A number of visitors to our web site and readers of our newsletter, Covenant Family, have asked about our view on the matter of head coverings. This interest seems to be based in the belief held by some Christians that a woman should wear a hat or some other fabric on her head in church.
The Apostle Paul states clearly that "if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering" (1 Cor 11:15). Although the longer hair of a woman has a natural meaning to which Paul refers, it mainly is a sign of the authority of her head, that is her husband.
Paul is not endorsing even such women praying and prophesying in church, as Calvin noted in his Commentary: "For when he reproves them for prophesying with their head uncovered, he at the same time does not give them permission to prophesy in some other way, but rather delays his condemnation of that vice to another passage, namely in chapter xiv."
The headship of the husband is demonstrated by his wife not speaking in the assembly, for that undermines his representative headship. That is why Paul says that a woman who prays and prophesies in church might as well have her head shaven. In the law a captive woman whose husband and or father had been killed would have her head shaven in mourning (Dt 21:10-13). Paul is saying that a woman who speaks in the assembly is acting as though her representative head were dead.
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