As I studied last week, my attention was drawn to the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians, verses 2-16. As a female in ministry I am intrigued by scripture that, when taken at face value, might appear to suggest inadequacy of women in the preaching of God’s word.
“I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just a I passed them on to you. But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (vs. 2-3).
One could stop right there and declare that women are to be under the direction of men, as the man will receive his direction from God. But hold on just a minute, and forward to “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.” (vs. 11-12). So it is just that, man created from dust, woman created from man, both created by God. Two beings that exist in community with the other, equality created.
This passage reflects on the customs of covering one’s head during worship, relevant at the time of writing. A bit of a play on words, this is a shift referring to an individual’s physical head, rather than an order of importance.
“For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man;” (vs. 6-8) “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.” (vs. 13-15)
Hair is the first issue of covering oneself and it is not about value or order, but instead about the social rules of the time. Women were expected to wear their hair long, men to wear their hair short, nothing more or less. Other times in history spoke to the length of hair as well…those crazy Beetles in the 60s with their radical long hair, Dorothy Hamill with her risky short hair in the 80s. As we transition to the covering of one’s head with a piece of material. This was nothing more than an identifying factor. With a covered head, one would be identified as a woman. She would also be identified as a married woman, acknowledging her love and commitment to her husband and her respect for him.
In the midst of right or wrong attire, one thing is clear in this passage, both men and women are leaders in God’s church.
“Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is the same as having her head shaved.” (vs. 4-5).
This isn’t about what gender stands in front of a church it is about having respect for that position.