(1 Corinthians 11:1-10) – Head coverings
Remember that Paul is in the middle of teaching about the Christian’s use of their freedom. This continues as he makes remarks about proper etiquette in worship services.
It’s pretty powerful to have such a testimony that you can encourage people to follow your example (v.1). If we are following Jesus closely enough, we should all be able to say the same thing.
If we can’t, why not? What needs to change?
That’s a side note….
In regards to etiquette in worship, Paul starts with the issue of head coverings. He will later discuss the Lord’s supper and spiritual gifts in the same vein of conversation.
There are theological and cultural reasons for Paul’s stance on head coverings. It is important for us to properly exegete these so that we don’t walk away with misunderstanding or misapplication.
First thing, In the culture of Corinth, head coverings provided symbolic expressions of the roles of man and woman. This same symbolism has extended to many other cultures across history.
Men’s uncovered heads expressed their authority as leaders in society and in the home. Women’s covered heads expressed their submission to that authority.
If a man was covering his head, he was expressing that he was rejecting the role that God had designed for him. He would’ve been saying that he didn’t want to lead, but rather wanted to be passive and lazy.
If a woman wasn’t covering her head, she was expressing that she either had a dysfunctional relationship with her husband (thereby rejecting his leadership), or she had a problem with God’s design for her role as well.
She would be saying that her desire was to be in authority over men, to rule over him.
Either way, to not follow the cultural symbols meant a rejection of God’s order. Why was that important?
God has placed humans on earth to picture many things about Himself. Man was to picture God the Father’s sovereignty, leadership, and administration over earth, while woman was to picture the submission of Christ and the Holy Spirit to the will of the Father. Both are meant to be good and beautiful.
If men and woman rejected those roles, the picture of God on earth would be marred, and many wouldn’t come to know Him as Savior.
There was no question about this in the Corinthian culture, which is why Paul speaks so firmly about it. We must ask ourselves whether our culture supports the same expressions in head coverings.
I think it’s pretty obvious that in our culture, head coverings don’t have the same weight of expressing the roles of men and women in God’s order as it did back then.
So what (in our culture) does express the roles of men and women? (Think about it!)
I’m saying all of this to get to this point. Whatever DOES communicate that expression in our culture is something we as Christians should pay attention to. Picturing God to the world is a big deal.
Even though we are FREE to express ourselves in a way that’s different from our culture, because we are equal as men and women in Christ, we should ALL be willing to lay down those freedoms for the sake of the Gospel.
So should women wear head coverings today? I don’t think our culture requires it at this point. But in every time period, it is good that men lead lovingly as the Father does. It is also good that the women submit humbly to that loving leadership as Christ does to the Father.