“Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” (1 Corinthians 11:4–5, KJV)
I have lived for a long time and seen many clothing styles. In the seventies, we saw the bell-bottom pants and platform shoes. The men grew their hair long and sported beards. As a businessman, I remember wearing a three-piece suit. Tie widths widened and narrowed. At one time I had the lapels on my suit-jacket narrowed to meet the current trends. In business and the church, we went from wearing jackets, and ties to very casual attire. Today we are seeing strange and bizarre fashion trends. I saw a fashion show where a designer unveiled gender neutral clothing. This was not jeans and a nice shirt. This designer made dresses for men. His appeal was to the LGBTQ+ community. It is not the clothes that are at the heart of the issue, it is the agenda that drives it. This drive towards gender neutral clothing comes from a confusion in gender identity.
Gender identity issues are not new. Yes, in Paul’s day we did not have a progressive movement pushing an LGBTQ+ agenda. However, apparently there was some struggle regarding the orderly arrangement that God designed between a man and a woman. In Genesis, God foretold of this struggle. As a result of the fall, He stated to the woman, “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16, ESV). God had created man first and then woman from man. This was the order and this made man the head and woman the help-mate. Yet, sin entered and there would be contention for headship. The woman would contend for it and yet the man would rule.
This conflict has been going on since creation itself. One might think that it would be restricted to the world and that it would not enter the church, but this is not the case. In Corinth it seems that there was a problem where some women were not being respectfully subordinate to the men. Paul points out that the man is the head of the woman. He deals with the problem in the church by pointing out a distinction in men’s and women’s attire. It seems that in those days’ women wore a head covering, perhaps a hood or veil, that the men did not.
Paul indicated that the woman’s throwing off the head covering was a picture of rebellion against the creative order. In other words, it demonstrated that she rejected the concept of biblical subordination to the man. Of course, this would be sin. Conversely, Paul says that a man should not cover his head. This is because to do so, the man is relinquishing his God ordained position and responsibility in the orderly arrangement between men and women. This is also a sin.
So, does this problem exist in the church and Christian home today? The answer in too many cases is yes. It is not seen today in attire, but in attitudes and actions. All too often we see some women trying to take control over men. It is normally seen in disrespecting male authority. It can be seen in outright rebellion. Yet, unfortunately and conversely, we see men in the church and home abdicating their God ordained leadership responsibilities. Without their godly and loving leadership, the women have no alternative but to step-up and lead. We need to realize that in our flesh we often struggle with proper roles in leadership. The men must pattern their headship after the loving, sacrificial, servant leadership demonstrated to us by Jesus. The women need to respond to this leadership with respect for godly male leadership