1 Corinthians 11:4-9

In 1 Corinthians 11:4-9 Paul continues to teach about the structure of authority that God has put in place. These next few verses address something that is not common in today’s society, but the principle is still definitely in place. “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 – it is the same as if her head were shaven.” The idea of a head covering was important in this (and many other) ancient cultures. To wear the head covering (or veil in some translations), was a public symbol of being under the authority and protection of another.

And that is what God’s design is all about – for a woman to be under the protection of her husband. It’s not a domination position, it is a protection position and with that comes much responsibility and accountability for a husband or father. The idea of a head covering is not common in American culture. But in some cultures today, wearing a hat or some other kind of head covering is a picture of humility and modesty. In the same way, the head covering had an important cultural meaning among the ancient Corinthians. “For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head.”

The symbolism of having a shaven head also has a different meaning in those days. If a woman refuses to demonstrate being under authority, she may as well be shaved of her hair. In some ancient cultures, the shaving of a woman’s head was the punishment given to an adulteress. While these traditions may not fit our culture in the same way today, the structure of God’s plan remains intact. Man is responsible and accountable to provide and protect. But in doing so, he also must be subject to Christ and live a life worthy of Him. “For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.”

Why is it important to respect the principle of headship in the church? The first reason is that the head of woman is man. God has established an order of authority, the principle of male headship, both in the church and the home. “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.” For some, this is a principle they struggle with in today’s world. But it is of God, not man. A second reason is found in the order of creation: God created Adam first, and gave Him responsibility over Eve. “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

Guzik writes “Since one reason for male headship is the order and manner in which God created man and woman – something which was present before the fall – this passage makes it clear that before and after the fall, God has ordained there be a difference in the roles between genders, even in the church. The fall did not cause the difference in gender roles (in the church and in the home), and the difference in roles is not erased by our new life in Jesus.” God has a plan and created the structure for the world to operate within. The focus is not on the submission of woman to man, but on each fulfilling the roles God created and ordained for them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: