10 replies

  1. I’m quite familiar with the Head Covering Movement, they’re an interesting bunch, to be sure. But I always thought that Head Covering was out of place – in a Christianity that didn’t depend upon the costumes and symbolism that others deemed so necessary, in a Christianity that departed from tradition and did away with a great many rituals – where there wasn’t any greetings with a kiss, any baptism of the dead, any foot-washing – somehow the rule that women ought to wear bonnets (pilgrim era), hats (modern era) was also in an era where men always wore hats in public as well – it’s only when both men and women stopped wearing hats in public that this tradition finally ceased. And now some want to revive it – but it’s meant to support the subordination of women and the authority of men more than it is to support the spirituality and leadership of women in the Church. it’s more about having women wear a head covering than prophesying – and that’s why I don’t like it. It’s affirming part of it, only to deny the rest of it.


    • The whole NT passage tends to be ignored by Christians today:

      But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. 7 For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. 8 Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair, it is degrading to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone is disposed to be contentious—we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.



    • The verse says “If it’s a shame …” That might have been the case in Paul’s culture and in the one he was writing to – but today it’s not shameful for women to have short hairstyles, and though it’s uncommon for women to shave their heads entirely, no women who does is treated as a social outcast / leper until it grows back to whatever passes for an “honorable” length. Why should we have the same hang-ups about hairstyles as a whole other culture did 2,000 years ago?
      Besides, I seem to recall that the Bible tells women not to wear braids – should we regulate acceptable hairstyles? In Ancient Rome, it wasn’t uncommon for women to have fancy hairstyles, braids with gold woven in, to show off their wealth, having short hair doesn’t sound like something their women would do.


    • The reason for head-covering has nothing to do with culture, according to Paul. This is his reasoning:

      ‘For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. 8 Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.’

      Because women were created to serve men, she should have ‘a symbol of authority on her head’ and mysteriously, ‘because of the angels.’ Sounds timeless to me.


    • Aren’t women also the image and reflection of God? Eve’s femininity had to come from somewhere.
      I take it then, then you’d say that this verse applies even to single men and women as they’re still men and women even when they’re not husbands and wives.


    • ‘Aren’t women also the image and reflection of God?’

      Not according to Paul it seems.


    • Genesis 1:27 and 1 Corinthians 11:Something disagree – shock of all shocks. I guess the thing to do is to go with Genesis 2 and pretend that Genesis 1 doesn’t matter. Or do as my church does: “Genesis 1 is the general overview, but Genesis 2 is the more zoomed in version of the creation account in greater detail – they’re both one and the same story – don’t pay any attention to the differences on the days and timing. Trust us that it matches because we say so.”


  2. If you attend a Traditional Latin Mass, you’ll see quite a few head coverings. That’s the way it should be. The obligation for women to cover their head in Church was in the 1917 code of canon law but taken out of the 1983 edition. Hopefully in the next edition, it will be back in.

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  3. I always find it interesting when people blame Paul or try to twist his words to protect the radical feminist arguments.

    Let me first state that the internal debate today involves far more than a swath of cloth. Using the same passage has been an argument that Christian women should never wear short hair. And side appeals to Old Testament passages couple this passage with references to men wearing women’s clothing and visa versa. The end result being that some women never cut their hair; never wear jeans or slacks; some will even divest themselves of jewelry, including wedding bands.

    But is all this what Paul was concerned about? Or was his interest far deeper than what a person wears?

    Just what was going on that even prompted Paul to bring this up in the first place?

    The beginning of this part of Paul’s letter is an encouragement for the Saints at Corinth to follow him, Paul, as he follows Christ. The parameter for following anyone, including Paul, is not a blind following.Rather, its a measure of following that person. They must be following Christ. Anything they do or say or teach that veers from that standard, is not to be followed. Paul set the standard for himself as well as the others.

    He goes farther and says the “head” of every man is Christ. Christ is the standard. The word KEPHALE is an interesting term. It means to “seize” or “take hold of”. This isn’t a passive term. Its active. The man, in other words, must GRAB AHOLD of Christ. Why is this important?

    Question: what happens if a person literally loses their head?
    Answer: they lose their life.

