1 Corinthians 11:1-22 NKJV
11 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.
13 Judge among 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 anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.
The custom was a sign that they were under a man’s authority, which properly understood means self-sacrificing service to the higher power, not blind obedience to an autocratic power. It recalled the order of creation, that “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim. 2:13) and original sin, namely that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim. 2:14). The woman’s head covering also was a sign of the Lord’s atonement for original sin, since atonement literally means “a covering.”
A Christian man did not cover his head because “he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.” God created man first and set him as His representative on the earth. God created woman second, from man’s side to be man’s helper. Yet this does not mean that man doesn’t have a Head. “The head of every man is Christ.” Under the Old Testament, the man had a sign of authority on him just as the woman wore a sign of authority. Circumcision was a sign of original sin and its covering. The foreskin—a sign of the sinful flesh—was removed so that the spiritual covering of Christ’s righteousness covered the original sin. Circumcision served as a sign of Christ’s authority over them, which is self-sacrificing service, not autocratic power (Lk. 22:24-27).
There are different roles for man and woman. Men are designed to be fathers and some of them are ordained to be pastors. Women are designed to be mothers. In this God shows the equality of the sexes and their interdependence “in the Lord.” Head coverings, like circumcision, is optional for Christians. But the principle that we all have a Head who sacrifices Himself for us is not an indifferent thing.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, we give You thanks for Your authority over us which you exercised by sacrificing Yourself to make full atonement and cover all our sins. Amen.