1 Corinthians 11

1 Cor. 11:2 keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you

If only early Christianity had followed this advice from Paul! If only they had kept the saving ordinances as instructed! By so doing, they would have avoided so much confusion; they would have kept the power of God among them; and could have avoided apostasy. Instead, in the words of Isaiah, they 'transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, [and broke] the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned' (Isa. 24:5-6).

Orson Pratt

"Isaiah...saw the period of time when the earth should reel to and fro like a drunken man...And among other things he saw in vision was that the earth became defiled under the inhabitants thereof; 'because,' says the Prophet, 'they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.' Plainly showing that they were to be a corrupt people; a people who, for instance, would change the ordinance of baptism from immersion to sprinkling or pouring, or doing it away altogether, and in the same manner changing the various ordinances of the Gospel from the original form in which the Lord revealed them. He says, through the mouth of His Prophet, that the people who should be guilty of this great wickedness should be visited with fire." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 20: 14 - 16.)

1 Cor. 11:3 the head of the woman is the man

A divine organization as important as the human family must be organized in a divine fashion. The Lord would no more create the family with two heads than he would create an elephant with two heads. Such an organizational structure just doesn't make any sense. The Lord created the man as the head of the family. This concept is not threatening to faithful women. While they know that the husband is the head, they confidently assume their place as the neck-knowing that the neck often turns the head whichever way it wants.

Paul's other writings on this subject are particularly enlightening:

'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord
For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it' (Eph. 5:25)

Rodney Turner noted, "Obviously, a wife's righteous submission to her husband should stem from her husband's righteous submission to Christ. When this occurs, a divine triangle exists with Christ at its apex. Husband and wife are one flesh with each other because they have become one flesh with Christ. This is the foundation of all eternal unions." (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 117 - 118.)

When husbands love their wives 'even as Christ...loved the church,' wives never complain about the arrangement. Indeed, the world's most raging feminist would gladly submit herself to her husband if only she were treated with the love, compassion, empathy, sensitivity, and sacrifice with which Christ has treated the church. Unfortunately, so many Brethren fail to live up to this ideal. As President Kimball  once said, "I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality" (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 49).

Harold B. Lee

"I fear some husbands have interpreted erroneously the statement that the husband is to be the head of the house and that his wife is to obey the law of her husband. Brigham Young's instruction to husbands was this: 'Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his wives and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by his precept.' (Discourses of Brigham Young, Deseret Book Co., 1925, pp. 306-307.)

"This is but another way of saying that the wife is to obey the law of her husband only as he obeys the laws of God. No woman is expected to follow her husband in disobedience to the commandments of the Lord." (Ye Are the Light of the World: Selected Sermons and Writings of Harold B. Lee [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974], chap. 34.)

James E. Faust

"The priesthood places upon the fathers the responsibility of being the head of the family and the home. What does being the head of the family mean? It is a priesthood power, and the Doctrine and Covenants, D&C 121, makes it clear that all priesthood responsibilities must be exercised 'only by persuasion,. . . by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned' (D&C 121:41). Holding the priesthood does not mean that a man is a power-broker, or that he sits on a throne, dictating in macho terms, or that he is superior in any way. Rather, he is a leader by authority of example. Paul's counsel to the Ephesians included, 'Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it' (Eph. 5:25). As Christ lifts us all, so must we, rather than put down women or anyone.

"Nowhere does the doctrine of this Church declare that men are superior to women. Paul said to the Corinthians, 'Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord' (1 Cor. 11:11). Each brings his or her own separate and unique strengths to the family and the Church. Women are not just cooks, stewards of our homes, or servants. They are much more. They are the enrichment of humanity." ("The Highest Place of Honor," Ensign, May 1988, 36.)

Hugh B. Brown

"Both priesthood and motherhood, if they are to be honored and magnified, must bear the hallmark of service-service sanctified and glorified by love. Hence, neither the man nor the woman should envy the role of the other, but recognize it as a counterpart and complement of their own rule. We must go forward hand in hand and heart to heart as we face the challenging but glorious responsibilities of life." (Continuing the Quest [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], 6 - 7.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"God bless you, my beloved sisters. Please know that you are deeply appreciated. Please know that your place in the divine plan is no less important, no less great, and no less necessary than that of men. Paul has said, 'Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.' (1 Cor. 11:11.)

