v. 2—Notice how Paul introduces his correction of disorders. He praises them that they remembered him, and that they kept the teachings of the faith that he had taught them.
v. 3—“But I would have you know” suggests that he is about to give some new teaching on a special matter. The meaning of a head covering by Christian women. Three headships are brought to our notice in this verse: God, Christ, and man. It is headship, not Lordship.
The thought of headship is authority, control, and the related subject of subjection. The Christian man is under the headship of Christ. The Christian woman is to be under the headship of man. Even as Christ, for carrying out the redemptive purposes of God, placed Himself completely in subjection to the Father. This reference to Christ eliminates all thought of superiority or inferiority.
v. 4—For a man to wear a hat when praying or preaching is dishonoring to Christ.
v. 5—Any sister who prays or teaches with her head uncovered dishonors her head (man—Christ). Paul says any sister doing this is in God’s sight as if she were shaved. In that day immoral women went unveiled, and slave women were shorn.
v. 6—By inspiration Paul says that if a woman persists on having her head uncovered, let her shave off her hair. No good woman would ever do that, it would be shameful. Then says Paul, let her be covered.
v. 7—This verse gives the reason why a man ought not to cover his head. “He is the image and glory of God.” Note also that the woman is the “glory of man.” It is God’s will that women should be in subjection to man.
v. 8-9—The relative positions of man and woman is brought to us in these verses. Adam as God’s representative was made head of creation. The woman came from man. She was created for man.
Verses 11-12 would teach us that there is no thought of superiority or inferiority. Man and are necessary to each other in the Lord.
v. 10—“For this cause.” Because man was given headship, dominion and authority, the woman has to have “authority” on her head. Her head covering becomes the visible token of subjection to her God-appointed head. “Because of the angels.” The angels witnessed the rebellion which brought sin. Now in the new creation it is possible for them to see godly order.
When God’s order is carried out in the Church gatherings there is the passions setting forth of Christ and His Church. The man uncovered in the position of authority represents Christ. The woman covered in the place of accepted subjection sets forth the Church in subjection to her Risen Head and Lord. What a privilege it is for a Christian woman to manifest to angels this precious truth. How gladly it should be accepted.
Praying and Preaching
Should Christian women pray or preach? Yes they can, but only within the sphere set forth by the Word of God. For them to do so in a church gathering where men are present is direct disobedience to the instructions of the Word of God. Read 1 Corinthians 34:35 and 1 Timothy 2:4-12. The truth set forth in these two passages is emphasized by the head coverings worn by the sisters “under disobedience”, “not to usurp authority over the man.”
There is nothing in the Scriptures that would forbid women praying or preaching when only women and children are present. Even then her head should be covered. These instructions were given to cover our church related activities. They do not cover the activities in the home.
Hat or Hair
There are some who believe that a woman’s hair is her covering. See verse 15. therefore she needs no other cover.
v. 13—“Judge in yourselves.” “In the light of what I have just said, Consider for yourselves it is proper or decent for a woman to offer prayer to God (publicly) with her head uncovered?”
v. 14—Does not nature teach you that for a man to have long hair it is a shame or a dishonor to him.
v. 15—A woman’s hair is her glory…it is given to her, saved and unsaved alike, for a covering. It is provided by nature.
The Christian woman is given the privilege and responsibility of wearing an additional covering which sets forth:
1. The truth of subjection.
2. The headship of man.
One would not charge all sisters who do not wear hats in church services with willful disobedience to the Word, for this truth is not taught in many churches. The world scoffs at any such teaching as would please women in a subordinate position to men. Some Christian women are influenced in their thinking and actions by the world’s standards. To reject the commandment of God is to dishonor Christ, displease the angels, dishonor her husband, and dishonor the men.