Sunday, October 27, 2013
The requirement is for a katakalupto, or down-falling covering such as a shawl or a scarf. If we understand the requirement to apply only to the worship service, as I now do, then a scarf draped around the neck where it can be easily pulled up over the head as we enter the sanctuary seems to me to be the ideal solution. It's simple, it doesn't call attention to us, it's not too susceptible to glory-stealing fashion competitions and so on.
I think a simple sewn beret can be OK, the larger the better for covering head and hair, but not hats, which start to compete for glory in themselves, often don't cover the head anyway, much less the woman's glory, her hair, and easily come to threaten the line of sight of anyone sitting behind them. Witness the hats worn in England, which were probably originally inspired by First Corinthians Eleven.
Just want to be clear that I'm not calling for us to look like Mennonites. Or the Duchess of Cambridge either.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Sunday, June 23, 2013
To argue, then, that long hair is the woman’s head covering seems to miss the very point of the function of the head covering and of the long hair: one shows her submission while the other shows her glory. Both of these are contrasted with an uncovered head while praying or prophesying, or a shaved head at any time: such would speak of the woman’s humiliation and shame.
I'd only object that I don't think the covering can show an inner subjective state such as submission, so I'd put it differently: "one shows her subordinate position in the Creation order of headship while the other shows her glory" --- it is a shame to her to be without the added head covering as well as to be without her long hair.
Now he goes on to support very well the view I advocate here, the real head covering.
- ◦Verse 2 (paradivdwmi, paradovsi") indicates that Paul’s instruction is part of the traditional package of doctrine that he was passing on to the Church (see discussion above, under ‘no applicability view’). But Paul here does not give any details of the instruction. That is picked up in the rest of the passage.
- ◦Verses 3-9 base this instruction on a theological hierarchy and on creation. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of the man, the man is the head of the woman. It is important to note that Paul is in no way arguing for the ontological inferiority of the woman to the man, for he roots his convictions in the Godhead. Christ is only functionally subordinate to the Father, not ontologically subordinate.5 The wife, too, is functionally subordinate to the husband, but in no way ontologically inferior (vv 11-12).
- ◦Verse 10 bases the woman’s symbol of subordination on a fine point of angelology (one that escapes us today, though conjectures abound).
- ◦Verses 13-15 roughly constitute an argument from nature.
- ◦Verse 16 is an argument from the collective wisdom of the church universal, for Christians elsewhere have no other practice.
This is a good argument for the actual head covering overall.
However, to say that this is "the easiest view to defend exegetically" is pretty much to say that it is the correct view and yet he no longer accepts it. But on what grounds? He's quite right that this position is hard to swallow practically, that it's quite unpopular -- it's clear he'd rather not have to defend it, but could he let himself abandon it for such reasons?
But if this were the case there wouldn't have been the problem with contentiousness in the church that there apparently was, which led Paul to provide such a lengthy argument for the covering giving so many different reasons for it.
This is just another of the many reasons the local customs of Corinth had nothing to do with Paul's teaching. In essence Wallace has merely abandoned the unpopular literal head covering for the currently popular wishy-washy view I think was first espoused by Thomas Schreiner and picked up by so many in the Reformed camp, the idea that it was merely a culturally established symbol that could be exchanged for another in other cultural contexts.
But the humiliation that is felt today is most likely the result of the feminist impulse that took away the head covering in the first place by defining it as a humiliating thing. To make this the reason not to require a covering today is simply to give in to that same feminist mental set.
Of course if it is a symbol of humiliation because of the feminist climate of our time and place then this is a highly spurious concern. In fact there is every reason to believe that the contentiousness in the early church that Paul was at such pains to answer concerned this very SAME humiliation, the humiliation of being made subordinate to the male sex. We ALL feel this, all women in all times feel this. It's part of our heritage from the Fall to feel this. Christ gives an unprecedented freedom and respect to women that lifts the curse of the Fall, and after receiving such grace through Him it is especially hard to accept anything that seems to take us back to that curse, and this is most likely what some of the women in the Corinthian church were protesting. The fact is, and Paul is trying hard to get this across, the head covering is not about the curse of the Fall, it's about the CREATED ORDER; not the essence of womanhood but the assigned role. This may not make it more palatable for all of us, but it's not the same thing as being treated as an inferior. In any case, I think Wallace has succumbed to his dislike of the literal head covering, its unpopularity, and allowed himself to accept a false understanding of this passage, and in so doing has capitulated to the feminist impulse that took away the head covering in the first place.