"Count your wonderful blessings. Do not worry away your lives with concerns over 'rights,' so-called, but move forward, concerned with responsibilities and opportunities. Your potential is limitless. You are daughters of God, endowed by inheritance with marvelous gifts and immeasurable potential. Accept the challenge. Go forward with confidence in the knowledge that the differences you face are not those which come of discrimination so much as those which come of designation." ("Ten Gifts from the Lord," Ensign, Nov. 1985, 89)

1 Cor. 11:5 every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head

Bruce R. McConkie

"In connection with these basic gospel principles, Paul comments on local customs and traditions, for instance, that a woman should have her head covered when she prays or prophesies, lest she be as though her head were shaven, which according to local custom would identify her as an adulteress. In the eternal sense it is wholly immaterial whether a woman wears a hat or is bare-headed when she prays. In Paul's day the bare head was irreverent; in ours reverence and respect are shown by removing the hat. In other words, gospel principles are eternal, and it is wise to adhere to the passing customs which signify adherence to that course which adds to rather than detracts from the great and important revealed truths." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 361.)

1 Cor. 11:11 neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord

"The marriage sanctioned by God provides men and women with the opportunity to fulfill their divine potentials. 'Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord' (1 Cor. 11:11). Husbands and wives are unique in some ways and free to develop their eternal gifts, yet as coequals in the sight of their heavenly parents they are one in the divine goals they pursue, in their devotion to eternal principles and ordinances, in their obedience to the Lord, and in their divine love for each other. When a man and woman who have been sealed together in a temple are united spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, taking full responsibility for nurturing each other, they are truly married. Together they strive to emulate the prototype of the heavenly home from which they came. The Church teaches them to complement, support, and enrich one another. . . . If a husband and wife are faithful to their temple marriage, they will continue as co-creators in God's celestial kingdom through the eternities." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 4 vols., Daniel H. Ludlow, ed. [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 2:487.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

"President Joseph F. Smith once declared 'that no man can be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God without the woman, and no woman can reach perfection and exaltation in the kingdom of God, alone. ... God instituted marriage in the beginning...' (In Conference Report, April 1913, p. 118.)

"Surely no one reading the scriptures, both ancient and modern, can doubt the divine concept of marriage. The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage that stands pure and unsullied above the evil of the world.

"Such a marriage, I believe, is the desire-the hoped-for, the longed-for, the prayed-for desire-of men and women everywhere. ("What God Hath Joined Together," Ensign, May 1991, p. 71.)

Dallin H. Oaks

"The ultimate and highest expression of womanhood and manhood is in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage between a man and a woman. Only this relationship culminates in exaltation. As the Apostle Paul taught, 'Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.' (1 Cor. 11:11.) Thus, the common objective of brotherhood in our priesthood quorums and sisterhood in our Relief Societies is to bring men and women together in the sacred marriage and family relationships that lead toward eternal life, 'the greatest of all the gifts of God.' (D&C 14:7.)" ("The Relief Society and the Church," Ensign, May 1992, 37)

Harold B. Lee

"Someone spoke a profound truth when he said, 'No man can live piously, or die righteously without a wife.' Even God himself said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him.' (Gen. 2:18.) The apostle Paul's statement had broader meaning than some have interpreted it, when he declared: 'Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.' (1 Cor. 11:11.) He was teaching the great truth that only in holy wedlock for time and eternity, in the new and everlasting covenant, can the man and woman attain to the highest privilege in the celestial world, but he may likewise have been stressing the great need of a husband and a wife for each other in this world.

"In defining the relationship of a wife to her husband, the late President George Albert Smith put it this way: 'In showing this relationship, by a symbolic representation, God didn't say that woman was to be taken from a bone in the man's head that she should rule over him, nor from a bone in his foot that she should be trampled under his feet, but from a bone in his side to symbolize that she was to stand by his side, to be his companion, his equal, and his helpmeet in all their lives together.'" ("Maintain Your Place As a Woman," Ensign, Feb. 1972, 50)

John A. Widstoe

"The place of woman in the Church is to walk beside the man, not in front of him nor behind him.

"In the Church there is full equality between man and woman. The gospel, which is the only concern of the Church was devised by the Lord for men and women alike...The Lord loves His daughters as well as He loves His sons...The highest attainable glory cannot be won by man or woman alone. Only those who are united, as husband and wife, by the sealing power, can attain exaltation in the celestial glory in the hereafter. 'Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.' (1 Cor. 11:11) And provision will be made for the righteous who live unmarried to receive the sealing blessing in the hereafter, through vicarious work performed in our temples.

"...There can be no question in the Church of man's rights versus woman's rights. They have the same and equal rights." (Evidences and Reconciliations [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era], 305.)

