trivial admonition, or was it a instruction given to man through the inspiration of the holy spirit,
that the Lord expects every man to adhere to? If that is the case,
then we would need a clear and complete understanding of the head
covering issue, so that every one would be able to make an educated decision
whether to stand for God or for man.
Before looking at 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, let us establish a
What issue was Paul addressing? What was the subject
Was Paul addressing men having long hair or women with bald
heads? What was his main concern? Paul, a follower of
Christ, a minister unto the Gentiles (Romans
15:16 "That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.")
had the responsibility of teaching and delivering all the precepts of
Christ unto the Gentiles. The Corinthians were not Jews, they
were Gentiles. Paul had a grave work to do in
Corinth, for Corinth was famous for its wealth, luxury, trade,
prostitution and idol worship. The principal deity was
Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The temple of Apollo was built
on the north slope of the Acro-Corinthus. According to legal
requirements, 1,000 beautiful young women officiated as courtesans, or
public prostitutes, before the alter of the goddess of love.
Needless to say, considering their corrupted practices, the command to teach, baptize and teach
again, was completely
exercised in Corinth, so that the Corinthians would understand the way
of the Lord.
Therefore, Paul addressed the Corinthian believers in this fashion:
1 Corinthians 11:2
"Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you."
Paul's objective was to deliver the ordinances
of Jesus Christ to the Corinthians with the hope that they would keep
them. The ordinance that he was delivering in this
instance, was the covering
of the head by Christian women when praying or prophesying. Let
us comb through each verse to get the full understanding.
1 Corinthians 11:3
"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."
Paul is laying the foundation in verse 3. He wants every man
(male and female) to honor their head. Therefore, Paul explained the
situations in verse 4 that would cause an individual to dishonor their head.
1 Corinthians 11:4
"Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head."
Paul started with men. He wanted to explain to the
Corinthians, the Christian way. He explained that if a man prays
or prophesy with his head covered (a hat or any form of head covering) he dishonoureth his head, which is Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:5
"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."
"But," the Bible says, which means, "on the other hand," when a woman prays with her head
uncovered, she dishonors her head which is the man. At this point
Paul introduces his first comparison to stress the repulsiveness of
not covering by stating, "For that is even all one as if she were
shaven." How many bald headed woman do we see walking
around? Having a bald head as a woman just does not look right,
and that is why Paul used the "as if she were shaven"
example. We have to keep focus as well on the subject matter. The subject matter is the ordinance of a woman covering
her head when praying. "Shaven" is not the issue, nor the
subject. It was used so that the Corinthians would have an
example. Paul uses another comparison a few verses down as a
reasoning point to expose the unnatural nature of a woman not covering
her head. Notice that the admonition to cover, was given while
the Corinthians had hair, else Paul would not have suggested for them
to be shaven. We will follow up on that point later.
1 Corinthians 11:6
"For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered."
In this verse, the subject matter remains covering. Paul is now
explaining what "for that is even all one if she were
shaven" means. Why would Paul compare a woman
not covering her head when she prays with being shaven (walking around
with a bald head). The answer, it is a shame. It is a
shame basically to all woman to walk around with a bald head. A
woman understands well, that her hair is her beauty. Likewise, he
is saying unto them, for which they understand well, it is also a
shame to pray with your head uncovered. Christ used the same
approach when preaching to the multitude. He would use something
that the people understand so well, something that they could relate
to, so that he could effectively drive home his point. In
addition, Paul says, "For if the woman be not covered, let her
also be shorn." Which woman would jump to that
alternative? None. It is easier to just put something on
their heads. So Paul created a situation where making the decision
to cover relatively easy, considering the
alternative. The Bible says, "He that winneth a soul is
wise." Proverbs 11:30. Paul had good reasoning
1 Corinthians 11:7
"For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man."
Remember, the Corinthians needed to be thought in the ways of the
Lord. They were not Israelites. The ordinance of head
covering was important for them to understand. Why? It is
all about headship, honoring and giving glory to ones head. So
Paul confirms the fact that a man should not cover his head in verse
7, for he, the man, is
the image and glory of God. On the other hand, a woman should
cover her head, for she is the glory of the man.
The Misunderstandings - Shaving and long hair as a covering
All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude
in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them:
Christ always used parables when speaking to the people. The
Bible makes it clear that without a parable spake he not unto them.
Why? Because spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
The entire multitude were not spiritual. Therefore, he
would use earthly examples that the people could relate to, thereby, explaining
the way that he would have them to walk.
Paul used the same method. Many analogies were used in Paul's
writing to communicate effectively his message. Therefore, when he spoke of
shaving and long hair as a covering, they were used to cement his
point. Let us look at those verses.
1 Corinthians 11:13
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman
pray unto God uncovered?
Paul promotes choice and personal conviction. As he often spoke
words like, "let every man be convinced in his own mind,"
likewise he is saying to the Corinthians, "Judge in
yourselves." Then the question is asked, "is it comely
that a woman pray unto God uncovered?" Paul selective
choose the comely for its meaning conveys his message
beautifully. According to the dictionary, comely means, "Suitable
or becoming; proper; agreeable, seemly, good behavior" Paul
is saying to the Corinthian women, that praying without covering their
head is not becoming, it is not proper.
1 Corinthians 11:14-15
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that,
if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair
is given her for a covering.
Paul wants the Corinthian women to view the act of not covering their
heads when praying as against nature, and a shameful practice.
He plans to achieve that by comparing not covering, with a man having
long hair. Therefore, in verse 15, he is merely showing the
Corinthians what looks good and what does not. The subject remains covering,
however, the comparison between the hair length of a man and a woman
is use to convey the shamefulness of the act of not covering when
praying. When Paul says, "for her hair is given to her as a
covering," that is in direct relation to his comparison of a man
having long hair. "But" he says, If a woman have long
hair, it is a glory to her. Then he says "For," in
other words, "Why is it her glory," for it was given to her
for a covering. In other words, a woman is suppose to have long
hair and not a man. The long hair/covering issue was used as an
example to express what is natural, and what's not. Thus
explaining that not covering is unnatural.
Remember, in 1 Corinthians 11:5, the woman had hair on their
head. The women of Corinth had long hair. Yet Paul was
advocating a head piece, a covering. We know they had hair, else
he would not suggest for them to be shorn or shaven. Shorn
means, "To remove hair by cutting or clipping." They must have
to shave it or shorn it, right? Therefore, contrary to the teachings of
many, Paul was not saying that the hair of a woman is an accepted
covering. Christian women have been covering their heads a
generation and more ago. Were our fore fathers wrong? Were
the Christians of the 1960's and 1970's wrong? Was it truth then?
Friends, God does not
change and we should not change the principles of God in order to
conform to this ever changing, corrupted world.