“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #126
“For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man” (1 Cor. 11:7).
There are several issues here that transcend the whole matter of head covering which we should address first. A man is not supposed to cover his head (again, in the context of worship) because he is the image and glory of God. This is not a requirement for men never to wear hats, even if they are exploring the Arctic. The realm of discourse here has to do with keeping the ordinances that Paul gave to the Corinthians, and all his discussion here has to do with conduct within a worship service. We do not want to absolutize this in a way that proves too much—e.g. no hats ever. I will address the question of hair/hat momentarily.
The reason a man must be uncovered in worship is that he is the image and glory of God. The reason the woman is to be covered is because she is the glory of man. Paul does not use the word image when referring to the woman, and this is because she, equally with the man, bears the image of God (Gen. 1:27).
Man is the uncovered glory of God. But when Paul says that woman is the covered glory of man, he is not trying to get the light under a bushel. His language here is redolent of the great image that Isaiah paints of a restored and forgiven Israel (and remember that for Paul, the woman represents the church). He wants the woman covered so she can be for a glory and a covering, showing that the Lord is near. Notice where Paul gets his language of glory and covering (v. 15).
“Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering” (Is. 4:5, NKJV).
This is the Shekinah glory, and the fact that some people think that Paul is in this place being insulting to women simply shows that moderns have figured out how to project their own misogyny onto him.
Now if you believe, as I do, that the primary covering reference here is to hair, and that this is the heart of the requirement, it does not follow from this that artificial coverings (veils and hats) are irrelevant to the discussion. Think of it this way. A man should have short hair (v. 14). He should have short hair, such that he is in a position to come to worship “uncovered.” But what sense would it make for him to then bring a hat and wear it during worship? That would be an impudence—because he would be doing artificially (with a hat) what he is not allowed to do naturally (with hair). If he may not be covered with long hair, then how much less may he wear a hat in worship? With women, the logic goes the other way. If she comes to worship covered by her hair, as she ought to (v. 15), how much more may she accent that covering by artificial means? This is why the woman may wear something additional on her head, and it is also why the man may not.
The one requirement is that her covering must make the same statement that her hair was given to her to make—it must be a glory (v. 15). Her additional covering, if she chooses to wear one, must not be in a sad little “glory argument” with her hair. Neither may she wear her hair in a way that belies the innate glory of what God gave her.
I remember what church was like when I was a kid, especially on Easter Sunday, and especially if we sat in the balcony. Our congregation was a fair-sized lake of hats—glorious hats. This was far closer to the intent of the apostle, and kind of an affront to the grim pietists, who want the American Gothic hair to be straight and severe, the covering to be a little doily for the top, a persimmon to suck on, and for nothing to be glorious. Of course, hats can always be overdone, like aristocratic women going to the Derby at Vanity Fair, but that should be rejected too. The apostle also forbade ostentatious display (1 Tim. 2:9). A Christian woman should want to be the glory of her husband, not his arm candy.