Shaming the head – 3

Shaming the head – 3

Continuing our verse by verse through 1 Corinthians 11, we come to verse 6:

For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

We have already discussed that the cultural view of women’s hair coverings is “covered” in verse 5. We have also seen that Paul takes a non-traditional view of women by telling the men that his wife is his glory. Paul reveals that the tradition of women being covered is not God’s way of dealing with glory. Glory is meant to be shown or revealed and not covered up. Just as a man reveals God’s glory and is not to cover his head, so a woman reveals the glory of man and she too should be uncovered.

Women whose husbands are Christians and who understand the women’s freedom in Christ to reveal the glory of the Lord just as men reveal the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18) will have no reason to insist their wives cover themselves because of man’s tradition. So Paul says that “if a woman does not cover her head” then “let her also have her hair cut off”. Here Paul is talking about a woman’s freedom to have her hair cut. Is it wrong for a woman to get a hair cut? Is it wrong for her to have short hair? Paul says the tradition of not cutting one’s hair is in the same category as the tradition that women must wear a head covering.

The woman is her husband’s glory and as such she should be free from the tradition of having to cover her head. Covering the head symbolized both modesty and shame. See the previous post about what the culture thought was the woman’s shame. Once a woman is free from the tradition of covering her head, she is also free from the tradition that a woman must have long hair. She may cut her hair and this act is not breaking God’s law. This tradition is not God’s tradition. Why is that? We know that God does not forbid a woman to have her hair cut because God had regulations for a Nazirite vow that required men and women to grow their hair out when they took the vow and then later when the vow was finished, both men and women were required to shave their hair off. So if God required the woman who takes this vow to shave her hair off, then it could not be against God’s law for her to cut her hair.

If a Jewish woman who had become a Christian wanted to take a Nazirite vow, when the vow was finished, she would be required by God to shave off her hair. If a woman who had shaved off her hair was in the congregation without a head covering, she may experience shame because she had no hair. Paul made allowance for this last “shame” and he said that if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut or her hair shaved off, then she was allowed to cover her head if she had a bald head or her hair had not yet grown out. Paul gives her permission to cover her head by saying “let her cover her head”. Paul never demands that she cover, he just gives her a choice to cover.

The rules for the Nazirite vow are in Numbers chapter 6.

Numbers 6:2 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD,

Numbers 6:5 All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long.

Numbers 6:13 Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting.

Numbers 6:18 The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.

The man or woman who had taken a Nazirite vow was required to shave off their hair and put it on the fire as a sacrifice. Both men and women then who had taken this vow would be bald. Men would not experience shame from being bald, but many women would experience shame from their baldness.

Paul allows a woman who has a bald head and who would experience shame because of her bald head to cover her head with a head covering. Paul has given two reasons for shame in chapter 11 that a woman may want to continue to wear a head covering. The first reason was that she may bring her non-Christian husband shame if she is caught in public without her head covering, since he may divorce her for defying the cultural tradition of the head covering.

The second reason that a woman may be covered is because of her own shame. If she was bald or if her hair had not yet fully grown out after she had taken a Nazirite vow, Paul allows her to cover her head. Paul gives a woman permission to veil because of two possible kinds of shame, but Paul never gives the man permission to veil since the culture of the day did not bring shame to a man who had a bald head and the only cultural reason for a man’s head covering shamed Christ.

Paul’s purpose in the discussion of the head covering is to bring Christians to a biblical view of our reflected glory and to discard the faulty cultural view of shame. Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 the importance of the unveiled face:

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

While some have seen 1 Corinthians 11 as a mandate for women to wear the veil, a close inspection of the passage shows that Paul is advocating the exact opposite. He is not upholding man’s tradition, but blowing that tradition out of the water. Paul shows that it is God’s will that glory is to be uncovered not hidden, and man’s tradition of forcing the woman to be covered because her uncovering shamed him, is the complete opposite of what God teaches. The woman is the man’s glory not his shame. And as the man’s glory she is to be revealed not hidden.

Since we have already covered verse 10 in a previous post, the next post will pick up at verse 11 and discuss the importance of origins and interdependence.

Here are links to the posts in this series:

Shaming the head 1

Shaming the head 2

Shaming the head 3

33 thoughts on “Shaming the head – 3

  1. Cheryl, Brava and kudos! Again you’ve shown what is tradition and what is emancipation. For the life of me I still cannot see what all the fuss is in the complementarian camp! Grudem in his extensive tome still can’t point to anything in the Tanach that mandates the subordination of women unless he manufactures it. Moore would have us all on the rack (or worse) to extract a confession and then off to the stake we’d go. I guess it’s all just more drama in church history huh? But you know what’s really disturbing? If Jesus’ work was not finished at Golgotha, and if the LORD is still thundering out of the thick darkness atop Sinai; we’re all in deep you know what.
    Respectfully,
    H.

  2. The “picture” you drew was painful but true. I for one will never confess my “sin” of teaching the bible to men unless Grudem and Moore can show me from the bible where God calls it sin. Otherwise I would be guilty of saying that the Holy Spirit’s work in my life is evil and THAT I cannot do with a clear conscience.

