For a Glory and a Covering

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“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.

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John Stoos
8 years ago

Doug, if what you are saying here is right, then those Duck Dynasty fellows are in REAL trouble when they go to church! Or does the long hair on their faces make up for the long hair on their heads? You have a bit of fun with just what type of hat or covering would be proper in church, but would we not have the same battles over the proper length of hair or how it is worn? And while you are ruminating on this passage, I would like to throw in a question that I have not seen a… Read more »

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

“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.” Great point! I am so enjoying this series on 1 Corinthians. Thank you, Pastor Wilson. I differ with you on one thing regarding Paul’s overall point in this chapter (not something you touch here, but something you mentioned in a previous entry) but maybe there are ways to fix that! There is certainly… Read more »

John Stoos
8 years ago

Gianni: IF we say that this is a prohibition of women praying and prophesying in the worship service do they need to keep silent during the corporate prayer of confession? Are they allowed to ‘pray along’ when the great prayers is spoken? As far as prophesying, it somewhat depends on how you define it, but if we consider the broad interpretation of proclaiming God’s truth, can the women read along when we have a responsive reading of the Scriptures?

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

Like a hat full of water poured out in front of those who thirst, Doug has just emptied all of the historical theological significance of this symbol and called it artificial.

Nathan Tuggy
Nathan Tuggy
8 years ago

Perry
Wait, what? Where did he empty any theological significance or call it anything like artificial? That doesn’t seem even vaguely correct.

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

John, all fair questions, but I think they are beside the point. I believe the interpretation I suggested does not necessarily mandate any single way to answer you. Maybe it’s possible to make a case for a distinction between collective speaking and individual speaking. I for one tend to think along such lines, although that too is a bit irrelevant. If Paul is making the point I suggested he did, then that would be a fact, and if we find that solution exegetically credible and preferable, then we’d have to figure out what to do about the situations you describe.… Read more »

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
8 years ago

Gianni — I didn’t see where Doug said this passage doesn’t address women praying and prophesying in public worship. But what’s missing here is how or why having shortish hair demonstrates the image and glory of God. And why is long hair considered being gloryish of man? Could we agree that short hair on top is inherently manish? And the men are playing God in the public worship? And God is the speaker (like the men in the service) while we (feminine / church) need to shut up and listen (hence not speak) — therefore women’s silence in public worship… Read more »

Robert
Robert
8 years ago

Gianni, if women are never to prophesy, then why are we told of prophetesses in that time? When did they prophesy if not among god’s people in some fashion?

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Eric, you wrote, “I didn’t see where Doug said this passage doesn’t address women praying and prophesying in public worship.” A couple of weeks ago, in “No Other Custom”, Wilson wrote: “This makes it plain that the restriction the apostle places on women speaking in church later in this letter is not an absolute restriction (1 Cor. 14: 34-35). She clearly may pray or prophesy in church, provided she does so in the way that the apostle stipulates will publicly honors her husband.” http://dougwilson.wpengine.com/s8-expository/no-other-custom.html In other words, Wilson sees 1 Cor 11 as allowing a woman to “speak”, provided she… Read more »

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

Robert, I believe the existence of prophetesses at that time is compatible with a prohibition to use that gift in public worship. And it’s not like I am saying that all prophecy was forbidden in church meetings. Men could and did prophesy in the churches. You ask, “When did they prophesy if not among god’s people in some fashion?” But I think the New Testament draws a distinction between “being among God’s people in some fashion” and “being in a public worship meeting”. I find no indication that prophets had to restrict, or did in fact restrict, the use of… Read more »

RFB
RFB
8 years ago

Mr. Gianni, (Sorry for my ignorance of page breaking mechanics.) I have posted a few questions/comments regarding this in this series, and continue to ask essentially this. (First, as a priori, no custom, tradition or practice sits authoritatively above scripture.) With that said, Paul does appeal with apostolic authority to tradition/practice with “…we have no such custom, neither the churches of God…” In another thread I posted links to John Calvin and Matthew Henry regarding this subject: “He is treating here of different ranks…She is subject, let her then wear a token of subjection…If women uncover their heads, not only… Read more »

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

RFB, your question is too wide in scope, and basically irrelevant to the point I am making. I support Calvin and Henry, but if they misunderstand Paul, then they are wrong. I believe they would agree.

