Of Male and Female Head Covering


One should observe that headship is not a matter of salvation but a matter of role. One should observe that Galatians 3:28 in speaking of there being neither male nor female refers to salvation not role.

Male headship is the biblical norm for spiritual matters in the home, church, and nation in general. But this does not apply to non-spiritual matters and heading entities such as a computer business, construction company, or a non-profit organization whose mission is not primarily preaching and teaching of spiritual doctrines. Here non-profits include government entities since their primary role is not preaching and teaching of spiritual doctrines although they are to apply spiritual doctrines in their job capacity.

Nothing in this document should be misconstrued as justifying abuse of females by males or males by females. Indeed all forms of abuse to include but not limited to mental and physical abuse are forbidden by scripture. Occurrence of physical abuse is self-evident when the event occurs. Mental abuse may be more difficult to determine; but biblical love will prevent its occurrence.

With respect to male headship principle 1 Cor 11 establishes the man is the head of the woman (1 Cor 11:3) and the image and glory of God and the woman is the glory of the man (1 Cor 11:7).

Eph 1:22 says: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

In 1 Cor 11:3 and Eph 1:22 the same Greek word (G2776) is translated head. It has the sense of responsibility for and authority over. This is as in the sense that the physical head of the human body governs the physical body.

Indeed, headship exists in the godhead.  It is the Father who sent the son. It is the Father and Son who sent the Holy Spirit. Indeed, in 1 Cor 11:3, Jesus himself has a head so certainly there is no dishonor in having a head.

Head Covering Symbolism – Male and/or Female?

Here I discuss the head covering provision of 1 Cor 11.

I admit the head covering provision has been a rather difficult subject for me. Mostly because of emotional desire not to offend.  But I have concluded that it is best for me and all others to accept the truth of the Word of God no matter how much it offends. I have concluded it is best not to wrestle against the scriptures as Peter speaks of some doing to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16)

The biblical male headship principle is transcultural and transgenerational. Therefore, some form of symbolism, head covering or otherwise, should be employed by the body of Christ to facilitate good order and discipline regarding projecting, teaching, and sustaining the biblical male headship principle.  This is especially important in a world where extreme feminism principles are taught in our academic institutions and promoted in media. The body of Christ has the God given authority and responsibility to make sure its members are properly informed so as to eliminate or at least reduce the deceptive influence of worldly institutions.

In 1 Cor 11:1-2 Paul says:

(1 Cor 11:1)  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
(1 Cor 11:2)  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

The word translated ordinances (Greek Word paradosis, Strong’s G3862) is also translated traditions in Matthew 15:3 where it says: But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?

In the New Testament the Greek word paradosis Strong’s G3862) seems to usually be described as traditions of men as the word men/man with respect to the religious elders is associated with it in most scriptures.  However, there are some scriptures when the same Greek word translated tradition is associated with what the apostles established.  For example, in addition to 1 Cor 11:2 there is:

(2 Th 2:15) Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

(2 Th 3:6) Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

So there is a difference between traditions of men and traditions set by the apostles.  Traditions of men are viewed in a somewhat negative sense in that humans used them improperly.  However, traditions set by the apostles are expected to be obeyed by the believers.

So we see this word ordinances in the context of 1 Cor 11 has to do with the traditions not set by humans but by the apostles.  The reference to ordinance/tradition in verse 3 speaks to the head covering provision; it does not speak to the Lord’s Supper which Paul addresses beginning with 1 Cor 11:17. The reason for this conclusion is that in 1 Cor 11:2 he says he praises them in their keeping of the head covering tradition; yet in 1 Cor 11:17 he says he does not praise them in their not keeping of the Lord’s Supper in the right way.  In other words, they were faithfully keeping the head covering provision as established in all the churches (1 Cor 11:16) but they were unfaithful in the keeping of the Lord’s Supper as some were corrupting/polluting its process.  Moreover, the Lord’s Supper is a commandment given by Jesus not a tradition of men although the way churches do it might be a tradition of men.