    I really do pray for these men that God will open their eyes and they will stop “burning us at the stake” with their words. Surely this must cause Jesus a great deal of pain to see his own body attacked. But as these men from CBMW continue to intensify the attack against egalitarians, I believe with all my heart that God will open the eyes of many complementarians to see what this is doing to the body of Jesus and they will be given God’s grace see the “spirit” of this hard-core view as opposing God’s sovereignty and God’s design of the universal priesthood of believers.

  3. Well done Cheryl. Now I will have to go back and slowly analyze that section again.

    Is this something new about Grudem and Moore that they are calling women who teach Scripture publically, to repent of sin? Can someone point me to where they say this?

  4. I have to go to the obvious for an explanation on this verse. If the complimentarians are correct, why aren’t the women who hold that view covering right now in church?

    This has never made sense to me. Does anyone know what their explanation is for that?

  5. One out they have given themselves is that the woman is to do whatever the husband says. If he says he doesn’t want wife to veil, then she is off the hook. Thus, there is evidence that the husband interprets Scripture for the wife. Since the husband is the authority in the marriage he is responsible if he’s wrong. She is off the hook because she obeyed.

    Course, they seldom if ever consider the Scripture about Annanias and Sapphira, which blows some of their teaching about male responsibility out of the water. Actually, it also crashes their teachings about Adam as responsible because he’s the male.

    Ultimately, this is not complementary teaching, it is patriarchal or gender hierarchy. As one man just pointed out to me, complementary is a gentle term that is used by gender hierarchalists to cover up a much harsher agenda.

  6. Lin,

    I think I have the answer for you. Tonight I was watching a DVD that I had purchased from CBMW. It was a talk by Russell Moore and the DVD isn’t dated which year it was done. In the Q & A section Russell is asked about why Christian women don’t wear head coverings. He gave the answer that the covering of the head shows that one is in submission. However, he said that in our culture the headcovering no longer signifies that women are in submission to their husband so we have a new sign. Women are to have a visible sign that they are coming under the authority of their husband and that sign is the taking of his name.

    The problem that Mr. Moore has in his answer is that there is nothing in historical sources that show that the head covering was a sign of submission. John Lightfoot in his commentary said that the head covering was a sign of modesty and a sign of shame but there is no evidence at all that it was a sign of submission. So Mr. Moore has his work cut out for him to try to prove that the head covering symbolized submission. I would like to see his evidence.

    The second problem that he has is that CBMW says that this sign of authority (the head covering) is a sign from the creation of man and woman and if this is the case, then they have no legal reason for changing it merely because culture has changed. Do we change God’s ways merely because the world changes their ways? No, I don’t think so. Also Moore has a problem because the woman’s taking of the man’s name symbolizes that the two are now one not that the husband has authority over the woman. I guess this is the way they try to explain away the everlasting sign of the head covering, but I for one don’t buy it. Where in history do we find the head covering being explained that we can now do away with it because God has given us a new sign? How can we as humans change God’s everlasting sign? We really can’t no matter how Russell Moore tries to explain away God’s “sign”. It is only when we really understand what the head covering symbolized in the culture of the time of the New Testament (and it was never a sign of submission) can we truly understand why Christian women no longer wear the head covering. Paul’s words are very freeing for women and these words have been misunderstood for centuries.

  7. Cheryl, You have nothing whatsoever to “repent” of with regards to teaching from the Bible. There will always be men who feel they cannot learn anything from a “woman”. They will always feel threatened that their patriarchal manhood and power are at an end. And that’s what this controversy is really all about;
    power and control. Yours is the same struggle fought by Luther centuries ago, except this time it’s not the holy see in Rome, it’s the ecclesiastical protestant hierarchy. My how history repeats itself! As I’ve stated before, if the Pauline letters are to be taken as a new “Mosaic” code which must be followed to the letter, then we’re all in trouble. But if not, the church will be made richer by the contributions of brilliant and Godly women such as yourself.
    Respectfully,
    H.

  8. “H”,

    Your point is well taken. If we continue to lift scriptures from their context, then we are left with following a new “law” to the letter – are men lifting their hands in prayer as Paul “required” (1 Timothy 2:8)? Are women to be silenced completely in church not even saying “hello” or singing (1 Corinthians 14:34, 35)?

    My point continues to be that God has given us his commandments multiple times and in multiple ways so that we understand what his laws are so that we do not sin against him. If men are required to lift “holy” hands when they pray, then are they sinning if they don’t lift those hands? This “command” is never repeated in scripture, just like the “command” for “a woman” to not teach “a man”. We make a mockery of God’s law by making universal rules that God has never sanctioned. We also imprison godly Christian women in a fear-induced set of man-made rules that force her to question whether doing her good works before God has become a sin merely by the presence of a man in the room.

    When I think about all the men that I have personally helped set free from the mind control of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I wonder if my good works would have been rendered useless if I had been forced to stand at the door of my home and turn away the men? There was no one else doing the work in my city and if the men were turned away, they would have not been reached. Is that what God wanted me to do? Where does the Bible ever command women to refuse to teach men? Would that make women sexist? The Bible never tells me to stop my ministry if a man walks in the room, and such a practice would only help Satan’s kingdom not God’s.

