Covered And Uncovered Heads In Worship (No. 2)
Last month we learned that Paul is referring to an artificial covering in 1 Cor. 11:1-16, and that this teaching was given by way of devine ordinance; that it was not just a matter of custom. This month we shall deal with the question: Why should women cover their heads in worship?
Just what does the covering mean: what is the significance of the covering of the woman's head? Once this question is answered, the difficulty surrounding the subject begins to disappear. Let us go, to the word of God for our answer. In verse ten Paul says, "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head, because of the angels." There is a foot note on the word "power" in the margin of the King James version. It says, -That is, a covering, in sign that she is under the power of her husband." Now let us notice the American translation. "That is why she ought to wear upon her head something to symbolize her subjection . . ." Williams: "This is why woman ought to wear upon her head a sVmbol of man's authority." The Revised version says, "a sign of authority." The idea then is that since woman is commanded to be in subjection to man, she is to cover her head in worship as a sign or symbol of the fact that she acknowledges the authoritY of man over her. When she does not do this she dishonors her head who is man. (Vs. 3-5) Paul does not mean that the woman dishonors the head of her own body. Verse three says that "the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the of man is the man." Therefore, for the man to have his head covered in worship is to dishonor Christ, but for the woman to worship with her head uncovered is to dishonor the man. She dishonors the man in that she fails to show her subjection to him as verse ten demands. Now for a man to cover his head in praying or prophesying is to dishonor Christ who is his heavenly head. The covering of the head in worship is a usage which symbolizes spbjection to some earthly head, and in worship man has none. But woman is subject to an earthly head, man. Thus woman must approach God with covered head, and the man with his head uncovered.
Now let us turn our attention to verse three. Here is the basis of everything taught in these verses. ". . . The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the irian . . ." Now let us ask, Why is man the head of woman? There are two reasons for this. (I Tim. 2:13-14) Woman is not to usurp authority over the man, but to be in subjection because "Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." God created man first. In Vs. 8-9 of our text Paul says, "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." From the creation God intended that man be the head of the woman, but when woman sinned God placed her in subjection to man the second time. (Gen. 3:16) God said to the woman, "Thv desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Now I realize that Eve's sin is not specifically mentioned in these verses, ( I Cor. 11 :1 - 16) But other passages of scripture, as we have pointed out, prove beyond doubt that the woman's transgression is inseparably connected with headship. Thus the apostle says in verse ten, For this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authorio upon her head, because of the angels." Now what cause Paul? Because of a custom? No, because man is the head of woman. Because "Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." Those who hold the idea that this is all custom must say, "No Paul, you are wrong. That is not the reason she ought to be covered. The reason is because someone will think she is an harlot if she is not." Any such wresting of the scripture is sure to bring the displeasure of God. Now we know from verses fourteen and fifteen of this chapter that God gave woman long hair in the creation. So the idea is this: From the creation God intended that woman have a covering on her head as a symbol of her subjection to man. Her long hair was given her instead of an artificial covering. But when woman sinned God placed her in subjection to man the second time. Thus the artificial covering is a sign of authority, memorial of Go~d's injunction to the woman after she sinned. If any man denies this he is forced to the conclusion that woman's sin has nothing to do with headship. If any man takes this position let him explain (I Tim. 2:12-14 and Gen. 3:16) Now with these things before you friend, just do as Paul says in verse thirteen: "Judge in yourselves; is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered ?" I think that you can see that it is not.
Now we come to one of the most mistreated verses in all the Bible, verse sixteen. "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." The idea of course is that the churches of God have no such custom as the woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered, or the man praying or prophesying with his head covered. But some people have tried to turn this statement around, and make it say that the churches of God have no such custom as woman covering her head in worship. But Paul has already said back in verse ten that women ought to cover their heads in worship. To say that we have no such custom as her covering it, would be to say, that Christian women have no such custom as doing what they ought to. It seems to me that such a conclusion is too absurd to consider. Paul closed his discussion of the subject with a note of authority. He declared that the churches have no custom that violates the ordinance of God.
Truth Magazine II:5, pp. 4-5