The first post on this subject is HERE.
As I’ve been considering all our church has gone through over the last 18 months, the issues have really been centered on these wonderful pictures of Christ and His Church.
As we walked through First Corinthians, we began to run into problems in Chapter 5. This chapter unfolds a picture of Christ disciplining His Church, which is His loving right. His chastening is for our good, but church discipline is not an easy subject. (Read Rev 2-3)
Chapter 6 describes the beauty of a holy Church that settles disputes biblically and walks in sexual purity. The chapter does this by showing what a bickering, impure church looks like. Again, it can be described as a “picture” of the purified Bride, or Body of Christ serving her master in godliness.
Chapter 7 displays honorable marriage and singleness…a living in “the condition in which” one is called with a view towards Christ. Again, it is a picture of Christ and His Church as Paul described beautifully in Ephesians 5. The husband represents Christ in the picture, the wife the Church, and the single represents an unfettered Church betrothed to Christ and spending all her time serving Him.
Chapters 8-10 warn against a disobedient and adulterous Bride…one who mars the beauty of the picture by worshiping other gods. This behavior has always broken our Lord’s heart and incited His wrath as well. This does NOT represent the splendor of the picture.
Chapter 11 presents two clear pictures of Christ and His Church. One is the physical distinctions between men and women in worship, so important that even the angels are affected…the uncovered man a picture of Christ, the veiled woman, a picture of the submitted church. The other is the Shepherd feeding the sheep at His Table, asking them to always remember His holy sacrifice and His leading them to peaceful pastures through His broken body and shed blood.
Chapters 12-13 envision an empowered and loving church, using the gifts the Master has given her for the edification of the whole Body. This type of loving ministry points to how Christ serves His church, and must reflect His glory and no other.
Chapter 14 continues this picture, but also adds again the beautiful distinctions in gender roles in the home (“ask your husband at home”) and church (“silent in the churches”). And this is where we really need to see the beauty of the pictures, because this seems to be the crux of the problems we faced: gender roles and distinctions.
Men and women are different. From the Garden of Eden, men and women were created equal in value but distinct in role, biology and appearance. Feminism got the picture-destroying ball rolling in the 20th century. In 2015, our entire country lost its sinful mind on this issue: (Gay "marriage;" Bruce Jenner; a US legislator introducing a bill to eliminate the terms “husband” and “wife” from federal documents and laws; and oh by the way, Facebook has 58 selections for gender!) In God’s Kingdom, anything that would blur God-given gender distinctions is…well…an ugly picture.
God’s plan for gender distinctions in the home and church isn't evil, or even all about punishment. Rather, God’s plan is a beautiful, pure and holy, wonderful picture of Christ and the Church! So when we see manly husbands and womanly wives, that is the picture (Christ and the Church). When we see godly, manly pastors leading a submitted congregation, that is the picture (Christ and the Church). When we see dignified men and modest women, that is the picture (Christ and the Church).
Satan wants the opposite. He wants manly women and effeminate men. He wants thugs instead of theologians and sassiness instead of submission. He wants clear New Testament instructions on teaching and leading ignored, so as to mar the picture.
Can you imagine a Christ who physically or verbally abuses or doesn’t provide for His Church? Or a Church who disrespects Christ? Can you imagine a Church who presumes to teach as Christ must listen and come under the Church’s authority? Or a Christ who won’t teach and care for His children? Ugly pictures!
Think biblically, dear friends. Look at the pictures you see in culture and compare them to Christ’s. Which one do you want?