Rock Your Role

Rock Your Role: A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)

Rock Your Role is a series examining the “go to” and hot button Scriptures that relate to and help us understand our role as women in the church. Don’t forget to prayerfully consider our three key questions as you read.

head coverings

Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven… Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?
1 Corinthians 11: 4-5, 13

In this series, we’ve been examining the biblical passages that define and give shape to our role as godly women in the church. We’ve taken a look at the different roles God has laid out for men and women in the church and the passages of Scripture people commonly like to twist to argue against the clear teaching of God’s word about those roles.

But aside from a very small minority of folks, no one is arguing that Christian women need to wear some sort of head covering in church or while praying. Most of us seem to instinctively know that the first half of 1 Corinthians 11 is not a command that is binding on 21st century American women. So why even bring up this passage in this series?

Because much like the tiresome “Leviticus also prohibits eating shellfish and wearing garments of mixed fibers!” argument repeatedly trotted out by those offended when Christians rightly call homosexuality a sin, 1 Corinthians 11 is used by feminists, egalitarians, and others as a “gotcha” passage against Christians who rightly uphold the biblical roles of men and women in the church. “If you believe women shouldn’t preach, teach men, or hold authority over men in the church,” they say, “then why don’t you wear a head covering? See? You’re a hypocrite! You pick and choose which Scriptures you’ll obey!”

What they (and often we) don’t realize – because this passage takes some digging and study – is that women who obey Scripture’s parameters for biblical womanhood (submitting to their husbands, following God’s role for women in the church, etc.) are “wearing a head covering.”

First Timothy 2:11-15, the most commonly cited biblical prohibition against women teaching or exercising authority over men in the church, works hand in glove with 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Both passages deal with male and female roles and authority in the church. But, whereas, in 1 Timothy God gives only universally applicable, unchanging reasons for His instruction that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men in the church (the creative order {verse 13}, and the deception of Eve {verse 14}), in 1 Corinthians, He gives both universal reasons (3, 8-9, 11-12) and transient, man-made, cultural customs (head coverings and hair length) as an additional illustration of the principle He is teaching.

First Corinthians is something of a “policy and procedure manual” for the church. Through Paul’s letter, the Holy Spirit is instructing the church at Corinth, and, subsequently, us, on everything from orderliness in the worship service, to love, lawsuits, marriage, idolatry, and other issues of importance. Chapter 11 fits right in with the flow of instruction. God decided the church needed to be taught about authority and gender roles and inspired Paul to pen this section.

As chapter 11 opens, Paul commends the church at Corinth for keeping God’s word as Paul had taught them (2), but, apparently, something was out of whack with the authority structure and the way men and women were behaving in the church, because Paul immediately pivots to say,

“But I want you to understand…” (3)

In other words, “You’ve been doing pretty well in these other areas, but this area needs some improvement so I’m going to give you very clear instruction about it. Listen up.”

If you’ve ever taken a composition class, you know that persuasive or instructive writing often follows the format of presenting a thesis statement (the main point of your paper) and then supporting or proving that thesis statement with evidence, examples, or logical arguments. This is the format Paul seems to follow in this section.

Why is this important?

Because those who use this passage to argue against the biblical roles of men and women either misunderstand or ignore the main point the Holy Spirit is trying to teach in these verses.

The thesis statement of this passage of Scripture is not found in the verses mentioning head coverings and haircuts. It is found in verse 3:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

In other words, the entire point of this section of Scripture is not that women should wear head coverings, the point is the biblical line of succession of authority. Head coverings, head shaving, short haircuts, and long hair are examples, illustrations, and logical arguments supporting the main point in verse 3.

God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of his wife. And, similar to the way that Christ has a different role in the godhead than God the Father, yet is not in any way inferior to Him, women have a different role in marriage and the church than men, yet are equal to them in value, worth, and salvation. (11) Paul proceeds to explain this by using head coverings and hair lengths- commonplace marks of apparel whose function and significance would have been easily understood by his first century audience -to illustrate his point.

