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Hippies, Hoes, and Headcoverings OR Being Men and Women of Glorious Distinction.


The biblical view of men and women is that when we work together, we can accomplish so much more. Our distinctions together bring Glory God.

For Paul the problems with the men and women were huge. The division in the church was deep, and the power of preaching was drained dry. Men were neglecting their mandate to lead and glorify God, and women were taking their liberties too far.

The Biblical pattern that brings glory to God, and reflects God’s glory in us is this: we are equal, but we are different...Our distinctions help us work and worship together for the Glory of God.

How does head-coverings demonstrate the distinction in a way that brings glory to God? in three ways:

1. Head-coverings were a universal symbol for what’s honorable for men and women. And that brings glory to God.

"The Message of 1 Corinthians (2. The Behavior of the Women (11:3–16)) In first-century Greece dress for men and women was apparently very similar, except for the women’s ‘head-covering’ (here called kalumma, or ‘veil’). This, incidentally, was not the equivalent of the Arab veil, but a covering for her hair alone. The normal, everyday dress of all Greek women included this kalumma.
The only women who did not wear them were the hetairai, who were the ‘high-class’ mistresses of influential Corinthians. Also, slaves had their heads shaved, and the same practice was enacted as punishment for convicted adulteresses. It has further been suggested that the sacred prostitutes from the local temple of Aphrodite did not wear veils.

a. dishonors his head: lit. a disappointment to Christ who is the head. In Corinth: Men were not leading out like they should. Which ends up always leaving it to the women to take up the slack. The wearing of the head-covering in worship was contrary to the custom of Jews.

b. The Problem with the men:

1. Jewish men: head-coverings came about in the inter-testament time. The basic law for men of covering the head for men is that it is forbidden to walk four cubits (about 8 feet) with an uncovered head.

It is also forbidden to say a prayer with the name of HaShem or to study Torah without a head covering. (yarmulkes) Even though the requirement to cover the head at all times is not stated in the scripture, or even in the (ancient teaching of the rabbis’) Talmud, it is nevertheless an established Jewish custom and is binding on all Jewish men even today.

i. But Paul said… this is not a biblical mandate, in fact part of the problem is not the head covering but the reality symbolized by it.... You are not acting like men.

The early church said as much:

Ver. 7. “For a man indeed ought not to have his head veiled, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God… but not only, because he hath Christ to be His Head ought he not to cover the head, but because also he rules over the woman.” --Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 1.12: Saint Chrysostom: Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians (Homily XXVI) Chrysostom.

i. The early church recognized this symbolism of a deeper reality… you are not leading like me should lead.

Ill: Head-coverings for men in history: laws that would get a man thrown in jail. Hats have had a significant place. St James’ Gazette (London) in January 1797. first public outing in the top hat caused a riot, and the maker was later charged for “having appeared on the Public Highway wearing upon his head a tall structure having a shining lustre and calculated to frighten timid people”.

ii. Paul was implying that he is not taking his role of leadership seriously, and thus dishonoring God. His symbol is the uncovered head in worship and thus taking the responsibilities of leadership that He has been giving. He is to tend, and rule as a steward. That’s the reality.

iii. Later Paul will emphatically say it! ‘Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love’ (1 Corinthians 16:13–14).”

c. The main point of this passage however is for the women.

i. Apparently, this is where the problem was. In their new found freedom… its girls gone wild-worship edition. In Corinth: Men were not leading out like they should, and the women to taking up the slack...

ii. For women in Greco-roman culture head-coverings had unique symbolic meaning:

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: (1 Cor 11:5–6). "the preponderance of evidence points toward the public head covering of women as a universal custom in the first century in both Jewish culture ([apocryphal] 3 Maccabees 4:6; Mishnah, Ketuboth 7. 6; Babylonian Talmud, Ketuboth 72a-b) and Greco-Roman culture (Plutarch Moralia 3. 232c; 4. 267b; Apuleius The Golden Ass 11. 10).”

