Is Hair Considered a Covering in Worship? Comparing 1 Corinthians 11:6 and 11:14, 15

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Herald, Jun 1, 2014.

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  1. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    1 Corinthians 11:6 "For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head."

    1 Corinthians 11:14, 15 "Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering."

    Verse 6 seems to indicate that an additional covering, other than hair, is being commanded by Paul. Verse 15 seems to indicate that hair itself is a sufficient covering. Reconciling these two passages has been difficult for me. Is Paul saying in verse 15 that nature provides a natural covering for women, i.e. long hair, but an additional token is still needed in worship (verse 6)?

    I would like to hear some opinions.
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

  3. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Rev. Brown, Matthew Henry's view is that hair is an adequate covering for worship but that in this passage, there is not only a cultural but a redemptive historical element: the outpouring of the Spirit in prophetic utterance on sons and daughters, and the custom of that culture with regard to prophetic utterance in women. Paul is saying that the cultural expressions of authority are not to be disregarded by the church. He points back to God's own covering of the woman and the created order. The ongoing application from Henry's view would be that the church is not a place where the customary societal expressions of God's established order are to be disregarded. Though in Christ there is neither male or female as relates to individual worth -- there is still decency and order. Contentiousness against authority is no custom of the church's. I am personally satisfied with this view of the passage: it does more to answer all the questions the passage has raised for me. But I would not want to convince others against conscience.
  4. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Length of hair is the matter. Long hair is a shame for a man, a glory and covering for a woman. If she doesn't want long hair, let her be shaved (which I find few women willing to do). Same passage - covering necessary, hair is a covering. Disputations over slight differences in word usage notwithstanding, my view is that hair IS the covering addressed in this passage. If someone would approach the subject without a predisposition to doilies, I might listen, but none has as yet. I have no preference either way, my only aim is to understand what God is saying here. Seems pretty plain to me. Mental gymnastics always raise red flags for me. But then, I'm not the arbiter of anything, so you are free to take my position with a grain of salt.
  5. Hemustincrease

    Hemustincrease Puritan Board Freshman

    Her hair is ‘a’ covering but being as this particular covering is also her ‘glory’ ought it not to be covered with something else when worshipping God that His glory alone be on view? :think: I’m still uncertain!
  6. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Isn't it quite simple in the Greek? The peribolean is the hair as a covering, but he brings forward the katakylupto, another type of covering, as something that the men should not wear, but the woman should. So how can the one be the other when the Greek is that specific? Should men then have their heads shaven in order to preach?
  7. Edward

    Edward Puritanboard Commissioner

    I think you should also consider I Cor. 11:4 in your analysis. For if hair is a covering for women, it would be for men as well. So if hair meets the requirement for women, a man should shave his head.
  8. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    Jo, just a thought -- this is one reason I think it an adequate covering. God doesn't cover to demean. What is weaker is to be honored, what is more contemptible receives greater honor, etc. When God covers, He does so with glory.
  9. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Long hair is the covering. That is what the passage discusses. It is shameful for a man to have long hair; for a woman it is her glory. If she wants to wear her hair like a man, then let her be shaved. Perhaps a bit of hyperbole on Paul's part to point out the impropriety of a woman having short hair? Because, as I stated earlier, I've known very few women who would want to wear a buzz cut. Out of all the tribes of men, the vast majority have practiced that women wear their hair long, or at least longer than the men. Could that be because, as Paul stated, nature itself teaches us something about the matter? I believe so, and find that to be the least strained reading of the passage.
  10. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    I appreciate all of the comments plus the links to some very fine articles. Thank you.
  11. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    This is one of those interpretations that tell you more about the interpreter than the Scripture.
  12. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Matthew, I am not sure if you are referring to a specific person's interpretation in this thread. In the OP I did not actually offer an interpretation. I asked a question because I am researching the issue and struggling with it.
  13. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Bill, no particular person was intended; I was just pointing out that there is nothing in the Scripture itself which warrants this interpretation, and that the choice to adopt it must be from something in the interpreter.
  14. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Isn't it quite simple in the Greek? The peribolean is the hair as a covering, but he brings forward the katakylupto, another type of covering, as something that the men should not wear, but the woman should. So how can the one be the other when the Greek is that specific?

    yup. It is obvious in Greek that the thing she is commanded to wear -katakalyptō- as a sign of authority is not the peribolaiou given as a covering. If Paul wanted to say the hair was the katakalypto, he would have used the same word.