At that particular time, in that particular locale, among those particular people, a head covering was worn by married women to signify a) that they were married, and b) that they respected and were in submission to their husbands. For the women of the church of Corinth, it was a symbol that they understood and embraced their role as godly wives. A woman who pointedly refused to wear her head covering in church would have been making a statement akin to, “I can do what I want. I don’t have to do what my husband, my church leadership, or even God says.” (Kind of like women in the church today who argue against biblical womanhood so vehemently.) By doing so, she dishonored both her own head (herself) and the “head” of her home, her husband. Worst of all, she rejected and rebelled against the authority structure God Himself established.

In a way, refusing to wear the head covering would have been similar to a wife today who takes off her wedding ring and flings it at her husband when she’s angry or leaves her ring at home when she goes out because she’s on the prowl for another man. It’s not the mere act of removing the ring itself that is intrinsically wrong, but, rather, the symbolic statement she makes by removing it.

Head coverings are no longer a cultural norm in Western society. Christian women today do not have to wear a literal head covering, but even from the earliest Old Testament times godly women have always adorned themselves with “a symbol of authority” (10) on their heads: their humility and submission to their husbands and to Christ, in the home, in the church, and in the world.

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:3-7

If you’re following in Sarah’s footsteps, striving to love Christ and obey His written word in all you do, you are already “wearing a head covering.” So the next time someone tries to use this passage of Scripture against you, asking, “Why don’t you wear a head covering?” you can confidently answer, “I do. Why don’t you?”


Additional Resources:

Here are some great resources that get into more of the specific details of this passage.

Addressing the Dressing III: Clothes and Roman Culture by Lyndon Unger

Addressing the Dressing IV: Hair and Roman Culture by Lyndon Unger

1 Corinthians 11:2-16- An Interactive Bible Study by Lyndon Unger

Does 1 Corinthians 11:4-5 mean a woman should never ever cut her hair? at CARM

Should Christian women wear head coverings? at Got Questions

It’s a Shame for a Man to Have Long Hair? by WWUTT (When We Understand the Text)

Head Coverings for Women by John MacArthur

24 thoughts on “Rock Your Role: A Head of the Times- Head Coverings for Christian Women? (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)”

  1. The Head Covering Movement would disagree with you, while they would say that husbands are a spiritual covering, a removable material head covering is also required, they would also prefer that all women wear head coverings in the presence of men, married or not. The problem with the idea of roles in manhood and womanhood is that they are tied to marital status: single men and women without children are often left to wonder: “If male headship is a wife submitting to her husband, then what does male headship look like for single men?” or “If wearing a head covering is to show a woman’s husband is her covering, then ought single women to wear them?” The Koine Greek word for “man” was one and the same for “husband” and the word for “woman” was one and the same for “wife” – in that culture, being one meant that it was guaranteed you would also be the other, a man that’s a husband, a woman that’s a wife. That’s not so today, and there is no Biblical Gender Role for Singles, particularly women are left without a blueprint because Christianity had it’s Pauls and Timothys, but I don’t know of any NT women who were single who could serve as examples.

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    1. “The Head Covering Movement would disagree with you, while they would say that husbands are a spiritual covering, a removable material head covering is also required, they would also prefer that all women wear head coverings in the presence of men, married or not.”

      That’s one of those few “you’ve probably never heard of them” groups I referenced. Not to get all semantic-y about it, but just to clarify, they wouldn’t be disagreeing with me, they would be misunderstanding and misapplying Scripture, much like the churches who misunderstand and misapply Scripture by saying that women can’t wear pants or makeup and have to grow their hair long.

      “The problem with the idea of roles in manhood and womanhood…”

      Again, I’m sorry if I seem nitpicky, but we need to be careful about our language. The roles of men and women are not an “idea” (unless you mean they’re God’s idea, which is certainly correct, and I apologize for misunderstanding). They are biblical instructions from the mouth of God that He expects Christians to obey. And because they are God’s instructions, there cannot be a “problem” with them.

      That said, you are so right that it can be a challenge for single men and women to sort out what biblical manhood or womanhood should look like in their lives if they don’t have a spouse and/or children.

      “…is that they are tied to marital status.”

      To a great extent that’s true, but only because married men and women and parents need further instruction on how to be godly in those huge areas of their lives that single men and women and people who aren’t parents don’t need.

      However there are instructions for biblical womanhood, such as 1 Timothy 2:12 and Titus 2:3-5 that apply to all women regardless of marital status.

