When I was very young my parents moved their growing family 4 miles (6.4km) outside of town to a small neighborhood in the country. We had about 2.5 acres (1 hectare), a large ranch-style home (1 level), a creek running through the property out back, fruit trees....and a party line for phone service.
What is a party line? A party line was when several homes shared a single land line. Each home had its own phone, but it was on the same line as the neighbor. You could pick up your phone in your house, and if one of your neighbors was using the phone in their house, you could listen in on what they were saying.
Back in the day I think many small towns or country neighborhoods like ours had that one neighbor lady who had nothing better to do than sit at home and from time to time, pick up her phone to listen in on the conversations of her neighbors. From what she heard she either spread rumors and gossip, or later express strong opinions to others about what she heard. Now they call that social media, lol.
I have memories of my mother picking up the phone to make a call, but first pausing and listening to see if anyone else was on the line before she proceeded. When I was about 6 or 7 my parents remodeled the house and that was when technology improved so that each home could have their own dedicated land line - no more listening in on the neighbors!
R. E. S. P. E. C. T.
The temptation to listen in on the neighbors was weighed against the need to respect the privacy of others, and too often the temptation won. The freedom to pick up a phone to listen in on a neighbor's private phone conversation was too much freedom for some to handle - they just couldn't discipline themselves by remembering to love and respect their neighbor.
Similarly, a Christian can love the Lord and their neighbor, but in one area violate that respect because they have the freedom to do so, and lack the discipline or understanding to restrain themselves. Also, Christians are infamous in some churches and 'revival centers' for treating the gifts of the Spirit like toys for a 4 year old on Christmas morning - play things.
They oooh and ahhh if someone sees an angel, acting like 'I want one too!'. As if seeing an angel or the Lord or moving in the gifts is a spiritual badge of honor. If they knew what and better, Who they were dealing with, they wouldn't be such spiritual babies.
The city of Corinth was one such case.
The city motto was 'Liberty and knowledge', and they lived that to the utmost. Paul had to write them in chapters 12-14 about the gifts of the Spirit handled properly, and with love and respect for God and others. In Paul's first letter to them he cited at least 10 situations that had to be corrected. Liberty and knowledge - whatever you do is fine!
In his first letter, chapter 11: 1-16 the situation is that some of the wives were removing their veils when they came to (house) church. We are told in Acts 18: 7-8 they initially met in the home of a Roman named Justus, being joined by believing Jews, and 'many of the Corinthians (Greeks) also believed.'
All three cultures were together in one house. Women in Greek culture were practically worshipped and experienced great freedoms, Roman women not as much, and Jewish women had freedoms that varied by region and even city.
But one thing they had in common in that region of Greece was that a thin, almost see-through veil over the face indicated a woman was married. Her unveiled face was for her husband to see. It was the ancient version of the wedding ring. But these wives were free in Christ, and so felt justified in removing their veils once inside for a house church meeting.
Can you imagine a house church meeting today where upon entering the home, the host or hostess has placed a small bowl by the door that each wife may remove her wedding band, to be picked up when leaving? That is what these wives were doing by removing their veils upon entering. They were relaxed, in a private home meeting with brothers and sisters in the Lord, among friends - they were free in Christ, everything was morally upright in the meetings - what is the harm?
Paul asks them in v13 to judge for themselves if it was right they do so and in v16 calls the practice of veils for the wives a custom. It isn't a doctrinal issue but cultural as he states, and they needed to judge in themselves what was right. To this day in some parts of the world, a veil for wives is the norm, but not the case elsewhere in the region. Same for Corinth.
The larger issue was respect for order in the marriage which takes up the bulk of his comments. He even says in v10 the wives should be wearing veils out of respect 'for the angels'. In the Greek this is in fact 'angelous' (angels) so if your version says 'ministers' it is incorrect, the version purposely ignoring the Greek to make it easier to understand for those who don't know their history nor culture - but it changes everything to introduce such error.
Paul simply says they should wear veils to honor their husbands, and 'because of the angels'. He says this because they would understand what 'because of the angels' means. He was pulling them back to honor and respect for marriage, angels, and the fear of God. Do we have that same honor and respect for God and the things of God?
Next week I'll pick it up from there - in your church are the things of God, angels, the gifts of the Spirit, treated with awe and respect and honor, or like play things given that we can share this new vision or that new experience that others may ooohhh and ahhhh? What is your church culture, the culture of your Christian friends?
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