Saturday, June 13, 2009
Because of the Angels...
1 Corinthians 11:10 says, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.”
It is generally inferred and more than implied that because the woman was deceived, and sinned first, that females are inherently naïve, gullible, and more prone to fall prey to seduction than males; and that because of this, her perpetual consequence this side of Heaven—for her personal protection and for the good of everyone around her—is that from her birth to her death, she must be placed under male authority.
The words “because of,” in verse 10, are translated from the Greek word dia which is a primary preposition. A preposition is a word or phrase denoting movement of time or space. In other words, some movement or action of the angels has a direct causal effect upon the reason women ought to have power on their heads. When looking for answers, it is important to be certain that we are asking the right questions. And a good place to begin solving the mystery of 1 Corinthians 11:10, is to ask what prepositional link women have in common with the angels. What is the connection between women and angels that entitles women to possess power upon their heads?
Humankind has little in common with angels—either male or female—but womankind does have the singular distinction of one of her own being deceived in common with angels, and that deception having a devastating effect upon others of her kind. Was not the angel, Lucifer, deceived into thinking that he could be as God? The scriptures record that the highest ranking angel was deceived, sinned, and, subsequently, one third of all the angels were deceived and fell with him.
It is commonly assumed that, because Eve was deceived, all women are gullible and easily deceived, but does the fact that Lucifer was in deception mean that all angels are inherently gullible and must henceforth be placed under authority? No, it does not. The angels that sinned are fallen without hope of redemption, but the angels that did not follow Lucifer in his rebellion still have liberty. They are not penalized because of the sin of their fellow angels and continue to exist as free moral agents, without stigma. The angels who did not sin continue to possess the power to obey or not to obey as do all women.
Then why does the Bible say that a woman must be under authority because of the angels?
The truth is the Bible says no such thing. The Authorized Version reads, “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head.” The phrase, “have power on her head,” is not synonymous with “under authority.” To understand what this means, we need to look at several words contained in this verse—have, power, and head.
The word have, in 1 Corinthians 11:10, can also be translated as “possess.” And indeed it is translated “possessed,” albeit in a negative sense, in Acts 8:7 and 16:16. But the negative connotation of the word in these verses has nothing to do with the word itself. The word “possess” has to do with ownership or control over. It has no inherent connotation of good or evil in and of itself. The important thing to notice in 1 Corinthians 11:10, is that it is the woman herself who possesses the power that is on her head. There is no hermeneutical reason for assigning the power that the woman herself possesses to someone else.
The next logical question is, what kind of power is it that the woman possesses? The word translated “power,” in 1 Corinthians 11, is also translated “liberty” in 1 Corinthians 8:9.
There is no good reason that 1 Corinthians 11:10 cannot be translated, “For this cause ought the woman to POSSESS LIBERTY upon her head. The text does not say over her head, but even if it did, the liberty, or authority, still belongs to the woman.
In the Bible, the word “head” can mean several things, but the meaning of “head” in 1 Corinthians 11:10, is universally recognized as referring to the person of the woman. Excepting Almighty God and legitimate legal authorities, it is the woman herself who possesses liberty—authority—over her own person. And the Bible connects this liberty with the angels. But which angels are being referred to in this verse? The angels referenced in 1 Corinthians 11:10, are not fallen angels. Woman is not being compared with Lucifer and his rebels here, but rather with angels who made the right choice and did not fall, the angels who, in spite of Lucifer’s personal deception and sin, and the fall of one third of their fellow angels, remain to this day completely autonomous, free, moral agents.
The angels that fell could not be redeemed, but the angels who remained loyal to God are not penalized for the wrongs others of their kind committed. God is not sexist or racist. Angels who did not follow Lucifer in his rebellion, continue to possess personal authority and liberty over their own persons without discrimination based on the behavior of fellow angels. Angels that did not fall are not considered inherently gullible or eternally penalized because one of their own was deceived; neither are females penalized by being bound under eternal male authority just because the first woman was deceived and fell into sin.
There is only one link between women and angels and it is the common history of one of their own falling into deception and leading others into deception with them. And as we have shown, the liberty of personal autonomy is not to be taken from them because of what others of their kind did or did not do.