The Woman’s Headcovering
H. Boyce Taylor
(1870 – 1932)
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.  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, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.  For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.  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.  For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.  Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.  For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.  Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.  For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.  Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?  Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?  But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.  But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (1 Corinthians 11:1-16)
The above passage is God’s Word on women wearing hats, bonnets, or veils when they go to the house of God or the place of worship. There is no need not knowing God’s will if she wants to know it. The Bible was not written to conceal but to reveal the will of God to honest seekers. The Master said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
If it is God’s will for women to go to church bare-headed, women ought to do it; if it isn’t God’s will, women who love the Lord and want to obey Him won’t do it. What saith the Scriptures? “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
It is significant that the church, to which the Holy Spirit gave specific instructions about the women wearing a covering on their heads in attendance during worship, was the church in which Paul had the most trouble. The church at Corinth had trouble with worldly wisdom, and with women speaking out in the mixed assemblies. Educated women who think they know more than the preachers and who claim that the Bible is out of date, will give God’s churches a good deal of trouble.
In this passage of Scripture three things are clear and plain:
1. The hair is not the covering that God commands a woman to wear “in sign that she is under authority” to the man who is her head. This is plain for three or four reasons.
a. Why should Paul have mentioned the matter at all if the hair was the covering that God required?
To suppose or argue that the hair was what Paul was speaking of makes Paul guilty of writing the veriest nonsense; for it makes him take sixteen verses in a letter to a critical church to exhort and enforce the exhortation with the arguments to prove that women ought to wear their hair to the house of God, when they could not help but wear it everywhere they went. Paul’s argument wasn’t about the hair but about the covering in addition to the hair.
b. Again, the “Also” in verse 6, is the indisputable proof that Paul was talking about a covering in addition to the hair.
Note the language: “If the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: ...” (verse 6). Suppose the covering was the hair, what then? Then Paul is guilty of making the silly remark that if a woman hasn’t any hair, let her also be shorn. How could she be shorn if she had no hair?
What Paul really said, and what makes good sense, was: “if a woman does not have a covering on her head in addition to her hair, let her hair be cut or head shaven as a badge of her shamefulness.
c. “But “says someone, “doesn’t Paul say in verse 15 that the hair was given for a covering?”
No, he does not. The word for “cover” in verses 6 and 7 is katakaluptetai. Greek word pronounced ka-ta-ka-lup-te-tai. In verse 15 the word for cover is peribolajon, pronounced per-ib-ol-ah-yon. This latter word is used in only one other place in the New Testament, and that is in Hebrews 1:12. Here it is used of the heavens and is translated “vesture”. In verse 15 and in Hebrews 1:12 it is used of what is put on by God Himself such as hair in verse 15 and “vesture” in Hebrews 1:12. It is something that cannot be put on and off.
The covering enjoined in verse 6 is a veil or hat or something the woman can put on herself. One thing sure and plain is that the hair is not the covering enjoined by God. The covering God enjoins is one they can and are to voluntarily put on as a sign they are under authority.
2. Paul was not writing for Corinthian women only.
a. The reason he assigns for wearing the covering applies to all women.
b. He makes this known in verse 16. He plainly says that the churches of God have no such custom as the women of Corinth were going to the church with their heads uncovered. Paul says, “The other churches have no such custom.”
3. God does not always condescend to give reasons for His commands. Sometimes he sovereignly commands and expects us to blindly obey. This is not so concerning the head covering. Four reasons are given why holy women who love the Lord God should wear a veil or hat or something for a covering to the house of God or place of worship.
a. Man is the head of the woman and the woman who does not wear a covering on her head, “dishonoreth her head.”
For example, her husband or father: In Numbers 5:18, if a husband was jealous of his wife, she was brought before the priest and he set her “before the LORD” and uncovered her head while the test to her virtue was being made. A bare headed woman being before God was a woman whose fidelity to her husband was in question.
b. Woman was created as man’s helpmeet and for man.
As a sign of her submission she ought to wear a covering on her head. Here is the crux of the whole matter. Women rebel against God’s curse in commanding them to be in subjection to their husbands. The modern feminist movement is boldly proclaimed as a movement against God and the Bible. Going “hatless” is the red flag of women’s “rebellion.”
c. Verse 10, women are told to have a covering on their heads as a sip they are under authority of their husbands, and because of “the angels.”
d. The churches everywhere had no such custom as women going to their place of worship with uncovered heads (verse 16).
These are God’s reasons for the command given for women to wear a covering when they come to the house of God. So we believe and teach this great truth. So must all others do and teach, who believe 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 to be the inspired Word of God and understand and obey it.
H. Boyce Taylor - 1920
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