      There are also passages like 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 and, again, Titus 2:3-5 that single women can obey within the context of singlehood. For 1 Cor. 14, maybe you ask your questions of your pastor, your father, or another godly person you trust. Titus says older women are to teach “what is good.” There are plenty of “good” things single women can teach to younger women and children.

      Additionally, we know that there were both older and younger widows in the early church (1 Timothy 5), so there were single people in the church at the time that New Testament instructions to the church were written. They would have been expected to conduct themselves in a godly way and in compliance with the Scriptures pertaining to biblical man/womanhood that applied to them as single men or women.

      “If male headship is a wife submitting to her husband, then what does male headship look like for single men?”

      Male headship for single men, and biblical womanhood for single women, is embracing and obeying the passages of Scripture that apply to all men/all women or all Christians in general, and being free from the responsibility to the Scriptures that are specific to marriage and childrearing. For example: Men who aren’t fathers don’t need to worry about Ephesians 6:4 in their own lives. Women who aren’t married aren’t under the requirements of Colossians 3:18.

      I could be wrong, but as far as I know there aren’t any passages of Scripture that have different standards of personal godliness and conduct in life and in the church for married people and single people.

      “If wearing a head covering is to show a woman’s husband is her covering, then ought single women to wear them?”

      Passages like this are where digging in and understanding the intent of the Scripture is paramount, because doing so solves the dilemma. This question is moot because neither married nor single women are required to wear literal head coverings today.

      “Particularly women are left without a blueprint because Christianity had it’s Pauls and Timothys, but I don’t know of any NT women who were single who could serve as examples.”

      First, how much of an example do married women actually get from the married women who are mentioned in Scripture? The sparse information we have about Mary, Elizabeth, Priscilla, Lois, Eunice, etc., could, for the most part, serve as an example to married OR single women.

      Additionally, we don’t build doctrine on descriptive passages (stories of what Bible characters did). Doctrine comes from prescriptive passages (commands and instructions).

      Being single, married, or a parent all come with their own unique challenges. It’s vital that we become good students of the Scriptures to find out how best to obey them in our own circumstances. I know I rely A LOT on that wisdom God promises in James 1:5 :0)

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      1. It depends on how you read it – Junia was an apostle and Phoebe was a deacon, some bibles say so. Other Bibles just call them “known to the apostles” and “a servant”. Then it becomes a question of which Bible is biblical.
        The Head Covering Movement might be small, but so what Christianity in the first year or so of it’s existence. It’s founder has recently gone to the biblical manhood and womanhood conference where he will gladly tell anyone he meets about his position. I think even King David would say “don’t underestimate the small fry.”
        Quite a bit of the ideas about Biblical Manhood and Womanhood fit with Roman Household Codes. What was left over matches our own cultural expectations, which by definition can’t be Biblical. The amalgamation of the two doesn’t always fit with modern culture because ours is subject to change.
        The problem with giving extra attention to people who “need” attention in one area is to neglect the areas where single people need attention that married people do not. The Bible itself was mostly written by men, to men, for men, and only addresses women directly and specifically on occasion. In most ancient cultures, the complete oversight of talking about women has resulted in complete lack of knowledge of what life was like for women because few historians opted to write about them. One might assume that men need the attention. It’s not as if women don’t need attention, and since the Bible doesn’t address their concerns, then they must not exist (there areas where women need help, not women themselves). Hence, a lot of neglect is the result of that way of thinking. Let’s put it another way and see if it still holds: “The Bible gives a lot of instruction to white men because they need extra help to be godly in a lot of areas. Black men don’t need that kind of help, so the Bible says nothing about them.” If the Bible is the sum of wisdom and it isn’t missing anything, then by neglecting to mention something creates a situation where entire people groups are neglected by omission.
        That’s another thing I don’t get – back in the Bible, gender segregation was a fact of life, men lived on the men’s side of the house, the women on the women’s side of the house, men sat at the men’s side of the synagogue, the women theirs, even the temple was gender segregated, it was a world where men couldn’t teach women without causing a dishonorable scandal. Today that’s not so, men freely teach women. But women still aren’t allowed to teach men, even if a woman is more knowledgeable, and they can’t even correct a man who has just misinformed everyone which a bad interpretation. There’s a point of being biblical that you say is ludicrous that women have to wear head coverings, but it’s not ludicrous that women can’t teach men. That’s inconsistency to pick and choose what you want to accept in the Bible. Which is why the Head Covering Movement exists, at least they obey everything even if it’s not popular in an attempt to remove some of the inconsistency that others in their circle embrace.

