Unveiling the Veil Subject (10 of 10)

It has been an interesting little journey which has finally reached the end. We looked at eight different questions concerning the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 that discussed the head covering.

In summary, we saw that the head covering that Paul was referring to was indeed a physical object which was worn not as a cultural tradition but a Biblical teaching that is closely knit to the order that God has placed in nature, in marriage and the spiritual realm.

As we conclude this study, or rather my understanding of the passage, I want to make a few remarks; some that will express my thoughts, some of disappointment, and even some that may seem like they’re undoing the first 9 posts. All in all, I hope to remain summarized and to the point while also sharing my gratitude to all who have read through the complete thought process.

The Verse not Discussed

For those who have read the passage and followed through with my posts, you may have noticed a verse that I skipped over and didn’t mention. There was a reason for that and that was because I left it for the conclusion.

Of the many different opinions regarding the head covering, there are some I understand and others that I completely reject. Of the ones that I reject stands the opinion that a lady who doesn’t wear the head covering is not a true believer.

Andy Bannister once, in an unrelated topic, made a passing comment regarding “the danger of letting your rhetoric run away with you.” In other words, in trying to persuade someone to agree with our belief or understanding, there is the danger of going overboard by making assertions that we don’t really agree with.

No, the head covering neither qualifies you for salvation nor disqualifies you from it. I don’t think I need to explain this further than to mention the verse I purposely kept out of my previous posts:

However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.

– 1 Corinthians 11:11 NASB

The keywords there are, “in the Lord”. To explain this briefly, in God’s perspective, man isn’t easier to save, man isn’t better, man isn’t greater, man isn’t closer to perfection, man isn’t in any way more privleged than woman when it comes to salvation. Both are saved by the blood of the one perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ, and only through faith in Him. To believe otherwise is to believe another doctrine, definitely not the Bible.

Does this Undo This Whole Study?

In short, no. The reason why it doesn’t undo it is for the purpose of the head covering. It is required as a duty
1. Before the angels
2. To show that the woman is in submission
3. Because just as her hair covers her, her head covering covers the one under whose submission she is

Even though we are not saved by our works, the Apostle James makes it crystal clear that our works ought to walk hand-in-hand with our faith. If our faith is in Christ, we also must keep His Word. James gives the example of Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. Was this sacrifice going to save him from anything? Absolutely not! His obedience, however, led him to learn a lesson that was to be a reminder to everyone after him; God never requires child sacrifices! His Son is to be the only ever human sacrifice and that sacrifice is the only perfect one.

What About the Many Christian Women Who Don’t Wear a Veil?

How dare they?!

I’ll try to say this as honestly as I can, with my understanding (whatever it’s worth).

I believe that in every obedience there needs to be conviction. Without a conviction and understanding, obedience is empty. Look at Cain, a person who wholeheartedly wanted to present the Lord with the best of his crops. They were rejected but he was not. Nevertheless, he became angry and God told him simply:

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.

– Genesis 4:7 NASB

His sacrifice was out of pride not humility, it was out of duty rather than conviction and obedience. It was empty.

There are many families out there who wholeheartedly worship the Lord in many aspects of their lives. As far as they know it, they are not compromising in their walk before the Lord. However, they don’t believe that the head covering is required.

Wearing the head covering when you have no conviction in your heart to do it, becomes an empty duty. However, if you understand the purpose for the head covering and have a conviction in your heart that the Apostle Paul mentioned it so it would be obeyed and yet refuse it, you cannot use the excuse of, “I have no conviction so I won’t wear it.”

Let your heart be honest before the Lord. If you are yet to understand it completely but are genuinely wanting to obey Him, ask Him to explain it to you. If you walk out of an honest prayer with the Lord convinced that the head covering is not required, please don’t wear it!

Live your life before the Lord, as far as it depends on you, genuinely, honestly, wholeheartedly, humbly and in awe of Him. Be sensitive to His heart. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God …” as Paul says in Ephesians 4:30.

The Disappointments

Through this study, I was quite disappointed with the way some people have reacted (Christians). In fact, I was shocked to see that the disagreements did not come regarding the head covering, which I was expecting, but against biblical fundamentals.

Suddenly, some passages of the Bible were not to be taken seriously, some passages were only applicable for a culture and not us, some passages of the Bible were dismissed because of certain interpretations of the “Greek”.

