This chapter talks about two topics: head coverings and communion. Today, I chose to dive a bit deeper into head coverings and will omit the topic of communion (not that it's less important, it's just that head coverings are less understood in general).
Should Women Wear Head Coverings?
Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. – 1 Corinthians 11:4-5
For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. – 1 Corinthians 11:6
Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. – 1 Corinthians 11:14-15
Taken at plain value, these verses suggest that women must wear head coverings and cannot have short hair, and that men cannot wear head coverings and cannot have long hair. Since when did the Bible comment on fashion?
Historical Context For Women
Okay, let's take into consideration what were the accepted norms at the time. Because without the context, the verses above can be very confusing to understand.
- Girls typically got married at the age of 14.
- Young girls before marriage typically didn't go out in public.
- When a woman gets married, it is expected for her to cover her head to symbolize that she has a husband and that she's devoted to him.
- An adult woman without a head covering was either a prostitute or looking for a divorce.
- Shaving a woman's head was punishment for adultery and meant to shame her.
Now that we have the context, let's go back to parts of the verses.
Verse: every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven
Translation: a married woman with an uncovered head suggesting she's a prostitute or looking for divorce, which is the same as adultery
Verse: For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short
Translation: a married woman without a head covering suggests she's a prostitute or looking for divorce, and should be shamed for adultery
Why Is It Shameful For Men To Have Long Hair?
Okay, but what about men? Can't men be allowed to grow their hair out?
This one is a bit more subtle, but the reason Paul mentions this is because he warns the church of Corinth against cross-dressing (where either a man dresses as a woman or a woman dresses as a man). This mixing of gender violates God's intent and creation, where he explicitly created both men and women.
In more liberal parts of the world, people are preaching "gender equality" where you can identify as any gender you want. Guess what? You can never change your biology because that's how God made you. Those people are really just deluding themselves.
What Does This Say About Today's Dress Code?
I'm not a woman, so this is a bit awkward for me to make statements about how a woman should dress. Also, this is completely interpretation.
I don't believe a head covering is necessary for married women today. To me, I think dressing conservatively is enough so that married women don't give off the wrong message. As long as they dress to indicate that they're married and unavailable, that's good enough for me.
For men, it's simple too–don't cross-dress. Don't go over-the-top, and stay reasonable. Honestly, I'm not even close to a fashion guru, so my sense of fashion probably sucks. But just staying normal is doable even for me.
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