1 Corinthians 11:4-6
1Co 11:4 Any husband who decides to be praying or prophesying while having something against his head, puts his head to shame.
1Co 11:5 But any wife who decides to be praying or prophesying with her head uncovered puts her head to shame, since that is one and the same as having it shaved.
1Co 11:6 Because if a wife is not covering up her hair, she should cut it off; but if it is disgraceful for a wife to have her hair cut off or shaved, she should cover it.
holiness and hats
I was told once that up until recent history all wives everywhere wore head coverings as a sign of their husbands’ authority over them. That’s a load of crock. What I will concede is that in first century Corinth it was considered shameful for a wife to go without a head covering, because head coverings served the same purpose as wedding rings: they indicated that a lady was married. Thus, for a wife to appear in public without her head covering, it would put her head to shame. It would literally put her head to shame, and it would bring shame to her husband as her head. The people in that culture and time objected to exposing their wives’ hair. I have no such objection. My wife has beautiful hair, and I do not mind letting the world see it.
Now, the problem in the Corinthian church was that there was a group of husbands who — belonging to the “freedom” faction, insisted that their wives should go uncovered. The wives — not wanting to be exposed to public shame — wanted to keep with their cultural tradition and keep their veils on. They appealed to Paul. He told those husbands that they should not insist that their wives go uncovered in public. His reasons had nothing to do with their husbands’ authority over them. His reason stated here was that it would embarrass both the wives and the husbands. It would be the same if the husbands walked around with head coverings on — like cross dressing.
So, basically this passage has less to do with holiness and more to do with being considerate of one another, and not seeing our freedom as license to do something stupid. More on this tomorrow.
LORD, we do not want to put you to shame, either by how we dress, how we act, or what we profess. Teach us to be considerate of one another.