Much Ado About Head Coverings – 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

…the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor 11:3)

So what’s all the ruckus about 1 Corinthians chapter 11:2-16?

Historically, it is a text that has been the source of much contention and sin among God’s people. Head coverings and attire in worship are matters that some Christians have used to sinfully separate from and judge other Christians over. It is a text that has been the source of much pride, concerning the external head attire of women in the church. Yet if one were to dedicate his whole life to preaching through the entire Bible, this will be the only time he will deal with head coverings. Compare this to the themes of love and unity, which permeate the Scriptures.

On the other hand, this is also a text that has vexed many modern readers and commentators. It is an all but beloved text for many, because it contains one of the lengthiest sections in the New Testament on the headship of men in the marriage relationship. Even some conservative scholars try to make the text say what it does not say. The best of interpreters cannot agree whether it has to do with some kind of head covering, hairstyle, or properly tended hair, and whether it involves both men and women or only women. Some see in this text a response to an attempt on the part of Corinthian feminists, to blur the distinction between the sexes in order to symbolize their new status in Christ, by throwing off their veils which they saw as symbols of inferiority. Others ignore and neglect this text as culturally irrelevant, as it deals with First Century head attire in worship, which is not applicable to modern culture. Some have gone so far as to say this text should not be in the Bible as it was not really written by the apostle Paul. But the fact that many find this text unappealing or difficult is no reason to assume it is not written by Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for a significant purpose in the life and worship of God’s people throughout the ages.

What seems clear from the text is that Paul is concerned with the women in the assembly who are praying or prophesying with their heads uncovered and the shame associated therein. That’s all, nothing more. How or why they chose to abandon the head coverings is difficult to discover from the information we have. So next week, Lord willing, we will tackle this text; we will not ignore it, or explain it away; and we will find that while many make ‘much ado’ about the head coverings themselves, that this is a text that will teach us so much more about life and godliness than merely what a women ought to wear on her head in church.


4 thoughts on “Much Ado About Head Coverings – 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

  1. I am looking forward to the topic next week and glad to see you are not going around it…whatever your view of this portion of Scripture..I am not sure I would label those who treat this text as literal and have adopted some form of head covering for women as “sinfully” dividing..It may well be a matter of personal conviction that others misunderstand.

  2. Just to clarify, it was not my intention to suggest that ALL those who wear head coverings are “sinfully” dividing. By no means! In fact there are several women in our church who cover their heads, but they do so discretely without calling attention to their conviction. I completely understand that this conviction is based upon Scripture. What I meant to convey is that historically there have been some denominations that identify head-coverings as a major issue in their doctrinal statement, as well as SOME individual Christians who judge other Christians on the basis of their head attire – that is what I would identify as “sinful.” Thanks for giving me the opportunity to clarify this. – Joe LoSardo

  3. Personally, I believe that Paul is quoting a faction of men from Corinth who wrote him in verses 4-6. If you look closely at those verses a LITERAL head argument is being made, not a figurative argument as is typically taught. So the men made a literal head argument which is why Paul gives his model (vs. 3) with the figurative meaning of head (source). He then gives his rebuttal (vss. 7-16) where he refers back to his model to explain exactly why women are NOT to be veiled. If you would like to see a more indepth explanation of this passage you can visit my website. Take care and God bless.

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