Explain “head coverings” for a woman.

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Explain “head coverings” for a woman.

Post by Admin on Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:50 am

Paul takes up the subject in I Corinthians 11:3-16. This section is essentially Paul’s offering to the Corinthians how to stand apart from the worship of the pagan surroundings in which they existed. While addressing local custom, it is presented in the context of corporate (public) worship. When Paul uses the phrase “head of,” most examples from ancient Greek literature do use this to mean “authority,” but not the self-centered authority of the world, but rather a leadership that concerns itself with the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of others. In the Trinity, the Father is “head of” the Son, and the Son is “head of” the church. This is a difference not of equality but simply of roles. The phrase “having his head covered” refers not to a hat but to the Roman practice of pulling down the toga over the head while bowing for pagan worship, to prevent distractions. Because of the association of this practice with pagan worship, a male believer dishonors his true head (Christ) when he covered his physical head with the toga. By imitating pagan practice, he wound up shaming Christ and himself. In the same culture of the time, a woman would speak with her head uncovered only in private settings. This might have shown itself in women praying in that manner in pagan religious meetings in their homes. Because that was the only religious worship experience they had prior to Christ, they may have brought those practices into their church meetings. Paul equated a woman’s praying with her head uncovered with the shame reserved for women whose heads had been shaved due to their religious practices; pagan women in Corinth were known to shave their heads and present the hair to one of their pagan gods as a token of worship or maybe the fulfillment of a vow. In addition, in some of the cultures of the time, a woman uncovering her head in public was a sign of loose morals and sexual promiscuity. Paul equated that with a woman having her head shaved, which meant public disgrace as a result of some shameful act or openly flaunting her independence and her refusal to be in submission to her husband. Paul was trying to give public Christian worship a distinct look from the pluralistic, pantheistic culture in which the Corinthians lived. A man’s uncovered head, from Paul’s perspective, also most immediately reflected honor and glory to God in the man’s acknowledgement of his being God’s creation—a wonderful thing, versus the view of the pagans, who saw humanity’s creation as simply an outcome of warring and vain gods. In the same way, a woman’s head covered was also reflective of the glory of man, whose glory was found in being made in the image of God; therefore Paul saw a woman’s head covering as an act of submission and respect to her husband. This does not make woman inferior to man; rather, woman completes God’s creation of mankind as male and female. A woman is not inferior to man any more than Christ is inferior to God. Submission does not indicate inferiority, but subordination—again, totally referring back to God’s created order and divine plan. Submission is mutual commitment and cooperation.

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