    I too believe that there are many brilliant women out there whom God is pleased to use in the church. I thank you for your kind words! I do not consider myself one of the brilliant ones. God has somehow gifted me with seeing the simple things that others have missed. I pray that God will continue to grant me tenacity to push forward no matter how I am treated.

  9. It is interesting that the gender hierarchalists arguments have been claiming origination of so much of their ideas in the Garden of Eden and creation. Problem is that when the studious go back and look for it, it is not there — just like the story of the king with no clothes parading through the streets and his loyal subjects telling him how beautiful his (absent) clothes are.

    And when those with their eyes open point out the absence, they then say we are arguing from silence.

    ???

    Go figure.

  10. Cheryl, One of the hallmarks of brilliance is the ability to simplify the complex which you have done admirably. So my previous post is not just kind words, but a genuine and honest assessment. There are many pretenders out here, those who rely on obfuscation, bamboozlement and fear, fear of going against the Bible (1 Timothy 2:12). This site of yours is a Godsend to many who struggle with this fear. And Justa Berean? Love your blog! Full of common sense, which is God-given too. Here’s the link to Grudem’s book “Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth” http://www.efbt100.com/evangelical_feminism.pdf
    It’s rather lengthy and tries to argue that gender-based patriarchal hierarchy is mandated from the beginning. But as you’ve stated, when you search the scriptures, it just ain’t there.
    Respectfully,
    H.

  11. “H” my friend, I had to chuckle with what you wrote. Yes, I have been told before by many that I am “special” but I never believed it because I am only “simple”. It was always amazing to me that others didn’t see the simplicity I saw until I pointed it out to them and then they got it (praise the Lord!) So while I was surprised that others didn’t naturally see all the simple things that I saw, I shrugged it off as one of life’s mysteries and perhaps that “common” sense must not always be as “common” as I supposed. So the chuckle I got, was that this “brilliant” woman had to look up the word obfuscation in dictionary.com. Ah, yes, I get your point! May I add that there are those who are “brilliant” in book knowledge but oh-so-muddled in their thinking ability to really understand beyond their traditional “security blanket” of male superiority (now called male “headship”). They seem to honestly be blinded regarding the transforming of the term “head” into “headship” (also known as taking authority over another human being to conform them to your own image) and how this takes away the ability for another human being to mature into the image of Christ that God has ordained for her to “grow up” into.

    When I read Grudem’s books and I listen to CBMW’s tapes and DVDs on all the things that I am not allowed to do merely because I am a woman, it saps my strength and I see rules and regulations that keep women as “children”. I listen and read because I must see both sides in order to provide a proper defense, but I can only take so much at one time or I begin to feel like I am in prison, shackled and chained to the wall. There is nothing in their material that makes me see freedom in Christ for me to serve the body of Christ without forcing me to be prejudiced against men and that is so sad. I love my brothers in Christ and my gifts belong to them too.

  12. 1Co 11:7

     

    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.

    I had an insight, so want to put it here.  I think Paul is discussing a conflict a woman has in this verse that a man does not have.  Here Paul confirms that a man should not cover his head, this argument should also apply to a woman, except there is 1 more factor.  All women are made in the image of God and all believing women reveal the glory of God (2 Cor).  So she should not cover her head, just like a man.

    However, a woman is ALSO the glory of the man, or a wife is the glory of her husband.  A wife is supposed to cover her head to indicate she is married, at least she is supposed to cover in public, with strange men around.  So she has a conflict, she should be cover and not cover in church, which was a semi-public gathering.

     So my take is this is why Paul give her the choice, she can decide what is best, knowing the specific circumstances at any specific time.

  13. Don,

    Good thoughts. 

    The key to establish the meaning is to understand that glory should never be covered up.  If a person is God’s glory, then that person should shine forth the glory.  If a woman is the man’s glory, then she should shine forth his glory and not cover up.  This works well with the man being God’s glory, but a woman has two things to consider as you said.  Just as man from the beginning covered up because of his sin, men were conscious of their sin and wanted to show their awareness of their sin.  But if indeed man is really forgiven of his sins, then there is no need to cover up for sin, but shine for the glory of God.  Jesus said that a light is meant to shine in the darkness and not be covered up.  So man was meant to shine forth God’s glory and not cover up.

    Women too have God’s glory but they were also seen as having something that only a husband should see – and that was her hair.  The husband wanted to keep that part of a woman private so that only he could see her glory with a full head of hair.  It appears to me that women originally were covered up as a sign of the shame of sin, but later it became a symbol of her special oneness or intimacy with her husband and he did not want to share that with the world.  In our culture the hair on one’s head is not seen as a thing that would produce men’s lust and thus women have the full privilege of showing themselves as being the glory of God and the glory of the man.  It is a wonderful thing when the man is proud of his wife and is proud to share her gifts and talents with the church rather than keeping her only for his own self.  Keeping her hidden away from the public speaks of his insecurity and perhaps his own pride which produces jealousy instead of the man glorying in his wife’s gifts.  If the woman is truly the glory of the man, then she must be released to be that glory.

