Sunday, 2 November 2014
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. 1 Corinthians 11:6
As seen in the preceding verse, there were instances noted in the Old Testament when a woman’s hair was to be shaved. Those instances were for specific purposes and not as a usual custom. Paul builds on that now. He noted that praying with her head uncovered is the same as if she were shaved and now he says if she isn’t covered, “let her also be shorn.” In the first half of this verse, Paul is giving a direction. If she is going to disregard the first, she shames her head (meaning the man under whose authority she stands). If she does this, then she should be shaved as a shame to herself.
In the second half of the verse, he notes that “if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.” The intent is that because it is shameful (and presumably no woman would want to be shamed in this way) then she should cover her head to avoid the first shame (to her head, the man), which would result in the second shame (that of being shorn).
To shave the head is to “unveil” the head. What was given by nature as a covering and what serves as a fashion statement in women, is removed in the process of shaving the head. These natural traits are lost and that which is considered unnatural is what results.
What Paul is saying in this verse is not specifically a command, but rather it is an attempt to get his audience to think through to a logical conclusion what it means for a woman to pray or prophesy with her head uncovered. If she insists on this, then she also by default should insist that she be shorn (either explicitly or implicitly by her actions). And if she does this, then it implies that the concept of equality between the sexes does not actually apply in all cases. As Ellicott astutely observes –
“…it is illogical to argue in favour of any general principle as if it were of universal obligation, when you yourselves admit that it is not applicable in some cases.”
God has shown us in His word what is right and appropriate and he has shown that there is a hierarchy which exists and is to be adhered to. When it is violated, it upsets what is natural and proper. Unfortunately, many accepted principles of the New Testament are simply dismissed in today’s churches. This is especially true in churches which have deviated from the principles concerning propriety of conduct in regards to women. If these principles are ignored, then the floodgates of Scriptural deviation are opened wide. In essence, it is a rejection of Christ’s Headship over His church.
Life application: One cannot simply ignore verses or precepts which they don’t like without opening up a rushing torrent of bad doctrine. Every word of God has been given to instruct the people of God and thus a refusal to accept every word can only lead down one sorrowful path of eventual apostasy. It may take time, but it is the inevitable outcome.
O God, thank You for my time of prayer. Thank You for the quiet moments with You before I rise. It’s just You and me in close fellowship. Thank You for the prayers I share with You in the morning as the day gets started, for the prayers while I’m walking with You throughout the day, for the prayers that come while I work, and for the sweet time of prayer that we share over meals. Thank You O God for the time of prayer as I get into Your word, reading that treasured book. Thank You for the prayers I share with my fellow believers as we study Your word or fellowship at church. And thank You for the prayers which end my day, in the quiet moments alone with You before I fall asleep once again. Lord God, thank You for the ceaseless prayers I share with You! Moment by moment my life is spent communing with You. Thank You for this treasured time of prayer. Amen.