Friday, July 22, 2011

Disobedience is the real reason for the abandonment of the head covering

I haven't forgotten this blog, it's just that there's only so much you can say about the head covering unless someone comes along and has objections or questions and wants to start a dialogue about it, or I run across something newsworthy, neither of which has happened. Otherwise I think I've made the case throughout the blog and it's here for anyone to read.

Thought I might try to restate the Bottom Line at least:

Paul couldn't possibly have meant long hair by the covering he so strenuously insists on in fifteen verses, for many reasons which I cover in my research posts, but I think the main and most obvious reason is that there wouldn't have been any women in the Corinthian church who DIDN'T wear their hair long as that was the norm pretty much everywhere on earth both in Paul's day and up until the 20th century. Context, context! Paul was writing to the Corinthians to resolve some disputes, and there would have been NO dispute about the length of a woman's hair. As he says in verse 6 (see below for the text of the whole passage), they would have regarded short hair on a woman as shameful, and in verses 14 and 15, it was regarded as given by nature that a woman's hair be long and a man's short. SURELY they were NOT having a dispute over short-haired women!

As for the other main misinterpretation, that the covering Paul was advocating was merely a feminine custom that was peculiar to his time, this too flies in the face of the most likely habits of women in his day or any day. Was Paul criticizing a contentious contingent of Corinthian women for failure to present themselves in their culture's customary feminine manner? Really, how likely is that? Even in our day, when women MAY dress like men or in "unisex" styles, the overarching motivation still manages to be a desire to show off their femaleness if not exactly femininity in a certain sense. It's ridiculous to think that any significant number of women in their day or our day would want to efface their femininity and rebel against a cultural expression of it. Beyond that, in Corinth covering the head WASN'T a uniform cultural standard except for Jewish women. In any case, the covering is not about "femininity" at all, it's about God's creation ordinance oncerning the headship of the man over the woman (verse 7) which requires the covering of the woman's head as the glory of man so that the glory of Christ in the head of the man can be displayed in worship.

And there are plenty of other reasons neither of these interpretations is defensible, which I've covered in my Research posts. I'm just trying here to state the most obvious ones.

Nope, on its face it is very clear that Paul is definitely calling for a covering to be worn over the head and hair, so that there is really no excuse for its abandonment. That is how all commentators interpreted it up until the 20th century and it was also obeyed in all the churches until around the 1960s when just about all of them abandoned it. The alternative interpretations that justify its abandonment are really very flimsy, mere excuses for disobedience.
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Here's the text of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16:
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a woman will not be covered, then let her be shorn! But since it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

7 For indeed a man ought not to cover his head, being the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason the woman should have authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 In any case, woman is not independent of man, nor man of woman, in the Lord; 12 for as woman is [created] from man, so man is now [born] through woman. And all things are from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.