The Bible Demands Christian Women Be Veiled

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Is covering the hair a religious commandment for Christian women? There can be only one answer to this: yes, it is! Simply, one only needs to open the Bible, go to 1st Corinthians, chapter 11 verses 3-10.

  But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered, disgraces his head. But every woman praying or prophesying with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not covered, let her be shaven. But if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. A man indeed ought not to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God. But woman is the glory of man. For man was not created for woman, but woman for man. This is why the woman ought to have a sign of authority over her head, because of the angels. – Corinthians 11:3-10

 

 The word “Cover”

 

The Greek words used in 1 Corinthians 11:3-7 make it clear that the veil is what is intended and nothing else:

 

1 Corinthians 11:3-7 – 3 Now 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. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered–it is just as though her head were shaved. 6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

 

I have spoken to some Christians, they tell me the word “cover” doesn’t mean cover with cloth (veil). According to them it means hair. So in other words, Paul wants women to cover their head with HAIR.

Let’s see if these Christian scholars agree with the above claim on 1st Corinthians Chapter 11 verse 3-7.

 COMMENTARIES

A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On The First Epistle Of St Paul To The Corinthians, By Reverend Archibald Robertson, and Reverend. Alfred Plummer:

 1.   The Veiling of Women in Public Worship.
“The Gospel does not overthrow the natural ordinance, which is really of Divine appointment, that woman is subject to man. To disavow this subjection before the congregation must cause grave scandal; and such shamelessness is condemned by nature, by authority, and by general custom. Now, as to another question, I do commend you for remembering me, as you assure me you do, in all things, and for loyally holding to the traditions just as I transmitted them to you. But I should like you to grasp, what has not previously been mentioned, that of every man, whether married or unmarried, Christ is the head, while a woman’s head is her husband, and Christ’s head is God. Every man, whether married or unmarried, who has any covering on his head when he publicly prays to God or expounds the will of God, thereby dishonours his head:  whereas every woman, whether married or unmarried, who has her head uncovered when she publicly prays to God or expounds the will of God, thereby dishonours her head; for she «s then not one whit the better than the wanton whose head is shaven. A woman who persists in being unveiled like a man should go the whole length of cutting her hair short like a man. But seeing that it is a mark of infamy for a woman to have her hair cut off or shorn let her wear a veil.  A man has no right to cover his head; he is by constitution the image of God and reflects God’s glory: whereas the woman reflects man’s glory. Man was created first; he does not owe his origin to woman, but woman owes hers to him.” [1] 

2. The First Epistle of Paul To The Corinthians – James Moffatt:

It was argued, should devout women be obliged to wear a covering veil on the head when men did not? Did not men and women worship bare- headed in Greek rites? As the Christian meetings were held in a large room of some private house, it was felt that, while women’s heads might be covered out of doors, there was no reason why the veil should be retained within the Household of the Lord. Like a Roman matron, the Christian woman would pull the corner of her robe over her head as she walked from her house to the meeting, but surely indoors she was in a family circle, where the head was not covered. Paul vigorously objects. The common opinion is that he resented such an innovation as an undesirable departure from social etiquette, since only women of loose character appeared in public bare- headed… The conservative Valerius Maximus (vi. 3. 10) had just noted, indeed, that one of the first causes of divorce was a married woman daring to appear out of doors with nothing on her head. His curiously warm objection to it is primarily based on a belief that the Creation order controlled life in the Church, and on a rabbinic interpretation of that order. A covering on the head is a mark of social deference and inferiority, in short; God made woman subject to man, and therefore for her to worship bareheaded in man’s presence would be as unnatural as for him to worship in her presence with his head covered. It would be unnatural, especially as it would violate the original plan for the sexes before God (3-12, 13-15)…, Paul begins by using it figuratively to describe the broad design of God. God, Christ, Christians ‘ —he had already said (iii. 22, 23) ; but now it is ‘ God, Christ, man, woman.’ Man as the lord of 4 creation would be violating the law of his position under God, as God’s direct likeness and representative, if he suggested, 7 even in dress, any inferiority. At worship, as elsewhere, his headship must be preserved…. The religious novelist who wrote the Acts of Thomas (liii.) was true to life when he described shameless women as ‘ immodest creatures who walked about bare- headed.’ What we call ‘ barefaced ‘ was in those days ‘ bare- headed.’ The modern reader finds it difficult to understand why Paul grew so shocked and indignant over the question whether or not a woman should have something on her head when she joined actively in public worship; but for the apostle a woman praying or preaching bareheaded was contravening the divine order which made man supreme over her and therefore entitled alone to appear bareheaded. As Calvin and Bengel saw, ‘ is ‘ means represents (as in xi. 25). A male being exhibits on 7 earth the divine authority and dominion, as he was directly created by God ; he has supremacy over the female who in turn represents the supremacy of man—not his likeness, for she is his counterpart in the order of creation, made from him and 8 for him. The veil that covers her head is a sign or symbol of this subordinate position, to be worn out of reverential respect 10 for (in view of) the angels who uphold the divine order…. Since a covering for the head signified subjection, it was only appropriate therefore for women. Rabbis artificially found a text for this in Num. v. 18. Paul is content to assume it as binding for married women… before God must be displayed by the female, and displayed particularly in wearing some sort of covering for the head. The English version—’ a woman ought to have power on her head because of the angels ‘ —might suggest, as it did suggest to Tertullian first, that she required to be protected against the lustful looks of evil angels, as though at worship a woman whose beauty was unveiled was specially exposed to malign supernatural influences…. Indeed at a very early period the term was changed to ‘ veil.’ What Paul intends to say is not that she exercised power, but that power was exercised over her ‘ Covering ‘ is for him not so much a mark of her honour and dignity as a respectable woman in society, although he brings that in ; it is pre-eminently a mark of her subordination as a daughter of Eve. Before man, the lord of creation, woman must have her head covered at worship, since that is the proper way for her to recognize the divine order at Creation. [2]

