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Biblical Teaching of Headship and the Christian Woman's Headcovering

Updated on March 20, 2014
Own this book. See ordering instructions at the end of this article.
Own this book. See ordering instructions at the end of this article.

What Is The Connection between Headcovering and Headship?

The subject of headship, is perhaps the most controversial issue of our modern Christian society. The idea of equality of the sexes has so permeated the thought processes of our age that to speak of any differences between male and female is to be considered politically incorrect. Therefore the topic of this treatise is perhaps the most disputed one of our age. Since the Lordʼs Church has concerned itself with being a reflection of the society in which it finds itself, our present topic is then controversial even in the congregations of the Lordʼs church. This should not be the case. The Church should not be a thermometer that simply reflects the temperature of its surroundings; but, the Church should concern herself with being our societyʼs thermostat that sets a standard which will bring societyʼs norms up to the presetting of Holy Scripture. Having said that, we will embark on a study of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.

It should be stated at the very beginning of our study that this author is dedicated to bringing you the first century gospel in and for the twenty-first century world. We believe that the Lordʼs Church, of any century, should be preaching and practicing what the Bible teaches.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 we find, perhaps, the single most controversial subject in the New Testament. It was controversial in Paulʼs day and it remains so today. I am very aware that most of the people who call themselves Christians, especially in the western world, do not practice the injunction that the apostle Paul sets down for the Lordʼs Church in this portion of Godʼs Word. However, it is our hope that those of you who read this study are mature enough to appreciate an in-depth look into the logic and reasoning behind Paulʼs teaching of the Christian womanʼs headcovering. This teaching enjoins upon the Lordʼs Church that a Christian woman should have her head covered when in the public place of meeting. We realize, however, that many Christians of the twenty-first century do not practice this portion of the New Testament. I must say that I am surprised, even appalled, that so many of Godʼs people have ignored this teaching, since such a large portion of the New Testament scripture is dedicated to it. The teaching of the Christian womanʼs headcovering in public worship has its basis in the principle of headship which is taught in the Christian Scriptures.

I suppose that we should not be surprised that the practice of headcovering has fallen by the wayside since so much of Godʼs church has forsaken His order of headship altogether. It is important to understand that the headcovering is only the “wineskin” which contains the “wine;” namely, the principle of headship. The wineskin is the object lesson which teaches the principle - which is the wine. I must hasten to say that it is this teacherʼs observation that when the object lesson of any principle is ignored the tenet is soon forgotten altogether. That is to say: “If the wineskin is neglected the wine will spoil.”

In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we read: “I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.” This is the very basis for the teaching of headcovering. Paul goes on to instruct the Christian Church that women, when in public worship, where they may participate in praying and prophesying, should have their heads covered; the men, on the other hand, are to be uncovered. The apostle Paul begins his teaching on headship by admonishing the Corinthian church to be followers of him just as he was of Christ (see verse 1).

The Corinthian Christians were not the best behaved. They presented their Apostle many occasions for scolding them. Some feel, however, that this was not one of those. As we see in verse 2, Paul seems to praise them for keeping “the ordinances as” he “delivered them.” If this is the proper interpretation, it does appear that Paul is not correcting belligerent Christian women who were coming to the assembly with their heads uncovered.

However, others see in Paulʼs praise an attempt at reverse psychology; for in this chapter he introduces two ordinances: Headcovering and the Lordʼs Supper. Concerning their observance of the latter he clearly states: “I praise you not” (verse 22). So obviously, the Corinthians were not remembering Paul “in all things,” and were not keeping the ordinances as he “delivered them.” At any rate, Paul is writing to address certain abuses that had arisen in Corinth - the matter of headcovering being one.

Therefore, Paulʼs opening remark: “I praise you, brethren...” may best be taken as “I praise you, brethren (in advance)... that you would remember me and keep the ordinances as I delivered them unto you.” In which case the idea would be, “I pray you brethren...” I personally would take this tack, because of Paulʼs statement “that you remember me in all things.” For obviously the Corinthians had not remembered all of Paulʼs teachings (see verses 22, 23).

Coptic Christian Women Preparing For Worship
Coptic Christian Women Preparing For Worship

The Outline

The Apostleʼs discourse to the Corinthians on the subject of headcovering takes a definite course. First, in verses 3 through 6 the Apostle identifies, and takes great pains, to enjoin the ordinance of headcovering upon the Church at Corinth. Second, in verses 7 through 10 Paul sets down the Spiritual and Scriptural Arguments for the ordinance of headcovering, of which he lists four. Third, in verses 13 through 16 Paul reasons with the Corinthians in behalf of the headcovering from three areas of life: conscience, nature, and society.

