Loving One, I am grateful for the potential and privileges of this day. Enable me to make wise use of each hour.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 11:2-16
On Covering the Head in Worship
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
7 A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
- 1 Corinthians 11:3 Or of the wife is her husband
- 1 Corinthians 11:7 Or 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with long hair dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with no covering of hair dishonors her head—she is just like one of the “shorn women.” 6 If a woman has no covering, let her be for now with short hair; but since it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair shorn or shaved, she should grow it again. 7 A man ought not to have long hair
- 1 Corinthians 11:10 Or have a sign of authority on her
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord, give me eyes to see the truth of your Word and a heart to live it out day by day.
You probably don’t need me to tell you that these verses are controversial in some quarters! A good deal of the debate has missed the heart of Paul’s teaching. These verses have nothing to do with women wearing hats in church today; still less about being silent, for in verses 4–6 there are clear assumptions women will both pray and prophesy.
Our understanding of particular words is important here. The Greek word kephale is used repeatedly. Is the correct translation ‘head’ (with headship usually assumed to denote some form of authority) or is it ‘source’ (referring to the creation order)? If we go with ‘head’, we should not today invest the term with ‘any competitiveness that might lead one to “impose” upon the other’.1 The next question relates to head coverings, probably referring to a veil or hood. It appears that wearing such a veil, in that culture, indicated controlled sexuality. Conversely, a woman with an uncovered head would essentially be saying ‘I’m available’. Are we aware of what is helpful in our culture? To what extent do our practices commend the gospel to those around us?
We need to think specifically about how we maintain high standards in respect of sexual conduct. Paul commends reverence and respect between men and women. The reference to the angels, which seems obscure, reinforces this (v 10). In Isaiah 6 the angels cover their ‘feet’ out of modesty and respect. This is how we should behave toward one another. Ultimately, these verses promote a mutuality and interdependence grounded in the dynamic interrelationship which exists within the godhead (v 3). What an example to give and what a standard to set! In this way, Paul commends to us the way of true Christian love.
How can you promote the principles of mutual respect and interdependence in the life of your church?
Lord, I realize it is so easy to put worldly values ahead of you. Help me to always make kingdom values first in my life.
1 Anthony C Thiselton, 1 Corinthians, Eerdmans, 2006, p172
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