Spencer W. Kimball

"My beloved sisters...with all our hearts, we love and appreciate you! We respect you, we honor you, and we need you. 'Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord' (1 Cor. 11:11). We rejoice in your righteousness and the influence for good you have as individuals, wives, mothers, and grandmothers. We appreciate the faithful and devoted single sisters who do not yet enjoy a fulness of family life. The Lord loves you, for you are some of the most noble spirits of our Father in Heaven. If you continue faithful and true, no eternal blessing will one day be denied you." ("Learn-Then Teach," Ensign, Nov. 1980, 102)

1 Cor. 11:12 as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman

N. Eldon Tanner

"From the beginning God has made it clear that woman is very special, and he has also very clearly defined her position, her duties, and her destiny in the divine plan. Paul said that man is the image and glory of God, and that woman is the glory of the man; also that the man is not without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord. (See 1 Cor. 11:7, 11.) You will note that significantly God is mentioned in connection with this great partnership, and we must never forget that one of woman's greatest privileges, blessings, and opportunities is to be a co-partner with God in bringing his spirit children into the world." ("No Greater Honor: The Woman's Role," Ensign, Jan. 1974, 7)

1 Cor. 11:18-19 I hear that there be divisions among you...there must be also heresies among you

Bruce R. McConkie

"Contention, debate, and false views have no place in the Church and kingdom of our Lord. The doctrines are his, not ours, and our concern should be to gain the mind of Christ and to think what he thinks on every point. But the fact is that there are divisions in the Church, for the very reason Paul now gives: 'There must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.' (1 Cor. 11:18-19.)

"Heresies among the Saints! Sadly it is so. Are there not those among us who believe the theories of men rather than the revealed word relative to the creation of the earth and organic evolution? Do we not still have teachers who say that God is progressing in knowledge and learning new truths; that there will be a second chance for salvation for those who reject the gospel here but accept it in the spirit world; that there will be progression from one kingdom of glory to another in the world to come? And are there not those among us who refuse to follow the Brethren on moral issues, lest their agency and political rights be infringed, as they suppose? Truly, there are heresies among us." (The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 60.)

1 Cor. 11:20-22 in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken

From the context of the text, it is apparent that the Corinthian saints ate much more than a bite-sized piece of bread and a teaspoon-sized sip of wine in conjunction with the sacrament. Evidently, a large quantity of bread and wine was provided, and some members, who had come to the meeting hungry, would gorge themselves on the bread and wine. External history tells us that on occasion full meals, called "feasts of charity" were provided in conjunction with the sacrament (see Mosheim's Eccles. History, p. 44).

While this odd practice may be surprising at first, one must remember that the Sacrament was originally instituted in association with the Passover feast. Hence, early Christians apparently had kept the practice of eating a full meal in conjunction with the sacrament.

However, among the Corinthians, this had become a practical problem. Some were coming to meeting with the full expectation that they could fill up on the sacramental offering. They would eat to their hearts content but not leave enough for the other members. Hence, one member would be left hungry while another would be drunk with wine. Paul chastises the members for being inconsiderate and intemperate saying, 'What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?' He meant that the members should eat at home before the meeting, declaring 'if any man hunger, let him eat at home' (v. 34).

David O. McKay

"No more sacred ordinance is administered in the Church of Christ than the administration of the sacrament. It was initiated just after Jesus and the Twelve had partaken of the last supper; and the Saints in the early days followed that custom. That is, they ate before they administered the sacrament, but that custom was later discontinued by instructions from Paul to the Saints to eat their meal at home so that when they met for worship they might meet as a body of brethren and sisters on the same level to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of the life and the death, particularly the death of their Lord." (Conference Report, April 1946, Afternoon Meeting 112.)

1 Cor. 11:26 as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come

Spencer W. Kimball

"That is the real purpose of the sacrament, to keep us from forgetting, to help us to remember. I suppose there would never be an apostate, there would never be a crime, if people remembered, really remembered, the things they had covenanted at the water's edge or at the sacrament table and in the temple. I suppose that is the reason the Lord asked Adam to offer sacrifices, for no other reason than that he and his posterity would remember-remember the basic things that they had been taught. I guess we as humans are prone to forget. It is easy to forget. Our sorrows, our joys, our concerns, our great problems seem to wane to some extent as time goes on, and there are many lessons that we learn which have a tendency to slip from us. The Nephites forgot. They forgot the days when they felt good.

"I remember a young Navaho boy returning from his mission who was supported largely by a seventies quorum in the Bonneville Stake. I happened to be present the day he made his report and as tears rolled down his face, he said, 'Oh, if I could only remember always just how I feel now.'" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 113.)

1 Cor. 11:28 let a man examine himself

L. Tom Perry

"My brethren and sisters, do we always stop to think, on that sacred Sabbath day when we meet together to partake of the sacrament, that we witness, promise, obligate ourselves, in the presence of one another, and in the presence of God, that we will do certain things? Note them.

"The first: We are willing to take upon ourselves the name of the Son. In so doing we choose him as our leader and our ideal; and he is the one perfect character in all the world.

"Second: That we will always remember him. Not just on Sunday, but on Monday [and the other days of the week], in our daily acts, in our self-control. ...

