By Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
The church at Corinth had many issues with which to deal. They were located in a very idolatrous culture which had many practices and worship procedures associated with the numerous Greek gods and myths.
In addition, they were impacted by the community of Jews who had come to know Christ as their Savior, but held to the teachings of the rabbis and customs of the early Christians in Jerusalem. Working their way through what was necessary and what was choice was quite difficult. Thus, they sought guidance from Paul.
The problem: The question of wearing veils and various head coverings had now arisen, especially when attending worship services.
The heathen background was quite restrictive and required veils and coverings on women, sometimes from head to toe. Jewish teaching was often just about as conservative.
Men were even taught to wear head coverings when worshipping because they were unworthy to approach the Lord and the covering reflected humility. Paul had taught them about the liberty in Christ, but old traditions often are hard to overcome.
The response: Paul replies swiftly and powerfully. It is not proper for a man to cover his head. The real head of the man is Christ (v.3). (1Co 11:4) “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.” It is perhaps a failure of faith for a man to cover his head, because Christ has made us worthy to enter into His presence.
The case of the woman is different. Her head is the man (v.3). (1Co 11:5) “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” Her covering is not a hat, nor a veil, or some other headpiece, but her hair. (1Co 11:15) “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”
Our lesson: Paul establishes that the hair is the covering given by God and nature. The principle he teaches is that long hair on a woman’s head is a glory, an honor, for her. But the opposite is true for the man. (1Co 11:14) “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” Arguments can be generated to debate what is long hair and what is not.
Notice Paul’s concluding statement on this issue.
(1Co 11:16) “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” This is not to be a point of contention, but of submission to Christ.
Women have long hair, men have short hair!