  14. Widows and girls did not need to cover their heads in public, altho they might; but a wife had to do it or could be accused of adultery.  Go figure, but it was a different culture.  Even today a woman is to cover more than a man when in public or semi-public settings in the West; just not to the extent expected back then.

  15. Right again, Don!  A widow and a young unmarried girl did not have to worry about having a man make a claim on her hair as an object of lust.  She was able to do as she pleased. 

    It is kind of a shame that there was freedom for the unmarried and the loss of personal expression after marriage.  But…that was the culture.

  16. Hi Cheryl,

    I realize this is an old post and I’m dragging it back out, but I’m doing research for a study of 1 Cor 11:1-16 and I’m a little confused about something you said here. If you have time, since I know you are busy and are dealing with Calvinism on your other blog, it would be great to hear from you.

    My conundrum is, that you say that 1 Cor 11:6 is Paul telling a woman that if she is not covering her head (present tense), she is also merely allowed to have her hair cut off. (aorist tense); but “[also] let her hair be cut off” is an imperative command, like “[also] she should/must have her hair cut off”.

    How is it proper to render this imperative verb as merely permission to have her hair shaved, as if it said “If a woman is not covering her head, let her also be permitted [but not commanded] to have her hair cut off”, and not as a command to have her head shaved (seemingly as a punishment for shaming her head [man] by not covering her physical head)?

    It seems like Paul is saying that if a woman does not cover herself and shames her head, then to show her disgrace further Paul commands her to have her head shaven; but if being shaved is a shame, then she should cover her head. So in essence he is demanding a woman cover her head, since not covered=shaven and an uncovered woman should also be shaven (because she is being rebellious against the command to cover), but if her shaven head was shameful, (it was according to Paul) then she must cover her head.

    Slightly off-topic tangent:
    I think that perhaps the “bitter water” ritual of Num 5:18, where an accused adulteress’ head was “uncovered” (Philo quoted this passage using the same Greek word used for “uncovered” in 1 Cor 11:5, 13) may be why an uncovered head was considered shameful to a woman’s husband (it was a symbol of possible adultery). In Dr. Payne’s book (Man and Woman, One in Christ), on pages 172-173, he says (quoting Wallace) that the imperatives of verse 6 are stronger than mere options, and place requirements on the individual.
    Payne believes that “uncovered” means “with hair hanging loose, hair let down” based in part on the evidence of Lev 13:45 (in the LXX), the only other place where the word for “uncovered” used in 1 Cor 11:5 and 13 appears in the LXX. In the Hebrew text of Lev 13:45, the word translated as “uncovered” in the LXX is said to mean “hair let loose or unbound”, and is also the Hebrew word used of the accused adulteress of Num 5:18.

    He believes, based on historical evidence about what was shameful in the culture of Paul’s day, that the “covered” head of the man is long effeminate hair which Paul says is disgraceful for a man to have “down from the head” (since Payne says there is insufficient evidence to say that a cloth covering was shameful to a man, and he takes 1 Cor 11:14 as a rhetorical question like most people seem to, rather than a statement negating the idea that a man’s long hair is a shame, and that a woman’s long hair is her glory, because it is her covering), and the uncovered head of the woman was her long hair let down or unrestrained by bands or something like that (Payne says she was to wear her long glorious hair “as/for a covering”, which means to put it up and cover the head with it as a wrap. He also says there is little evidence that a Greek or Roman woman would commonly wear a veil, or that it was a shame if she didn’t.
    Payne does say that most of the artwork from the time of Paul shows respectable women with their hair “done up”, but not usually veiled.). In addition, in 1 Pet 3:3 and 1 Tim 2:9, women are told not to wear braided hair and gold (perhaps better rendered plaited hair with gold put in it) twice, once by Paul and once by Peter. It would be kind of strange to tell women not to wear certain hairstyles if their hair was entirely covered by a cloth veil.
    Whether he is right or not, I have reservations, but regardless of what the “covering” is, my question is still whether a woman is permitted to go without it, or is expressly told she must go all the way and have her head shaved if she doesn’t wear it, if being without it shames her head.

  17. Excellent questions LNE! Your questions deserve an in-depth answer that I think you will find has been well thought-out. I will get to it as soon as I can during this Christmas season.

    Another note is that I am having to upgrade the WordPress on this blog and it is not compatible with the Theme that I have chosen so there may be some issues to work through. Hopefully things will not be “broke” but will go smoothly.

  18. LNE,
    In 1 Corinthians 11:6 there are two imperatives, with the second imperative functioning as a permission. Thus “let her cover her head” becomes a permission not a command. In Robertson’s Grammar the head covering is the permissive use of the imperative and is “probably hortatory” which is an encouragement.
    Robertson's Grammar for 1 Corinthians 11:6

    Regarding the first instance of a woman cutting her hair, the imperative must be decided not on grammatical considerations but by hermeneutical considerations. In this instance Robertson’s Grammar takes it as a logical necessity such that one thing supposes the other.
    logical-necessity-1-cor-11-6

    What does being free from the custom of covering one’s head presuppose? I would think that it would necessitate full freedom. So freedom from one binding custom is illogical if you keep the parallel custom of not cutting one’s hair. Either you are free and show it or you are bound. So with Paul it is either bound to culture or freed from culture but not half in/or half out. But at the same time, the decision to be in or out of the cultural mandate is left up to the woman. It seems from Robertson’s grammar that Paul strongly encourages women to see the issue as one cultural mandate, not two.