I understand that some may disagree with me regarding the head covering, and that’s fine. I like to think that I am teachable and would love to be corrected and educated further. What I will never understand are the excuses that people use to plainly dismiss a passage in the Bible.

No teaching in the Bible is for one culture and not the other. If a teaching applies to one person, it applies to all. No teaching in the Bible is a silly comment that we can just bypass. If it is mentioned, we ought to understand it and obey it based on our genuine conviction. No teaching in the Bible should be dismissed simply because of our preferred interpretation of what “The Greek says…”

Rather than say,

Aha! This Greek word could mean this, therefore don’t worry about the passage!

Why not think,

Wait. This definition of the Greek words completely dismisses the passage, surely I’ve misunderstood the words. Let me see if there are other definitions.

If an understanding of a passage leads you to disregard a Biblical teaching, as a genuine believer in God, it is your duty to study it until you understand its application and requirement before the Lord. Should there be no conviction, that’s fine, otherwise, do it!

On either account, never ever dismiss it by using horrible excuses.

Again, my disappointment did not come from a disagreement with the head covering, but a refusal to agree that Biblical teachings, if applicable, are to apply to all people equally and do not depend on our preferences.

Finally, be careful with the pride and arrogance that so often comes with understanding and knowledge. Be teachable, always, and yet never compromise.

May God bless you all and thank you, once again, for reading through. Please, I beg you to make your comments, share your thoughts, explain the way you see the ideas I share on this blog. I love to learn and can’t ever seem to get myself to stop. May God richly bless you.

Unveiling the Veil Subject (9 of 10)

Ever read a verse and thought, “Wow! I just read and studied a whole passage for absolutely no reason!”

At first glimpse, this is what verse 16 seems to do in 1 Corinthians 11. So the final question that we will be tackling in this series is, What does verse 16 mean?

Let’s read.

But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.

– 1 Corinthians 11:16 NASB

You read this and it feels like Paul is saying, “Look, please don’t argue about it. It doesn’t really matter.”

Read it again, and again.

Here’s how I understand it.

If anyone is going to argue against this, bear in mind that this is the only practice that we hold on to. The same goes for every other congregation in the Church of God. There is no other practice we expect you to follow, except this one.

– 1 Corinthians 11:16 Richard’s Paraphrase

Basically, Paul isn’t destroying the previous 15 verses; on the contrary, he is underlining it! He is saying, we don’t expect any other practice in this form, not in the Corinthian congregation or any other congregation, except this one.

The next post will tie all of this together in a conclusion.

Unveiling the Veil Subject (8 of 10)

Getting closer to the end now with question 7:

Why should there be quarrels?

You know, I find it funny when people say that the veil was a cultural tradition for the Corinthians. I mean, if it were their cultural tradition then why on earth does Paul mention quarreling? Why were some of the Corinthians refusing the veil if it was simply a cultural tradition?

The same goes for the first question we tackled: would anyone complain if the head covering weren’t a physical item? Probably not.

Nevertheless, let’s move on.

In verse 16, Paul says,

But if one is inclined to be contentious …

– 1 Corinthians 11:16a NASB

I like the word used here, “inclined”. The Greek word is “dokei” and I’m not exactly sure whether it means “inclined” but everywhere else in the Bible that the same word is used, the impression given is an inclination or a tendency. A sort of “seems to be”.

I’m most probably wrong but the impression I get from this verse is that Paul here was directing his final words on the matter to those who tend to argue about everything.

Now, from what I’ve found, the New American Standard Bible has translated this verse almost exactly as the Greek but look how it came in other translations,

But if any man seems to be contentious … – New Heart English Bible

But if anyone wants to argue about this … – New Living Translation

If anyone wants to argue about this [they can’t] … – GOD’s WORD Translation

I hope you’re not going to be argumentative about this … – The Message (Yes, I quoted from it)

Regardless of which translation you look at, there’s this idea of someone wanting to argue for argument’s sake.

So, why should there be quarrels? Probably because the veil was something new that Paul was teaching them that some did not like; it wasn’t a metaphor, it wasn’t a cultural tradition, and it didn’t suit certain people.

Should there be quarrels? Absolutely not! Are there quarrels? Sadly, yes. Why the quarrels? A preference out of which the excuses are born.

Unveiling the Veil Subject (7 of 10)

We’ve spoken about the head covering for the past 6 (or 6.5) posts but then we get to this verse from Paul,

For her hair is given to her for a covering.

