© Copyright by Leonard E. Linsted from his book titled FACT OR FALLACY
The subject of the woman’s head covering is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. There are two extreme views as to its validity. Some believe that it is a divine truth to be practiced by all Christian women everywhere while others believe it is irrelevant, and at best, and outmoded custom peculiar to Corinthian times. Our purpose in this study is to seek the mind of God as to the true meaning of the head covering, bearing in mind that Paul wrote with divine authority. " If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I wrote unto you are the commandments of the Lord." 1Cor.14:37.
The Bible states that lawlessness would characterize the last days 2 Thess.2:7 and that there would be a breakdown in regard for law and order. This spirit pervades the spiritual real where, increasingly, professing Christians reject or "water-down" the plain, direct teaching of the Word of God. In considering the passages before us, may we avoid the spirit of the day and come to the Word with a desire to honestly know - "What saith the Lord?"
The simplest way to approach the subject is to note eighth outstanding facts:
If we can see how these relate one to another, we shall be able to come to an understanding of some wondrous truths which, heretofore, may have been hidden from our eyes.
THREE HEADS (V.3-5)
The first is God; the second is Christ; and the third is Man. God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man and man is the head of the woman. This does not mean to imply "inferiority" as some might think. It is DIVINE ORDER that is in view here. Only as we recognize HEADSHIP will we be able to appreciate God’s order, Godward and manward. In the universe Satan, the usurper, failed to recognize the Headship of God and fell. In the garden, the woman failed to recognize the headship of Adam and fell, pulling the entire human race down with her, even as Satan drew a vast number of angels with him in the original fall.
THE THREE GLORIES (v.7-15)
1. MAN (v.7) Man is the glory of God.
2. WOMAN (v.7) Woman is the glory of the man.
3. WOMAN’S LONG HAIR (v.15) Her personal glory.
In scripture, a covering denotes "subjection". Thus, when Rebeccah saw Isaac, she "covered herself" (Gen.24:65) as much to say, "Isaac is my head." In Isaiah 6:2 we notice that the seraphim have six wings. With two they did fly and with four they did "cover" themselves before the presence of God. It took twice as much energy to cover themselves as it did to serve, seeing they covered themselves with four wings and flew with two.
Keep in mind, then, that a covering or a "head-covering" denotes subjection and you will understand why the man wears no covering on his head. He represents the glory of God - therefore he wears no covering, for God is subject to no one. The woman, representing man’s glory, is covered. She teaches with her veiled head that man is in subjection to God, and that his glory is out of sight, veiled, hidden - only God’s glory is to be seen. At the same time, when the woman covers her head, she not only covers man’s glory but her own PERSONAL GLORY which is her hair. Thus, when the saints are come together for some purpose, we see the man uncovered, for he teaches by so doing that God’s glory alone is to be seen. The woman, with covered head, not only veils her own glory but, with her head covered, teaches that in this place, man’s glory is not to be seen.
The first woman, Eve, did not recognize headship. Satan caused her to be deceived into thinking she could raise herself by taking things into her own hands. Instead of lifting the man up, she pulled him down. The New Testament woman, on the contrary, with her head covered, teaches that she knows what Eve failed to regard - God’s order. She recognizes headship. Eve did not. She bows to God’s word. Eve transgressed. Eve took man out of his rightful place but the New Testament woman, under grace, is going to keep him there. What an object lesson for man to see, to be reminded of every time the saints come together!
"For this cause ought the woman have power (authority) on her head BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS." v.10. This is deeply significant for it reminds us that the angels of God are interested spectators of what goes on in the assembly. None know divine order and headship better than the angels. How they must watch in amazement, beholding the silent ministry of veiled head and the loving obedience of a devoted heart.
THE TWO COVERINGS (v.5-6;15)
The best commentators see two coverings - one which is put on the head over the hair, and the other being the hair itself. The woman’s long hair is her personal glory. But when the saints meet for some purpose, she then places a covering on her head, thus not only veiling man’s glory, which she represents, but also her own personal glory.
Recently at a DVBS, a sister with uncovered head approached me and said, "If I offend you by not wearing a hat, I will wear one tomorrow." I said, "You do not have to put one on for my account." "Oh, I know," she replied, "It is just something you do for your husband." "What about women who have no husband?" I asked. With this, she paused in thought. "Well, then - why does a woman wear a hat?" I then proceeded to show her some of these scriptures in Corinthians. When we finished, she looked up and said, "In all the years I have been in the assembly, I never knew what the head covering really meant. This is wonderful! Now I want to do it for I see what it means." The next day several other sisters sought me to explain these passages. Without a single exception, they gladly bowed to the truth, joyfully desirous of carrying it out. One lady explained it to her teenage daughter who said, "Mother, I never knew it meant that. Now I want to wear a covering on my head as unto the Lord." No wonder angels watch in amazement at the response of the New Testament woman.
