We are to imitate the example we see in Paul. Are women still required to wear head-coverings? Factions among Christians nullify the Lord’s Supper. [UPDATED]
Some Christians say we follow Paul, and not Jesus Christ. Paul himself would not agree:
1 Corinthians 1:12-13. Now I mean this, that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” “I follow Apollos,” “I follow Cephas,” and, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?
1 Corinthians 4:16. I beg you therefore, be imitators of me.
1 Corinthians 11:1. Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ (KJV translation).
Philippians 3:17. Brothers, be imitators together of me, and note those who walk this way, even as you have us for an example.
1 Thessalonians 1:6. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,
VERSE 2. Now I praise you, brothers, that you remember me in all things, and hold firm the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.
hold firm the traditions. That is, hold fast to the teaching of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
SUMMARY: Paul required the women in ancient Corinth to cover their head during prayer. Is this still required of all Christian women? Or was it culturally bound to that time and circumstance?
VERSE 3. But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
the head of the woman is man. Some Christians misinterpret this phrase. They conclude that women are inferior to men. They conclude that women must submit to a man’s leadership.
That interpretation does not harmonize with other passages that are quite clear about women. A famous one is this:
Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
dishonors his head. Jewish tradition requires men to cover the head as a sign of humility before God. They do not dishonor their head in doing so. In fact, as an observant Jewish man, the Lord Jesus Christ would have covered his head while praying.
Is Paul saying that Jewish men should no longer wear a yarmulke while praying? Or is he trying to separate Christians from Jewish people?
VERSE 5. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered dishonors her head. For it is one and the same thing as if she were shaved.
Some people imagine that in those days, it was a universal custom for all women to cover their head while praying.
In Genesis 24:65, Rebekah was wearing a veil.
In Numbers 5:18, a woman’s hair was to be let loose during the ordeal that determined if she was sexually faithful to her husband or not.
In Isaiah 47, a woman removed her veil in order to cross a river.
In 3 Maccabees 4:6, a bride hurries along unveiled.
In the Catholic church, women were required to cover their head at the Mass. That tradition became Catholic law in the 1917 edition of the Code of Canon Law. However, that requirement was done away with in the 1983 edition of the Code of Canon Law.
For a few decades, there was a theory that became rather popular. The idea was that in Corinth, if a woman prayed with her head unveiled, it signaled that she was a prostitute. However, that theory has been rejected by most biblical scholars today.
VERSE 6. For if a woman is not covered, let her hair also be cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or be shaved, let her be covered.
For centuries, Catholic nuns were either shaven bald or else cut their hair very short. To conceal that fact, they were required to wear head-coverings.
As the centuries went on, the head-coverings became more and more elaborate. To the onlooker, the elaborate head-coverings might have seemed mystical or wondrous. But to those who wore them, they were hot and uncomfortable and quite restrictive.
The elaborateness of those headcoverings became reflected in pop-culture. A TV show in the 1960s was about a nun whose head-covering was so elaborate and huge that it allowed her to fly around. It was an American sitcom called The Flying Nun.
VERSE 7. For a man indeed ought not to have his head covered, because he is the image and glory of God, but the woman is the glory of the man.
woman from man. Some Christians misinterpret this phrase. They conclude that women are inferior to men. They conclude that women must submit to a man’s leadership.
woman for the man. Some Christians misinterpret this phrase. They conclude that women exist for the purpose of men. They envision a heirarchy:
In that model, men are the “head” of women. That is referred to as “headship.”
Headship implies that a man is an intermediary for “his” woman.
However, women are not possessions owned by men.
And the notion of “headship” is contradicted by the many passages that are quite clear that there is only one intermediary. For example:
1 Timothy 2:5. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Men are NOT intermediaries for women.
VERSE 10. For this cause the woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.
This verse is difficult to understand. Here is the most common interpretation: The angels are spectators of our lives. If women do not cover their heads, the angels will be annoyed.
If angels are annoyed when they view our human condition, then they are not angels.
VERSE 11. Nevertheless, neither is the woman independent of the man, nor the man independent of the woman, in the Lord.
VERSE 12. For as woman came from man, so a man also comes through a woman; but all things are from God.
Judge for yourselves. Most Christian denominations and movements of our day have indeed judged this issue.
Most have concluded that Paul’s requirement for women to wear head-coverings was cultural. It stemmed from the culture of ancient Corinth, and it no longer carries meaning for people of today.
The custom is still preserved in isolated pockets. However, to non-Christian onlookers, for the most part, it says Christianity is patriarchical and mysogynistic.
VERSE 14. Doesn’t even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him?
VERSE 15. But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering.
VERSE 16. But if any man seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither do God’s assemblies.
Paul says women are always required to wear head-coverings during prayer.
VERSE 17. But in giving you this command, I don’t praise you, that you come together not for the better but for the worse.
for the worse. Their church assemblies did more harm than good.
VERSE 18. For first of all, when you come together in the assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it.
when you come together in the assembly. That is, when they assemble as a church.
divisions exist among you. Sadly, they were not united as a community.
VERSE 19. For there also must be factions among you, that those who are approved may be revealed among you.
VERSE 20. When therefore you assemble yourselves together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.
VERSE 21. For in your eating each one takes his own supper first. One is hungry, and another is drunken.
each one … first. The Lord’s Supper is a predominantly selfless act. However, they had managed to turn even the Lord’s Supper into a monument of selfishness.
VERSE 22. What, don’t you have houses to eat and to drink in? Or do you despise God’s assembly and put them to shame who don’t have enough? What shall I tell you? Shall I praise you? In this I don’t praise you.
VERSE 23. For I received from the Lord that which also I delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread.
I received from the Lord. Whether Paul learned this by a vision or from other people, it came with the Lord’s authority
VERSE 24. When he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. Do this in memory of me.”
VERSE 25. In the same way he also took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink, in memory of me.”
VERSE 26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
you proclaim. The Lord’s Supper is a visible sermon.
VERSE 27. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in a way unworthy of the Lord will be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
VERSE 28. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.
VERSE 29. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy way eats and drinks judgment to himself if he doesn’t discern the Lord’s body.
VERSE 30. For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep.
VERSE 31. For if we discerned ourselves, we wouldn’t be judged.
VERSE 32. But when we are judged, we are punished by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
VERSE 33. Therefore, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
VERSE 34. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest your coming together be for judgment. The rest I will set in order whenever I come.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.