2. The Head-covering had an underlying principle of propriety - as a symbol, it pointed to a reality.

It is NOT merely an outward and empty symbol. It was symbolic of marriage/authority, femininity, and modesty

The First Letter to the Corinthians (iii. Description of Shameful Behaviors, 11:4–6) ...the traditional costume of the Roman matron “signified her modesty and chastity.… It consisted of her distinctive dress, the woolen stola, which was worn over a tunic; the protective woolen bands which dressed her hair; and the woolen palla or mantle, which was used to veil her head when she went out in public.” ... For a married woman to neglect the covering of her head while in public would traditionally be understood as “a sign of her ‘withdrawing’ herself from matronage,” … A move toward the abandonment of the female head covering would have struck many at the time as a move toward a more licentious, a more sexually provocative, way of appearing in public, precisely the kind of social influence Paul is anxious to avoid... it seems that any public behavior, and especially attire (or lack thereof), by married women that served to invite the attention of men was perceived to be scandalous … [and] promoting sexual looseness.

iii. This is consistent until the feminist movement in the 1950’s. Examples...

Women did not wear pants until the latter part of the last century because there has always been a distinction between genders.

"Some western women on cattle drives, for instance, would change out of their pants when they neared a town. Women who did wear trousers were heckled, snubbed, arrested, or fined. Cowgirl performers like Annie Oakley wore skirts into the second decade of the twentieth century.”

a. v 6. disgraceful: ‘ugly’ in an external sense to ‘base’ as in moral deformity. A term esp. significant in honor-shame oriented society; gener. in ref. to that which fails to meet expected moral and cultural standards. pert. to being socially or morally unacceptable, shameful, base — William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 29.

b. Who would have their head uncovered.

i. Prostitutes: No head-covering, but not shaved heads...

ii. Pagan priests/priestesses. No head-covering, but not shaved heads.

The Message of 1 Corinthians (2. The Behavior of the Women (11:3–16)) "Paul knew that pagan prophetesses in the Graeco-Roman world prophesied with uncovered and disheveled heads.”

iii. Slaves: No head-covering, but usually no shaved heads.

iv. rebellious women

"the decision of a Roman husband to divorce his wife for doing so would amount to “a ratification of the exclusion her bare head had expressed.” She had thrown off the authority of her husband and would shave her head. Paul is concerned with the infiltration of Roman and Corinthian values and lifestyles into the church."

This naturally caused a severe distraction to the men at worship and was, in addition, a denial of the submission in the Lord of married women to their husbands. In Jewish temple-worship, the women were kept on their own, out of sight behind a screen; the men always prayed with their heads covered.

v. Adulterous women

The First Letter to the Corinthians (iii. Description of Shameful Behaviors, 11:4–6)"...a married woman’s failure to cover her head in public could be understood as suggesting that she had forsaken her identity as a married woman. The New Bible Commentary (11:2–16 Covering the Head in Worship) The shaving of the head of the woman who disgraces her husband by committing adultery was prescribed by Roman law which applied in the Roman colony of Corinth. 6 If a wife does not cover her head, by implication she is regarded as someone who refuses to recognize her relationship with her husband i.e. her marital status."

vi. Lesbians/transgender women: The First Letter to the Corinthians (iii. Description of Shameful Behaviors, 11:4–6) "Plutarch’s comments relate, of course, to the other observations about long and loose hair being a mark of some Roman homosexuals...The indication for the married woman was that she was casting off either her identity as a chaste woman, as a married woman, or as a woman altogether. In the case of the lesbian, the move indicated a desire to abandon a female identity for that of a man."

3. Head-coverings were grounded theologically and practically. And that brings Glory to God.

A. Distinction can be seen in Scripture v7-9: Creation

a. The Old Testament distinction was clear:

i. Deut 22:5 ““A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

ii. Gen 2: 22-24 “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

a. Men were created from the dust, animals were created from the dust, but women were created from man’s side. Not from his feet, but as a helper comparable to him, and for him. He is incomplete without her, and she is incomplete without him. Its seen in marriage, but it is seen in all creation, and specifically, paul is describing it here for the body of the church! The church demands men to be men, and women to be women for the Glory of God!