Sometimes sisters will wear a covering when they go to the Chapel, but when they go to a cottage meeting, they wear no covering. These dear sisters miss the whole point - it is not WHERE you go that determines the covering, but WHAT the gathering is for regardless of where it is.
Again, some sisters wear a hat when the assembly meets, but if it is a sisters meeting, they wear no covering. Here again many miss the significance. ‘Every woman that prays or prophesieth with her head uncovered, dishonoreth her head..."v.5 Notice, nothing about where, but WHAT are they doing? Praying, prophesying (teaching) for there are times when the woman may pray or teach. Thus, women in a women’s prayer meeting are covered. Or, if a woman teaches a women’s class, or children, she is covered.
What about the sister in the home as she does her housework. Suppose she utters a prayer... should she get a hat? It would seem that in a case like this, her hair is sufficient for private communion. Prophesying of a necessity involves "others" and it follows that the injunction is true for prayer where there are others involved. It is difficult to draw a hard line. Most commentators see the instruction in 1 Cor. 11 as pertaining to assembly gatherings.
I have often said, there are four reasons why a woman wears a hat. I will start with the most remote reason and come to the better one. She wears a hat because......
1. It is socially correct
2. She sees other women wear a hat
3. She doesn’t want to, but does it to keep "peace"
4. She sees the teaching and does so as unto the Lord.
Which category are you in?
Several years ago, I ministered at a camp for young people. I spoke from the book of Philippians - a chapter each morning. Friday found me with time for another subject and I wondered what the Lord would have me take up. Of the hundred or so young folk, among the young ladies only one or two wore a hat. So I decided to speak from 1 Corinthians 11:1-16! When I finished the study there was a rush to the platform by a number of these young women. The first one to reach me with blazing eyes and tight lips, said, "you’ll never get a hat on me" Looking into an angry face I said, "Don’t worry, if God can’t put one on you, I won’t try" The next girl stepped up and said "You know, I never realized until today what a wonderful truth the woman’s head covering taught and I will be so happy to wear one from now on!"
Speaking to a group of young men one day on this subject, I related the above experience at the Bible camp. Then I asked this question, "Fellows, if you were to make a choice between the first and second girl as a partner for life, which do you think you would prefer?" One fellow thought a moment and replied, "I’d probably prefer the second. That first one.... wouldn’t she be something to live with - with a disposition like that"
Where there is loving submission to these truths, you find a sweet spirit, either in the things of God or the things of man. I am not saying that all sisters who wear a hat have such a disposition, for some war it in a slavish kind of way with a rebellious heart; but I say where there is an intelligent, loving obedience to the teaching of the Work, you will find a submissive, God-honoring spirit in everything else; and where you find sisters with blazing eye and hard faces rejecting it, you will find that same spirit of rebellion and hatefulness in almost every other phase of her life, either in the assembly or in the home......
Undoubtedly there are many dear Christian woman who have not known these truths and it is not fair to put them in such a foreboding character. However, when they do see these truths more often than not, they are glad to carry them out.
At last a word of two. What about the woman’s long hair. How long should it be? I think any woman knows what long hair is in contradistinction to a man’s hair which is naturally shorter. Her hair is her personal glory. If she wants to cut it off, that is her prerogative and her shame. (v.5) If a man wants to wear long hair like a woman should, which would be her glory, it becomes a shame to him. (v.14) For nature itself teaches us that it is a shame for a man to have long hair. Mind you, nature teaches it. That is why even in the world, many unsaved people shun the shamefulness of men with long hair.
The 16th. verse seems to be a mystery to some. "But is any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God," and take it that if the matter of wearing a covering brings contention, don’t bother with a covering. how ridiculous! What Paul is saying in fact is, "If any-one is argumentative after all I have said on this, we have no custom of women with uncovered heads, neither the churches of God."
Paul does not teach the significance of the head covering for 15 verses and then says in the last, "If you don’t like to do it, don’t, for none of the other churches do it either." The custom he refers to was the "uncovered head," not the head covered in subjection to the risen Head and in obedience to His blessed word.