One of the wonderful things about the sacraments and ordinances of the Christian Church is that where they're practiced properly, they acknowledge the equality of all men and women before God, that none of us comes with any special privilege, but rather we all come as sinners in need of the grace of God and we must come equally and be received equally on the basis of what Christ has done. That is not true in the ordinances of this world.

The point that Dr. Sproul was making with the child’s question, "How short is short?" is that length and shortness are relative terms. You say a man’s hair should be short. The question is, short in relationship to what? When Paul says that a man’s hair should be short, he is saying that it should be short in relation to the length of women’s hair. And when he says that a woman’s hair should be long, he is saying that a woman’s hair should be long in relation to men’s hair. Dr. Sproul made the point that back in the 1960s when men were growing their hair really long, women's hair got longer. Did you notice what happened when Audrey Hepburn was a popular actress? At that time the most trendy hairstyle for women was called the "Audrey Hepburn Look." The hair was cropped short to the head. What happened to the style of men's hair? Men's hair got even shorter. That was the age of the crew cut.

Charles Hodge, the great theologian who wrote what I consider to be the best commentary on 1 Corinthians, comes to today's passage with unusual humility and says, "This is certainly a puzzling matter upon which theologians are not entirely agreed." In the first paragraph of chapter 11, Paul talks about women covering their heads and says if they fail do so, especially in worship, they dishonor their head. Then he talks in the second paragraph about the length of men's and women's hair. Both passages are puzzling.

Following up on the first two points that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, he next repeats a point he made in chapter 8, verse 9: Not everything is constructive. Here, he has in mind the other person. Not everything is beneficial for me, and neither is everything constructive for the people around me. It is very clear that that's what he's talking about because he follows by saying, "Nobody should seek his own good but the good of others." In other words, there are many things you can do that God does not condemn and many of those things would not necessarily hurt you. However, some of those things that you are otherwise free to do could hurt another person. At that point you have to ask yourself, "What am I here for?"

In yesterday’s lesson we looked at Roger Nicole’s definition of freedom and two examples of how "freedom" is misinterpreted. His point was that as creatures made in the image of God, we will not find freedom in doing whatever we may like to do, particularly in our sinful state. When we do that, we produce in ourselves something that is similar to the derailment of the locomotive or the death of the fish. Our freedom is to be found in fulfilling the destiny for which God has created us, which is the answer to the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism - "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."