Vol. 6, No. 4
Since You Asked
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Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.
Would you comment on singing during communion and why it is an unauthorized form of worship?
True Christianity is driven by what is authorized in the Holy Scriptures. No passage better and more concisely demonstrates this than Colossians 3:17: "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." The phrase "in the name of the Lord Jesus" is comparable in meaning to what a police officer might say when banging on someone's door: "Open up in the name of the law." Clearly, both Colossians 3:17 and the phrase attributed to a police officer mean "by the authority of." Therefore, every religious speech (1 Peter 4:11) and every religious activity (Matthew 7:21) must be biblically authorized. Regarding the question at hand, it must be candidly admitted by all parties that there is no biblical authorization for singing at the same time communion is being observed. There is no biblical authorization for any two acts of worship occurring simultaneously!
Further, the New Testament, some critics notwithstanding, is a pattern for duplication of primitive, unadulterated Christianity. What some may sarcastically call Pattern Theology was introduced to Moses by God himself, according to Hebrews 8:15. The word "pattern" there comes from tupos or type, and it means "a die (as struck)"; see Strong's. A mechanical die is a fixed pattern that, when struck with force or otherwise applied, results in the same imprint or shape every time it is used. Hence, God expects humanity to duplicate what he has authorized, without alteration (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18-19). Perhaps no Scripture better or more concisely demonstrates the necessity of people today following the pattern set by God in the New Testament than Romans 6:17: "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form [tupos or pattern] of doctrine which was delivered you." The Greek word tupos appears 16 times in the New Testament. Regarding the question at hand, it must be candidly admitted by all parties that there is no biblical pattern for singing at the same time communion is being observed. There is no biblical pattern for any two acts of worship occurring simultaneously!
Further, Scripture specifically prohibits acts of worship occurring at the same time; see 1 Corinthians 14:23-33, 40. Verses 23 and 26 represent that the Corinthian Christians were doing several authorized activities in an unauthorized way, i.e., more than one person speaking or singing at the same time over each other. The apostle specifically stated that this situation did not promote edification (v. 26). Verse 27 says that Christians are to take turns. Verse 30 says that one must remain silent until someone already speaking ceases to speak. Verse 31 says that participants in the assembly are to speak "one by one" so that learning or edification may result (which implies that otherwise edification will not result). The apostle Paul relegated multiple activities in the assembly as "confusion" (v. 33). Paul's regulation of the assembly concludes in verse 40 with: "Let all things be done decently and in order." The Greek word for "order" is taxis, which means: "fixed succession" (Strong's). Regarding the question at hand, it must be candidly admitted by all parties that there is biblical prohibition for singing at the same time communion is being observed. There is biblical prohibition for any two acts of worship occurring simultaneously!
Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.
Evidently, anyone objecting to a Christian woman cutting her hair must be attempting to use 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 for his evidence. In that context, the apostle Paul appealed to a custom of the day to illustrate the proper observance of God-appointed roles respectively for men and women. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). The custom to which Paul referred was the woman wearing a veil that completely covered her head in public. The references to "covered" and "covering" in 1 Corinthians 11 refer to a veil that completely concealed the identity of the woman. Any woman in Corinth who violated the custom of wearing the veil was perceived as rebellious against the respective roles of men and women, as well as not submissive to her husband or father.
Habitually, perhaps instinctively, the sexes have been distinguished throughout time, in part, by men wearing their hair cropped and women wearing their hair longer. Long hair on women through time has been prized by women, and women as well as humanity in general would have viewed a woman's head that had been shaved bald as an ungainly sight. Due to the longstanding appreciation of long, beautiful hair on women, the apostle stated that a woman not wearing a veil in first century Corinth was as unsightly as a bald woman. Paul strongly urged Christian women in Corinth to not violate the custom (which of itself was neither right nor wrong), which if they did violate, they would imply to all who beheld them that they disrespected the roles of men and women, and demonstrated disdain toward their husbands and fathers.
The apostle Paul's thrust as he opened 1 Corinthians 11 was for Christians, in this case especially Christian women, to set a godly example (vs. 1). Paul affirmed that he set a godly example, which if others would follow to the extent that he followed Christ, God would be pleased, and others would be positively influenced by Christianity rather than prejudiced against it. For Christian women in Corinth of the first century to insist that they did not need to wear the veil in accordance with prevailing custom had the disadvantage of prejudicing the populace against the church and the Gospel. That Christian women elsewhere may have dispensed with wearing veils without arousing prejudice against them, the church and the Gospel (such as in western society today) was not proof that Christian women were necessarily permitted or could rightfully demand to dispense with veils in Corinth (vs. 16).
In summary, Paul was teaching Christian women in Corinth not to abuse their liberty in Christ. Specifically, he referred to Christian women in Corinth assuming that they could ignore social customs (the veil) that reflected on how society viewed their willingness to abide by then contemporary gender roles (which incidentally, God initially established). Paul further illustrated the impropriety of dispensing with the veil in first century Corinth by relating the ordinary arrangement of cropped hair on men and longer hair on women, whereby if a woman's head were shaven, it would be an embarrassment.
The apostle's primary emphasis was not on hair at all. Yet, the incidental reference to the hairstyles of men and women may indicate God's design (perhaps instinctive inclination by mankind) that one way men and women be distinguished was by shorter hair on men and longer hair on women. However, there is little in Scripture to indicate how short a man's hair should be, or how long a woman's hair should be. It may be surmised that God cares little about hair length as long as men look like men and women look like women. The "long hair" of verse 15 means tresses, i.e., hair long enough to braid though it may not be braided.
Nothing of which I am aware in God's Word prohibits a woman from cutting her hair. If anything in the Bible speaks to the length of one's hair, it is merely relative, i.e., men wear male hairstyles and women wear female hairstyles, the female's hair being some longer than a male's hair. There are several catalogs of sins in the New Testament, all of which are void of references to the length of someone's hair (Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8). We need to refrain from the urge to meddle with God's lists of sins, supposing to add a few items omitted by God. Christianity is difficult enough to live without going out of our way to make it more difficult than God made it. In addition, there are several clear, unmistakable teachings in the New Testament (e.g., Mark 16:15-16; 1 Corinthians 14:12; Galatians 6:10) that we dare not overlook as we go about concerning ourselves with trifles, with which God did not concern himself.