    However Paul never mandates the head covering for the woman. It is a concession, a permission, that allows her to cover, but does not demand it. This is in agreement with 1 Cor 11:10 where Paul says that the women herself has authority over her own head.

    I will respond further in the next comment.

  19. LNE,
    You also asked:

    How is it proper to render this imperative verb as merely permission to have her hair shaved, as if it said “If a woman is not covering her head, let her also be permitted [but not commanded] to have her hair cut off”, and not as a command to have her head shaved (seemingly as a punishment for shaming her head [man] by not covering her physical head)?

    The permission to have her head “shaved” is because there is no imperative whatsoever for shaving her head. In the first part of 1 Corinthians 11:6, Paul says “let her have her hair cut off”, but he does not say that it is a logical necessity for her to have her head shaved. The Greek words translated as “hair cut” and “shaved” are two different Greek words.

    In the second part Paul gives two conditions. If it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut or if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her head shaved, then she has permission to cover her head. (See Robertson’s grammar in the comment above regarding the permissive meaning).

    Notice that Paul does not say that if a woman’s husband is disgraced in verse 6. In verse 6, Paul is talking about the woman’s shame. It is her shame that is given permission to be covered in verse 6.

    In this passage, Paul is not talking about punishing a woman by shaving her head. He is just giving her permission to cover her head during prayer or prophesying, if she experiences shame. The logical necessity is to withdraw from the cultural requirement in total by cutting the hair, not by shaving the head completely off.

    We need to note that the woman who has made a vow to God and has complied with God’s requirements by shaving off her hair when the vow is complete, is an honourable thing, not a dishonourable thing. It was obedience to God that caused the shaving, not a sign of shame.

  20. As far as why the head of a married woman was shameful but the head of an unmarried woman that was not covered was not shameful, Jewish tradition said that a married woman’s head hair was seen as a sexual part of her, not to be seen outside of her home. It was considered such a strict “law” that a woman could be immediately divorced if she was caught in pubic with her head hair uncovered. This was not God’s law, but it was a man-made law.

    Also the quote from Wallace, it is only the one imperative that is stronger. The other imperative regarding head covering is not a command or a logical necessity.

  21. LNE,
    You also said:

    what was shameful in the culture of Paul’s day, that the “covered” head of the man is long effeminate hair which Paul says is disgraceful for a man to have “down from the head”

    This is impossible because of the Nazarite vow. God required a man who took a Nazarite vow to let his hair grow without cutting it until the vow was complete. God cannot say that a man with long hair who has taken a vow is a shameful thing and calling God’s rules as “effeminate” is a worldly attack on a man. God never calls long hair an effeminate thing nor can God sin by forcing a godly man who has taken a godly vow to do an ungodly thing. It just isn’t a Scriptural argument.

    The thought that a woman’s hair must be kept wrapped up to be a “covering” doesn’t fit either with the Scriptures for nature cannot “teach” that it is an honor for a woman to have long hair and a dishonor for a man to have long hair. Nature teaches us that hair grows naturally on men and women until the hair is cut. God’s creation of the hair on one’s head is not different for a man and a woman in that one is naturally given short hair and one is naturally given long hair. Paul’s multiple levels of arguments are that it is not even nature that necessitates the length of one’s hair.

    Lastly you said:

    my question is still whether a woman is permitted to go without it, or is expressly told she must go all the way and have her head shaved

    Check out the Greek carefully. There is no imperative of any sort about shaving the head. It is only conditional “if” the woman has shame if she has a shaved head, then she is permitted to wear the covering to cover her shaved, bald head.

    Hopefully this has helped to answer your questions. Thanks for asking!

  22. As far as why the head of a married woman was shameful but the head of an unmarried woman that was not covered was not shameful, Jewish tradition said that a married woman’s head hair was seen as a sexual part of her, not to be seen outside of her home. It was considered such a strict “law” that a woman could be immediately divorced if she was caught in pubic with her head hair uncovered. This was not God’s law, but it was a man-made law.

    Also the quote from Wallace, it is only the one imperative that is stronger. The other imperative regarding head covering is not a command or a logical necessity.

  23. As I meditate on this more, I find that using 2 principles have helped me.

    1. Start from the more clear and let the more clear help me understand the less clear. 1 Cor 11 is in the form of a chiasm, with the center at 1 Cor 11:10, this is the crucial part of the teaching to get correct and unfortunately, many translations add words to try to make sense of what they (mis)understand to be Paul’s argument. However, in the Greek 1 Cor 11:10 is very clear, a woman can decide what to do with her “head thing” (whatever it is), but a man is not to do the “head thing,” at least in the 1st century culture at Corinth. But if you stray from these 2 conclusions, you make a hash of the teaching and all too many interpreters do just that.

