A man dishonours his head if he covers his head while praying or prophesying. But a woman dishonours her head if she prays or prophesies without a covering on her head, for this is the same as shaving her head. Yes, if she refuses to wear a head covering, she should cut off all her hair! But since it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut or her head shaved, she should wear a covering. A man should not wear anything on his head when worshiping, for man is made in God’s image and reflects God’s glory. And woman reflects man’s glory.1 Corinthians 11:4-7
Isn’t it interesting before we get into the issues of head covering, that there were women in the church in Corinth who were praying publically and prophesying; whatever that may mean depending on your theological viewpoint. There is an assumption behind this verse that they were inspired. Females would not have been taking part in the public service of worship, unless there was evidence that they were under the influence of inspiration.
The custom, both among the Greeks, Romans, and among the Jews an express law, that no woman should be seen abroad without a veil or heading covering. This was, and is, a common custom throughout the east, and none but public prostitutes go without veils. And if a woman should appear in public without a veil, she would dishonor her head – her husband. If a woman was caught as a prostitute she had her hair shorn off as the punishment of whoredom. If she was caught in adultery again it was punishable by having her hair shaved off publically. For a normal woman to appear in public without a head covering had the same effect because only prostitutes appeared in public with their heads uncovered. Appearing in public without a covering showed a lack of proper respect to man, to her husband, to her father, to the sex in general. The head-covering was the emblem of feminine modesty before man (Gen 24:65), and conjugal chastity (Gen 20:16). To uncover the head indicated withdrawal from the power of her husband, and thus a suspected wife had her head uncovered by the priest (Num 5:18). Long hair was, by the custom of the times, and of nearly all countries, a mark of being female, worn as a mark of the beauty of the female. To remove that is to appear, in this respect, like the other sex, and to lay aside the badge of her femininity.
Some commentators have suggested that it seems from this statement of Paul’s that the women removed their veils, and wore their hair dishevelled, when they pretended to be under the influence of divine inspiration. This was the case with the pagan priestesses and perhaps the Christian women imitated them. Some understand “her head” to be man; her symbolic not her literal head. But there is no reason to read it that way. It is natural to read it as literal throughout the passage. This was a cultural practice Paul is addressing. In fact he states this clearly in 4:16.
A smart man only believes half of what he hears. A wise man knows which half.Anon
If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of itself.Dwight L Moody