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      2. “It depends on how you read it – Junia was an apostle…”

        Junia, by definition, was not an apostle, nor does Romans 16:7, the only place Junia is mentioned in Scripture indicate that he was. The apostles were the original 12, Matthias (Judas’ replacement) and Paul. Additionally, the reading I’ve done on Junia from reputable Bible scholars either says Junia was a man or that they can’t tell whether it was a man or woman.

        “…and Phoebe was a deacon, some bibles say so. Other Bibles just call them “known to the apostles” and “a servant”. Then it becomes a question of which Bible is biblical.”

        There are some translations that are more accurate than others, as evidenced by the translation you’re using, that’s true, and when we study we want to use those more accurate translations.

        Though most of the more accurate translations call Phoebe a “servant” in Romans 16:1, some have “deacon,” (and some of those have a footnote that says “or servant”). No problem with that, deacon and servant are interchangeable here. The problem arises when egalitarians assume that what the term “deacon” has morphed into today (people who are in charge of committees, hold places of teaching leadership over others, hold places of power and authority in the church, etc.) is what the New Testament writers also meant when they used the term “deacon,” and that’s not the case. To the New Testament church a deacon was a servant. Someone who waited tables (Acts 6:2) and did grunt work, not a prestigious “servant leader” like we might think of today. Certainly there were women (perhaps Phoebe) who helped alongside their deacon husbands or the other deacons, and there are plenty of women who do this kind of service (making meals for new mothers, visiting the sick, taking care of others’ children, etc.) today.

        But as I’ve explained in this article, whatever it was that the women of Romans 16 were being commended for, it wasn’t preaching, teaching men, exercising authority over men, or acting in any other way prohibited by Scripture:

        “And one more thing about Priscilla, Phoebe, and the other women of Romans 16: Who – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – wrote the book of Romans? Paul. Who – under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit – wrote 1 Timothy 2:11-15? Paul. Would the Holy Spirit have led Paul in Romans 16 to praise women who were rebelling against His word in 1 Timothy 2? Have you ever known God, anywhere in Scripture, to praise people who unrepentantly break His word? Would it make any sense, logically, for Paul to praise in Romans 16 women who were habitually and rebelliously disobeying his instructions in 1 Timothy 2?

        God does not contradict Himself. God’s word does not contradict itself. If He gives us an explicit command, biographical details of a Bible character’s life do not override that command, and we are to obey it.”

        “The Head Covering Movement might be small…”

        The Head Covering Movement isn’t wrong because it’s small. It’s wrong because, as I already said, it mishandes and misapplies Scripture.

        “The problem with giving extra attention to people who “need” attention in one area is to neglect the areas where single people need attention that married people do not.”

        What issues do single people need biblical instruction about that the Bible doesn’t cover? Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the Bible is sufficient instruction for every area of life: “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” If there is something you as a single person or I as a married person need to know about living a godly life, it is in the Bible.

        “The Bible itself was mostly written by men, to men, for men…”

        That’s patently false. The Bible is inspired by God. (2 Timothy 3:16) It is God’s word penned by men (not “mostly” by men- there are no female authors of Scripture). It is not “to men” or “for men.” It is for all people.

        “…and only addresses women directly and specifically on occasion.”

        Which is evidence that the Bible is to and for all people, not specifically men. It only specifies “this is only for women” or “this is only for men” in the areas where men’s and women’s roles are different. Otherwise everything applies to everybody.

        “It’s not as if women don’t need attention, and since the Bible doesn’t address their concerns, then they must not exist (there areas where women need help, not women themselves).”

        Again, what areas of life do women need biblical instruction about that the Bible doesn’t provide?

        “Let’s put it another way and see if it still holds: “The Bible gives a lot of instruction to white men because they need extra help to be godly in a lot of areas. Black men don’t need that kind of help, so the Bible says nothing about them.”

        That’s not analagous to what I said. What would be analagous to what I said would be that white men need biblical instruction on being white that black men don’t need because they aren’t white. In all other areas of their lives the biblical instruction would be the same.

