A Review of "The Veil Law or Custom?"

Leo B. Plyler
West Chester, Ohio

In the February (66) issue of this magazine Bro. W. E. Warnock had an article titled "The Veil: Law or Custom." In love for truth and respect for brother Warnock I review what he has said. I Cor. 11:1-16 is from God and our attitude toward this teaching is our attitude toward the word of the Almighty.

In his explanatory notes, our brother says in regard to wearing a covering, "no person has a right to bind such practice upon Christian women." To this we say AMEN and by the same standard we want to emphasize that no person has any right to loose such practice (Mt. 16:19; 18:18). I am quite sure our brother teaches the latter part of the chapterthat is that Christians are to obey the injunction of eating the Lord's Supper. Now is he binding that on Christians? When he teaches alien sinners does he "BIND" baptism on them?

Taking up the order of his article, under verse 2, the word "ordinance" is defined "what is delivered, the substance of the teaching . . . of the particular injunctions of Paul's instructions." Having given the correct meaning of the word, our brother immediately says, "This verse does not mean that everything stated in the letter is law. Hence everything in I Cor.1: 1-16 is not necessarily binding today." Of course by the same rule one could say, that everything in I Cor. I 1: 17-34 is not necessarily binding. If he can prove that certain things in I Cor. 11 are not binding, let him do so.

In view of such statements that "everything in I Cor. I 1: 1 - 16 is not necessarily binding," we ask: (1) is the subjection of women to man  man to Christ and Christ to God "binding" today? (2) If the order of subjection is "binding" today, who loosed the badge, sign or symbol of subjection? (3) How can we be obedient if we refuse to regard the symbol, sign or badge of authority?

In regard to that very point of headship, our brother said, "This is the order God has decreed for all time. Any practice that reverses this order is wrong." Those are good statements. In view of such sound statements, it is difficult to see how anyone could cast away "that which God has decreed for all time."

In his comments on vs. 5, our brother concludes that this did not regulate "public worship" or the public assembly. "The apostle says nothing about being veiled in public worship, but rather when praying or prophesying." According to brother Warnock the following men were "most presumptuous."

James McKnight. "Next, he explained the foundation on which his ordinances relating to the public worship were built . . ." (p. 1 78).

Again: "Farther, the different mental and bodily accomplishment of man and woman shew, that in the public assemblies for worship men ought not to be veiled, nor woman unveiled." (p. 178).

Albert Barnes: "The simple idea here is, that they spoke in the public assemblies" . . . "This is one reason why a man should not cover his head in public worship" (p 753 of the one volume edition.

Adam Clark: "Any person who engages in public acts in the worship of (,od." (p. 250).

Again: "If she will not wear a veil in the public assemblies" . . . "He should not wear his cap or turban in the public congregation." (p. 251).

Matthew Henry: 'The misconduct of their women in the public assembly " (p. 1817).

B. W. Johnson: "There should be no violation of decorum, such as a HAREHEADED woman in a public assembly would be " (p 107)

Again: "That is, in the public assembly " (Vs. 13-10; p. 108).

Jamieson-Fasset and Brown: "The woman was made by God mediately through the man, who was as it were, a veil or medium placed between her and God, and therefore, should wear the veil or head-covering in public worship . . ." (comment on Vs. 8).

David Lipscomb: "The Purpose is to show how the woman should appear before God in the assembly . . . ' (p. 168).

We now cite the following translations:

Goodspeed: "I for my part recognize no other practice in worship than this...." (v. 16).

Amplified: "In church" (vs. 7) "In worship" (vs. 16).

We have cited these commentators and translators to show that they did consider this to regulate the public worship or public assembly. But our brother says: "I Cor. 14:34 shows that I Cor. 11:1-16 could not be a public assembly or else there is a contradiction." There are others today who claim that there are contradictions in the Bible but it is proof that they do not understand the Bible. It may well be that I Cor. 14:34 simply shows that our brother misunderstands I Cor. 11:5. His application and supposed contradiction that would exist between the two passages reminds me of the two drunks who were trying to hang a picture. One took a nail but turned the head to the wall and seeing it would not drive said to the other, "this nail is made backward." But the other drunk said, "No crazy, it is made for the other wall." Human wisdom and desire to be, like the world will lead us to think and act the same way about God's word.

