11 June, 2007

Cultural Relevance or Biblical Mandate?

In the evangelical world you do not often see articles or discussions about women covering their heads in worship. Last week Andree' Seu, of World Magazine, wrote the article: Symbol of Glory as a a defense of why she has been covering her head in worship.

I know that it is a controversial issue and that there are God honoring people on both sides of the argument; but it is nice to see that people are at least thinking about the implications of I Corinthians 11. 2-16.

I would like to see more discussion on the issue done in a God-honoring way. I am afraid that in some, it has become a symbol of control over a woman rather than of her glory. Either way, Seu has a balanced argument for the usage of head coverings.


steveandjanna said...

It is a symbol of a wife or daughter's submission to the man that God has placed in authority over her. It is both an honor and a glorification of God's perfection. Sadly, feminism has plagued the church for a century and Satan has used radical feminism to twist the purpose of a head covering into something that it never was.

Nate said...

I understand all of the arguments for and against the practice. I am loosely committed to one, but will not take a 100% stand as of yet.

Not all who oppose headcoverings do it for 'femininism'. Many reformed people find it to be cultural and most commentaries agree.

Even the RPNA, who is everything but feminist, believe that it is cultural and have written a very large polemic AGAINST head coverings.

Either way, the Seu article was quite a good one.

Mark said...

I love your second-to-the-last sentence, it really gets to the root of the issue. Like Ms. Seu, I'm completely baffled by I Cor. 11:10, but it makes it pretty clear that it's about honoring women. And that's something that has to go beyond head coverings - something drastic like guys not acting like total pigs, perhaps.

Doug Wilson wrote a great essay about this in Credenda a few years back. This issue is comparatively minor in the grand scheme of things, yet too many of us ignore the verse that comes right after the coverings section - that if anybody is contentious, they're outside church custom. Chapter 13 is also an excellent guide on how to debate this.

Nate said...

I am with you Mark- the woman's honor is rarely spoken of by promoters of covered heads.

I would like to see more exegesis on this.

A person who chooses to remain anonymous said...

The 1 Cor. 11 text certainly is about a woman's honor, and to preserve her against shame. One must recognize in that text that the husband is for his wife, so men don't get cocky. The arguement that is made in the text is from nature, which is the context for that no other custom clause.

Question for you, Nate:
What is the word for custom in the Greek and is it used in any other text in Scripture? If it is, what is the sense behind the word?

Nathan&Lydia said...


There are 2 different words that are translated 'custom' in English.

The first one is 'teleo' and refers to a payment (such as the $2.50 Skyway into Chicago custom).

Our word is 'sunathaian' and is rooted in the word 'ethos'. The word has a few nuances such as:
-establihed practice
-repeated actions which make a pattern of behavior.
-becoming used to something
-being accustomed to.
intimate practice.

The word appears at least 5 times in the New Testament in various forms. Without total access to my books (I am out of my home) I see that Luke likes the word a lot. He uses it in these places:
1.9; 2.27; 2.42; 4.16.
Each reference has to do with an established law or practice.

In English we use the word ethos for ethnic and it even comes over via etemology in our word culture. Paul could have said, we have no other culture.

Now, my question is this- Is the 'no other custom' the covering of heads by our glorious Christian women, or is that those who are contensious (dividing, mean-spirited, etc.) are NOT a part of the Christian culture??

As for your point about men getting cocky- I hope that I am dealing with this in a God-honoring way. I am not attempting to be supressive or over-bearing at all. i am just trying to work through this very difficult passage. This is one of Paul's 'hard sayings'.

I hope that 12:45am ramble is helpful to you.

Nathan&Lydia said...

That was Nate, not Nathan and Lydia, BTW!

The OED Master said...