– 1 Corinthians 11:15a NASB

So, the question now is, Can her hair be the covering?

Let’s read the complete verse and put it in context:

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

– 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 NASB

Before I move on, let me explain the word “nature” for a moment. As a byproduct of the re-defining that modern science has done to certain terminology, when we read the word, “nature” we automatically tie it to “mother nature” and as though creation is unattached to its creator. This isn’t the case at all here. When Paul says, “nature”, he is basically saying, “the order that God has put in His creation”.

Now, regarding her hair being given to her as a covering, does that negate the need for a veil or head covering then?

I think Paul would be a lunatic if that’s what he is saying and let me explain why. He says,

For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off …

– 1 Corinthians 11:6a NASB

If he is talking about her hair, this verse makes no sense at all. It would be as though he is saying, “For if a woman does not have hair on her head, let her also have her hair cut off…”

Sorry, what? If she doesn’t have hair on her head, let her cut it off?

This is just one example. A similar problem occurs in verse 5 and then in verse 10. Basically, if her hair is the covering that Paul is speaking about, the passage falls apart because there will never be a case when her head is uncovered, unless, of course, her head is shaved (which, if true, means Paul spends half the passage saying nothing at all as in the example above).

Another perspective on this could be, “Paul isn’t saying the head covering is her hair, but he is saying that her hair could be used as an alternative.”

A good point, but one I’d have to disagree with, nonetheless. My reason for that follows on from the point made in the last part of the series concerning the purpose for the head covering.

The woman is to wear the head covering so that the man, under whose authority she is, is not disgraced.

So, my understanding of the passage is that the woman wears a veil so that the man isn’t disgraced, but as for her and her disgrace, her hair has been given to her as a covering. That’s why Paul says,

… if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her …

– 1 Corinthians 11:15a NASB

Remember when Paul spoke about the glories before?

  1. Man is the image and glory of God
  2. Woman is the glory of man
  3. A women’s hair is her glory

For these three reasons, the head covering is mentioned and kept. Before the angels, the order is important. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of a woman.

The veil or head covering is for the man. Her hair is for her.

Unveiling the Veil Subject (6 of 10)

To re-iterate a point I made earlier, especially in part 5.5 of the series, the following posts are my understanding of 1 Corinthians 11 (concerning the head covering) and are not a teaching I plan to enforce on anyone. I have studied this passage a number of times to make sure that my understanding of it isn’t a preference but what seems clear to me from the words. Feel free to share your opinions.

With that out of the way, let’s continue on with question 5:

How does verse 3 fit into all of this?

Let’s read.

But 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.

– 1 Corinthians 11:3 NASB

When I first studied 1 Corinthians and got to this verse, I had to stand back. My initial thought was, “How bizarre for Paul to randomly make this comment and then move on to something completely unrelated!” But is it unrelated?

Could it possibly be the key to understanding the passage?

The head of Christ – God
The head of every man – Christ
The head of a / the woman – a man

Let me give you an example of why I believe this is important.

Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head.

– 1 Corinthians 11:4 NASB

What’s he saying here? Every male person who prays, or prophesies, with his head (the part of the body on top of his shoulders) covered disgraces his head (the part of the body on top of his shoulders). Does that make sense? Is this really what Paul is trying to say?

If we apply the key above to this verse, it may make more sense.

Every male person who prays, or prophesies, with his head (the part of the body on top of his shoulders) covered disgraces his head (Christ).

What do you think?

Let’s look at another example.

But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head.

– 1 Corinthians 11:5 NASB

This can get confusing so I will try my best to simplify it.

Any woman who prays, or prophesies, with her head (the part of the body on top of her shoulders) uncovered … it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head (the part of the body on top of her shoulders). Both are a disgrace to her head (the part of the body on top of her shoulders)??

You would think that if disgrace were to be applied at all, it would be to a person rather than to one part of a person’s body, right?

So, if we use the key above, could this be the intention?

Any woman who prays, or prophesies, with her head (the part of the body on top of her shoulders) uncovered … it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head (the part of the body on top of her shoulders). Both are a disgrace to her head (the man, namely her husband if she is married).

The way I understand it is that the head covering isn’t for the woman but for the man’s sake. She wears it so that he isn’t disgraced. I could be wrong and I’d be glad if anyone cares to clarify but what I find backs this thought futher is the continuation of the passage.