Commenting on vs. 6, it is stated, "The artificial covering (veil) was to be used only by those women that prayed or prophesied." We have already quoted a number of commentators who affirmed this was to regulate the public worship (which has not been shown to be otherwise) and as the law of subjection retains today, it follows that the sign is to be retained. Our brother from vs. 7 that the regulation does apply to man today properly observes it. He said, "Since man is to rule over the woman, and in this respect he is the image and glory of God, man ought not to have the veil on his head while praying or prophesying.'' Now this is exactly right and I fully agree with what he said. If our brother will accept what the book says about the woman as what it says about the man, he will teach that she "ought to have power on her head" just as he noted that the man "ought not to cover his head." Can't that be easily seen?

It is amazing how a person can cite facts such as the author did in commenting on vs. 10 and then turn around and cast them out the window. Notice this, "Thayer says in regards to 'power on her head' the following: 'a sign of the husbands authority over his wife, i. e. the veil with which propriety required a woman to cover herself."' We ask WHY is the woman not to have power on her head today since she is still to be in subjection? According to the evolutionist, time has brought about changes and produced man. According to some religionists, time has brought about changes and produced "custom." That which denies the theory of both is their own doctrine. Why doesn't man evolve from the ape? Why doesn't custom change the law of subjection; The fact is that many have let custom change God's law of subjection so far as they are concerned and when they so teach and act, they contribute to disobedience by causing men and women to disrespect God's word.

Brethren, to take the position that custom changes God's law is deadly. It is God's law that said, "The head of the woman is the man," and that "a man indeed ought not to cover his head," and "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head . . ." (vs. 10). Custom did not give us either of the three and neither is custom to remove either. Will custom make it right and modest to wear shorts or wear nothing at all? Certainly not!

Our brother implies that a "hat" is a substitute and compares it to "sprinkling" as a substitute for baptism. Now if anyone can make a burial out of sprinkling it will not be a substitute. And I will not oppose that which is a burial, for that is what the Lord requires (Rom. 6:4). On the other hand if what the woman has on her head is a covering (whatever it may be"hat" or some other covering), I have no more right to object to her being covered than I have to her being immersedthat is what the Lord authorized. By our brother's own statements, he recognizes that a "hat" can be a covering. He asks. "How small does a hat have to become before a woman would be 'uncovered'? "

If our brother applied his rule to the size of the covering as he does to the length of the hair, he might satisfy himselfhe would at least be consistent. Hear him: "There is nothing in this passage that prohibits a woman's cutting the hair. It simply states that her long (a relative term) hair is her glory and covering." If the length of hair is relative why isn't the size of the covering (according to your rule) also relative? But let me state that I am not advocating short hair nor a small covering; rather I am showing that our brother makes an issue of the size of the covering but accepts short hair evidently. Incidentally, when custom has a woman cutting her hair like a man, will it be long hair? Will she be able to say, my "long hair is a glory" to me?

The author suggests, "feet washing and the holy kiss were compulsory practices, and yet not laws," and then he asks, "Why could not the wearing of the veil be in the same category? Brother Warnock, WHY COULDN'T BAPTISM BE IN THE SAME CATEGORY? And why couldn't EATING THE LORD'S SUPPER BE IN THE SAME CATEGORY? The Lord did not require feet to be washed when there was no need. As for the "kiss," God said make it holy. Furthermore, I deny that kissing was a "compulsory practice." There is no passage that enjoined kissing. The passage in Rom. 16:16 said, make it holy. "The disciples of Christ adopted (kissingLBP) and practiced . . ." (James McKnight). "He did not ordain kissing as a mode of salutation. He found it, and cautioned that it should be pure and holy among Christians." Lipscomb).

No, the Lord did not require them nor us to salute with a kiss, but if we do salute with a kiss the Lord requires that it be holynot: like the kiss of Judas. The Lord does require us to worship and has told us how we are to appear in the public worship to show subjection. To remove the sign of authority and subjection would be equal to removing holiness from the kiss. (There is a Sectarian preacher here who has tried to remove the force of "The Churches of Christ salute you, with the "kiss" dodge, but his play does not affect the truth one whit either.)