I. Headcovering Identified and Enjoined (1 Corinthians 11:3-6).

"But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered."

II. Headcovering Established By Four Spiritual and Scriptural Arguments (1Corinthians 11: 7-10).

"For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels."

A. The woman is the glory of man;

B. The woman was created from the man;

C. The woman was created for the man;

D. Because of the angles.

III. Headcovering Is Reasoned From Three Areas of Life (1 Corinthians 11:11-16).

"Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. 17 Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse."

A. Conscience

B. Nature

C. Society

Having introduced the study of Christian headship and the Christian woman's headcovering, and having shown the outline of the Apostle's discourse we will enter into that discourse in our next episode.

Apostolically Speaking

☩ Jerry L Hayes

Own this book by Bishop Jerry Hayes

The Christian Woman's Headcovering: Does the New Testament Require Women to Wear Headcovering in Worship? (First Corinthians Eleven)
The Christian Woman's Headcovering: Does the New Testament Require Women to Wear Headcovering in Worship? (First Corinthians Eleven)

"The Christian Woman's Headcovering" is an in depth study of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Bishop Hayes asks and answers such questions as: "Does the New Testament require Christian women to wear a headcovering while in public services?" "What is the covering taught, hair or an artificial covering?" "Is the injunction to wear the covering limited to the culture of that time and place?" ""What about the culture of the twenty-first century Christian church?" "What does Paul's statement mean, 'Because of the angels?'" This work documents the presence of headcovering in the Lord's church from the first century to our present day, both in written form and an image record. Starting in the catacombs of Rome and ending in the present day church. "The Christian Woman's Headcovering" is a book destined to be in the library of every serious Bible student and minister.



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    • profile image

      louise branch 

      4 years ago

      You said so much ...i couldnt understand anything you said an Gods word is simple ....a womans uncut hair is her glory her head covering, an a man is to have his hair cut short ...nature teaches this .....

    • Bishop J L Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerry Lynn Hayes Sr 

      5 years ago from Texas City, Texas

      LOL, //Christian countries,// This is the greatest misnomer , I think, in the world.

      The west is not Christian, by-and-large. Secular humanism is the religion of most of the west.

      The fact remains that the Christian Bible teaches headcovering. The difference however is that the Bible only requires the headcovering while in corporate worship.

      Christian's all over the world (except in Englich speaking countries) continue to wear headcovering in worship , though they may not do so our in public.

      In Corinthians chapter 11 the apostle Paul gives 4 reasons why a christian woman is to be covered in worship (not one of them is modesty) and a man is not. It, biblically, is really not about modesty; however, I do understand that in the Muslim world it is.

      Here, in America the women removed their headcovering, except in a very few groups, at the same time the women's lib movement started back in the 60's. Since our societies are secular and holiness is not legislated, as in Muslim countries, and since the majority are Christian in name only, the visible society does not reflect biblical principles - sadly.

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 

      5 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      with respect,

      you said,"Headcovering is cultural only in the sense that it is Christian culture."

      But I don't see this practice in Christian countries, but only see in Muslim countries. In Christian countries, this is very common christian women wearing skirts and showing their legs, on beaches even skirts become disappeared. Not even this, there held races in which men and women run wearing absolutely Nothing!

      Along with this, christian world (media, writers even common people) criticise Islam and Muslims for their women adopting the practice of wearing full body covered garments and covering head(Hijab).

      Peace to you!

    • Bishop J L Hayes profile imageAUTHOR

      Jerry Lynn Hayes Sr 

      5 years ago from Texas City, Texas

      Uzma, lovingly let me say that headcovering is NOT because of Islamic influence. Christianity is much older than Islam in the world, but especially in India and Pakistan. Muslims received their practice of headcovering from their Christian fore runners. Islam is the new kid on the block as a revealed religion. And the Bible was teaching headcovering over 600 yrs before the Qur'an was written. Christian women in Pakistan were wearing headcovering hundreds of hears before Muhammed was born.

      Headcovering is cultural only in the sense that it is Christian culture.

    • uzma shaheen profile image

      Uzma Shaheen Bhatti 

      5 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

      I have seen Christian women covering their heads here in Pakistan, may be this is because of culture or they abide by bible teachings. Here head covering is the part of culture because of Islamic teachings, though! women believing in modernism are abandoning head covering but still vast majority is practising.

      your hub is very informative,sharing it.


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