        Before somebody reads that and accuses me of racism, let’s look at a different angle: There are instructions specifically for pastors throughout the New Testament that, while you and I can glean some general biblical principles from them, don’t apply to us as women because God’s word prohibits us from being pastors. But just because those particular passages are specifically for pastors (because they need instruction on how to be good pastors) it doesn’t mean that there automatically must be something lacking in biblical instruction for non-pastors. Likewise, just because there are instructions for married people doesn’t mean something is automatically lacking in the Bible’s instructions that apply to single people. The Bible isn’t a zero sum game.

        “If the Bible is the sum of wisdom and it isn’t missing anything, then by neglecting to mention something creates a situation where entire people groups are neglected by omission.”

        OK, what is it neglecting to mention? Who are you accusing God of neglecting?

        “…it was a world where men couldn’t teach women without causing a dishonorable scandal.”

        Where does the Bible say this? I don’t even see this even hinted at in Scripture, and if it were an issue (as it surely would have been since all elders/teachers/pastors in the church were men and we know that there were women in the churches whom they taught) surely the Bible would have addressed it.

        “Today that’s not so, men freely teach women. But women still aren’t allowed to teach men, even if a woman is more knowledgeable…”

        Again, I’m not sure where you’re getting this “men didn’t teach women in the church during biblical times” idea. They did. It’s all over the New Testament with nary a scandal mentioned. The reason women still aren’t allowed to teach men is because that is a biblical prohibition (1 Timothy 2:11-15), not a cultural custom (like the head covering thing).

        “…and they can’t even correct a man who has just misinformed everyone which a bad interpretation.”

        And where does the Bible say that? That’s actually a question I received a while back that I answered here.

        “There’s a point of being biblical that you say is ludicrous that women have to wear head coverings, but it’s not ludicrous that women can’t teach men. That’s inconsistency to pick and choose what you want to accept in the Bible.”

        I did not say “ludicrous” or use any other derogatory terminology about any biblical instruction or those who sincerely believe the Bible says women need to wear head coverings. I’m well aware they believe that out of a desire to be godly. But that doesn’t make them correct, biblically. As I and the several resources I’ve provided explain, their belief is based on a misunderstanding and misapplication of Scripture because Paul was using head coverings as a cultural example of the principle he was explaining.

        Understanding and obeying Scripture in context, which is what women who obey the Bible’s teaching in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 yet don’t wear literal head coverings are doing, is not being inconsistent, it’s being a good student of the Bible and handling it correctly as 2 Timothy 2:15 teaches. As I mentioned in the article (and explain in fuller detail here) 1 Timothy 2:13-14 gives the universally applicable, unchanging, non-cultural reasons that women are not to preach, teach men, or exercise authority over men in the church. That is why this mandate is still applicable- because it wasn’t based on culture, but on intrinsically biblical reasons.

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  2. Yes! This becomes even clearer when you realize that “a symbol of” isn’t even in the original text; it was added by the translators. The passage is almost “bookended” with the thesis statement you pointed out, and the summary that “for this reason a woman ought to have authority on her head.”

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    1. My favorite Bible translates that verse this way: “For this reason, a woman ought to exercise control over what she wears on hear head” Because the word for authority is always an active word referring to the subject, it can’t possibly mean that somebody has authority over her (like her husband) In essence, she gets to decide what she will wear on her own head because she has authority over it – if she wants to wear a hat, she can. If she does not, then her ‘hair’ is still her natural covering that needs nothing over it. Either way, nobody else has the right to make her wear something because she’s female and they’re not.

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      1. Jamie- What translation of the Bible would that be? I just checked about 30 of the most widely used English translations (and even a few paraphrases), and none of them use anything approaching that verbiage.

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      2. You won’t find it in English: “Por eso, la mujer debe ejercer control sobre su cabeza, para respeto a los ángeles.” Traducción en lenguaje actual (TLA) Off of the top of my head, I was close, but with so many languages in my head it’s a wonder I don’t get them mixed up more often.

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      3. You might want to consider getting a more accurate Spanish translation, because if it’s translating that verse as “a woman ought to exercise control over what she wears on her head,” it’s not giving you the correct sense of the original wording. And if it’s faulty in that verse, it’s probably faulty in others as well.

