No Shoes, No Socks, No Service (ATP)
Who is first Corinthians written to? Why do we not follow the head covering rules today? They are a bit confusing.
Let’s look at the scriptures. 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 NASB, “Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.” Apparently, nearly all women wore head coverings in public during this time, regardless of religion but more as part of the culture. Men did not. Women seen without head coverings may have been considered morally loose, which seems strange for us now, but if we try to consider the times it will make more sense. A woman with an uncovered head might be compared to a woman wearing extremely revealing clothing in church today.
Consider this, anything that draws attention to the person instead of God, within a church service or during prayer, is already out of order. I recall visiting a church once while on vacation and this sort of thing happened there. There were a few select individuals who came into the church and even went to sing on stage and they weren’t wearing any socks or shoes. Is there anything specific in the Bible about having to wear socks or shoes? Not that I know of, but if you ask me, no socks, no shoes, no service! It made my family uncomfortable and I can imagine others might have also felt the same way. Besides this, it was a real distraction to what church is meant for. If you ask me about the message that day I couldn’t tell you one thing, but I can almost picture the moment I saw those shoeless people come in! I imagine this head covering issues was a similar idea for the time.
Just as a woman with an uncovered head seen in public in that time was considered inappropriate, a man with a covered head was also seen as inappropriate. So to answer your question, the specific head covering rules don’t apply in our culture today, but some principles can be wrought from this passage of scripture.
An important thing we have to remember with reading scripture is context, which I believe is in your question when you asked, “Who is this written to?” We have to consider, is this dealing with an issue with certain people or is this a command to all people? One thing that can help us is to ask ourselves if the direction is repeated in other scriptures. I have found that, specific things God wants us to do and build our doctrine on, He will repeat many times. Jesus himself said in Matthew 18:16, “…by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.” Paul repeats this in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “This will be the third time I am coming to you. ‘By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.’”
As we said earlier, when we don’t have a direction for doctrine, we can look for the principle of what is said. This also is the heart of scripture. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees calling them “white washed tombs” because their practice was to follow rules but their heart was never with God. He even said in Matthew 15:8, “THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.” God doesn’t just want us to follow rules, He wants us to love Him and love people. This is why Jesus said that this love is the greatest commandment.
What we can take away from this is this: 1 Corinthians 9:19-22, “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.” We should be so other people minded that we would not be able to offend others, or if we do we quickly make it right. Of course, we do so not to the point of sinning ourselves, but definitely in self sacrifice to please others.
Over all as we look at the letters to the Corinthians we understand that Paul was putting some things in order that were quite out of it. These letters are definitely full of correction for a church that may have loved the Lord, but were unbalanced in their action. Order creates a place of peace that anyone can grow in. Christians should strive to make peace their presence for this very reason, in their homes, in their place of work, in every place that they go.
Romans 12:18 (NASB)
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Pastor Renée & Pastor Jeff