Once upon a time, in a land far away, a beautiful, independent, self-assured princess saw a frog as she sat, contemplating ecological issues on the shores of an unpolluted pond in a verdant meadow near her castle. The frog hopped into the princess' lap and said, “Elegant Lady, I was once a handsome prince, until an evil witch cast a spell upon me. One kiss from you, however, and I will turn back into the dapper, young prince that I am, and then my sweet, we can marry and set up home in your castle with my mother, where you can prepare my meals, clean my clothes, bear my children, and forever feel grateful and happy doing so.” That night, as the princess dined sumptuously on a dish of lightly sautéed frog legs seasoned in a white wine and onion cream sauce, she chuckled and thought to herself, “I do not think so.”
It is a humorous story, but it reveals a deeper truth. Modern society frowns on the idea of roles for men and women in marriage, calling it archaic. God in His word lays out a framework for many things of which marriage is only one, and He does so in order to ensure that things be done properly and successfully.
Paul has just finished speaking about laying down rights for the sake of the cross. Laying down rights makes us more effective in winning people to Christ. Most people are not concerned with laying down their rights as they struggle with something and can not give it up. We are partakers in the broken body of Jesus who laid down His life.
1 Cor 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.
Now if ever there was a controversial section of scripture it would be this one. The subject is head coverings, the controversy is endless, the question is the point and the answer is simple. To understand this segment, one does not need a doctorate in theology, one does not have to be a veteran Christian of twenty years, all that is needed is attention to what Paul is saying and an open and willing heart to obey the will of God wherever you find it.
Now there are scholars who believe that Paul was endorsing the practice of women wearing shawls over their heads in order to display submission to their husbands. I am not one of those scholars, and I do not subscribe to that teaching, however, there are others, of whom I am one, who believe that Paul is not promoting a religious practice but rather giving us a very practical key for worship.
The Corinthians held firmly to the traditions Paul taught them, he had obviously taught them many things in his time there. He points out that they held firmly to the traditions he taught without even really understanding them. I think that is fantastic. A real hunger for answers and for understanding is noble as the bible tells us in the book of Acts 17:11. Nevertheless I love meeting people who say, ‘The bible says it, I believe it, and that is the end of it.’
Paul wanted them to have a good understanding of this following material and wanted them to put it into practice. He says, “Christ is the head of every man and the man of woman, and God of Christ.” It is simple enough and he tells us at the outset to be sure that we understand it. Understand that when you are talking about the head of man what you are talking about is Christ. Understand that when you are speaking of the head of a woman you are speaking of man. When you say, ‘The head of Christ,’ what you are really saying is, ‘God.’
Now something needs to be clarified. Christ is not unequal to God. Saying that God is the head of Christ, shows that there is a willing submission on the part of Christ to God. Rather than force we are talking about willing submission. Ladies might say, very well, ‘We understand what you mean.’ However, I do not think you do.
The source of covering is God; God is the head of everyone in the church. God is the authority over all.
Every map has what is called a legend or a key for the reader of that map to take reference from. Here is how He lays it out
The head of every man - Christ
The head of the woman - Man
The head of Christ - God
Christ is the head of man
In this paragraph we will see that a man can worship in such a way that he shames Christ. By covering his head, man shames Christ. Now the question is does a man bring shame to the Lord if he wears a hat to church? Now how does that happen? If a man is in church and he is covering Christ, then what is he not doing? He is not uncovering or exalting Christ, he is not drawing attention to Christ. According to the key of this map, he is saying, ‘By covering Christ and not exalting Him, a man praying or prophesying shames Christ.’ If a man is praying or prophesying, and not drawing attention to Christ then who is the attention on? The attention is on the man. Paul is saying, “If a man is trying to exalt himself in church in his praying or prophesying, it is absolutely disgraceful.” We see this in church quite often. People come in and try to take over the whole service, by their praying or prophesying, they try to draw attention to themselves because they think that the church is not moving in the direction it should. This is totally disgraceful to The Lord and has its roots in pride and arrogance which God absolutely hates. Some people in church constantly draw attention to themselves; an attitude is totally foreign to Christianity. A man who exalts himself rather than Christ while praying or prophesying should question his ‘Spirituality.’ A man who covers Christ while praying or prophesying dishonors and disgraces Christ.
