Culture shock is a common phenomenon among those who return to the United States after living abroad for 3-5 years. The returnees are astonished that so much has changed so quickly. What disturbs them is that cultural values, mores, customs and traditions once revered and reinforced are now laid aside, forgotten or even despised. There is now uncertainty what constitutes a family, confusion of gender identity, and now the perplexity of who are parents with the introduction of the birth of a child from three parents. Through in vitro fertilization, an egg cell combined from two different mothers was fertilized by the sperm of one man. In one sense, the confusion can be laid at the step of the Church, which today boasts of its reasoned understanding of scripture, but lacks the understanding of sacred tradition, which is often its practical application. The Apostle Paul addressed this cultural novelty issue in his letter to the Corinthians. The people in the church at Corinth were disrespecting the Lord’s Supper with various acts and displays, including rude behavior, divisions and drunkenness, which were not demonstrating the proper reverence for this sacred ceremony. His focus on appropriate gender-specific displays of reverence causes confusion today for those who do not know the proper cultural context.
Distinction of Roles. There are accepted expressions of deference in our culture, including all rising for the National Anthem, and men removing their caps and hats for that song or to express deference for a funeral procession. The Christian man’s role is to reflect Christ, and the Christian woman’s role is to reflect the Church, the bride of Christ. The veil a bride wears is an honor distinguishing her from all others.
Distinction of Gestures. The headdresses and veils the Corinthian women wore were gender-specific expressions of humility and reverence not appropriate for the men.
Distinctions within Nature. Paul affirmed the gender-specific distinctions apart from culture by appealing to nature. He used the example of long hair being a disgrace for men, but being the pride of women. We are to be united in reverence of God and Christ our Savior.