    Just ask anyone beheaded by ISIS. Well you can’t but you get the idea.

    When Paul says this, he is giving a description of someone, a man, a husband, who is actively taking a hold of the head, who is Christ. Without Christ, no husband can function in righteousness.

    When you look at the pecking order, you see how God is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of man; and man is the head of woman. Life is inter-related. Please note that this doesn’t indicate that he is to subjugate. God the Father didn’t force Christ into subjugation. And likewise Christ doesn’t subjugate man. Trickle down leadership principle #1: nobody is on the bottom rung unless the leaders force them to be there.

    So knowing Christ is “the head”, and that with Him there is no subjugation, we can move on.

    “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.”

    Since these earliest believers were Jews, to tell them that uncovering their heads for prayer or prophesy would seem rather odd, since Jewish men traditionally covered and we, in fact, required to when in the Temple for prayer.

    If the head is Christ, however, there’s a symbolic insight often overlooked.

    Christ, as our High Priest, would be our covering. And the High Priests literally covered their heads when making sacrifice. To cover one’s head in prayer, therefore, would be symbolic of a denial of Christ’s Priesthood headship. A man would be trying to take on the mantel specifically reserved for the one and only and final High Priest in a problematic attempt to replay the Levitical priesthood all over again.

    Removing the head cover when praying, however, shows the symbolic difference between ordinary man, who holds a priesthood granted BY Christ, but is not himself a High Priest, as is Christ.

    Now we get to the girls.

    “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.”

    Perhaps no other passage is so misrepresented by our Islamic friends as is this one. The two little words “as if” seem to get lost in the narrative when they present this passage.

    The words “as if” or “autos” (not cars) and directly relates to something previously mentioned. In other words, “as if she were shaven” directly refers to one who is uncovered. It isn’t an edict to go shave; its a comparison to someone who has not got their head covered. Simple as that.

    Whether that covering is hair, or a piece of cloth, is not defined clearly in the text. So we have to turn to the times and circumstances surrounding Paul’s letter to Corinth to understand this.

    Corinth was a troubled church. And one of their main troubles was the influence of the culture around them. Now, in ancient times, women typically had long hair. Nowhere in the ancient world was short hair the norm. Exceptions would be as a sign of disgrace or mourning (the story of Electra comes to mind here).

    Paul would have been well aware that head sheering was a sign of disgrace used when a woman had done something disgraceful and the cutting of her hair made it publicly known. Kind of like the later placement of a “scarlet letter” on a woman’s forehead.

    What Paul is highlighting here is that, under normal cultural circumstances, a woman would have long hair. BUT IF SHE WERE SHAMED for an disgraceful act, her head would be shaved. In other words, for a woman to pray or prophesy without covering herself as is proper in the culture (and the reference to shaving the head seems to indicate her hair, not a swatch of cloth) is dishonoring her “head”. In this case, her husband.

    But why would a shaved head be indicative of something shameful when it comes to prayer and prophesy?

    One theory that floated around for years was that Temple prostitutes shaved their heads. Unfortunately there’s no archaeological evidence to support the claim. Nor literary evidence, either.

    But what we do have evidence for is that head shaving was part of a punishment for adultery.

    “The article in ‘the shorn woman’ implies a recognized class of woman, probably the accused adulteress whose disgrace paralleled the symbolism of loose hair, since by it a woman places on herself the accusation of adultery. This allusion perfectly fits the ‘bitter water’ ordeal of letting down the hair of a suspected adulteress (Num. 5:11–31) and, if she is convicted, of cutting off her hair.… This custom is paralleled in non- Jewish customs cited by Tacitus (A. D. 98), Germania, 19; Aristophanes 3, 204–07; and Dio Chrysostom (A.D. 100), Discourses, 64.2–3.” -Dr. Phillip Payne.

    Paul isn’t saying that women have to wear a certain type of cloth in order to pray or prophesy. He’s saying she should do so with her position as a woman clearly seen and visible. She should not approach it in a state of shame or disgrace.

    And always, in the congregation, give deference to her “head” (husband) to lead in this important spiritual matter.

    I hope this offered some insight on the topic.


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