CUSTOM, noun:

1. a. A habitual or usual practice; common way of acting; usage, fashion, habit (either of an individual or of a community).

c1200 Trin. Coll. Hom. 75 Beree us wi alle iuele customes. Ibid. 89 It is custume at ech chirchsocne go is dai a procession. c1340 HAMPOLE Psalter xxi. 16 As hundes folus ther custom in berkyng & bitynge. c1350 Will. Palerne 2010 On at knew e kostome of e cuntre of grece. c1450 tr. T. à Kempis' Imit. I. xiv, Olde custom is harde to breke. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 162b, Let vs not come to ye chirche by vse & custome, as the oxe to his stalle. 1576 FLEMING Panopl. Epist. Biij, Other fourmes of salutations are also in custome. 1602 SHAKES. Ham. I. iv. 15 It is a Custome More honour'd in the breach, then the obseruance. 1683 EVELYN Diary 12 Feb., Much offended at the novel costome of burying every one within the body of the Church. 1713 BERKELEY Hylas & Phil. II. Wks. I. 309 Common custom is the standard of propriety in language. 1732 Alciphr. v. §12 The general manners and customs of those people. 1719 YOUNG Revenge IV. i, I went into the garden, As is my custom. 1833 H. MARTINEAU Briery Creek iii. 46 The settlers..followed the old custom..of holding their market on a Saturday. 1859 MILL Liberty 126 The despotism of custom is everywhere the standing hindrance to human advancement.
b. The practising of anything habitually; the being or becoming accustomed.

1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 78 Whan a synner commeth to the custome of synne, than he falleth to contempte. 1534 WHITINTON Tullyes Offices I. (1540) 27 Custome and practyse must be vsed, that we may be as good accompters of our offyces. 1608 BP. HALL Char. Virtues & V. II. 94 Custome of sinne hath wrought this senslesnesse. 1867 J. INGELOW Dreams that came true vii, Custom makes all things easy.
c. of custom: according to custom, usually, as usual; also adjectivally, usual, customary. Obs.

c1400 Lanfranc's Cirurg. 124 A man at usi of custum sich a maner dietynge. 1556 Chron. Gr. Friars (Camden) 74 It hathe bene of ane olde costome that sent Gorge shulde be kepte holy day. 1576 FLEMING Panopl. Epist. 111 For some things there be which of custome I shake off. 1688 EVELYN Mem. (1857) II. 296, 29th Nov. I went to the Royal Society. We..dined together as of custom.
d. custom of women (med.L. consuetudo): menstruation. Obs.

1611 BIBLE Gen. xxxi. 35 The custome of women is vpon mee. 1705 W. BOSMAN Guinea 210 When the Custom of Women is upon the Female Sex, they are..esteemed unclean.
e. Applied to specific usages of particular peoples; e.g. the periodical massacres in Dahome.

1820 Q. Rev. XXII. 296 Dahomeans do not make war to make slaves, but to make prisoners to kill at the Customs. 1881 Standard 12 Nov. 5/1 The Ashantis, like the Dahomeyans, have their ‘customs’ or periodical executions.
2. Law. An established usage which by long continuance has acquired the force of a law or right, esp. the established usage of a particular locality, trade, society, or the like.
In French history applied to the special usages of different provinces and districts which had grown into a local body of law, as the custom of Normandy, of Paris, etc.

c1400 Test. Love III. (1560) 293b/1 Custome is of commen usage by length of time used, and custome nat write is usage. 1523 FITZHERB. Surv. 4 Oxganges, rentes, or suche other customes as the tenauntes vse. a1626 BACON Max. & Uses Com. Law (1635) 37 Having..gained a custome by use of occupying their lands, they now are called coppy holders. 1680 MORDEN Geog. Rect. (1685) 22 The Common Law of England is a Collection of the General Common Custom, and Usages of the Kingdom. 1726 AYLIFFE Parergon 195 A Statute has the express Consent of the People, whereas a Custom has only their tacit agreement to it. 1767 BLACKSTONE Comm. II. 98 Declaring, that the will of the lord was to be interpreted by the custom of the manor. 1769 De Foe's Tour Gt. Brit. II. 409 Stafford..This Town retains the antient Custom of Borough English. 1818 CRUISE Digest. (ed. 2) I. 360 Every species of waste..not warranted by the custom of the manor. 1864 KIRK Chas. Bold I. II. ii. 500 The ‘customs’ of Liégethat is to say its constitution and its lawswere..forever abrogated.
3. Customary service due by feudal tenants to their lord; customary rent paid in kind or in money; any customary tax or tribute paid to a lord or ruler. Obs. in actual use.

