Covered And Uncovered Heads In Worship (No. 1)

Robert Rogers
Booneville, Ind.

Please get your Bible and turn to First Corinthians, chapter eleven, and read carefully the first sixteen verses of this chapter. No doubt there is in the mind of some of my readers the idea that this passage is dealing with the customs of the ancient Greeks; there fore is not bound upon us today. It is said that for a woman to appear in a public place, in Corinth, with her face unveiled was to declare herself an harlot; therefore Paul instructed the Corinthian women to practice this veil custom lest they bring reproach upon th,~ church. I have one question which I would like for someone who holds this "custom theory" to answer. If Paul meant "every time she appears in public," why did he say when "praying or prophesying"? The man who holds to the idea mentioned above must make this and many other alterations in the word of God. I have asked many, many times for someone to give me book, chapter and verse which indicates that this passage has anything to do with what was being done with harlots in Corinth, but I have not seen the verse.

A close examination of history will reveal that it was socially proper for a woman to keep her head covered while she traversed the but as far as the custom was concerned, once she was admitted into a private house it was in order for the head covering to be removed. A close examination of Romans 16:23 will reveal that the church met in Gaius' house. Gaius was a member of the church in Corinth. (I Cor. 1 :14) The very time the custom permitted the women to uncover their heads, was the only time Paul commanded them to he covered.

In verse two Paul says, "Now 1 praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances as I delivered them to You." If the context of a passage proves anything at all, it proves here that the "ordinances" are those set forth in the following verses (2-16). They had not kept the Lord's supper as Paul had delivered it to them, but had turned it into a drunken feast. Paul specifically that he does not praise them for such conduct. (vs. 17) Besides that Paul says, "NOW I praise you . . ." So the "ordinances" referred to are things NOW under consideration. This is not just a matter of pleasing one's self but rather a matter of obeying God. It is obvious to me that the teaching of Paul in the verses under study has nothing to do with the customs of the ancient Greeks and any attempt to apply it to such constitutes a perversion of the text.

What is This Covering?

Is Paul talking about an artificial covering, or is it the hair? The evidence that this passage teaches the necessity of an artificial covering is indisputable. We shall now present four scr plural reasons for this.

First. It is a covering that must not be worn by man. The same language used to forbid the covering for the man in verse four, is used to bind the covering for the wonian in verse five. If verse four teaches that man pulls it off, verse five teaches that woman puts it on. I doubt that vou have ever seen a man in the assembly of the church with a hat, bonnet, cap, or an artificial covering of any kind on his head.

Second. There is some covering required while "prayling or prophesying" THAT IS NOT REQUIRED AT ALL TIMES. It is something that women must put on her head while "praying or prophesying" that is subject to being removed at my other time. This could not possibly refer to the hair. The hair is on the head all the time.

Third. Verse six says, "If a 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." If a woman were not covered with hair she would already be shorn, and could not "also be shorn," as Paul says here. It would he ridiculous to say, If a woman be not-covered with hair, let her also have her hair cut off. You can't cut something off that is already gone. Verse fifteen says, "'If a. woman have long, hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given to her for a covering." Paul says that her hair is "a covering": he does not say that it is her only covering. Verse fifteen simply answers the question which is raised in verse six. Verse six says if woman will not cover her head, then she might as well cut her hair off too. But if it is a shame for her to have her hair cut off, let her realize that it is also, a shame for her not to cover her head while praying or prophesying. No one can deny that it is a shame for a woman to cut off what God gave her for her glory. It is a shame because it fashions her, to that extent, as a man, and such is contrary to nature. The idea in verse six is this: If a woman is not going to cover her head in worship, then she might as well not wear long hair. Away with the idea that Paul is teaching that the artificial covering is a substitute for the long hair. Paul says if she will not wear one she might as well not wear the other. Neither is sufficient without the other. Long hair is a glory unto woman; therefore it is a shame for her to be shorn or shaven, for that is to remove her God-given glory. Since it is a shame for her to, be shorn or shaven, Paul says, "Let her be covered."

Fourth. The term "be covered" suggests action, not possession. For a woman to "be covered" necessitates her putting on the covering. This is clearly set forth in the Revised Standard version which reads, "veil herself."

Here are four reasons proving beyond question that this passage refers to an artificial covering, and teaches that this covering must he worn while "praying or prophesying." Next month we shall consider the question "Why Women Ought to Cover Their Heads While Praying or Prophesying." This will constitute a study of the basis of Paul's arguments.

Truth Magazine II:4, pp. 7, 9
January 1958