impoverished preacher named Samuel Wesley, and together they had 18 children. Can you imagine that? 18 children they had together. And yet she spent six hours a day teaching her children, she was a Greek scholar, a master of literature. At one point she wrote by hand an entire systematic theology in order to train her daughters in theology of the truths from God's word.

If you were to talk to Susanna Wesley today and ask her, "Susanna, aren't you sorry you were born in the 17th century instead of the 21st century? Well, if you had been born today, you could be prime minister, president, some denominations, you could be the pastor of a church. Aren't you sorry you had to give your life to just rearing children"? Susanna Wesley would've said, "Not on your life. Let me just tell you about two of my children," she would say. "Have you heard of my son, Charles? Charles Wesley, the greatest hymn writer of all time. He wrote 7,000 hymns that are still being sung in your church today. Or let me tell you about my son, John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Traveled 250,000 miles on horseback preaching sermons. He led revivals that won tens of thousands of people to Christ. He shook my country and he shook your country, the United States of America, for Christ. Am I sorry I spent my life just being a homemaker, just rearing children? Not on your life". Ladies, don't forget this. Yes, God has given you a different responsibility than he's given your husband, but is it an inferior responsibility? Not on your life. Men and women here tonight, fulfill the unique role that God has assigned to you. That's the message of 1 Corinthians 11.
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