Sunday, January 8, 2012


Most of what is written in the second half of Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians is given in direct answer to questions raised by the believers at Corinth. Had they never raised these questions, Paul may never have seen fit to open the various topics for discussion (and before anyone protests that the Holy Spirit is the true Author, bear in mind that He also would not have addressed these topics except in response to these questions, seeing as they are generally ignored elsewhere in the text). In the eleventh chapter we encounter a passage that reveals something about the Corinthian church. It appears that they were wrangling with one another over the subject of head coverings (or veils) for women.
  Among the Jews and Greeks it was customary for women to were veils in public. Those who were seen outside their homes without a covering of some sort were supposed to be prostitutes or pagan priestesses. It is doubtful that normal people would rigidly adhere to such uniform customs without exception, but this is what the historical record points to as a stereotypical custom. The practice of wearing veils was intended to depict the woman’s social station as beneath that of the man. Due to this very common impression of propriety, many at Corinth believed it was unwise to set aside the good example of women everywhere, and therefore expedient as Christians to continue to enforce this standard of dress, so as not to identify with the unrighteous. But there was another party at Corinth who deplored such needless outward signs, who insisted that women ought to be free to appear in the church unveiled, since there is no difference in Christ. Their protest was evidently strong enough to merit attention and precipitate inclusion of the matter in the list of questions they sent to the Apostle Paul.
  Paul deals with the issue in wisdom, attempting to ameliorate the dispute between the two factions, and never even hints at the creation of a new doctrine for The Church. Indeed, it would be senseless to assume that the Apostle would resort to inventing doctrines as a reaction to localized behavior. He addresses the topic by beginning with a recapitulation of the various tenets involved and their overall meaning with regards to social station. He addresses the Anti-veil party with this reminder in order to provide balance to his reasoning, knowing that he will come down on their side in the end. He then turns to the Pro-veil party and appeals to their sense of proportion, hoping they will appreciate the Liberty they have in Christ when they read his conclusions. He assures them of the merits of their arguments, and gives them an easy out by certifying a woman’s hair as a natural, God-given covering. Having covered this ground very delicately he then summarizes, stating flatly that in the Church there is no custom concerning the covering of the head. This is the goal toward which Paul is working, and which he most skillfully attains. He then quickly and abruptly changes the subject.
  The fact that Paul’s argument is from Nature (does not even nature teach you…?) gives legitimacy to those who would argue that a woman’s hair should be long. Nevertheless, his entire point in stating this was to sell the Pro-veil party on the idea that no other covering was necessary. Ultimately he pushes the entire custom aside with his final words on the subject, saying “we [meaning the Church] have no such custom.” This entire passage was intended to put an argument to rest, not to start millions of new arguments over the length of hair. Least of all did Paul intend to institute a new doctrine for the Church which neither Christ nor any of the twelve saw the need to address.
  To take this several steps further and claim that a woman who cuts her hair AT ALL, for any reason, is a rebel “against God” and subject to all the hellfire reserved for those who practice witchcraft, is nothing less than criminal neglect of appropriate spiritual guidance. New Testament Christian Church is guilty of this crime, having insisted as one of its primary underpinnings that women must never cut their hair. To do so is interpreted as rebellion, and the verse is then cited concerning rebellion being “as the sin of witchcraft”. No exceptions are allowed for any reason, and no guilty person escapes the judgment of those who wax bold to assess her spiritual state by eye-balling her hair length in conjunction with any and all evidence of a recent trim.
  We have called this teaching an “underpinning” of NTCC, and it is. R.W. Davis felt indignation on behalf of Almighty God because many churches were “compromised”, having relaxed enforcement of the hair doctrine, allowing women to get away with cutting their hair, which evidently meant that they were rebellious, hated God, despised righteousness, made fools of their husbands and wanted “to run the church”. The truth is that he, like many Ultra-conservatives of his era, did not make the effort to understand what the scripture was saying. As is often the case with self-appointed “leaders”, he interpreted his ignorant bias as a sign, thinking that he stood alone and was therefore “called of God” to set things straight and point out to the world the meaning of sin. It was dangerous thinking like this that set him on a course to start yet another organization of churches that would teach and enforce a man’s opinions as though they were the commandments of God.
  One might ask: Does not Nature also teach you that a woman’s fingernails should be longer than those of a man? Should she then be forbidden from cutting them?
  NTCC promotes themselves as an elite corp of Bible believers who refuse to “compromise” God’s Word as others have done. The entire atmosphere of the group is pregnant with viscious implications that arise from such a belief, and the average member or minister believes deep down that, all lipservice to the contrary notwithstanding, the words of one of their current leaders are true: “If you think you can leave this organization and still serve God, you’d better think again.” Part of their claim to exclusivity is their rigid stance on what they refer to as “the hair question.” What makes this such a deceptive dogma is the fact that there IS NO hair question. It is something that is invented for the purpose of exclusive claims to salvation.
  In summary: some theologians are very concerned about applying the Bible principle of the necessity of two or three witnesses. Therefore they say that every doctrine (this is admittedly a stretch) must be confirmed by a plurality of scriptural passages before it should be applied dogmatically. If this principle were in view where “the hair question” is concerned, then the entire doctrine would be considered non-essential at most, questionably vague at least. It is only brought up in one single place, in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Neither Jesus nor any of the twelve ever raised “the hair question”. It simply was not a matter of great importance–was not, in fact, even worth mentioning at all. The other churches in other regions (who did not have the benefit of New Testament writings) were unaware of the situation and lived out their lives in blissful ignorance of “the hair question”. Had the Corinthian church never involved itself in this useless dispute, this particular teaching of Paul’s would not have been necessary and “the hair question” would be unknown in the church to this day.
  Furthermore, obsession with this false so-called “hair question” genders stupid questions concerning specific length and style, and innumerable hypothetical situations in which someone must take upon themselves to judge “what’s allowed and what’s not allowed”; questions about which normal, functioning adults would never spend time worrying. Was Paul simply wasting space in the BIble? No, he was resolving a contentious situation, while providing a highly instructive example of how such matters ought to be handled.
  Nowhere does the scripture raise the hair question. The ‘question’ that was raised was a question that orginated in a rancorous debate within the church at Corinth. As to Nature, and the dictum that long hair is a glory to a woman: it is illogical to assume that the converse would imply unrighteousness; that to cut the hair is a sin. By no means does Paul suggest this, yet NTCC is audacious enough to state the case unequivocally. If Paul imagined that he had laid this debate to rest, he must not have banked on the emergence of such careless schismatics as New Testament Christian Church. 

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