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      4. That is a really…creative…interpretation.

        Keep in mind that the verse is in the context of a given message. It would be completely nonsensical to say, “nobody has authority over you” in a passage that started by telling us the main point is “…the head of every woman is man…”

        Ironically, though, you still seem to be stuck on this “piece of cloth” interpretation that Michelle has been pointing out is NOT part of the text. It doesn’t say I have to wear something on my head OR that I do not have to wear something on my head, because it isn’t about “wearing” anything, at all. It’s about being submitted to the God-ordained authority over me.

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  3. Hm..I tried googling, and the only other place I see this phrasing is another comment from Jamie on a post about headcoverings. It appears to be an English translation of a Spanish (I think) translation. Traducción en lenguaje actual (TLA)

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    1. “If head coverings were only a symbol of authority in that specific culture, why was the practice continues throughout the centuries.”

      a) You’re assuming that’s the case. In the 2000 years since that Scripture was written, who is to say that every single Christian group or church taught literal head covering? Perhaps there were many who correctly understood this Scripture that did not.

      b) The fact that a large number of people do something and have done it for a long time doesn’t make it biblical. I’m Southern Baptist. The majority of Southern Baptist churches have taught for decades, if not centuries, that Christians are required to tithe (as in Malachi 3:8-10). This is Old Testament law, not required of Christians (2 Corinthians 9:7 governs giving for Christians). Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, set to outpace Christianity, and it has existed for centuries. That doesn’t make it true.

      c) You’re using experience/circumstance to argue biblicality. We start from a correct understanding of Scripture and our experiences and circumstances must bow to that, not vice versa.

      “Why did people including Luther and Spurgeon praise the head covering?”

      Perhaps it’s because they didn’t have a clear understanding of this passage (you’ll recall that we have far more manuscripts of Scripture and other historical documentation now than they had then), or perhaps it was for other reasons. I don’t know. You would have to do the research. However, again, we don’t start with man’s opinions or positions, we start with a correct understanding of Scripture and our beliefs have to come into submission to Scripture, not man’s opinions and positions (as much as I love Luther and Spurgeon).

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      1. Another possible reason is that head coverings were ALSO a cultural norm in their society. Did the practice of physical headcovering continue because the Bible prescribed it, or did their interpretation of the passage occur because the cultural practice persisted?

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      2. One problem with the Church in the last hundred years, though, is that feminism has infiltrated it quite a bit. We can see that in the rise of women pastors as well. Were people interpreting the Scriptures against women pastors wrong throughout the centuries as well? How can we know that our interpretation is the correct one, or if we just don’t want to wear head coverings and are trying to make excuses for it? If I’m honest with myself, I don’t really want to wear a head covering because it would make me stand out and would be uncomfortable, so I’m likely to find reasons not to do it, rather than looking objectively at the text. I’m not saying that this IS the case, but could it be possible that feminism has influenced our view of the head covering?

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      3. Not likely, when respected, staunchly complementarian theologians such as MacArthur and the others I’ve listed in the resources section who are renown for their impeccable scholarship and have done the work in the original languages have come to this conclusion. I think it’s very unlikely their findings were influenced by feminism. If anything, they would be supportive of head coverings if they felt that eschewing head coverings was merely a feminist ploy.

        If your conscience bothers you and you want to err on the side of caution and wear a head covering to feel more at ease, you can certainly do that. It wouldn’t be wrong.

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      4. I guess I still wonder why the practice died out and why it exists still in some parts of the world today.
        Thank you for being willing to converse with me about this Michelle.

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  4. Regarding Head Coverings it should be noted that the Greek word used for covering is ‘katakalupto’. Only used here in the NT, but it is used some 18 times in the Greek OT, the Septuagint.

    In every instance of the word katakalupto being used in the OT, it refers to some type of cloth covering. When Paul told those Corinth ladies to ‘katakalupto’ their heads when praying or prophesying, every single one of those Greek speaking Corinth women knew Paul meant a cloth covering was required.

    So why do people act ignorant today of what katakalupto means or implies, namely a cloth covering? Instead ones sees people doing wonderful mental gymnastics in their attempts to explain what covering really means, just so as to avoid ever wearing a cloth covering. Is wearing a cloth covering really so horrendous?

