Rules for Worship
2I am proud of you, because you always remember me and obey the teachings I gave you. 3Now I want you to know that Christ is the head of all men, and a man is the head of a woman. But God is the head of Christ. 4This means that any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head brings shame to his head.
5But any woman who prays or prophesies without something on her head brings shame to her head. In fact, she may as well shave her head. 6A woman should wear something on her head. It is a disgrace for a woman to shave her head or cut her hair. But if she refuses to wear something on her head, let her cut off her hair.
7 Men were created to be like God and to bring honor to God. This means a man should not wear anything on his head. Women were created to bring honor to men. 8 It was the woman who was made from a man, and not the man who was made from a woman. 9He wasn't created for her. She was created for him. 10And so, because of this, and also because of the angels, a woman ought to wear something on her head, as a sign of her authority.
11As far as the Lord is concerned, men and women need each other. 12It is true that the first woman came from a man, but all other men have been given birth by women. Yet God is the one who created everything. 13Ask yourselves if it is proper for a woman to pray without something on her head. 14Isn't it unnatural and disgraceful for men to have long hair? 15But long hair is a beautiful way for a woman to cover her head. 16This is how things are done in all of God's churches, and this is why none of you should argue about what I have said.
No one can read this passage without wondering whether it really applies today. Don’t feel guilty for wondering this! Let’s consider these verses thoughtfully.
- Things that were true for that time. In Corinth it would obviously be wrong for a man’s head to be covered or a woman’s uncovered (v 13).
- because a covered head was a sign of submission (vv 9, 10). (Nowadays hats don’t mean this.)
- because an unveiled woman was usually a prostitute. (Nowadays hatless women may be quite respectable!)
- because to crop a woman’s hair was a punishment for adultery (v 6). (Nowadays it’s a matter of fashion.) Clearly, much of what Paul says has changed its meaning.
- Things that are true for all time. When he talks about hair and hats Paul uses phrases like “ask yourselves if it is proper” (v 13) or “this is how things are done in all of God’s churches” (v 16). But when he teaches about the nature of women themselves, he appeals to fundamental truth about Christ and God to make his point (v 3). It is permanently true that women are to be upright and unpretentious—however differently they may dress in this century!
Lord, take away all my pride, and help me to be totally submitted to you and to your will. Amen.