Insights on head covering (1Corinthians 11)
By Ivan Ho First written 19 Feb 2016
Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God. Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.
I Corinthians 11:2-16 NKJV
After some brainstorming, discussion and soul searching, I‘ve come up with the following insights regarding 1Corinthians 11:2-16:
To understand this scripture, we need to first go back to the book of Genesis when God created first the man and out of man, woman was created, setting the divine order of creation.
1. Christ is the head of the church and the husband is the head of the wife. Marital relationship as God intends it is more than just affection between a man and a woman. A healthy union between man and woman is a triangular relationship involving Christ as the head of the unit.
2. The main focus of 1 Corinthians 11 isn’t really on the physical head garment that a man or a woman is supposed to wear or not wear at church, nor is it necessarily describing the cultural practise at the time. There are spiritual principles which Paul was communicating through these scriptures that has to do with the principle of spiritual covering.
3. In a marital relationship, God has set the husband to be the man who provides spiritual covering to the woman (wife), just as Christ is the head who gives spiritual covering to the church. When the man is not functioning as he should to provide spiritual covering and protection to the wife, it would be likened to him having his head covered which speaks of him not allowing the glory and image of God to manifest through his life in order to bring forth spiritual covering to his wife. A man does not automatically become spiritual covering to his wife just because he is a Christian and goes to church. It is not enough for the man just to provide for his wife in the natural and emotionally. He has to be primarily a man of the spirit who is able to project the man Christ within him, thereby providing his wife spiritual strengthening and covering. Both man and woman need to be fulfilled spirit soul and body.
4. The wife, on the other hand, needs to find spiritual covering from her husband. If she dishonours her husband and lives an independent life, it would be likened to her not having her head covered in church. When she violates her spiritual covering by detaching herself from her husband, she then dishonours her head and becomes vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. Just as God provides the woman with long hair as natural covering, the husband ought to be the spiritual covering for his wife.
5. God puts the man and the woman in the garden of Eden which is the physical domain for the family. Both the man and the woman need a physical home from which they find rest and protection, and a base from which they can fulfill their God given assignment. The Chinese word for home 家 has a covering 宀 above. Without spiritual and physical covering, the man and the woman will not be able to function properly and reach their God given destiny. In Genesis God gave man the mandate to first cultivate the garden of Eden (Gen 2:15) and from there subdue the earth (Gen 1:28)