RFB
RFB
8 years ago

Sir,

I do not want to be contentious whatsoever, and so I am asking in all sincerity. I really do not understand how “the historical reformed 1. understanding and 2. practice (custom) for this subject?” can be too wide in scope. Can you elaborate on what I am missing? Thank you.

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

COVERGIRL Theology? Lipstick on the lips and liner on the eyes, so a woman can accentuate the “true” theological meaning of her hair by wearing a hat? But it’s not phony? “If” a woman’s hair is the “true” covering, then why cover it with another cover against Paul’s teaching? It becomes a double covering. The practice would truly then be the artificial creation of a man made tradition. And of course along with man made traditions come the requirements that the covering be of that line of clothing that neither offends our Lord in excess nor detracts in minimal display… Read more »

John Stoos
8 years ago

Gianna, I am not arguing backwards, I think Paul is being very straight forward and as Steve has pointed out the Church agreed for most of its history. Perhaps it was that Feminist Church Council of Boston in the mid-ninetieth Century that brought about the change. :)

And the truly amazing things is that as divided our the Church is today, it only took about a hundred years for EVERYONE to bring their practice into conformity with the new doctrine.

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

Steve Perry wrote: This tradition acknowledges God’s proper authority structure of male headship in the sanctuary first. … A woman is the glory of the man because she “originated” from man, not because she got married! The woman was glorious at creation before she got married. A woman has her own intrinsic glory as the image, and to attach it to only being married sets up a very false classification of women. I’ve noticed a bit of a trend in our circles which stresses the headship and authority of men, in general, over women. This emphasis is probably a reaction… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

Katecho – Yes, let’s be very careful! I’m in full agreement, that this entire topic and tradition is the responsibility (as I have always stressed) of Adam the priest, not Adam the man. A man only has authority over his own household and “no” one else. That being said (not sure why it even needed to), where was the protection of the word of God by these men/ministers when the same feminist movement came in and brought a new teaching and tradition into the church? Where was the caring for the worship of God, when these same men without councils,… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

Katecho, one other point. You mentioned a concern for young men potentially being influenced into believing they can go and tell any women what to do because of their superiority, if they misinterpret whats being said. Well what about all the young men, like RFB above who are as polite as polite can be, are reading the scriptures, studying reformed theology, and are simply beginning to ask “why did the church change its historical practice in the way it worships?” He’s reading 1 Cor 11, then looks up what the church has taught in history, and then “no answer as… Read more »

RFB
RFB
8 years ago

Mr. Perry, Why thank you sir for calling me a young man; that sir is quite a compliment to someone who was alive when Harry S. Truman was the POTUS (and even before the learned and honorable man who owns this site). I am well progressed towards codgerville, nonetheless, I will take your description with joy and gladness! Also, it is not my intent to ask “why did the church change its historical practice in the way it worships?” I do not/did not know that there has been a change. I really do not know the reformed historical understanding and… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

RFB, it is you that should be addressed as sir☺. Please accept my apology. You did however bring up some very clear and reasonable questions such as to Mr. Lohr, “what has been the practice of the historic church? Has head covering always been treated as obscure? I am asking this not just of you but of Pastor Wilson for the purposes of learning.” And, “Pastor Wilson, I would respectfully request that if possible given the format, that you would engage with Calvin and Henry’s writings regarding this issue. I am curious if their position (which seems similar to each… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

[Aside to Henry Bish]: What Katecho said…that’s what I never got around to saying in that other thread.

Gianni
Gianni
8 years ago

John, you wrote, “Gianna, I am not arguing backwards, I think Paul is being very straight forward and as Steve has pointed out the Church agreed for most of its history. Perhaps it was that Feminist Church Council of Boston in the mid-ninetieth Century that brought about the change. :) And the truly amazing things is that as divided our the Church is today, it only took about a hundred years for EVERYONE to bring their practice into conformity with the new doctrine.” Paul is being very straight forward? Well, Gianna is a girl’s name. This proves that there’s something… Read more »

RFB
RFB
8 years ago

Mr. Perry, No need for apology, and I am humbled by your honorable response. I try to be careful in how I post because the intertubes do not often adequately convey demeanor, and if I am careless my Reepacheep tail can easily trip me (and others). I am not being disingenuous regarding this (covering) issue; I am trying to climb up on these guy’s shoulders as it were (Pr. Wilson, et al) to get the best look at it that I can. While I respect church history, and those who crafted it (Calvin, etc), I do so with a mindset… Read more »

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

Valerie,

Do you really believe that addresses the counter-points I made? I confess I don’t.

