Color coding indicates the key differences in the following two scriptural interpretations.
1"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 2Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3But 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. 4Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5But 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. 6For 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. 7For 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. 8For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man's sake. 10Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:1-16) NASB
1"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. 2Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God."
(1 Corinthians 11:1-16) ESV
God has impressed upon creation the natural physical evidence of submission and authority (Romans 1:18-23) by the witness of ministering angels. (Galatians 3:19, Hebrews 1:7, 1:14, 2:2) The rebellion of Satan's angels is manifest through those who are rebellious to God by the appearance of the human body that is contrary to the image God has ordained to His elect.
In this scripture, the head covering, be it hair, a veil, hat or any other form, is only a physical symbolism of submission that communicates who their spiritual authority is. One's appearance will reflect both.
Submission is necessary in order to establish the proper authority. Obedience is the spiritual evidence for submission.
An unmarried woman in the church shows respect for and submits to the authority within church by her Godliness.
A wife should wear a symbol of authority on her head when praying or prophesying in church because she was made in the image of man. Put another way: there should be a pre-established recognition and or an immediate discernment that a woman understands her ordained position given her by God, and her covering (social appearance and spiritual authority) is evidenced by her submission. Man is her covering, but only by her submission to him. Angels are ministering Spirits that come alongside to confirm the physical evidence portrayed by her. Should a wife refuse to "wear the symbol of authority on her head", then she is instructed to cut off her hair as a testimony to this. In other words, a woman should not cut her hair short so as to resemble the image of a man, or a rebel; that is to mock her authority, revealing her defiance of her spiritual authority. Either way, her refusal to submit to her ordained authority reveals her rebellion and should forbid her to participate in the intimacies of the church.
An unmarried man shows respect for and submits to the authority of the church by his Godliness.
Men should not wear a covering on their head, because they are made in the image of God. Put another way: there should be a pre-established recognition and or an immediate discernment that a man understands his ordained position given him by God, and his covering (social appearance and spiritual authority) is evidenced by his submission. Christ is his covering, but only by his submission to Him. Physically, head coverings a man might wear will certainly have an association to the world (such as sports teams, fraternities, religious orders, etc.) and carry with it a sense of dedication and/or fanaticism. This would easily cause disruption or division among the people as well as the obvious evidence of a divided commitment between God and the world.
He should not wear long hair, because similar to the witness of the angels, nature itself testifies that it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair in the church. In other words, a man should not wear his hair long so as to resemble the image of a woman, or a rebel; that is to emasculate his authority, revealing his defiance of his spiritual authority. It is evidence enough in the body of Christ that a man who willingly wears a covering on his head or has long hair, exhibits a rebellious spirit about him. He should be forbidden to participate in the intimacies of the church because his authority is not yet Jesus.
The definition of the root Greek word for disgrace/dishonor in verses 4&5 is to "curse vehemently". These verses indicate the disrespect the woman and the man would be to their own authority; man and Christ.
When praying in a disrespectful state, who are you really petitioning to?
When prophesying in a disrespectful state, who are you really hearing from?
Thus, being out of submission you "curse vehemently" your assigned authority.
Verses 8-10 refers to the creation order in Genesis before the fall. Satan began this rebellion to his own authority by refusing to remain in his place of submission. He coveted God's position and declared in his heart that he would become like Him. Eve, having been told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (she even conveyed this to Satan) disrespected her authority by eating of it. She left her place of submission and considered herself equal to Adam in that she chose to disobey his command.(1) The temptation was that the consequence would not be what she was told it would be; death. So by the consideration of the consequence rather than simply obeying what she was commanded, she cursed her authority, abandoned her protection, and received the consequence. The curse handed down is that women will desire their husband (his positional authority)(2) but that he will still have dominion over her. It is a picture of the ongoing battle of submission and authority between husband and wife. The same marriage analogy is used to describe Christ and His church, and so is the struggle of submission and desire for independent authority prevalent here.
So what we realize through this is that the angels who witnessed the initial rebellion in the beginning are present with us today, ministering to the world the physical example of obedience for the sake of establishing the spiritual example that by our submission, God becomes our ultimate authority, and not ourselves.
Desiring to honor God in your place of submission and sacrificing your lusts establishes your authority.
Surrendering your place of submission attempts to equate yourself with your authority.
Jesus himself did not consider himself equal to God, but submitted his flesh to humility and torment, thus receiving the blessing from it.
Satan considered himself equal to God and was cursed.
A man who does not submit to Christ curses his authority.
A woman who does not submit to man curses her authority.
Physically, man was created first and the woman was made out of the man. She was created for man. This is the evidence of his authority over the woman.
Christ is the first born of all who become heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven and is evidence of His authority over the man.
Spiritually, neither man nor woman is independent of each other, because as woman came from man, so through child birth man comes from woman; a reality of physical regeneration. It is also a picture of spiritual regeneration; the divine government ordained by God for the church, carried through each generation by the angels.
Let's consider the following Scriptures pertaining to women in the church.
"The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?" (1Corinthians 14:34-36)
"Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint." (1 Timothy 2:9-15)
These two passages, along with our referenced Scripture above, each take us back to the garden of Eden to communicate very shared and relevant pieces of information that the apostle Paul bases these commands on; ordained authority, not societal acceptance and approval.
"Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored." (Titus 2:3-5)
"In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God." (1 Peter 3:1-4)
It is clear in all these passages that as well as establishing authority, they reveal the nature to be found in a woman full of the Holy Spirit, thus confirming that she will have much to offer the body of Christ by way of prayer and prophecy.
By neglecting or avoiding certain scriptures that run contrary to the culture, the church does not receive the most intimate blessings and true unity available to it. When the conditions of submission are authentically embraced and the authority ordained by God firmly established, we can be assured that the fullness of God's Spirit is dwelling within the church. Members are found to be trustworthy for spiritual responsibilities.
"Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." (Hebrews 11:1) If we can't submit to the things that are seen how can we submit to the things that are unseen? (1 John 4:20) More accurately, if we are not intimate with the unseen, then what is seen will be the rebellion manifest through us, for it is only by the power of the unseen that we can even obey what is seen.
If our conduit with God is broken by the rebellion of compromise (and is by no means limited to our appearance), and a spirit of deception is allowed to interpret divine scripture, is it any surprise the church in the U.S. is so worldly and spiritually asleep? Whenever rebellion towards authority reigns in the place of submission, the enemy's authority will be prevalent and active in the church, thus quenching the work of the Holy Spirit.
"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. "But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters." (Luke 11:21-23)
Today is very confusing for the entire body of Christ because, out of a fear of rejection by the outside world, we have compromised ourselves to a place where the church has befriended society and invited it in to influence its ways. Our failure to obey comes from our desires to be accepted and our fear of reprisal from others if we should stand firm. But look below at the example of Sarah.
"For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear." (1 Peter 3:5,6)
After Jesus ascension, women were clearly active and effective in the early church. Yet what can not be dismissed is their unique call to submission. It is her ordained humility, it is her life and power in God...it is her beauty.
It is the church that is suffering, more so than the child. It has, of course been suffering for centuries for different reasons, but each generation must come to a recognition of its own sickness. If one member feels well while the body is sick, there is a disconnect of that child from the church that God has implemented for the sake of unity. God is always patient with us. He will give good things to His children on a personal basis, but the church leaders must also allow all gifts to function, not to oppress them in order to establish their own covetous ideals as to how they think church should look. And the saints must implement their gifts within the church, not to selfishly covet them for their edification alone.
More than authority, these verses teach submission by obedience for the sake of embracing spiritual life...for there is only one faith, one Lord, and one baptism. Conforming to the world is the scheme of the enemy, to weaken God's power in the church by compromising His truth. Walking by faith and not by sight will always run counter to the majority.
It's not what we think. It's not what we want. It's not what society determines or accepts. It's what the Holy Spirit has instructed and ordained as the inspired word of God. The church struggles with this particular passage and many others like it because they will not seek spiritual understanding beyond the topical message.
Should women wear a head covering when praying or prophesying? The bottom line is found in the bottom lines: "Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God." (1 Corinthians 11:14-16) ESV
Paul supported the traditions of the present society to be relevant within the church for the cause of extending grace to the new believers, much like abstaining from eating meat sacrificed to idols for the sake of those who are weak in the faith. (1 Corinthians 10:28) As he continued, he focused on God's natural imagery placed upon His creation, as well as the spiritual, whereby submission and authority are established. In the end, having confirmed the natural state of appearance once more, he concludes that beyond societal traditions, such as head coverings, there are no such physical and legalistic practices that are required for a woman to substantiate her submission to her authority within the body of Christ. In other words, it should already be ascertained that such a woman called on to pray or prophecy has been found complete in the Lord and her physical appearance will agree. Her hair is enough. Should any one want to force this issue, Paul firmly counters, "...we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God". If a law is applied in the church, it is for the sake of the law breakers. (1Timothy 1:8-11, Galatians 5:16-25) Spiritual women do not have to be told such things. They will beautifully confirm it.
The entire message from our topic can be summed up in this way: Paul begins this directive to the church from the viewpoint of their young and ignorant understanding of God through the work of Jesus. In our own individual walk with God, we also understand Him initially only by our mind's interpretation of what He begins to reveal to us. Yet in its youth, our minds cannot comprehend the depths of God's kingdom in lieu of our own. Therefore, as this passage begins with the physical portrayal of what will ultimately be spiritually manifested in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit, we, too, will progress from the practical obedience of human law into its spiritually maturity, by means of our own sanctification, thereby eliminating any evidence of legalism this passage may initially exhibit.
"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." (John 6:63)
We can contemplate words and meanings of words, contextual interpretations both literal and figurative, but it is only by calling on the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit that we will render justice to the specificity of arduous Biblical studies.
So, "...what is that to you? You follow me." (John 21:22)
(1) In Genesis 2, we read that God formed the man first and instructed him in the commands of the garden he was to tend. Although the text later states that Eve had shared with Satan that it was God who said not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden, we can understand by the spiritual context of all relevant scripture that this command would have been given to her by Adam with the authority of God behind it. Eve was not subversive to Adam when she stated that God had told her, for she recognized that Adam, also, is God's servant. So we see that Eve had complete understanding that even her authority had a greater authority.
(2) We know that Adam and Eve were desirous of one another before the fall, being of the same 'flesh and bone'. So when God was handing down the curses, He was not merely repeating a previous existing condition of affectionate desire, but rather that woman's desire would be for man's positional authority, as she had broken the only restrictive command in the garden by doing just that.
"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)