    This is what convinced me.
  15. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    So if these Greek words are so very clear, why is it that none of the trained linguists involved in the translation of any of the English versions were aware of this distinction?
  16. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Lynnie, exactly - why make it more difficult than it is?

    Brad, it just doesn't stand up in the Greek; the above is actually a strained reading of the passage. The least strained is the historical one. I love you brother, but I just can't wrap my head around how this could be correct in light of the original passage. It doesn't add up when the Greek is so specific.

    Maybe the trained linguists were bad people, I don't know.
  17. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Which interpretation are you addressing, Pastor?

    If mine, then I can say with all honesty that I don't approach the subject with any predisposition. Mindy and I have studied the matter, and my wife would be willing to adopt wearing a headcovering if I asked her to, but neither of us is convinced of the arguments for it. I find too much desire to fit in with a particular theological bent and not enough exegetical evidence in all the cases made for headcoverings, and fitting in is not my forté. My Church doesn't teach it, and I am not convinced by scripture of it, so I hope if my interpretation tells you anything about me, it would not be anything derogatory.
  18. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    I was handed an article yesterday which covers all that is being discussed and supports Kelvin
    in his position on the the two coverings. If you substitute "hair" for the verb to "to cover", or the
    noun "covering" in verses 3-17,13 then the debate becomes ludicrous. The article is, "The wearing of head-
    Covering by women during public Church Worship Services". By Rev Bartel Elshout and the HRC of Chilliwack, British Columbia.
  19. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I dunno, Jeff - I just read the entire passage replacing the "covered"-"uncovered" words with long or short hair, and it seems to make perfect sense to me. Maybe you should try that.
  20. a mere housewife

    a mere housewife Not your cup of tea

    I feel certain that Rev. Winzer wouldn't think derogatory thoughts -- and surely none of us think derogatory thoughts over an issue where others are seeking to obey Scripture. Our consciences must each answer to God.

    If it were a very obvious passage in any direction, I don't think there could be so much disagreement, from people with so much else in common, over it.
  21. SeanPatrickCornell

    SeanPatrickCornell Puritan Board Sophomore

    As one I admire greatly once put it, (and I paraphrase here), "it was the undisputed consensus of the Christian church for 1800 years that women ought to wear a head covering in church. It wasn't until the 1800's and women's liberation movements that the question was even raised".
  22. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Heidi, that's just the thing - it is indeed obvious and clear and the beautiful thing is that in the reformed tradition, I don't get an opinion. It must come down to sola scriptura - my feelings on the matter are immaterial. I have kicked against the goads on this issue for years because I didn't want to do it, and it would be weird, etc. but I have a few dear friends who have very simply (not flippantly, just simply) told me to put the Greek in as below and there is just no way around it.

    Verse 6: For if the woman be not covered (with a katakylupto) let her also be shorn, but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven let her be covered (with a katakylupto).
    Verse 7: For a man indeed ought not to cover his head (with a katakylupto) forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God...
    Verse 15: But if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her for her hair is given to her as a cover (peribolaion).

    I may not cover my head with a covering. My wife should cover hers, but above and beyond her hair (as it is a different term altogether). And yes, using hair as a covering dictates that pastors must shave their heads in order to preach.

    If there is any way around that, please let me know. Feelings and opinions aside, God's word speaks quite clearly. And that clarity is reflected in almost two millenia of head covering in the church.
  23. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    It would be very difficult to prove it was "undisputed" and the burden of proof would be on that person to prove it. As I said in the other thread, a custom does not necessarily mean doctrine, nor does approval mean requirement. It seems that head coverings were also used quite universally outside of church as part of the culture as well, but surely that was not the doctrine of the church.

    Calvin, Gouge, and Poole all seem to treat this as cultural and not a universal requirement, and quotations were given in the previous thread; these are not unknown persons and I'm sure there are others, though I'm equally sure they would still have approved of its practice. But once again, approval of a practice is not the same as believing it is required. The claim that this idea didn't arrive until women's liberation seems to me to be misleading at best.