    2. Per Acts 21, Paul was a Torah-observant Jew and agreed to pay for 4 Nazirite vows. There is simply NO WAY Paul was going to say long hair was wrong on a man or a woman (as this could easily happen if the Nazirite vow was long enough) if you think Paul is saying long hair is wrong, it is time to restart the analysis and you are missing something. Unfortunately, short hair on men is considered natural in our culture, but actually long hair is natural on both genders, unless it is cut. So it is easy for many people to just read the text as if it was written to people in our 21st century Western culture and totally miss what is going on, it is so (apparently) “plain” to them, what is the problem? We are just “twisting” the “clear and plain meaning” if you bring up how the text would be read in the 1st century! But actually we are just “untwisting” it.

  24. Don is correct in that the bottom line is the most important. Anything that comes before the bottom line cannot negate or contradict the conclusion. Whatever the logical reason that Paul had regarding the cutting of hair, it cannot contradict the fact that he gave women full freedom over their own heads. This means that a woman is free, and has full permission to cut her hair or not cut her hair. She also has freedom to shave her head or wear a head covering if she or her husband experiences shame by her unveiling.

    We also can know for certainty that “nature” does not teach a law regarding the length of hair on a man or a woman. Both are equally given hair that grows unless you cut it. This equal natural expression of hair was given to both by God Himself. God is not shamed by a woman without hair (as the rule of the Nazarite vow shows) and God is not shamed by a man with long hair (as the rule of the Nazarite vows shows). Paul was not forcing a veil on a woman so Paul was not upholding a man-made law.

    By the way, Merry Christmas everyone!

  25. Thanks Cheryl, that was very edifying. I kind of figured that imperatives could sometimes be used in the permissive sense, since I had noticed certain imperatives logically seem like they must be only permissive in certain passages, but I did not know this was an established rule of Greek grammar, so it was helpful that you posted those excerpts from Robertson’s Grammar.

    However, something said in the excerpt you posted has me confused again. It seems to say that the hermeneutical considerations will not allow making the “imperative (into a) permissive” in 1 Cor 11:6. It then says, I think, that the verbs for “let her have her hair cut” and “let her be covered” imply logical necessity.
    Is this excerpt saying that “let her have her hair cut” is therefore imperative, something a woman must do if she does not cover her head? It seems like the writer of Robertson’s Grammar is saying that both of these verbs are used imperatively, not permissively, even though imperative verbs can be used permissively in other places (but not here according to what I’m reading from the excerpt.). I may be reading this all wrong, hopefully you can straighten me out.

    Cheryl said:”The permission to have her head “shaved” is because there is no imperative whatsoever for shaving her head. In the first part of 1 Corinthians 11:6, Paul says “let her have her hair cut off”, but he does not say that it is a logical necessity for her to have her head shaved. The Greek words translated as “hair cut” and “shaved” are two different Greek words.”

    Sorry, I mistakenly used the term “shaved” forgetting that there were two distinct terms for “have her hair cut”, and “shaved”. I meant “shaved” to mean the exact same thing as “have her hair cut off”. So my question was, is Paul telling uncovered women they should or must (imperatively) cut off their hair (or simply have their hair cut in some way) if they don’t cover their head, or merely that they may do so (permissively) if they want to?

    Also, are the verbs for “to have the hair cut off” (keiro) and “to be shaven” (xurao) nearly synonymous, as it seems from the lexicons I’m reading, or does one mean something significantly different than the other?

    Cheryl said: In the second part Paul gives two conditions. If it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut or if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her head shaved, then she has permission to cover her head. (See Robertson’s grammar in the comment above regarding the permissive meaning).

    I already asked this above, but it seems like Robertson’s grammar is saying the opposite, that both “let her cut her hair” and “let her be covered” are logical necessities, or imperatives, not permissive uses of the imperative in this case. Again, I’m no expert so I could be way off here, or maybe I’m just not understanding this excerpt properly.

    Cheryl said: Notice that Paul does not say that if a woman’s husband is disgraced in verse 6. In verse 6, Paul is talking about the woman’s shame. It is her shame that is given permission to be covered in verse 6.

    It is true that verse 6 is talking about the woman’s shame, but Paul does seem to be tying this to the shame of her “head” (her source, the man) from the previous verses, detailing that when a woman is uncovered, it is the same as being shaven, and she shames her head because of the “shaven head” for whatever reason.
    It seems like if a woman shaves her head, she, as well as her husband at the same time, are shamed (in that cultural context).

    Cheryl said: In this passage, Paul is not talking about punishing a woman by shaving her head. He is just giving her permission to cover her head during prayer or prophesying, if she experiences shame. The logical necessity is to withdraw from the cultural requirement in total by cutting the hair, not by shaving the head completely off.
    We need to note that the woman who has made a vow to God and has complied with God’s requirements by shaving off her hair when the vow is complete, is an honorable thing, not a dishonorable thing. It was obedience to God that caused the shaving, not a sign of shame.

    Are you then saying that Paul is telling women who don’t cover their heads to cut their hair, or merely recommending/permitting it?