c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. (1810) 111 Ne costom no seruise of ing at he forgaf. c1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 7984 The monkes possessiouns made he Fra all seruice and customes fre. 1523 FITZHERB. Surv. Prol., What rentes, customes, and seruice he ought to haue of them [the tenants]. 1535 COVERDALE Ezra iv. 13 Then shal not they geue tribute, toll, and yearly custome. 1632 LITHGOW Trav. IV. (1682) 152 He disannulled all the exactions..upon his tributary Christian subjects; and cancelled the custom or tythe of their male children. 1641 Termes de la Ley 97 Custome is also used..for such services as Tenants of a Manor owe unto their Lord. c1730 BURT Lett. N. Scotl. (1818) II. 52 Their rent is chiefly paid in kind..such as barley, oatmeal, and what they call customs, as sheep, lambs, poultry, butter, &c.
4. a. Tribute, toll, impost, or duty, levied by the lord or local authority upon commodities on their way to market; esp. that levied in the name of the king or sovereign authority upon merchandise exported from or imported into his dominions; now levied only upon imports from foreign countries. the Customs: the duties levied upon imports as a branch of the public revenue; the department of the Civil Service employed in levying these duties. (Now rarely in singular, and never with a.)
In this sense the OE. name was toll (Ger. zoll); consuetudo occurs in Magna Carta, custuma in med.L. passim. In early times the customs were distinguished as magna custuma, ‘the great custom’, levied upon exports and imports, and parva custuma, ‘the little custom’, levied upon goods taken to market within the realm.

[c1325 Iter Camerarii i. (Sc. Statutes), Braxiatores, carnifices, custumarios magne et parue custume. 15th c. Sc. transl. Breustaris, fleschewaris, custumaris alswel of greit custom as of small custum.] c1400 MANDEVILLE (Roxb.) xvi. 75 e emperour takez mare of at citee [Tabreez] to customez of marchandise an e ricchest Cristen king..may dispend. c1440 Promp. Parv. 111 Custum, kyngys dute, custuma. 1483 Act 1 Rich. III, c. 8 Pream., Paying less Custume for the Lokkys then for the hole wollyn Flese. 1534 TINDALE Matt. ix. 9 He sawe a man syt a receyuinge of custome, named Mathew. 1581 MARBECK Bk. of Notes 271 Customes are these which are paide of Merchaundises, and of those things which are either carried out or brought in. 1609 SKENE Reg. Maj. 152 Custumers of the litill custum (that is, of gudes cumand to the market). 1669-70 MARVELL Corr. cxl. Wks. II. 311 Setting a high custom upon all forain Corn. 1710 SWIFT Jrnl. Stella Oct. 10 §19 The handkerchiefs will be put in some friend's pocket, not to pay custom. 1766 C. LEADBETTER Royal Gauger (ed. 6) II. ix. 333 The Commissioners of the Customs are to pay into the Exchequer the remaining Part of the Produce of such Seizure made by the Officers of the Customs. 1838-42 ARNOLD Hist. Rome (1846) III. xliii. 114 Collectors of customs and port duties. 1863 H. COX Instit. I. ix. 196 Among the permanent taxes, the most considerable are the customs..and the excise duty.
b. customs (freq. without article), the area at a seaport, airport, etc., where goods, luggage, and other items are examined and customs duties levied.

1921 C. CROW Travelers' Handbk. China (ed. 3) 8 Travelers should note that..if goods other than personal effects are taken out of the country it is necessary to pass them through the customs before they can be accepted by the shipping companies. 1932 G. GREENE Stamboul Train I. i. 7 He was the first through customs. 1966 T. FRISBY There's Girl in my Soup III. 48 How on earth did you have the nerve to bring all those [cigarettes] through the customs. 1971 V. ELIOT in T. S. Eliot Waste Land Draft p. x, He asked Quinn to send a clerk to meet Eliot at the dock and see him through customs. 1984 M. HANSSEN E for Additives 8 Although it is not very obvious when you go through Customs, a stated objective of the European Economic Community..is to harmonize laws.
5. The practice of customarily resorting to a particular shop, place of entertainment, etc. to make purchases or give orders; business patronage or support.