"The third: We promise to '... keep his commandments which he has given ...'-tithing, fast offerings, the Word of Wisdom, kindness, forgiveness, love. The obligation of a member of the Church of Jesus Christ is great, but it is as glorious as it is great, because obedience to these principles gives life, eternal life." ("Sacrament of the Lord's Supper," Ensign, May 1996, 54)

Howard W. Hunter

"To make a covenant with the Lord to always keep His commandments is a serious obligation, and to renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament is equally serious. The solemn moments of thought while the sacrament is being served have great significance. They are moments of self-examination, introspection, self-discernment-a time to reflect and to resolve." ("Thoughts on the Sacrament," Ensign, May 1977, 25)

David O. McKay

"I think we pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion. In our worship there are two elements: One is spiritual communion arising from our own meditation; the other, instruction from others, particularly from those who have authority to guide and instruct us. Of the two, the more profitable introspectively is the meditation. Meditation is the language of the soul. It is defined as 'a form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.' Meditation is a form of prayer. We can say prayers without having any spiritual response. We can say prayers as the unrighteous king in Hamlet who said: 'My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.'" (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 46 - 47.)

1 Cor. 11:29 he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself

Joseph Fielding Smith

"The sacrament meeting is the most sacred and the most important meeting required of all the members of the Church. If any of the members are not in good standing; if they have in their hearts any feeling of hatred, envy, or sin of any kind, they should not partake of these emblems. If there are any differences or feelings existing between brethren, these differences should be adjusted before the guilty parties partake; otherwise they will eat and drink unworthily and bring upon them the condemnation spoken of by Paul. We should all see that our hearts and hands are clean and pure." (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 343.)

Bruce R. McConkie

"The worthiness to be baptized and the worthiness to partake of the sacrament are one and the same. Recipients of each of these ordinances must meet the same identical standards. In each instance, penitent persons must 'come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and [they must] truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins.' ("D&C 20:37D&C 20:37.) The preparation is the same for each ordinance; the covenant is the same; and the rewards are the same.

"Sacrament/"Those who make a mockery of sacred things not only fail to receive the promised blessings, but also heap condemnation upon themselves for seeking in unworthiness that which is reserved for those who are true and faithful." (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 298.)

David O. McKay

"To partake of the sacrament unworthily is to take a step toward spiritual death. No man can be dishonest within himself without deadening the susceptibility of his spirit. Sin can stun the conscience as a blow on the head can stun the physical senses. He who promises one thing and deliberately fails to keep his word, adds sin to sin. On natural principles such a man 'eats and drinks condemnation to his soul.'" (Conference Report, October 1929, pp. 14-15.)

Joseph Smith

"I spoke of the propriety of this institution (the Sacrament) in the Church, and urged the importance of doing it with acceptance before the Lord, and asked, How long do you suppose a man may partake of this ordinance unworthily, and the Lord not withdraw His Spirit from him? How long will he thus trifle with sacred things, and the Lord not give him over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption! The Church should know if they are unworthy from time to time to partake, lest the servants of God be forbidden to administer it. Therefore our hearts ought to be humble, and we to repent of our sins, and put away evil from among us." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 2:204)

1 Cor. 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep

Joseph Fielding Smith

"Evidently Paul meant that many had passed away because of their violation of this commandment. There can be little question raised contrary to the fact that men shorten their lives by violation of the commandments of the Lord. The use of narcotics, liquors, and other drugs and stimulants inevitably weakens and impairs the functions of the body, thus shortening the span of life.

"Even good, faithful persons, who disregard the laws of health, may shorten the life span which otherwise could have been theirs. Moreover, we are all subject to the ravages of disease, disaster, accidents that could, and often do, shorten life." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 3: 47.)

1 Cor. 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged

F. Enzio Busche

"Now and every day in our mortal lives, He wants to sharpen our awareness, that we may become our own judges, as [the Lord] calls us to a continuous process of repentance.

"After Alma had spoken about repentance and desires of righteousness until the end of life, he said, 'They ... are redeemed of the Lord; ... for behold, they are their own judges.' (Alma 41:7.) The Apostle Paul also explained, as stated in 1 Cor. 11:31: 'For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.'

"It seems that we can only effectively go through the process of continuous repentance if we literally learn to become our own judges. We ourselves and the Lord are the only ones who really know us. We do not even know ourselves unless we have learned to walk the lonely and most challenging road toward self-honesty, as constantly prompted by the Spirit." (University for Eternal Life," Ensign, May 1989, 72-73)

1 Cor. 11:33 Paul Paraphrased

"Wherefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait until everyone has had some food before you lick the serving plate clean!" See commentary for verses 20-22.