“Do the Bible’s Statements on Head Coverings Apply Today?”

image_pdfimage_print

I would like to hear your explanation of 1 Cor. 11:2-16 where it talks about woman wearing a head covering and if this applies to us today. And why.

Thanks for your letter. You’ve asked a rather difficult question about an extremely controversial and emotionally-charged issue. For what it’s worth, I will offer my opinion (we don’t have an official Probe position on this issue). But I certainly don’t think I have any special insight into this issue.

Commentators point out that Paul offers a number of reasons why women should wear head coverings in the church. First, it appropriately reflects the Divine order mentioned in vv. 3-6. Second, it is based on creation (vv. 7-9). Here Paul seems to allude to Genesis 2:18-24. Third, Paul mentions that the woman should wear a covering because of the angels. Apparently, angels observe church meetings and may be offended to witness the insubordination of wives to their husbands (in particular), or the rejection of the Divine order by women in general. Fourth, Paul offers an argument from nature (vv. 13-15). His point may be that just as a woman’s long hair is her natural glory, and is given to her as a covering, so also it is her glory to wear a covering in the church as a symbol of subordination to her husband and/or to God. Finally, Paul seems to argue for women wearing head coverings on the basis of this being the universal practice of the church in the first century (v. 16).

Of course, this is not the universal practice of the church today. But should it be? Although I don’t know for sure, I tend to think that the key issue in this passage (i.e. the timeless truth which applies to all believers at all times and in all places) concerns subordination or submission. In particular, the man must understand that Christ is his head. Just as Christ willingly subordinated himself to the Father (Phil. 2:5-11, etc.), so also should man subordinate himself to Christ and follow his example. Similarly, a woman should be submissive to her husband (Eph. 5:22-33). It’s important to understand that this does not imply inferiority. Just as Christ is not inferior to the Father, so also the wife is not inferior to her husband, nor is woman inherently inferior to man. However, there is a Divine order, also reflected in creation, and men and women have different roles and different responsibilities in that order.

Thus, I tend to think that the timeless truth of this passage is that both men and women need to recognize and accept their God-ordained position and purpose in both creation and the church. Just as it would be completely inappropriate for a man to refuse to subordinate himself to Christ, so also it is inappropriate for a wife to refuse to submit to her husband (or for a single woman to reject the Divine order, etc.). The head-covering was a visible symbol of such submission in the first century church. But I don’t think that head-coverings are the real issue. The real issue is one of subordination to the will of God and an acceptance of the Divine order. In a sense, it’s the distinction between the letter of the law—and its spirit.

At any rate, for what it’s worth, that’s my opinion.

Shalom,

Michael Gleghorn

© 2006 Probe Ministries

 

See Also:
“What Do You Think About Headcoverings for Christian Women?”
Sue Bohlin’s Blog Post: “Why I’m the Lady in the Hat”

Dr. Michael Gleghorn

Dr. Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University, a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Theological Studies (also from Dallas Theological Seminary). Before coming on staff with Probe, Michael taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael and his wife Hannah have two children: Arianna and Josiah. As a family, they attend Frisco Bible Church, where Michael and Hannah are involved in various ministries. His personal website is michaelgleghorn.com.

What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
2001 W. Plano Parkway, Suite 2000
Plano TX 75075
(972) 941-4565
info@probe.org
www.probe.org

Copyright/Reproduction Limitations

This document is the sole property of Probe Ministries. It may not be altered or edited in any way. Permission is granted to use in digital or printed form so long as it is circulated without charge, and in its entirety. This document may not be repackaged in any form for sale or resale. All reproductions of this document must contain the copyright notice (i.e., Copyright 2018 Probe Ministries) and this Copyright/Limitations notice.

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending

©2018 Probe Ministries | Designed by Dream Casters Marketing, Website Design Dallas

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?