Thursday, December 23, 2010

Submission to Authority Part 4: Church Matters

1 Corinthians 11:3-12 – God has established principles of authority, order, and accountability. In the relationship between the Father and the Son; Christ is not inferior, it is a functional subordination (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:27-28). In no case is inferiority implied with any of the examples of submission mentioned in Scripture. The head covering is a cultural matter, but the principle of submission is universal. How does this apply to us today, since in our culture head coverings are not indicators that women are submitting to male headship? Women can demonstrate submission by their attitudes, by taking on their husband’s name, by wearing a wedding ring, and by dressing in ways that are feminine and not masculine (does not mean no pants, men wore “dresses” in Deuteronomy 22:5 times).

What about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35? Clearly, from all Paul says, there are times and places in which a woman may speak and others in which she may not. 1 Timothy 2:12 makes it clear what the key is. A woman is not permitted a pastoral or governmental position over men in a New Testament church. There is no question but that a woman may be every bit as spiritual and spiritually gifted as any man. That is not the point. A submitted woman will find many opportunities to exercise her gifts (Titus 2:4 / 2 Timothy 1:5, 3:15).

In vs.11-12, Paul says that women and men are to maintain their gender roles in interdependent ways. Although the woman was made on behalf of the man, apart from women there will be no more men. Paul is reminding everyone that their gender roles are God given. Men should hold their authority under God, and women are to submit to men under God. No one is to regard themselves as autonomous. Women may pray and prophesy in the church setting, and they do not have to physically cover their heads. They must be in subjection to the authority of their husbands, and cannot assume a teaching or governing role over men in the church.

Church Leaders over Church Members – Hebrews 13:17 / 1 Corinthians 16:15-16 / 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 / 1 Peter 5:5. How much authority does the pastor have over you? The practical answer is however much you grant him. God only holds the pastor responsible for warning, rebuking, teaching, sounding a clear message, and doing the things that he can do. He doesn’t hold him responsible for making you do what you have to do.

When submission to one authority conflicts with submission to another, we are obliged to submit to the highest authority. The Bible teaches that Christians should relinquish our relationships if it becomes necessary to do so in order to put God first (Luke 14:20, 24). Looking for instances where you don’t have to be submissive might mean you are looking for a way out of being submitted (Example: Child being told she can’t ride her bike to the playground, so she walks instead). In such a case, lots of rules must be set down to cover every conceivable situation. However, if we are submissive, you only need a few guiding principles. True submission is undermined by stereotypical submission, defined by very precise rules and practices rather than a matter of the heart.

1 Corinthians 6:1-8 – if two Christian parties can’t agree between themselves, instead of going to the secular court system, they ought to submit to the church and its due process, and then be willing to abide by their decision. Certainly there are times we have to appeal to or appear in court, to answer a charge or to testify in a criminal matter, or when we need legal clarification of different kinds of agreements. Those possibilities having been stated, the gospel truth is that submitting to God means that we also have to submit to one another.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

This is part of session #7 in a 10 session basic training and membership class at our church. You can see all ten weeks in .pdf form on the front page at

You can also see and download them from our "eDocs" section at SermonAudio...