In his sermon on the head covering (see THIS LINK on YouTube) Homer Hailey makes two points in arguing that the head covering is not for Christians today:
1) He could find no such law anywhere in the Old Testament and therefore concludes it must have been simply a human custom in ancient Corinth.
2) He sees the principle of the passage as being "the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God".
The head covering, Hailey argues, was just the way their culture recognized the principle.
He states that "in Corinth, the act of a woman taking off her veil was the symbol of her rejecting the authority of her husband", and since our modern culture does not have this symbol, the symbol does not apply to us.
Hailey compares the head covering symbol to the "holy kiss"--- the principle of the "holy kiss" being that we should be sincere & without hypocrisy when we greet one another, but in ancient culture a greeting was a kiss, whereas in modern culture a greeting is a handshake.
This argument makes no sense to me.
In the first place, male and female are two sides of the same coin.
If the woman's head covering symbol expressed her subjection to Man and was taken from ancient Corinthian culture,
then the man's symbol would have to express his subjection to Christ and be taken from the same culture as well.
However, the cultures in ancient Corinth were the pagan Romans, the pagan Greeks, and the Jews; none of which believed in Christ and would not have had a symbol of a man un-covering his head to show subjection to Christ.
In the second place, the principle of 1 Cor. 11:2-16 is not "The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."
It is true that the head of man is Christ, and that the head of woman is man. But this isn't the principle of this passage.
The principle of the passage is that GLORY BELONGS TO GOD. Paul "wants them to know" about the order of authority simply so that they can understand the meaning of the head covering symbol.
They needed to understand that the physical head of a man symbolized the authority of Christ, and that the physical head of a woman symbolized the authority of man. Then they could understand the significance of COVERING their heads. They needed to know what it was --- symbolically --- that was being covered & hidden, or uncovered & exposed to view.
Covering something up hides it so that it can longer be seen; it can no longer draw our attention. Un-covering something shows it off, puts it into the limelight, demands our attention.
When we come into God's presence we need to show Him honor. God's authority must be seen and recognized and given honor. You don't give something honor by hiding it away, by pushing it into a corner, by covering it up.
On the other hand, Man's authority should be taken out of the limelight when we come into God's presence. Man's temporal authority is not worthy to be given any recognition at all in the presence of God's eternal and sovereign authority.
The simple, everyday, ordinary emblem (covering / uncovering one's head) is essential to the meaning of honoring and giving glory to God, and is no more an incidental human custom than the emblems of the Lord's Supper.
In the third place, Hailey does not cite his authority for his statement that "In Corinth, the act of a woman taking off her veil was the symbol of her rejecting the authority of her husband." How does he know this? How does he know that all of these different cultures ---Roman, Greek, and Jewish --- had the same custom, and that the custom signified the same thing?
According to David Philips in Covered Glory page 9 (available for free HERE ):
"... Corinth was a Roman colony rather than a typical Greek city. Because of this uniqueness, along with many Jews adopting Greek culture, there may have been multiple cultural practices within the location and lifetime of the early Corinthian church. The best understanding of First Century culture generally seems to be as follows:
The Jews: In public and in worship, men uncovered their heads and women covered them.
The Greeks: In public and in worship, both men and women uncovered their heads.
The Romans: Men and women covered their heads in worship. Men and women were uncovered in public."
The above-quoted work has 40 pages of appendices including "Headcovering Throughout Christian History" and "Further Details on 1st Century Culture" with many footnotes citing his sources, for those interested in researching ancient cultural practices.
You can also check out The Head Coverings of 1 Corinthians 11 by Paul K. Williams available for free HERE.
But however much historical research you do, the bottom line remains the same --- history was written by uninspired people, and the various scholars of today who draw their various conclusions about history are also fallible, uninspired people.
Here are a few final quotes to consider, from the book What is History? by Edward Hallett Carr, Fellow of Trinity College (the George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures delivered at the University of Cambridge Jan - March 1961):
"... the records of ancient and mediaeval history are starred with lacunae. History has been called an enormous jigsaw with a lot of missing parts. But the main trouble does not consist of the lacunae. Our picture of Greece in the 5th century BC is defective not primarily because so many of the bits have been accidentally lost, but because it is, by and large, the picture formed by a tiny group of people in the city of Athens. We know a lot about what fifth-century Greece looked like to an Athenian citizen; but hardly anything about what it looked like to a Spartan, a Corinthian, or a Theban -- not to mention a Persian, or a slave or other non-citizen resident in Athens. Our picture has been pre-selected and predetermined for us, not so much by accident as by people who were consciously or unconsciously imbued with a particular view and thought the facts which supported that view worth preserving." (page 11)
" If you find it in the documents, it is so. But what, when we get down to it, do these documents --- the decrees, the treaties, the rent-rolls, the blue books, the official correspondence, the private letters and diaries ---- tell us? No document can tell us more than what the author of the document thought --- what he thought had happened, what he thought ought to happen or would happen, or perhaps only what he wanted others to think he thought, or even only what he himself thought he thought." (page 15)
****** The bottom line is that the cultural interpretation of the head covering passage rests upon fallible human history. ******
In the fourth place, the inspired apostle has already given the reasons for the head covering symbol right there in the passage. Putting forth another reason is unnecessary and presumptuous.
These are the reasons which the scripture gives us:
1) "since man is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man"
2) "because of the angels"
When a man covers his head, he symbolically covers the image and glory of God and the authority of Christ, and that is the reason why he should not cover his head.
When a woman covers her head, she symbolically covers and hides the authority and glory of man, thereby giving all the glory to God, and that is the reason why she should cover her head.
Also she should cover her head because of the angels; and while Paul does not elaborate on this reason, I know one thing for sure about angels ---- they have nothing to do with human culture.
And we are not to take away from nor add to God's Word:
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6
"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." Deut. 4:2
"...If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life ... " Revelation 22:18-19
In the fifth place, just because the symbol of the head covering was not given until the Christian era, does that necessarily make it a human custom?
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