Second, what symbol should we use?
But this is to impose on Paul something he does not express at all in his lengthy argument, and again, it does not take into account the contentiousness that had been raised in the church over the requirement.
That the symbol of head covering fit into Paul’s argument about the headship of God, Christ, and husband, is what seems to have suggested this particular symbol. But even if the symbol loses some of its symbolism, the point needs to remain the same. (That is, whatever symbol a woman is to wear should indicate her submission to her husband and/or [if not married] the male leadership of the church.8)
Wallace seems here to be speaking rather slightingly of what is really the most important of Paul's arguments for the covering, which makes the head the focus of the whole instruction. And he is also substituting a principle that is not in the passage itself, that he is making more important than the headship argument: the woman's submission to her husband or other male authority. Here is he doing what many do with this passage, requiring the subjective attitude of submissiveness on the woman's part. But the passage speaks in objective rather than subjective terms, of woman's position in the Creation order, in the hierarchy of authority. Other passages ask a submissive attitude, this one doesn't. No, the objective order of headship is clearly the important thing in Paul's mind, and it makes sense that a visible token would better express an objective condition than a subjective one, because you can't guarantee an inner state with such certainty as the covering would then imply.
(4) An analogy with the Lord’s Table might help. It is appropriate because there is much that is symbolic in the Eucharist and this celebration is also one of those traditions that Paul handed down (1 Cor 11:17ff.). The symbols of the wine and unleavened bread are taken directly from the Passover. In the first century the Passover involved the use of four mandatory cups of wine, lamb, bitter herbs, unleavened bread. The part of the meal that Jesus turned into the first Lord’s Supper was apparently the third cup of the Passover and the unleavened bread. The lack of leaven was an important symbol, for it represented Christ’s sinlessness. And, of course, real wine was used. Is it necessary for us today to use unleavened bread and real wine? Some churches make this a mandatory practice, others an optional one. Still others would be horrified if real wine were used. Few today have unleavened bread (saltine crackers do have some yeast in them). Should we pronounce an anathema on these folks because they have broken from the tradition--a tradition which has both historical and biblical antecedents? If the implementation of such an important tradition as the Lord’s Supper can be varied, then should not the much less important tradition of the specific role (and garb) of women be allowed some flexibility, too?
This strikes me as a rather spurious comparison. Removing the essential focus on the head is not the same thing as having different kinds of bread and wine. It's more like substituting fruit and cheese for bread and wine.
And I have to protest the idea that the head covering is a "much less important" tradition. We've MADE it less important, we've relegated it to complete obscurity as a matter of fact, but is that what Paul is doing when he writes fifteen verses and at least four arguments in favor of it and defines it as deriving from God's Creation Order?
And again, it's about the head. You can cover the head in a great variety of ways, there's no lack of flexibility in that regard, within the limit of playing down the glory of the female head, but just as it must be bread in some form and wine in some form at the Lord's supper it does have to be the female head that is covered.
But there simply is no symbol that could take the place of the head covering and that ought to be a clue that this is the wrong understanding of the text. The others who take this same approach end up with a very vague recommendation of Whatever Seems Feminine. Wallace goes on to compare it to the symbolism of wearing a ring and the wearing of modest dress.
Seems to me it needs to be faced that this whole effort is toward wiggling out from under the clear meaning of the text, which he's pretty much affirmed above, that women are to cover our heads in church. It's unpopular, we don't like it, but honesty compels us to recognize that it is what Paul meant.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Sproul's taking this position ought to have an effect on some Christians who haven't found other advocates of the head covering convincing enough or authoritative enough. Other preachers in the Reformed camp, such as John MacArthur and Alistair Begg, following Thomas Schreiner, have preached that Paul was merely supporting a local custom so that we are free to make use of whatever our own custom dictates, and these popular preachers would naturally have a lot of influence among Reformed Christians.
Sproul answers this interpretation succinctly by pointing out that this is imposing an explanation on Paul that Paul himself didn't give, that Paul's main reason for the head covering is derived from Creation.
I'm sorry I didn't know about this talk until now. I hope it might become well known and bring many to rethink this Biblical passage.