Embracing Our Roles
Just as in the Corinthian church, today's society is in much cultural confusion. Satan's plan to destroy God's balance between men and women is succeeding. Men are refusing to live up to their God-given responsibility of spiritual leadership in the homes, and women are frustrated and depressed.
In 1 Corinthians 11, we see the apostle Paul confronting this confusion about roles and identity. In Corinth there was disorder in the function of men and women in society, an uncertainty that entered into the church. Paul corrects their misunderstandings, explaining that while men and women are equal in every way, they have different functions.
Paul's lesson is summarized in these two verses: "Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God....In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman" (1 Corinthians 11:3,11). Just as there are different functions between the Father and the Son, so are there different roles between men and women. While Father and Son are different, they are still equal—just as men and women are equal.
We all have God-given roles and purposes on this earth and in His kingdom. Paul never makes a distinction between men and women as far as their personal worth, their abilities, their intellect is concerned or their spirituality is concerned. They are equal with different roles.
What does Paul mean when he talks about the concept of submission? Just as the Church submits to Jesus Christ in response to His love for us, the woman should respond to the love of the man. "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything" (Ephesians 5:24).
Jesus Himself submitted to the will of the Father. Without Jesus' submission, the Father's plan of salvation would not have been completed. "I seek not to please myself but him who sent me....For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me" (John 5:30, 6:38).
Submission should not be taken advantage of by the man. The Scripture commands men to honor women, not to abuse them. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her....In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself" (Ephesians 5:25,28).
While the man may have spiritual leadership, he is not independent of the woman. Paul says, "In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God" (1 Corinthians 11:11,12).
The core of what Paul addresses in this passage is rebellion of the heart against the roles and functions given by God. The enemy uses rebellion to convince us that God does not love us or have our best interests at heart. But God does love us and He does everything perfectly. Adam and Eve wanted to be gods, and humanity has been trying ever since. But no matter the form of rebellion we hold in our hearts, we can confess that to God and be forgiven.
Are you resentful of the role that God has assigned you? Or are you content to be where God has called you? Is the motivation for your actions an attempt to prove something to others, or is it obedience to the will of God? If you have been in rebellion against God's role for you, confess that to Him today. Pray for His peace and contentment in His purpose for your life.
"At the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'...So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
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