    God did tell those who took the Nazirite Vow to shave their heads. But Paul says the woman who is uncovered shames her head because she is as if shaven, and Paul equates the shaven head with shame. I don’t know why he does, but he does.
    I’ve heard prostitutes of the era had shaven heads, and it was a punishment enacted toward adulterous women in Paul’s day, but I do not know what more to make of this. I’ve also heard that Jewish women were expected to cover their head, because it was seen as a private area. I believe Dr. Payne give references for the former two reasons being applicable during the time of Paul.
    For whatever reason, Paul says the uncovered woman shames her head, because it was the same as being shaven. God tells women to cover their heads with something if a shaven head is shameful (perhaps He only permitted this, I don’t know yet), so God permitted women to shave their heads, but they should or may be covered while shaven if it is a shame to have an uncovered shaven head.

    I see this as akin to what the previous chapter of 1 Corinthians ( 1 Cor 10) spoke about concerning not offending brothers and sisters unnecessarily, or anyone else if it can be avoided. I see this as something Paul either requires or permits because of mercy and the desire to avoid offense (and also his desire that man and woman submit to each other mutually for the others’ benefit, and honor each other above themselves, i.e. not shame each other if they can help it), not because a woman needs to show her submission by wearing a head covering as a symbol of the man’s authority over her (a Comp view).

    Cheryl said: We also can know for certainty that “nature” does not teach a law regarding the length of hair on a man or a woman. Both are equally given hair that grows unless you cut it. This equal natural expression of hair was given to both by God Himself. God is not shamed by a woman without hair (as the rule of the Nazarite vow shows) and God is not shamed by a man with long hair (as the rule of the Nazarite vows shows). Paul was not forcing a veil on a woman so Paul was not upholding a man-made law.

    I would like to agree with you here because it does seem that nature itself does not teach that a man’s long hair is a shame (since God commanded some men to have long hair, like Samson. Priests could not have long hair, nor shaven heads apparently, but we are not Levitical Priests.).

    I have found that almost everywhere else in the NT where “oude” begins a sentence, as in 1 Cor 11:14, the sentence is declarative and not interrogative (a question). There are only three exceptions, all in The Gospels.
    Paul never uses “oude” at the beginning of a sentence to introduce a question, from my study. Therefore, this supports the interpretation that verse 14 is not saying that long hair on men is a shame, nor that long hair is a woman’s glory. The only issue I have found with taking verse 14 as a declarative statement is that there is apparently a textual variant at the beginning of verse 14.
    The variant is in the Textus Receptus and it is the little “n” or “or” particle, which often heads up interrogative rhetorical questions. I don’t know how many manuscripts, and which ones exactly, contain the “n” particle before the “oude” in verse 14, but if that particle is well attested then it does make verse 14 in all likelihood a question, supporting the idea that man’s long hair is a shame (which seems to be the traditional view). I have heard that the “n” particle that is part of the Textus Receptus here is not well attested and does not appear in any Greek critical text. Maybe you know more about this?

    I’m hoping to have this cleared up, because your interpretation is the only one I think I have ever heard that remains faithful to the words in the passage and appears to me to be totally logical. I have always found Comp interpretations of this passage wanting, or based on mistranslations (1 Cor 11:10′s “a woman should have authority over her head”, made into the, in my opinion, utterly grammatically and syntactically improper ” a woman should have a [symbol of] authority on her head”, and the blatant mistranslation of verse 16, changing “no such custom” into “no other custom”, even though the word rendered “such” or “other” is from my research only known to mean “such”, never “other”. This subtle change of wording drastically changes the meaning of this verse.)

    I thank you for sticking with me and answering these questions when I know you have other pressing business to attend to. I can only hope my apparent density will only be used by God to help those who read these comments to understand this passage even better.

  26. LNE,

    You asked:

    Is this excerpt saying that “let her have her hair cut” is therefore imperative, something a woman must do if she does not cover her head? It seems like the writer of Robertson’s Grammar is saying that both of these verbs are used imperatively, not permissively, even though imperative verbs can be used permissively in other places (but not here according to what I’m reading from the excerpt.). I may be reading this all wrong, hopefully you can straighten me out.

    The best that I can say is that it is a logical imperative. This means that there is something that logically goes together the necessitates the cutting of the hair. Let’s take an example of a godly Christian woman who has no need to culturally wear the head covering. Her husband will not divorce her, as he is a Christian man. So she makes the move to freedom in Christ. She is not under a cultural obligation. It may very well be that the sign that one is not under the cultural obligation is that one removes the veil and cuts the hair. It is not one or the other, but both together that spells freedom.

    We can be sure that the people of that day understood the logical nature of removing both the veil and cutting the hair.

    We can also be sure that Paul gives women full rights to do what they want with their heads.

    How do both of these statements go together. I can only surmise that taking off the veil but keeping the long, uncut hair, gives a mixed message. Paul was not one to promote mixed messages, thus the logical imperative for one thing that follows another. If Paul had wanted women to be punished for taking off their veils by forcing them to have their hair shaved off, then he could not have said that women have power over their own head.

    Does this make sense?

  27. LNE,
    You also asked:

    Also, are the verbs for “to have the hair cut off” (keiro) and “to be shaven” (xurao) nearly synonymous, as it seems from the lexicons I’m reading, or does one mean something significantly different than the other?

