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Is a Woman’s Hair “Pinned Up” Her Covering?

Head Covering Objections
The Objection: The Greek word “Akatakalyptos” is incorrectly translated as “uncovered” or “unveiled” in English translations of the Bible. A more accurate rendering would be “unloosed”. Paul is not commanding women to wear a head covering, but is telling them to pin/bundle their hair up instead of letting it hang down their backs.

This view was articulated by James B. Hurley (Professor of Marriage and Family Therapy, RTS Jackson) who said:

…the custom in view was not the wearing of the shawl but rather the wearing of that hair style which marked a woman in proper relation to her husband or father. It was the custom of women to wear their hair pinned up in a “bun” rather than hanging loose. 1) Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women? A Consideration of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Cor 14:33b-36 (Volume: WTJ 35:2 – Winter 1973)

How is this view supported? Dr. Hurley says the most “fruitful text” to study is how the Septuagint translates Leviticus 13:45. The Septuagint (also known by the abbreviation, LXX) is a Koine Greek 2) The language the New Testament was written in. translation of the Old Testament. It was the Bible used by Greek speakers in the time of Jesus and the Apostles. So let’s first take a look at this passage Dr. Hurley mentioned with a special focus on the Hebrew 3) The language the Old Testament was written in. word behind hair “hanging loose”. Read more

References

1.
 Did Paul Require Veils or the Silence of Women? A Consideration of 1 Cor 11:2-16 and 1 Cor 14:33b-36 (Volume: WTJ 35:2 – Winter 1973)
2.
 The language the New Testament was written in.
3.
 The language the Old Testament was written in.

Is a Woman’s Long Hair Her Covering?

Head Covering Objections
The Objection: The Scriptures tell us that women must pray & prophesy covered. This should not be understood as an artificial covering on top of her hair since 1 Corinthians 11:15 states that a womans covering is her long hair. The fact that men should have short hair and women have long hair was Paul’s point.

While we affirm that a woman’s long hair is her natural covering, we see two different coverings being talked about in this chapter. One of them is a woman’s long hair which is natural, permanent  and a glory to her  (1 Cor 11:14-15). The other would be a fabric covering which is artificial, removable (1 Cor 11: 5) and a symbol of authority (1 Cor 11:10). Read more

Where are Head Coverings to be Practiced? In Church or Everywhere?

Where Is This To Be Practiced?

“…the head covering for women was understood to belong to the decorum of public worship.” -John Murray [1898-1975] (Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary) 1) Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #5

The Scriptures tell us that head coverings are required when praying or prophesying. However, an important question we should be asking ourselves is praying and prophesying where?

One side understands this command as pertaining to both public and private life. They would say since we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17) women should be covered almost all the time.

The second understanding is that head coverings are only commanded for when the local church gathers together in worship. This view gets its understanding from the context the passage is found in.

Let’s jump in by examining how the passage regarding head coverings is laid out. Read more

References

1.
 Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship: A Letter’ by John Murray. Point #5

Why Head Coverings? Reason #4: Church Practice

Biblical Case for Head Coverings

“Paul taught all the churches this custom and he expected them to follow it. In this final statement he cuts off all further argument by appealing to universal Christian usage.” – Mary A. Kassian (Professor of Womens Studies, SBTS) 1) Mary Kassian – Women, Creation and the Fall (Crossway Books, 1990) – Page 100.

When we hear the word “tradition” we usually think of it as the inventions of man which are not found in Scripture. The traditions may be beneficial (or at least not harmful) but because God doesn’t command them, neither should we. When it comes to understanding head coverings we need to ask, is this a tradition or a command? Let’s look at our first verse:

Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. (1 Cor 11:2 NASB)

Though the “traditions” are not defined, it is very likely that head covering was one of them. Why do I think this? The teaching on head coverings (1 Cor 11:3-16) is sandwiched in between two contrasting statements. In verse 2 Paul says “I praise you” followed by teaching on head coverings. Then in verse 17 he says “I do not praise you” followed by  teaching on the Lord’s supper and spiritual gifts (which they were misusing). The sentence structure of 1 Corinthians 11 uses verses 2 and 17 as topic headings. What immediately follows each of those verses is a teaching on the practices that fit the heading; the first to inform (praise) and the latter to correct (praise not). If head coverings were not being practiced by the Corinthians, it likely would have been addressed under “I do not praise you” (1 Cor 11:17). Read more

References

1.
 Mary Kassian – Women, Creation and the Fall (Crossway Books, 1990) – Page 100.

Why Head Coverings? Reason #3: Nature

Biblical Case for Head Coverings

…the long hair is an indication from ‘nature’ of the differentiation between men and women, and so the head covering required is in line with what ‘nature’ teaches.” – John Murray (Professor, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1930-66) 1) From ‘Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship’ a letter from John Murray to Mr. V. Connors www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/head-coverings-and-decorum-in-worship-a-letter-by-john-murray

Paul’s third reason for head coverings is probably the most confusing and misunderstood of all his arguments. It’s an appeal to a persons sense of what’s right, based upon what nature teaches us. I’ll break that down more as we continue, but for now let’s look at our next verse.

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? (1 Cor 11:13 NASB)

A rhetorical question according to the Random House dictionary is “asked solely to produce an effect or make an assertion.” This is what Paul is doing when he says “judge for yourselves”. We know this primarily because he just finished a lengthy defense for why we must practice head coverings. He wouldn’t then overturn that by allowing you to choose if you want to obey a doctrine rooted in creation. Rather Paul is declaring the debate closed. He’s saying “you all know this is the only right option”. No one would say that it’s proper for a woman to pray uncovered in church. That may not be so obvious to you right now, but stick with me.

This isn’t the first time believers are told to “judge for yourselves”. In fact we’ll turn to a few of those passages now to help us see this verse more clearly. Read more

References

1.
 From ‘Head Coverings and Decorum in Worship’ a letter from John Murray to Mr. V. Connors www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/head-coverings-and-decorum-in-worship-a-letter-by-john-murray

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