The man is the head of a woman
A woman in worship either brings honor or disgrace to the man. A woman who uncovers her head when praying or prophesying disgraces the man. So does that mean that a woman has to wear a scarf or a hat to church? Well, according to the legend Paul lays out, the head of the woman is man, therefore, a woman who uncovers the man in praying or prophesying disgraces the man. How does this work? There is a real tendency in women to uncover men in prayer and I have heard it so many times, “Oh Lord, just make my husband a better man.” Or “Father would you cause him to be a more patient and loving man than he is.” Such prayers amount to uncovering the man in prayer. They are supposed to be covering each other, men and women, nevertheless, what we find in many churches is not just wives but women in general praying in front of others, including the man they are praying about, concerning all his downfalls. That is uncovering the man, a woman displays a man's dirty laundry in front of him and airs it in front of everyone in church. A woman is never to do that because it is not a good reflection on her.
A woman caught in adultery or whoredom had her head shaved. Many people over the years have said that a woman should not show her hair in church because it is what prostitutes did. Paul does not mention prostitutes. Now, a woman who was caught for sleeping around – be it whoredom or adultery, had her head shaved and it was a sign to everyone that she had done a disgraceful thing. What Paul is saying is that a woman who uncovers a man while praying or prophesying disgraces the man and disgraces herself because she brings the utmost disgrace upon herself. A woman in worship, in prayer, or in prophesies disgracing men disgraces herself. A woman uncovering the man in prayer brings the utmost of disgrace upon herself because she reflects the man.
1 Cor 11:7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
The man's relationship with God is reflected in the woman’s relationship to the man. He can not be a reflection of her; she can only be a reflection of him, it is impossible for the man to be a reflection of the woman. This is the way God made it.
Women are naturally more inclined to be spiritual then men and this was the problem in the Garden. The serpent came and tempted EVE. He did not tempt Adam. His approach to the woman demonstrated what she desired. ‘Eat this and it will make you like God.’ That is what women innately want; to be Godly. Throughout the bible we find that women innately desire to be spiritual, much more then men. Therefore if men could be the reflection of the women, then we would have some really spiritual men in church. The reality of the matter is that men are not reflections of women, it is the other way around. Generally what we see in the relationships between men and women is that the women are promoting spirituality rather than men. Start a prayer meeting and who attends? Women! Who had the idea in the first place? Probably a woman, it is just their nature, they want to be godly; whereas men, usually do not care, they are not like women in that way.
Now Paul speaks of the angels, none specifically, just angels generally. In the context of this paragraph, we see that women uncover their men in the hope that it will encourage the men to become more spiritual. Women uncover what they think the men do not see in an attempt to make them change spiritually. He mentions that women should not do this because of the angels. Now, we do not see the angels but we know that they are there. Biblically more is there than what we see. God is at work in the men in church and just because it is not seen it does not mean that it is not there. Uncovering the men will not help; in fact it might well cause damage instead. Uncovering each other is senseless because it does nothing productive and just brings disgrace.
1 Cor 11:11 However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
It should be understood that Paul is not aiming this at the husband and wife specifically; rather he is speaking of the church congregationally. Women are a gift to men, always. Women in church reflect the men in Church, it is impossible to reverse. Women by nature are more spiritual than men and they are a reflection of the men, therefore if men were half as spiritual as women, imagine how spiritual the women could be!
If the men become more spiritual in church; because the women reflect the men, the women will become more spiritual by default
Men and women are not independent of one another, they need each other. Men and women are in a way incomplete without one another, because the woman is the completer of man. Neither is to be dishonored and neither is to be disgraced. They are not to bring disgrace upon themselves or upon one another. Paul says, “We are not talking about shawls or caps.” Just so that you are sure that he is not talking about the physical head, he says, “A woman is naturally given hair as a covering.’” Paul is not speaking about scarves and hats; rather he is stating out how men and women are to conduct themselves in worship to the Lord. Paul says, “If you are contentious over this, this is WHAT WE DO, and you need to pray about it.”
The obvious question is going to be from the women, “How can we get our men to be more spiritual?” My suggestion is to free them; wives if there is a prayer meeting in church, do what you can to free up your man so that he will not have anything to prevent him from attending. The tendency is for the women to try to push or pull the man, but that does not work. Rather ladies if you free up the men in your lives and in the church so that they can invest in their spirituality, then the women who reflect the men congregationally will soar to new heights of intimacy with God – and it will happen effortlessly.