 For if a woman will not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should cover her head. For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for man. For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

1 Corinthians 11:6-10 NASB

Do you notice verse 7? “A man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man.”

Why would we need this explanation if verse 3 were to be ignored as a random comment?

More so, verse 10 mentions a “symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” As someone pointed out in the comments of an earlier post, the word “authority” that is used here is almost always only used to mean “having power” rather than “being under authority.” However, if we look at the Greek, there is a peculiar comment made regarding one of the four definitions of the word used.

The Greek word used for “authority” here is exousian or exousia.

4. d.
a sign of the husband’s authority over his wife, i. e. the veil with which propriety required a woman to cover herself, 1 Corinthians 11:10 (as βασιλεία is used by Diodorus 1, 47 for the sign of regal power, i. e. a crown). (Synonym: see δύναμις, at the end. On the infinitive after ἐξουσία, and ἐξουσία ἔχειν cf. Buttmann, 260 (223f).)

– Thayer’s Greek Lexicon

The only time that this definition is intended for the word exousia or “authority”, as being under authority rather than having authority, is in 1 Corinthians 11:10 and I think this perfectly supports verses 3 and 7. In fact, this is the only explanation that ties it together for me.

One final question before tying up this section; I mention a woman covering her head for her husband’s sake, does that mean the Paul is only instructing married women to wear a head covering?

I don’t believe so. Throughout the Bible, the picture of the household is given with the father being the head of the house and daughters being under his authority until they get married. The head covering comes as a symbol that they are under authority, in their case, to their father.

Unveiling the Veil Subject (5.5 of 10)

I have had to add this semi-part in the series to explain a few things before going on.

You may or may not have noticed but the first half of the series, the first four questions, deal with a general problem in the Christian world: excuses to brush away certain passages in the Bible.

Firstly, we looked at the excuse of whether a teaching is real or a symbol. If it’s a symbol, let’s ignore it. Secondly, we considered the excuse of brushing something away as just a “cultural tradition”. It applied to their culture only, so let’s ignore it. Thirdly, a more popular excuse, since the letter was written to the “Corinthians” it must only concern them, let’s ignore it. Fourthly, maybe it’s something we should only practice within the church building, so, again, let’s ignore it.

If we do away with a certain passage in the Bible by excusing it as being simply a symbol, a cultural tradition, only for a particular group of believers and not me, or it’s only to be kept when I’m in one building but not the other, we face a much bigger problem; should this be the case for the whole Bible?

The first part of the series should not cause contention as it doesn’t so much deal with the purpose or meaning for the head covering but with foundation Christian realities of how we ought to deal with any passage in the Bible. If it’s there, let’s study it and understand it rather than brush it away with silly excuses.

The second part of the series, questions 5, 6, 7 and 8 will deal with the passage on a deeper level. In saying that, please bear in mind that this is my understanding of the passage and is not a teaching I plan to enforce on anyone. This is a teaching I didn’t even enforce on my wife who, long before she married me, used to wear the head covering. After we got married, I explained to her my understanding of the passage in a study we did in 1 Corinthians and am now sharing it with you.

Should you have any opposing opinion, please share it and don’t hold back.

 

Unveiling the Veil Subject (5 of 10)

So far, we have seen that the veil is a physical item, is not a cultural tradition and it is not only for the Corinthians, a related question would be:

Should this be applied in the church only or whenever a lady prays and/or prophesies (whatever that means)?

There seems to be a misunderstanding of what the word “prophecy” means and I won’t go into it here but please do research it to understand what is being said.

Back to our question, when should a woman cover her head while praying and / or prophecying: in the meetings or at home also?

If our passage is read alone, we are forced to think that the head covering is to be worn whenever a woman prays or prophecies. However, a counter-argument would be that the letter to the Corinthians is written for the whole “congregation” as it where. So which is right?

Well, although a lot of the letter to the Corinthians is concerned with what some call “church order”, there are certain parts that deal with unbelievers, others with the husband and wife and still others with daily life. So, when we get to our passage, we need to sort out some definitions:
1. What is the church?
2. Why is the veil / head covering required anyway? (which we will be discussing in the next part)

The way I see it, the instruction of the head covering should be addressed whenever a lady prays or prophecies as there should be no difference between the life within the meetings with other brethren and the private life.