1596 SHAKES. Tam. Shr. IV. iii. 99 Go hop me ouer euery kennell home, For you shall hop without my custome sir. 1664 PEPYS Diary 31 Mar., A tailor, whom I have presented my custom. 1669 BUNYAN Holy Citie 17 What wonderful custom the Church of God at this day shall have among all sorts of People, for her Heavenly Treasures. 1729 SWIFT Modest Proposal, This food would likewise bring great Custom to taverns. 1833 H. MARTINEAU Brooke Farm vii. 88 They ran in debt to the grocer till he refused their custom. 1893 Law Times XCV. 5/2 Other persons who had been customers discontinued their custom.
6. a. attrib. and Comb., as (sense 1) custom-generated, -governed adjs.; (sense 2-3) custom law, -service; (sense 4) custom-collector, -gatherer; customs duties, laws, officer, official, union, etc.; CUSTOM-HOUSE; (sense 5) custom-shrunk adj., -work; custom-built, -made adjs., built or made to order or to measure; so custom-build v. trans.; custom-day, ? a day on which a customary service is rendered by a tenant; custom-free a., free from custom, toll, or tribute; free from custom duty; custom-mill, (a) a mill belonging to a feudal proprietor at which his tenants are obliged to grind their corn, paying ‘custom’ for the accommodation; (b) a mill that grinds for customers; custom-office = CUSTOM-HOUSE; custom-sick a., morbidly subject to custom or habit; custom smelter U.S., a smelter who treats rock or ore for customers.

1960 Design 29 Feb., A willingness to accept a new situation and to *custom build the standards for it.
1925 Art & Publicity 36 (Advt.), *Custom-built exclusiveness without excessive cost. 1955 T. STERLING Evil of Day vii. 77 A custom built Rolls Royce cloud. 1957 M. SHARP Eye of Love iii. 33 His good custom-built suit.
c1688-9 in Maidment Sc. Pasquils (1868) 263 Our new kings vicegerent..More fit to be a factor or *custome collector.
1518 Rental Bk. in Trans. Kilkenny Archæol. Soc. Ser. II. IV. 123 A *custom day on every howse to ripp bind & drawe.
1845 MCCULLOCH Taxation II. v. (1852) 234 *Customs duties existed in England previously to the Conquest. 1878 JEVONS Prim. Pol. Econ. 128 The customs duties levied upon wine, spirits, tobacco..when they are imported.
a1680 BUTLER Rem. (1759) I. 80 To take up a Degree, With all the Learning to it, *Custom-free. 1810 in Risdon's Surv. Devon App. 17 Towns..free from Tax and Toll, such as we..call Custom-free.
1656 TRAPP Comm. Luke iii. 12 These [publicans] were toll-takers, *custom-gatherers for the Romans.
1630 R. Johnson's Kingd. & Commw. 71 The..*Custome law, that (by the particular custome of Manors and Towns) lands should be divided by the custome of Gavel kinde.
1855 Chicago Weekly Times 16 Jan. 1/2 [There] may be found a large and splendid assortment of *custom made boots and shoes. 1959 Observer 8 Mar. 15/5 Because of the peculiar idiosyncrasies of faces they [sc. spectacle frames] often need to be custom-made.
1703 Lond. Gaz. No. 3898/4 The Manor and Royalty of Bovey-Tracy, with the Fairs, Markets, and *Custom Mills. 1888 EISSLER Metal. Gold 33 At custom-mills the quartz is delivered in wagons.
1844 H. H. WILSON Brit. India I. 25 The Company's *custom-offices on the opposite bank.
1676 PHILLIPS Purch. Pattern 2 What *Custom-service hath been done of old By those who formerly the same did hold.
1603 SHAKES. Meas. for M. I. ii. 85 What with the gallowes, and what with pouerty, I am *Custom-shrunke.
1634 W. WOOD New Eng. Prosp. II. iv, They are not a little phantasticall or *custom-sick in this particular.
1880 G. T. INGHAM Digging Gold 268 There is at Galena a small *custom smelter. 1963 Times 22 Apr. (Zinc Suppl.) p. ii/1 The custom smelters (smelters without their own mines).
1705 in 15th Rep. Hist. MSS. Commission (1897) App. VI. 11 The Justices of the Peace are to assist the *customs-officers.
1923 D. H. LAWRENCE Birds, Beasts & Flowers 29 But here, even a *customs-official is still vulnerable.
1903 ‘VIGILANS SED ÆQUUS’ German Ambitions iv. 55 The Hague Courant, which advocated a *Customs Union with Germany. 1956 Planning XXII. 224 Three small nationsBelgium, the Netherlands, and Luxemburghave formed Benelux, a customs union for nearly everything except agricultural products.
1884 N.Y. Herald 27 Oct. 746 Wantedtailoress on first class *custom work.