Indeed, the head covering provision is a tradition that was used in that day for specific purposes.  So then the basic question is do Christians and churches today have an obligation to follow the traditions set by the apostles as recorded in the bible or can we discard those traditions completely or replace them with others that serve the same purpose.  In general, I say we should not discard them; yet each such tradition would have to be evaluated on its own merit.  With respect to the head covering, I suggest that we should not discard it but rather follow it as closely as we are physically able and effective. If unable we should replace it with something else that serves the same purpose for the purpose it served is still needed today. The purpose of the head covering was to bring to remember and teach to each generation the male headship principle.  Its purpose is still needed today even if the head covering symbol is replaced by another at least equally as expressive. Consider the tradition of greeting one another with a holy kiss (Rom 16:16), today that is replaced with things such as a holy hug or a holy handshake but the principle of greeting is maintained.

The words tradition and custom are generally functionally equivalent though in certain contexts for certain specific purposes they may slightly differ.  In the context of 1 Corinthians 11 they are functionally equivalent; they are common practices.

In 1 Cor 11:16 Paul ends the discussion by saying: But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

So then Paul clearly identifies the head covering provision as a custom (ordinance, tradition) to convey/communicate the male headship principle in the midst of the congregation.  Customs may be cultural and generational but the principle they represent is usually transcultural and transgenerational as in the case of the male headship principle set forth throughout the bible from Genesis to Revelation.

Paul’s apostolic head covering provision was a cultural symbolism Paul used in that day and environment. Paul used such cultural symbolism to facilitate good order and discipline regarding projecting, teaching, and sustaining the biblical male headship principle.

Clearly Paul’s identification of the head covering provision as a custom indicate he understood other symbolism may be employed and appropriate in the future.

Let us observe that the head covering provision of 1 Cor 11 applies to the worship assembly not to outside the worship assembly and should be considered for application while in the regular assembly center at any time. This is especially evident since men certainly are not required to not wear headgear while walking down the street; thus, women are not required to wear head covering while walking down the street.

So then the question before us is this:  is the head covering custom of biblical days effective in modern times and if not are there effective customs that should be employed to sustain and teach the male headship principle.

The head covering custom was effective in bible days in pointing to and reminding all of the male headship principle which required women to not have spiritual authority over men in perception, position or attitude.

However, if all women in a congregation setting wore some form of head covering, then it would be an effective reminder of the male headship principle.

Yet, one should be mindful that modern times the effectiveness of head covering is questionable as the wearing of veils and head gear do not communicate the same as in biblical days when females may have worn a veil or other head covering everywhere outside the home not just in a church assembly.  Yet, even given its questionable effectiveness, head covering should be encouraged as something to be practices by all females in a congregational setting.

The male headship principle should be periodically taught so all understand it.

For simplicity and uniformity in all the Christian churches worldwide, all women should voluntarily come wearing or bring with them to put on some form of head covering whenever in the worship assembly and even in the regular assembly center.  There are congregations even in modern times where this is the case without the women feeling disrespected.  If they can do it, then all should be able to do it. The same goes for men not wearing head covering in the worship assembly and even the regular assembly center.

In the absence of complete voluntary wearing of head covering and even in addition to such, the following symbolisms should provide powerful symbolisms in support of the head covering symbolism and its purpose.

These symbolisms are:

  • The presence of explanation/teaching on the male headship principle reason and value and symbolisms as part of new member training and at least annual reminder to congregation.
  • The absence of females as pulpit ministers to include absence of females standing in for pulpit ministers.  This means women do not carry titles or functions as apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, bishop, elder, overseer or similar title and function. or assistant/associate thereof.
  • The absence of females as deacons to include absence of females standing in for deacons or serving as assistants/associate thereof.
  • The absence of females as School School Superintendents, Directors of Christian Education and similar positions/functions to include assistants thereof or standing in for such.
  • The absence of females as teachers of spiritual education classes involving coed male and female adults.  This includes, but is not limited to, Sunday School, Bible Study, Vacation Bible School and similar events or standing in for such.
  • The presence of females as prophetess when so called by God for prophecy involves God a female speaking words from God involving a new revelation not preaching of existing scripture.
  • The presence of females as teacher of other women and of children

For a discussion of the male headship principle and role of females in ministry see Of Male Headship and Women In Ministry

To God Be the Glory!

Church Organization and Worship

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