There are some segments of Christianity where covering a woman’s head is a big issue. It all centers around a portion of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.
You may want to check 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 before reading the rest of this post. I’m only going to hit some points that I feel are important for us to understand.
Paul said that a man could pray or prophesy with his head uncovered. A woman could pray or prophesy with her head covered. Let me just note here that what the early church called “prophesy”, we would call preaching. So a woman could publically pray or preach in the early church.
About the head covering…we know that it was, and still is, the Middle Eastern custom for women to have a covering. It’s a sign that they’re either under their husband’s or their father’s authority. It was also the custom of ancient Rome.
In that society, a woman with an uncovered and shaved head was a sign that they were a prostitute. They were publically showing that they were under no one’s authority.
That was the only way of life that the apostle knew. But the Holy Spirit, in writing the Scripture, went beyond Paul’s limited knowledge. 1 Corinthians 11:6b says that if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.
The word “if” is in the original Greek verse. Here’s my question – is it a disgrace in our society for a woman to cut or shave her hair? A quick walk down any street will answer that. The length of a woman’s hair has no relation to any sign of authority.
Our problem is that we don’t want to deal with the real issue that this section of Scripture is all about. It’s so much easier to tell a woman to cover her head and think that’s the end of it. We need to apply this truth – the need for everyone to be under some authority. In our culture, we try to be fiercely independent of any authority.
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
This verse clearly tells us that everyone must submit to authorities. God has established three authority structures – Family, government, and spiritual. We have to find our place in each of them.
Under normal circumstances, Christians don’t have too much problem with government or spiritual authority. It’s the family that we have the most issue with.
There’s a prevailing opinion that you’re under a parent’s authority only as long as you live in their house. Once you move out, you’re on your own and no longer have to listen to them. But is that what the Bible teaches?
If we want the blessing of God on our lives, then we need to find the place we fit into under the authorities God has given us. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman; you need to be under authority.
Authority flows from the top (God) down. I believe that the reason we see so little spiritual authority in our society is that so many have unplugged themselves.
We all need to find and accept the authorities God has placed over us.
Question: Who are the authorities that God has called you to be under?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi
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