    They are different. For example the Greek term for shave, means nothing else but shave. It has no alternate meanings. The Greek term for hair cut can mean to shear, but that term is used of animals, not people. With people, the rendering is to cut hair. Doing a Greek word search I could find no place in the New Testament where this Greek word is ever translated as “shave” when used for a human.

    Also Paul uses the coordinating disjunctive conjunction (n) which expresses an alternative. If both were the same, there would be no need to join to synonyms with a disjunctive conjunction. Two options are needed.

    You also said:

    It is true that verse 6 is talking about the woman’s shame, but Paul does seem to be tying this to the shame of her “head” (her source, the man) from the previous verses, detailing that when a woman is uncovered, it is the same as being shaven, and she shames her head because of the “shaven head” for whatever reason.
    It seems like if a woman shaves her head, she, as well as her husband at the same time, are shamed (in that cultural context).

    It certainly may be that both are shamed at the same time, but that is not a given. The man’s shame is cultural thing related to infidelity. The shame for a woman having taken a Nazarite vow is not the shame of infidelity, but a personal shame of a head without hair – baldness.

    You asked:

    Are you then saying that Paul is telling women who don’t cover their heads to cut their hair, or merely recommending/permitting it?

    There is something in that culture that has a logical connection that has nothing to do with shaming a godly woman. If what I propose is not logical, then I suggest that my reader’s give a suggestion that makes more sense. It makes sense to me, that Paul gives full freedom for women in Christ to be free from cultural traditions, but that they should not give mixed messages about whether they are free from the traditions or not.

    Thoughts?

  28. LNE,
    You also asked:

    The variant is in the Textus Receptus and it is the little “n” or “or” particle, which often heads up interrogative rhetorical questions. I don’t know how many manuscripts, and which ones exactly, contain the “n” particle before the “oude” in verse 14, but if that particle is well attested then it does make verse 14 in all likelihood a question, supporting the idea that man’s long hair is a shame (which seems to be the traditional view). I have heard that the “n” particle that is part of the Textus Receptus here is not well attested and does not appear in any Greek critical text. Maybe you know more about this?

    I am not familiar with this, but any variant that makes nonsense out of the Scripture, would be rejected. After all, we are all aware that nature teaches no such thing. Paul was not influenced by the Holy Spirit to record nonsense. The sentence is true and makes perfect sense as a statement.

    You also said:

    I’m hoping to have this cleared up, because your interpretation is the only one I think I have ever heard that remains faithful to the words in the passage and appears to me to be totally logical.

    Thank you! I am a huge proponent of paying close attention to the inspired words and the inspired grammar. I am not even so much of a verse by verse teacher, but a word by word teacher. I believe that any exegesis that is faithful to the Scripture will not disregard the words and grammar and will not make the Scripture to contradict itself. Paul is difficult at the best of times, but I believe that the depth that he brings in his writings is worth the effort to understand.

    For me, my focus is on understanding what God said and meant so that I can believe God and follow Him. I don’t care for human tradition especially when it contradicts God’s word and makes God out to be confused, a respecter of persons, or a liar. I value truth above all, and I will allow myself to be corrected so that I can sharpen my view of the text even more.

    Thanks for having patience with me. I am overwhelmed to say the least. I had hope to have my next video project done by now, but there have been some ministry issues that have taken more time and I am behind my own schedule. I will post here as much as I can and hope that what I say is of value to many.

  29. Sorry I’ve been gone so long.

    I don’t know exactly how to understand the idea that Paul considered it a logical necessity for a woman to cut her hair if she didn’t wear a covering, unless he was trying to get women to understand that by having long hair, they were still wearing a head covering– just the natural one given by God. So, therefore, in order to truly uncover their heads they must also cut their long hair. I don’t see why Paul would be telling women to cut their hair as to not send mixed messages, but maybe that is what Paul is saying. I really just don’t know/don’t get it at the moment.

    Regardless, I still think you are right. I’m convinced you are right in general on this because; (i) of the flow of the passage, especially the “if’s” used of a woman either covering or uncovering her head, (ii) Paul states that woman is man’s glory and because of this she should have authority over her head (also because of the angels), (iii) Paul tells the Corinthians to judge for themselves whether it is right for a woman to pray uncovered, (iv) (maybe) Paul telling the Corinthians that it is not a woman’s glory to have long hair, but her hair is a covering, and finally (v) Paul stating that if anyone desires to be contentious (presumable about the matter of head coverings), Paul and the Churches have no such custom.
    All this, properly translated, leads me to believe that Paul is giving a woman options; that she can cover her head if it’s shameful for her to be uncovered, but she has the choice (the authority) to choose in the end, since there is no universal head covering custom in The Churches.

    So I guess that about wraps it up on this one. Thanks for dialoguing with me.

  30. I do believe that Paul was coming against human tradition that was not compatible with honouring our spiritual head (Christ). What did wearing of long hair do to dishonor Christ that was connected to the veil? I really do not know for sure. One other thing that could come into play is that women also used hair (in the form of a wig) to cover their heads. That would constitute a head covering just as much as a veil. Although it is a “natural” head covering with their own hair, it is not natural when it is a secondary source of hair as a wig. Wigs as hair coverings are discussed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzniut

    Thanks for the discussion LNE. I think it was useful as iron sharpening iron.

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