1 Corinthians 11:8–16 (NKJV)

8 For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. 10 For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. 12 For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God.
13 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.

1 Corinthians 11:8-16

This continuation of Paul’s discussion of head coverings moves into what Paul would consider the logic of the instruction. In the beginning, in creation, woman came from man. Woman was created to be a helpmate to the man. Eve was to be Adam’s helper, partner, mate. This is the rationale for Paul’s instruction that the women wear head coverings, as a symbol of her authority found in her husband (or father if unmarried). He then admits that no one is independent of another, because even though Eve came from Adam, now all men come through women, who bear them and birth them into the world. Therefore, woman came from man, but man also comes through woman. He tries to end the discussion with the saying “but all things are from God….” Paul then throws the responsibility for this determination back to the reader. He tells them to judge for themselves. His argument seems rational to him that women should cover their heads, and that men should have short hair, but in the end he concedes that if this causes contention with anyone, the matter is not a custom. The churches of God will not be divided over such a matter.

Paul is from a Jewish background, where women did cover their heads. He argues from Bible and history that this is the logical way to handle the dress and covering of men and women. He leans hard on the patriarchal conventions of the day, but also concedes that this may not be practical or acceptable in some cultures. As the church grows and expands, there will be contentions over these–perhaps–archaic customs. Therefore, he encourages them to live by the logical, natural, historical systems. However, he also instructs them not to lose a convert or create contention or division over this custom. Live as though it is a preference, not a command. That will help the church and its people to avoid unnecessary disputes and divisions. God wants a unified front. We are all dependent upon each other, therefore we must support and respect each other with dignity and humility. None of us would be here without a mother, and no one would be here had God not taken a rib from Adam and made Eve. Therefore, there are few rights of prominence or preeminence, and one must see God as our ultimate source for everything. He is God the creator and sustainer of us all. So, whether we say woman was from man, or man comes through woman, we are all from God. Be content in that, and talk about Jesus, not veils or haircuts.

Artwork from https://newbostoncoc.org/kevins-korner/please-explain-1-corinthians-111-16/

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