Friday, 9 November 2012

Her Hair is Given as a Covering

I have been asked a question about whether or not the woman’s hair replaces the covering, since hair is given to her as her ‘glory’. In my previous post on the objections and excuses people raise for not wearing a covering, I addressed this question in part. In case people can’t find it, or don’t have the time to go and look, I will repeat here what I said previously and then address the other part of the question.

Hair is the covering.
I have some sympathy for this view, given that Paul states, "her hair is given to her for a covering" (v15). However, let's look at the logic of that idea. If hair is the covering, then we should be able to replace the word 'covering' with the word 'hair'. This is what the passage then looks like, starting at verse 4:

"Every man praying or prophesying with hair on his head, dishonours his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies without hair on her head, dishonours her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman has no hair on her head, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her have hair on her head. For a man indeed ought not to have hair on his head since he is the image and glory of God."

I have stopped there because already we can see that this is nonsense. If a woman has no hair let her be shaved? Men ought to have no hair in order to pray?

Furthermore, the word for 'covering' in this verse (v15) is a different word in the original Greek from the word used for covering elsewhere. If Paul were saying that the hair is the same as the covering he has just been talking about, surely he would have used the same word? Had he done so, there could be no ambiguity - clearly the woman's hair would have been sufficient to cover her. But as it is a different word, it is clear that Paul is talking about something different, a different type of covering.”

If you wish to read the whole article, which addresses more than just this one point, you can access it here:

In an article, ‘The Woman’s Head Covering’  by H B Taylor (1920), writing about 1 Corinthians 11v2-16, the author states:

In this passage of Scripture three things are clear and plain.

(1) The hair is not the covering that God com­mands a woman to wear "in sign that she is under authority" to the man who is her head. This is plain for three or four reasons.

a. Why should Paul have mentioned the matter at all if the hair was the covering that God required?

To suppose or argue that the hair was what Paul was speaking of makes Paul guilty of writing the veriest non­sense; For it makes him take sixteen verses in a letter to a critical church to exhort and enforce the ex­hortation with the arguments to prove that women ought to wear their hair to the house of God, when they could not help but wear it everywhere they went. Paul's argument wasn't about the hair but about the covering in addition to the hair.

b. Again, the "ALSO" in vs. 6, is the indisputable proof that Paul was talking about a covering in addition to the hair.

Note the language. "If the woman be not covered, let her ALSO be shorn." Suppose the covering was the hair, what then? Then Paul is guilty of making the silly remark that if a woman hasn't any hair, let her also be shorn. How could she be shorn if she had no hair?

What Paul really said, and what makes good sense, was: "If a woman does not have a covering on her head in addi­tion to her hair, let her hair be cut or head shaven as a badge of her shame fullness.

c. But says someone: "Doesn't Paul say in vs. 15 that the hair is given for a covering?" No, he does not. The word for cover in verses 6 and 7 is katakaluptetai. Greek word pronounced ka- ta-ka-lup-te-tai. In verse 15 the word for cover is peribolaion, pronounced per-ib-ol-ah-yon. This latter word is used in only one other place in the New Testament, and that is in Hebrews 1:12. Here it is used of the heavens, and is trans­lated "vesture". In verse 15 and in Hebrews 1:12 it is used of what is put on by God Himself such as hair in verse 15 and vesture in Hebrews 1:12. It is something that cannot be put on and off.

The covering enjoined in verse 6 is a veil or hat or something the woman can put on herself. One thing sure and plain is that the hair is not the covering enjoined by God. The covering God enjoins is one they can and are to voluntarily put on as a sign they are under authority.

The complete article can be found at

Her hair is her glory

In verse 15, the Apostle says, ‘But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering’.
I must confess to having had some considerable trouble with this verse myself, before coming to an understanding of what it means and submitting to the wearing of a covering that is separate from my hair.

Verse 15 needs to be taken together with verses 7-9: ‘For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man’. These words do not sit comfortably today since the arrival of feminism, where woman see any authority by men as oppressive and seek to be equal (or more than equal) with men everywhere, including in their own homes. However, they are in the Scripture and we cannot just ignore them because we might not like them. There is a hierarchy, not of oppression, but of orderliness, where man is the head of the household and woman is voluntarily submissive to him (not subservient, but voluntarily submissive). The roles of men and women are different; this does not mean one is more important than the other, but that they complement one another in their respective roles.
Thus the passage tells us that man is the glory and image of God and woman is the glory of the man. If a man covers his head he is covering God’s glory; when a woman leaves her head uncovered, she is revealing the glory of man and no man should glory in His presence. In other words, we should not come before God waving our own merits and worth, but showing our submission to Him. The woman has the responsibility of wearing a covering to show her submission to God’s authority through her husband.

This is an important warning to us men who often come up here and speak arrogantly. As we look back and see the covered heads of the sisters, it is a solemn warning that our glory is covered and that no flesh should glory in God’s presence...In today’s modern meetings...instead of God’s glory, they see man’s glory. Instead of the foolishness of the cross, they see the wisdom of man. If we are to glorify God and not the flesh, then our worship meetings should be such that man’s glory is covered and God’s is uncovered. The meeting should be such that if the Lord Jesus stood among us as pictured in John’s vision on the isle of Patmos, we would not be ashamed

We have already seen that God is Head over Christ; Christ is Head over man; and the man is head over the woman. This can be described as a social hierarchy. For a man to be covered and a woman uncovered, Paul says that this would be to disgrace one’s social head – the man would be dishonouring Christ; the woman is dishonouring the man. A covering on a man, veils the image of Christ; a woman without a covering displays her desire to be positionally equal with the man before God, usurping the glory that belongs to the man, as given to him by God.

Thus, to summarise, a covering is something separate from the hair. It is given to a woman to show her voluntary submission to the man and to God. To leave her hair uncovered dishonours the man and indicates that the woman wants social equality with the man, regardless of the social order that God has imposed.

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