    Edit: Add Hodge to the list (though he was 1800s of course). I've appreciated him as a careful commentator and he likewise holds that this was a cultural issue but that the general principle of submission with dress and conduct is universal.
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  24. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Kevin, you left out verse 13:

    1Co 11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

    Which is immediately followed by:

    1Co 11:14-16 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? (15) But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. (16) But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

    Why would he in one verse speak of the impropriety of of a woman's uncovered head in prayer, and in the next change subjects entirely and address length of hair - naming her long hair as her covering. We use different terms for long hair - long mane, flowing tresses, etc., so the use of a different Greek word has less force to me than the flow of the text. As I said above, if you replace all the 'covering' references with either long or short hair the text works in the clearest way I've found. This is not a matter over which to divide at all, but I do want to determine accurately what the Lord is telling us. I find the historical argument unconvincing (as Logan points out above), and the lingual distinctions to be a stretch. In light of that and what makes most sense to me, as well as the teaching of the Church in which the Lord has placed me as a member, I will continue to consider long hair to be the covering referenced.
  25. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Brad, the idea that long hair is the covering finds no support in the text whatsoever. The flow of argument does not work with your proposed substitution. Praying or prophesying is an activity which comes immediately from Christ, the invisible head of the church. To engage in it one must have no visible covering for such covering is a sign of being under visible headship. For women to engage in such an activity they would be required to remove their covering. If the hair were their covering it would be a natural covering and could not be removed, which effectively destroys the argument of the apostle. The apostle's later reference to long hair is an illustration from nature that the woman should be covered, thus prohibiting her praying and prophesying in the united assembly of men and women.
  26. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Head coverings in Scripture

    Here is a long list of quotes from both before and after the Reformation that women are to wear headcoverings. We are in good company.

    Regarding the cultural arguement, Paul is clear that we do this because of the angels, not because of the people around us in the culture. You can argue what angels they are- good or fallen or both- but at the end of the day the reason goes back to angels, not culture.

    I became aware of spiritual "presences" regularly when I started wearing a head covering. Actually it was a sense of strong and protecting angelic forces as opposed to something dark or evil and unclean, so I personally think that reference is to good angels, but I can't prove it. But the point is, it is a sign to the angels, not the culture. Have the angels changed? I don't think so.
  27. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I think the view that these angels (messengers) are human fits better within the general consideration laid down in verse 3.
  28. Joy by grace

    Joy by grace Puritan Board Freshman

    For those who (as I do) believe in an additional (cloth) covering, may I tack on an additional question for my own clarification?
    When should I be covered?
    I homeschool...I spend my days instructing my children in matters both simply educational and spiritual in nature.
    Matters of discipline and moments of correction are given with scripture and prayer.
    As a mum of a full house I may try to have a 'prayer time' but it may or may not happen on any given day...But, I can count on peace and quiet to pray while doing the mundane things of home dishes. :) I regularly redeem that time for prayer.
    So, prayer, singing, and instructing from scripture are peppered throughout my day. Aside from keeping a veil in my pocket and putting it on and off at intervals, I have thus far chosen to cover full time. This is a new matter to me though. (This passage pricked at me from the time I was about 10 years old, but only about 18 months ago did my husband and I decide to take the scripture at face value and simply follow something we may not fully understand.) We have not found anyone to discuss this passage's practical outworking with, I would value other opinions and thoughts.
    Thanks! :)

    To the OP; if you would prefer I post this separately, I will gladly do so.
  29. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    Is Hair Considered a Covering in Worship? Comparing 1 Corinthians 11:6 and 11...

    Does this passage place any more prescription on us than, say, 14:1 (or 14:5!) (I'm just making the point that there are valid reasons for understanding a prescriptive passage in light of the issues of the church at the time.)

    It just seems that under the new covenant, the imposition of outward signs is something we're freed from. Something seems strange about acknowledging that circumcision is nothing but that the wearing of coverings (or the length of our hair) is a matter of obedience. But I do appreciate the desire of husbands and wives who prescribe to coverings to be obedient to Scripture, and I do realize that it can't be lightly dismissed.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
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