    Personally I believe Paul intends for women to wear a cloth covering, as understood by the word katakalupto, then as now.
    I question how women who refuse to submit to the Word of God and cover their heads with a cloth covering, can actually believe that they are going to heaven? Since when did the willfully disobedient get to enter heaven?
    These teachings about what the covering is or means that excludes a cloth covering, are modern heretical teachings less than 100 years old. And no one got to heaven by way of heretical teachings.

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    1. Dirk, are you really attempting to say that women who don’t cover their heads aren’t Christians or can’t be saved? THAT is heresy. The Bible doesn’t say that anywhere. Also, reading, handling, and understanding a passage in its appropriate context is proper hermeneutics, not “mental gymnastics.”

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  5. This has been something on my mind for a bit now. A ministry I somewhat follow on Youtube often had the female member wearing a head covering or scarf of some type. I would wonder if she did that because she liked the style or for a specific biblical reason. She recently posted a video about why she wears one, but I haven’t watched it. Something that makes me wonder is, why do Christians have different convictions about certain things? How come one’s conscience will make her feel she needs to wear a head covering, and another one’s conscience doesn’t make her feel that way at all? Not even specifically head coverings, but in regards to anything? It’s just something I’ve been wondering. The way you explained this passage of scripture makes a lot of sense. Thank you for writing!

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    1. Thanks, Brenna. I think it’s a combination of a lot of different things. In some cases it could be that the person is a false convert (someone who thinks she’s a Christian, but isn’t).

      But even genuinely regenerated people have different convictions about secondary things like this due to a variety of factors: level of spiritual maturity, whether or not she has a correct, in context, understanding of the particular Scripture in question, her social/church culture and how she was raised, respect and submission to her husband (who might be more/less spiritually mature than she is), even respect for the leadership and teaching of her church (she might submit to it even if she doesn’t particularly agree with it). For example, if the only doctrinally sound church near me was one that asked women to head cover during worship, I would do so out of respect for the church and leadership – and because I need to be part of a solid church – not because I agree with it.

      There are lots of different factors at play.

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  6. Hi, Michelle!

    You wrote,

    “Staunchly complementarian theologians such as… Sproul… who are renown for their impeccable scholarship and have done the work in the original languages have come to this conclusion.”

    R.C. Sproul actually supported head coverings. He argued that it was an enduring practice, noting Paul’s cumulative case for them, including his appeal to nature and angels. He has made his pro-head-covering position known in at least one book and a public conference, and continued to support this position late in life. His wife covered at their church.

    Quoting Sproul:

    “Some very subtle means of relativizing the text occur when we read into the text cultural considerations that ought not to be there. For example, with respect to the hair-covering issue in Corinth, numerous commentators on the epistle point out that the local sign of the prostitute in Corinth was the uncovered head. Therefore, the argument runs, the reason why Paul wanted women to cover their heads was to avoid a scandalous appearance of Christian women in the external guise of prostitutes.”

    “What is wrong with this kind of speculation? The basic problem here is that our reconstructed knowledge of first-century Corinth has led us to supply Paul with a rationale that is foreign to the one he gives himself. In a word, we are not only putting words into the apostle’s mouth, but we are ignoring words that are there. If Paul merely told women in Corinth to cover their heads and gave no rationale for such instruction, we would be strongly inclined to supply it via our cultural knowledge. In this case, however, Paul provides a rationale that is based on an appeal to creation, not to the custom of Corinthian harlots. We must be careful not to let our zeal for knowledge of the culture obscure what is actually said. To subordinate Paul’s stated reason to our speculatively conceived reason is to slander the apostle and turn exegesis into eisegesis.”

    Sproul argued that the features we typically need to identify an enduring principle or creation ordinance — something more than a mere cultural custom — are more than satisfied by Paul’s long argument in 1 Corinthians 11.

    Grace and peace,

    Aaron Shafovalofff

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    1. Hi Aaron- Thank you so much for bringing that mistake to my attention. I did some digging around, and you seem to be correct. Although Dr. Sproul did admit he was one of the very few who interpret this passage this way, and I stand firmly on the other side from him on this issue, I still love and respect his teaching a great deal. Thanks for taking the time to explain and for being so kind in doing so. I’ve made the necessary corrections. :0)

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