What Katecho said…that’s what I never got around to saying in that other thread.

I think you did actually already say all that in the other thread. What we need is something new – an engagement with the actual counter-arguments that were made!

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

katecho, I’d like to hear what you have to say to this push back from me. I don’t think your idea that there is no authority or rank between men and women *in general* is consistent with scripture’s teaching, or the historical understanding of the Church. When Paul allows men to do various kind of speaking in church but forbids the same of women (e.g. 1Cor14:26-40), it is important to notice that he does not allow only male *elders* to do these things but males *in general* – but he disallows females *in general*. This is not limited to man/wife… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

henrybish – Greetings. Just a quick question, assuming you are not a minister. What scriptural authority do you have as a man over my wife and daughter that you need to demonstrate? Thanks.

cameron
cameron
8 years ago

So Francis Schaffer’s hair was an abomination after all.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

Henry — I went back and left another comment on that other post.

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

henrybish wrote: Ultimately, if you follow your argument all the way to where it comes from, you realise that you are actually left without a reason why a single woman cannot be an elder over men in the church. We acknowledge that maleness is a qualification for Church office. There is no dispute there. But the submission of women in the Church is to that office of spiritual authority, not to maleness, just as a wife’s submission is to the office of her husband, not to maleness in general, even though the qualification for the office of husband is also… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

Katecho — I agree with you up till the last sentence. I bet if you reread it, you’ll discern why. ;^)

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

I just tacked it on the end, but I was trying to anticipate the objection that, “some women don’t have a husband/father and therefore they must fend for themselves and cannot be shushed in the church”. God seems to have a heart for the outliers, to provide for the “exception” through other principles of love. In the same way that adoption allows minors to come under authority and enables their obedience to the law of honoring their parents, an abundant spirit of adoption within the church would provide an older man (perhaps in the office of elder) to represent such… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

Spiritual authority is not androgynous. When we start to separate the spiritual from the created, we can open up all sorts of gnostic problems.

Rob
Rob
8 years ago

Human spiritual authority is not universally applied. I’m subject to my local body of elders, but not to yours. Likewise, I have no authority over any woman besides my wife, particularly given that I’m not myself an elder. It’s not a question of Gnosticism, but of the particular being treated as a universal.

God’s authority (thankfully) is universal.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

Katecho — Gotcha. My point was that widows and orphans don’t have a particular head. I see that in your follow-up, you’ve proposed a solution for that. Have you seen that sort of “adoption” work in real life? While of course Scripture exhorts us to care for widows and orphans (which we tend to thing of as referring to those without means, but has more to do with those without men), but I’m not sure it gives a provision for substitute headship, per se. Husbandless and fatherless women have the blessing of being under authority in the church, and that… Read more »

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

Thanks katecho and Valerie for your responses. I still think you have no reason why a single woman cannot be an elder, given that you believe her sex does not in any way require a deference towards men. What is wrong with her exercising authority over a man who is not her husband? Just as you would allow a man to be the office of authority in a church, what is wrong with her *being* that office of authority to which other men submit? She would not be breaking any of your rules since she has no husband. All I… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

Henry, Steve is asking you the same question I asked you: what does the supposed general authority of all men over all women look like in microcosm? What authority does a particular man (e.g., you) have over a particular unrelated woman (e.g., me or Steve’s wife or daughter)? You persist in claiming that this general authority exists. But what exactly is the it that you believe in? As I noted in the other thread, the Miklovics contradicted their own definition. Give us your best shot at defining what it is and describing how it applies.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

I still think you have no reason why a single woman cannot be an elder, given that you believe her sex does not in any way require a deference towards men. What is wrong with her exercising authority over a man who is not her husband? Just as you would allow a man to be the office of authority in a church, what is wrong with her *being* that office of authority to which other men submit? She would not be breaking any of your rules since she has no husband. All I can see that you are able to… Read more »

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

Hi Valerie, You persist in claiming that this general authority exists. Thanks! But what exactly is the it that you believe in? As I noted in the other thread, the Miklovics contradicted their own definition. Give us your best shot at defining what it is and describing how it applies. I could say that you “persist” in denying the logic of Paul. Why not interact with the actual scriptural data I keep pointing out? Namely, the logic of Paul’s argument does not work at all on your reading, as elucidated a number of times in my previous posts. Why does… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