b. attrib. passing into adj. Designating articles made to measure or to order, or places where such articles are made, or people producing work of this kind; = BESPOKE ppl. a. Also fig. Hence as advb., in combs., as custom-fitted, -mixed, -tailored adjs. Cf. custom-built, -made above. Chiefly U.S.

1830 Williams's N.-Y. Ann. Reg. 163 There are no manufactories of cotton or woollen but such as are used for custom work. 1851 C. CIST Sk. Cincinnati 175 Fine and coarse work for foreign markets, and custom work for home consumption. Ibid. 176 Two-thirds of these [shoes] at least, are made here, wholesale, or at custom shops. 1895 Montgomery Ward Catal. 269/3 For higher priced clothing, we refer you to our custom tailoring department, where we make clothing to order in any size and style desired. 1903 N.Y. Times 26 Sept. 6 (Advt.), Custom tailors charge for suits like these $35. 1905 Washington Star 24 Nov. 5 (Advt.), Double or Single-Breasted Sacks, as perfect-fitting as the finest custom garments. 1943 J. P. MARQUAND So Little Time (1944) iv. 31 He made Jeffrey conscious of his own custom-tailored suit, of the shine on his brown low shoes and the crease in his trousers. 1955 T. STERLING Evil of Day xxi. 207 He had designed the murder for one woman and no other. It was a perfect custom fit. 1957 W. H. WHYTE Organization Man xxiii. 299 A small area with ‘custom’ houses. 1959 Sunday Express 1 Feb. 19/4 His custom-tailored suit. 1961 M. BEADLE These Ruins are Inhabited (1963) iv. 51 An awesome superstructure of custom-fitted plugs and adaptors. 1964 Punch 23 Sept. 456/3 Custom-mixed after-shave lotion. 1968 Listener 12 Sept. 331/1 The custom cars, whose flamboyant shapes are public property while their mechanical niceties are reserved for the initiated.

steveandjanna said...

If you refer to the RPCNA, it is a denomination moving in the direction of the left, meaning it is being influenced by feminism. The issue of headcoverings is but one example. The cultural argument is completely subjective and doesn't for a moment look at what scripture has to say. As folks who believe in sola scriptura, we should scoff at cultural traditions in matters such as this and focus on scripture alone.

Nate said...

-I said the RPNA, not the RPCNA. The RPNA is the denomination that my friend excommunicated from. That denomination will not allow their women to wear head coverings on the basis that it is cultural.
-As for the RPCNA, all of the evidence shows that it is actually becoming more conservative. There have been many changes since the 1940s that show a denomination in reformation. It is not at all moving towards liberalism.
(You can talk to Elder Bonner about this. He has read the reports of synod for the last 60 years.)
-Although I agree that cultural arguments are a quick way to turn away from the Word of God, there are some that are cultural- when is the last time you greeted a brother with a holy kiss? Paul commands it.

steveandjanna said...

I thought you had left the C out of the initials, I still stand by my position on the RPCNA.

Daniel Ritchie said...

This is a difficult topic; however, for anyone interested I have a section on the issue in my book The Regulative Principle of Worship: Explained and Applied (Xulon Press).

A person who chooses to remain anonymous said...

"As for your point about men getting cocky- I hope that I am dealing with this in a God-honoring way."
My comment wasn't an insinuation.