Head Covering in the Church

Lincoln was a strong believer in the virtue of dealing honestly with the people. “If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow-citizens,” he said to a caller at the White House, “you can never regain their respect and esteem.""It is true that you may … More

Respect

Two of the issues Paul deals with in this chapter are women praying and prophesying, and instructions regarding the Lord’s Supper. The topic of head coverings (vv. 4-7) is not one of the fundamentals of the faith but deals with the matter of obedience. One pastor said, “This may not be a camel, but it is a fairly good-sized gnat we dare not ignore.” Paul uses the hair as a symbol to teach respect and responsibility. We all have our biases and the culture in which we have grown up can affect our view of this subject. We should be very careful about making this a proof text for views which are contradicted elsewhere in Scripture. The following are some things to consider when we approach this passage of Scripture: 

Women Praying and Prophesying (vv. 3-16) – It seems that some of the women had been swept off their feet by their newfound liberty in Christ and they were discarding the established customs of modesty of that day. They refused to cover their heads when they participated in public services. In that day, except for the temple prostitutes, the women wore long hair and, in public, wore a covering over their heads. For the Christian women in the church, to appear in public without this covering, let alone to pray and share the Word, was both daring and blasphemous. 

Paul makes it plain that it was not appropriate for a man to participate in public worship with something on his head (v. 4). On the contrary, it was wrong for a woman to participate with her head uncovered (v. 5). This covering symbolized her submission and purity.

Application

The first question to ask myself is, “What does the Bible instruct me to do?” The second question is, “Does it offend those I want to minister to?” The third question is “Will I do it anyway?”

I Corinthians 11:1-16 (English Standard Version)


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