3. An exposition of the first Epistle to the Corinthians – Charles Hodge:

Such being the order divinely established (viz, that mentioned in v.3,) both men and woman should act in accordance with it; the man, by having the head uncovered, the woman by being veiled… This public function, the apostle says should not be exercised by a man with his head covered. Among the Greeks, the priests officiated bareheaded; the Romans with the head veiled; the Jews (at least soon after the apostolic age) also wore the Tallis or covering for the head in their public services. It is not to be inferred from what is here said, that the Christian prophets (or inspired men) had introduced this custom in the Church. The thing to be corrected was, woman appearing in public assemblies unveiled. The Apostle paul says, the veil is inconsistent with the position of man, but is required by that of the woman. The woman who goes unveiled is said to dishonour her own head, I.E as what follows shows, herself, and her husband… So the apostle says, for a man to appear with the conventional sign of subjection on his head, disgraced himself. If the man be intended to represent the dominion of God, he must act accordingly, and not appear in the dress of woman. The veils worn by Grecian women were of different kinds. One,, and perhaps the most common, was the peplum, or mantle, which in public was thrown over the head, and enveloped the whole person. The other was more in the fashion of the common eastern veil which covered the face, with of the eyes. In one form or other, the custom was universal for all respectable woman to appear veiled in public. The Apostle therefore says, that a woman who speaks in public with her uncovered; dishonours her head. Here  is used, her own head; not her husband, but herself. This is plain, not only from the force of the words, but from the clause, for that is even all in one as if she were shaven. This is the reason why she disgraces herself. She puts herself in the same class with women whose her has been been cut off. Cutting of the hair, which is the principal natural ornament of woman, was either a sign of grief, deut. 21,12 or a disgraceful punishment. The literal translation of this clause is; she is one and the same thing with the one who is shaven. She assumes the characteristic mark of a disreputable woman. [3]

Commentary on Corinthians – John Calvin:

Every woman praying or prophesying Here we have the second proposition — that women ought to have their heads covered when they pray or prophesy; otherwise they dishonour their head For as the man honours his head by showing his liberty, so the woman, by showing her subjection. Hence, on the other hand, if the woman uncovers her head, she shakes off subjection involving contempt of her husband. It may seem, however, to be superfluous for Paul to forbid the woman to prophesy with her head uncovered, while elsewhere he wholly prohibits women from speaking in the Church.(1 Timothy 2:12.) It would not, therefore, be allowable for them to prophesy even with a covering upon their head, and hence it follows that it is to no purpose that he argues here as to a covering. It may be replied, that the Apostle, by here condemning the one, does not commend the other. For when he reproves them for prophesying with their head uncovered, he at the same time does not give them permission to prophesy in some other way, but rather delays his condemnation of that vice to another passage, namely in 1 Corinthians 14. In this reply there is nothing amiss, though at the same time it might suit sufficiently well to say, that the Apostle requires women to show their modesty — not merely in a place in which the whole Church is assembled, but also in any more dignified assembly, either of matrons or of men, such as are sometimes convened in private houses. For it is all one as if she were shaven. He now maintains from other considerations, that it is unseemly for women to have their heads bare. Nature itself, says he, abhors it. To see a woman shaven is a spectacle that is disgusting and monstrous. Hence we infer that the woman has her hair given her for a covering Should any one now object, that her hair is enough, as being a natural covering, Paul says that it is not, for it is such a covering as requires another thing to be made use of for covering it And hence a conjecture is drawn, with some appearance of probability — that women who had beautiful hair were accustomed to uncover their heads for the purpose of showing off their beauty. It is not, therefore, without good reason that Paul, as a remedy for this vice, sets before them the opposite idea — that they be regarded as remarkable for unseemliness, rather than for what is an incentive to lust. The man ought not to cover his head, because he is the image of God. The same question may now be proposed respecting the image, as formerly respecting the head. For both sexes were created in the image of God, and Paul exhorts women no less than men to be formed a new according to that image. The image, however, of which he is now speaking, relates to the order of marriage, and hence it belongs to the present life, and is not connected with conscience. The simple solution is this — that he does not treat here of innocence and holiness, which are equally becoming in men and women, but of the distinction, which God has conferred upon the man, so as to have superiority over the woman. In this superior order of dignity the glory of God is seen, as it shines forth in every kind of superiority. Paul here commends, showing that the woman was created for this purpose — that she might be a distinguished ornament of the man. For the man is not from the woman. He establishes by two arguments the pre-eminence, which he had assigned to men above women. The first is, that as the woman derives her origin from the man, she is therefore inferior in rank. The second is, that as the woman was created for the sake of the man, she is therefore subject to him, as the work ultimately produced is to its cause. For this cause ought the woman to have power From that authority he draws an argument in favor of outward decorum. “She is subject,” says he, “let her then wear a token of subjection.” In the term power, there is an instance of metonymy, for he means a token by which she declares herself to be under the power of her husband; and it is a covering, whether it be a robe, or a veil, or any other kind of covering… When, therefore, women venture upon such liberties, as to usurp for themselves the token of authority, they make their baseness manifest to the angels. This, therefore, was said by way of amplifying, as if he had said, “If women uncover their heads, not only Christ, but all the angels too, will be witnesses of the outrage.[4]

Conclusion: As we have read the verse in its context, when Paul said to “cover”, here in the verse he made it clear that a woman should be covered with a “veil”, not hair as some modernist 21st century Christians have assumed. Christian commentaries on the Bible quoted, also made it abundantly clear that Christian women should be covered with a “cloth” i.e a “veil” and that is what Paul meant by it in 1st Corinthians 11:3-10.

Related Article:

(1) – “Egypt lawmaker calls for total ban of ‘Jewish burqa’” (* *)

References:

[1] A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On The First Epistle Of St Paul To The Corinthians, By Reverend Archibald Robertson, and Reverend. Alfred Plummer, page 226 – 227
[2] The First Epistle of Paul To The Corinthians, By James Moffatt, page 149 – 153
[3] An exposition of the first Epistle to the Corinthians. By Charles Hodge Page 207 – 209
[4] Commentary on Corinthians By John Calvin, volume 1, page 298 – 300

 

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10 Responses »

  1. We must correct in love for the truth to set all Gods children free and create harmony and unity in HIM, therefore, – the truth is that the the word is spiritual not religious and the author here has interpreted literally, whilst in growth, believing wth well meaning they are called to teach. A given ministry teacher in the Lord’s will, will neither promote or encourage the term religion as religion is man-made, designed to control the masses and God is not legalistic, with new mercies each morning and an unbreakable love. The head covering mentioned – in spiritual understanding is HAIR, NOT a veil as interpreted in flesh.

    • Addition : GREEK is not Torah! We need back into HEBREW mentality. I recommend study under Apostle Renaldo Wade of Talk, Teach and Testify ministries on blog talk radio.

    • Hi Miss pepper

      Thank you for your comment. I think you skipped over the Scholar views on what the verse actually is about. They have all agreed that it means to cover the woemn with a CLOTH I.E a VEIL.

      Second point, if it was the case that Paul all along intended by saying cover her head with HAIR then why does he say the follow?:

      every woman praying or prophesying with her head UNCOVERED disgraces her head, for it is the same as if she were shaven. For if a woman is not COVERED, LET HER BE SHAVEN. But if it is a DISGRACE for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, LET HER COVER HER HEAD.

  2. Indeed I skipped scholarly ‘views’ as that’s what they are; views of humans promoted by humans. If that sounds hard hearted in type, then I apologize for any misinterpretation of how I express, but only GOD can ‘give’ of the 5 ministry callings and scholar is not one of those. God is no respector of persons and personally I follow His Word alone and not humans views. However, as a born again sinner, saved by grace, I agree that I know nothing in my own interpretation and fully understand that God will reveal this to me for my own walk in His time and ways if it is or becomes relevant to me in Him. Love and blessings.

  3. I’ve noticed a recent trend to consider almost every law in the Bible as metaphorical or figurative and not literal. This is 1) a modern trend and explanation of Biblical commandments 2) effectively annuls the Bible as a source of law and social and personal conduct.

  4. If the head should be covered with HAIR not VEIL why should the HAIR be SHAVEN ?

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