Henry — You are right; I was being uncharitable. While “you must not have any reasons” is not a necessary consequent of “you don’t agree with my reasons,” neither is it necessarily motivated by a lack of charity. I should not have imputed that motive to you. Please forgive me. I can’t get to the point of interacting more deeply with your supporting arguments until I better understand what exactly your main assertion is. I’m not there yet. Here’s what I think I have so far. You tell me if it’s accurate: • You believe that there is some sense… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

Valerie, perhaps Henry is speaking generally to the three spheres of church, family and civil authority where men should fulfill their God directed rolls and responsibilities? In general terms, Eve was not created to be co-magistrate, head of the family or most importantly, Christ’s representative of the church. Perhaps Henry’s concern is seeing a large trend in a broad number of christian circles which seem to stress an obedience that sees beyond gender. An obedience that first strips Adam of his created maleness in order to truly be spiritual. An obedience that is gender neutral because those who follow Christ… Read more »

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

Regarding Valerie’s question about adoption of widows and fatherless women by older men or elders in the church, I’m aware of a few cases of that type of thing in a limited capacity, but I think this way of conceiving of it is a good one and should be encouraged. (Obviously the idea is not to usurp an unmarried woman’s submission to her real father, even if he’s an unbeliever.) I’ve also seen young christian families adopted by an older man in the church (calling him papa), even though they aren’t lacking a head at the level of their own… Read more »

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

henrybish wrote: I think your argument falls apart when it is asked: what about the widows in Corinth? Why can they not ask questions of the elders in public – elders they are *meant* to submit to? What about the elder’s daughters? Can they ask questions of their father in church? Why not on your reading? This objection doesn’t apply because it has not been my reasoning that if a woman’s particular spiritual head is present, then she is permitted to put her questions on the table in the public church setting. This is not Paul’s reasoning either. Even if… Read more »

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
8 years ago

Inherent in the symbolism of wearing of a hat, is the aspect of acknowledgment and obedience to God’s maleness. It is His character, who He is, and they cannot be separated. He is the God we worship.

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

Regarding the thought that “not all authority is headship”, I think I might need an example. It’s hard for me to imagine someone executing the role of a head, but lacking authority. It seems a bit like trying to separate accountability from headship. Just to clarify, I do believe that all headship is authority, just not that all authority is headship. Picture your basic Venn diagram with a little circle completely inside a bigger one. A simple example that comes to mind: When Mommy and Daddy are going out, Miss Susie the babysitter has authority over Sally and Sammy for… Read more »

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

katecho, some responses: To begin with I note that you are actually now sounding more patriarchal in saying every woman should have a *specific* male to authority over her. Interesting. It sounds like a bit of a novel idea, does it have any pedigree with our forefathers? It seems a big stretch to exegete this idea from the passage in 1 Corinthians you cite. Do any of the notable commentators take this approach? 1) Is this the reason you give for why a single woman cannot be an elder – that every woman should be under the authority of a… Read more »

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

Valerie that’s ok. My rephrasing of that question was not to straight-jacket it so that it couldn’t be answered, but rather to show more clearly my objections against katecho’s reading. Argue against my stipulations – they are not intended to be such – unless it persists to be the case that they cannot be defended against the objections I raised. I was merely stating the present state of the argument. I can’t get to the point of interacting more deeply with your supporting arguments until I better understand what exactly your main assertion is. I don’t think this is the… Read more »

Valerie (Kyriosity)
8 years ago

I don’t think this is the case.

Well, it is the case whether or not you think so. If I can’t get a handle on how you define your terms, I can’t be sure we’re speaking the same language, so I can’t continue with the discussion. Maybe somebody else could, but I can’t.

katecho
katecho
8 years ago

I think henrybish and I are just talking past each other at this point. I would reiterate that I’m not convinced that women have a duty of submission to male authority in general. I just don’t see that in Scripture. henrybish has not given any examples of what that authority or accountability would look like. What I do see is wives and daughters submitting to, and accountable to, their own particular male heads. I see headship consisting not simply of authority, but of responsibility and accountability. Men in general do not give an account for women in general. I affirm… Read more »

henrybish
henrybish
8 years ago

Well, it looks like we have come to the end of it. Katecho, I actually thought we were just getting to the traction point of having cleared away all the arguments that don’t work, and was interested to hear what you were going to say in response. I adapted my points especially to your clarified argument.

Valerie, I think that is a lame excuse:) but you are under no obligation to continue. I hope we are not now enemies, sister.