1. 1 Corinthians 12:23 “and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”

2. Men and women are interdependent!!!!! Gen 2:23 “Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.””

B. Distinction is understood in nature v13-14: hair length is a naturally observable distinction. (Naturally and culturally)

iv. First in the spiritual realm v10

1. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (11:10)

Angels were spectators of the church (4:9; Eph. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:21; cf. Ps. 103:20–21) Ideally, Christian women were worshiping side-by-side with the men of the community, even praying and prophesying along with the men, but in a way that did not bring shame or disgrace on those men or anyone else. They were worshiping in a way that respected the proper decorum expected in the presence of God and his angelic attendants, such that the community’s full attention was on the glory of God without being distracted by either human glory or shame. David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 529.

b. Then In the natural realm: “Judge for yourselves.” Not making a biblical argument but an easily understood natural observation.

i. Men’s hair was masculine, and women’s hair was feminine. barbers were called tonsors. In about 300 BC it became customary to wear hair short. Historically, it was unacceptable for men to wear hair like a woman.

ii. Word Studies in the New Testament (1 Cor. Chapter 11): “The testimonies of Tertullian and Chrysostom show that these injunctions of Paul prevailed in the churches. In the sculptures of the catacombs the women have a close-fitting head-dress, while the men have the hair short.” Women are depicted as having slaves tend to their long hair.
Reading Corinthians: A Literary and Theological Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians (Conclusion) The issue as Paul defines it seems to be whether redemption (religious experience resulting from Christ) cancels out creation (human sexuality) or whether creation and nature are from God just as are redemption and being in the Lord. The Corinthian women acted as though their redemption had caused them to transcend their created sexuality. Paul’s posture grows out of his conviction that creation (sexual differences) is not cancelled by redemption (Christian equality) but rather is enhanced. Hence 1 Cor 11:2–16 does not aim to silence Christian women but rather to guarantee that in their self-expression they were not denying an integral part of themselves (Derwood C. Smith, 1976).

iii. The pictures of Jesus with Long hair are not in line with what we know about biblical history.

1. Psalm 19:1–4 refers to the abundance and accessibility of natural revelation: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

C. Distinction is seen eccleisologically (church): no such custom in any churches= v16. of arguing against this.

1. Contentious (φιλονεικος [philoneikos]). Old adjective (φιλος, νεικος [philos, neikos]), fond of strife. Only here in N. T. If he only existed in this instance, the disputatious brother. “eager to argue or fight.”

2. Custom (συνηθειαν [sunētheian]). Old word from συνηθης [sunēthēs] (συν, ἠθος [sun, ēthos]), like Latin consuetudo, intercourse, intimacy. In N. T. only here and 8:7 which see. “In the sculptures of the catacombs the women have a close-fitting head-dress, while the men have the hair short” (Vincent).

a. No such custom= of arguing against this. in any churches...

Reading Corinthians: A Literary and Theological Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians (Sexual Distinctions Rooted in Nature (11:13–15)) Paul’s point is the same—”[M]en should be men and women should be women, and should look like what they are” (Collins, 1999, 399). The sexual distinctions between men and women are real and have not been transcended by Christian religious experience. Any behavior (in this case, the discarding of head coverings) that claims otherwise is to be rejected.I & II Corinthians (D. Cultural Considerations (11:13–16))
  • b. 1 Tim 2:9-10 “likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.”

  • c. 1 Pet 3:3-4 “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.”

Man’s headship over the woman does not imply subservience, but instead the lifting up of the woman. Headship does not proclaim the rights of men to enslave. Just the opposite. It insists that men should recognize the high value God places on woman not only as fully a person, but as man’s “glory”! Thus, in wearing a veil (that “sign of authority”), the Corinthian women would be displaying for men and angels as well, the stunning fact that in Christ it is no shame to be female!

My application:

A head-covering is still a valid symbol so long as they carry the reality of being under authority, being feminine, and being modest.

However, if a married woman is not wearing a literal head-covering, the reality still needs to be established:

1. she should be and have some symbol of being under the authority of her husband and maritally faithful toward her husband, (a wedding ring?), (if single, there is no symbol for fidelity, but she should still carry the reputation of being under the authority figures in her life.)

2. She should dress modestly, and

3. She should dress and act in a way that is clearly feminine.

Otherwise, she should not participate in a public expression of worship by praying or exercising the new testament gift of prophecy.

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