Again we read, "Paul said 'veils,' not 'hats."' Wait a minute now brother Warnockdon't fudge on us! Why didn't you just define the Greek word "akatakaluptos" like you did "paradoseis" instead of saying "Paul said 'veils' not 'hats'?" It was brother Warnock who said "not hats." In desperation to make a "score" men will try to call the game themselves. Three times our brother cited a form of the word "veil" in parenthesis (veil, veiled, unveiled) citing Thayer as if this was all he said about it. We will now give the word from which "veil" is sometimes translated and we will not hold back part of it.

Akatakaluptos (katakalupto) "not covered, unvealed: I Cor. 11: 5,13" (Thayer, p. 21). Now brother Warnock, why did not you give all of it if you were going to give any of it? Do you recognize your position so weak that you purposefully hold back part of what Thayer says? Note again:

Katakalupto"To cover up. Katakaluptomai, to veil or cover one's self. I Cor. 11: 6; tan kefalan, one's head," (Thayer p. 331). Brother Warnork, though you see no need for a woman to cover her head in worship, must you cover part of the meaning of these words?

Brethren, did Paul say "veils" not "hats"? We can see that is brother Warnock's words.

But to further his contention the author suggests the A. S. version for the readers to get the "proper meaning" of "covering." His statements show that he knew the word "cover" was part of the definition just as "veil." With just as much sense he could suggest the King James translation to get the proper meaning of the word "veil." As all can see, both "cover" and "veil" are given by Thayer. You knew that, didn't you brother Warnock? Why your big play? Does your position require it?

Since our brother singled out one translation (A. S.) that used the word veil, we give the words in other translations.

King JamesCovered, uncovered, cover.

New A. S. Something on his head, uncovered, cover, covered.

The New EnglishCovered, bareheaded, veil, cover.

GoodspeedAnything on his head, bareheaded, veil, with something to symbolize her subjection.

AmplifiedCovered, bareheaded, covering, cover, wear anything.

DiaglottCovered, uncovered, unveiled, veiled, cover.

DouayCovered. uncovered, cover.

As in the case of the commentators, maybe the translators should have had brother Warnock to set them straight.


Our brother began by showing that "ordinances" means, "what is delivered, the substance of teaching . . . of the particular injunctions of Paul's instruction." Very good! But then he glides and slides away until Paul's instruction and teaching becomes nothing more than custom.

Then he takes the position that wearing the covering did not apply to the "public worship" but to the miraculous age. According to this it was law that would have been done away when the miraculous age closed. But watch it! If this were true, why did our brother take up another argument, that of custom, and contend that women need not wear a covering because custom removed it? (Would not this mean that the man would be at liberty to wear a covering in worship today?) If he were correct in applying the covering to the miraculous age and that it passed with miraculous gifts, he is in error when he contends that custom did away with it. Hence, he denies what he says by his own argumentation. Either of his arguments invalidates the other.

When one teaches that it is not necessary for the woman to wear the sign of authority on her head (that woman need not be in subjection to man), he is ignoring the established order in the beginning, "that the woman is of man and for this cause ought to have a sign of authority on her head . . ." (I Cor. 11:8-10) Why does not custom or the miraculous age do away with God's law of marriage? God too established it in the beginning.

Maybe our brother will deal next with the man and tell us that either the miraculous age or custom will now allow him to wear a covering in worship and also to wear long hair. But now we must say away with such folly and follow Paul as he followed Christ.

Brethren, these are matters which test our obedience to God. Neither the passing of the miraculous age nor custom removes God's law. Smiting the rock may seem to have been a little thing (Num. 20:1-12) but it was disobedience. I realize that such position and teaching will not make me popular nor to have a flood of calls for meetings, nevertheless "we must obey God rather than men."

Finally, since it was not "becoming," "seemly" or "fit" for woman to appear in worship uncovered then, let us consider prayerfully if it would be now.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 10, pp. 8-11 July 1966