Last Updated on : Saturday, October 11, 2014



"Let Her be Covered ..."

Ron Abel





Bonneted Priests Under the Law of Moses

Under the Law of Moses, the priests wore bonnets ('caps', R.S.V.) when ministering in the Tabernacle. This was a divine requirement ( Exod. 29:9). The Jews have continued and extended this custom by requiring all males to wear skull caps during synagogue worship. In contract, the Apostle Paul taught that a man ought not to cover his head "since he is the image and glory of God" (1 Cor. 11:7, R.S.V.). Why did God require such a distinctive break with Jewish practice?

The Male Head Covering- A Token of Humiliation

As with much of the symbolism of the Law of Moses, the reason why the priests were required to cover their heads is not explained within the Law itself. Elsewhere in Scripture, however, the head covering is identified with humiliation, servitude and wretchedness of spirit (e.g. 2 Sam. 15 :30; Esther 6:12; Jer. 14:3, 4). In Christ Jesus, man attains in measure to the creative design --- in "the image and glory of God" (11:7). In the new creation, although still blighted by sin, he is no longer a slave to sin (Rom. 6:5-7). This new status for man makes it inappropriate for him to cover his head --- a token of servitude to sin and the Law. It is for this reason that man in Christ is forbidden to cover his head in worship. In contrast the Jew continues his servitude to sin and the Law by insisting that all male worshippers must wear a skull cap. His head is covered because his mind is veiled ( 2 Cor. 3:14-18).

1. AUTHORITY (11:3) Christ is the head of the man Man (1) is the head of the woman
2. GLORY (11:7) Man is the image and glory of God Woman is the glory of the man
3. The Order of Creation (11:8) Man was made from the ground Woman was made from man
4. The Purpose of Creation (11:9) Man was created to glorify God Woman was created for man as a help mate
5. The Angels --- “That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head because of the angels” (2)
6. Appeal to Propriety* (11:13)
[Under the Mosaic Law the covering of a man’s head was a token of Humiliation ed] “Judge for yourselves; is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” (RSV)
7. A parallel with long hair Long hair is degrading (RSV) Long hair is her glory

(1) The Greek word “aner” can mean either husband (as the RSV translates it) or “man: as in the AV.

(2) A parenthetical section follows: " (Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.)" (11: 11, 2, R.S.V.).

"Let her be covered" ( 11:6) was the Apostle's instruction for sisters in Christ. It might be thought that this amounted to a denial of their new status in Christ Jesus. The reason why this is not the case is that for the woman an entirely different set of principles is involved in the head covering. The woman wears a head covering because it signifies her place in God's creative design-one of subjection to her husband. This point is easily seen once the structure of 1 Cor. 11 is set out as follows:

So important are these principles symbolized by the head covering that for a sister to do otherwise than to cover her head is to:
---- dishonour her head --- i.e., her husband (11:5)
---- be a shame --- disgraceful, R.S.V. (11:6)
---- be unseemly ---- improper, R.S.V. (11:13)

The forthrightness of this language indicates the serious concern of Scripture. It would be misguided indeed for Christadelphians to treat the subject with any less concern. This point will not be missed by those. Thinking of abandoning the head covering as the "in thing to do," )r by those who want reassurance that they are doing "what's right" by following a Scriptural practice, even if regarded by others as "out of date," "anachronistic.” **

* Propriety : 1) the state or quality of conforming to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals; 2 ) the details or rules of behavior conventionally considered to be correct; 3) the condition of being right, appropriate, or fitting .

**Anachronistic: 1.) a thing belonging to or appropriate to a time period other than that in which it exists, esp. a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned : 2) an act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong.



small flower
Forward Question: Is her hair the covering?
The head covering: the background Question : If any man seem to be contentious?
Question: Social custom? A woman's position has changed since Paul's day Question: A veil or a hat?
Question: When should a sister wear a headcovering? The headship of the husband
Question: Because of the angels?  


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