The first part of 1 Corinthians 11 is one of the readings that seems oddly out of place in our contemporary world. Is Paul really saying that a husband has superiority over a wife? Does it really matter whether men take off their hats to worship and women cover their heads to worship? Why would men with short hair and women with long hair even matter to God?
And yet, what we do, how we conduct ourselves, our practices are noticed by others. Paul is writing in response to issues present in Corinth. What exactly those issues were is left to speculation? What Paul means by “head” also is unclear. Does he mean head as authority or could he be referring to the creation story where man is created before the woman? At other places in scripture, we find Paul using the word in both ways.
This is one passage where it may be best to take a few steps back. I think of certain paintings by impressionist artists where the images are much clearer from a distance than up close. What is the message for me in what I am reading? You will have to listen for how this passage speaks to you.
What I hear is a call to honor God. Do my practices show honor to God? Would others see in me a person who honors God above all? My goal is not to prove to others that this is the case. Rather, to live honestly and authentically as someone who wants nothing more than to honor God each and ever day.
I keep before me each day these words found in Colossians 3:17. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.