What did the Apostle Paul mean when he said that "Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head," and "but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head"?


1 Corinthians 11:5

ESV - 5 But every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.

Clarify Share Report Asked November 15 2013 Passport foto 1 Sayialel Ole Pasiany

Community answers are sorted based on votes. The higher the vote, the further up an answer is.

Mini Shanna Duck "Let a search be made in the royal archives..." Ezra 5:17 NIV
In the preceding and following verses you will see that the "head" of every man (male) is Christ. A husband is directly responsible to God/Christ for his family and also represents, on Earth, the image and glory of God in a special way. Since he's God's officer and somehow reflects God's glory on Earth, the man should not cover his head during worship. The "head" of a wife is her husband, and women are the glory of humankind. For this reason women ARE to cover their heads (the context here is during public worship.) The covering represents her submission to her husband as well as possibly the human soul's submission before God. Verse 3 also shows that it is not degrading to be under authority, because Christ himself, although He is equal to the Father, is under the Father's authority. 

Some authorities recently are arguing that the woman's headcovering was a symbol of HER authority (I suppose, like a crown), rather than showing her submission to authority, but I have not found any historical support for this. 

Rather it seems to be quite plain. God has a general plan for the ordering of the family: husband/father; wife/mother;children and historically, servants. We Christians are to act in our ordained roles, so that the angels, some of whom left their ordained places, will notice. 

It's clear from the historical record that women in the early church took these verses literally and wore veils, and these gradually changed to shorter veils, hoods, hats, bonnets, and finally to little lace mantillas. In the 1980s, when I visited a Catholic Church in Mexico, women still were required to wear a mantilla in the building, and I think many women in the Orthodox faith still wear some type of covering today. As a fashion historian, I think the disappearance of the women's headcovering in most of the Church is an interesting study in how secular culture influences the church. Women's headcoverings have almost disappeared, but I'd like to see a man try to preach or pray wearing a hat in most mainline denominations. That cultural standard is still STRONGLY in effect. 

There ARE today some issues about wearing head-coverings. Some people believe that the command was only for the 1st century, where a headcovering had a meaning that most people in the U.S. would not recognize today. Today, a woman wearing a veil or scarf in public might be mistaken for a Moslem, an Orthodox Jewess, a cancer patient, or a member of a particular Christian denomination. 

Some people also get very legalistic about the headcovering- some say it must cover the head and hair (like a veil) and others that, since the covering is itself a symbol and not (according to scripture) worn for modesty, then it can be much smaller: a wide headband, lace doily, decorative hat, a snood, or a back-of-the-head veil attached to a barrette. 

Some people, too say, that since we should "pray constantly," then the woman should always be wearing her head-covering. Of course, taken to its logical conclusion, this means that a man should NEVER wear a hat, since he's always to be in prayer. The original context of the verses was in public worship, though.

November 16 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Eced7a1f c81d 42f4 95ea 9d5719dce241 Singapore Moses Messenger of God, CEO in IT industry, Astronaut, Scientist
A major portion of Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians deals with problems which existed in their Church. He gives his "frank answers" to more than ten of their questions. God in His Sovereign wisdom has included this Epistle in the canon of the Scriptures because the issues dealt with by the apostle are timeless. The first half of the eleventh chapter of the Epistle discusses the matter of head covering. I urge you to go through verses 1 to 16 atleast thrice without prejudice before reading the comments below.

"Women's hair was a common object of lust in antiquity. To fail to cover their hair was thought to provoke male lust. Headcovering prevailed in Jewish Palestine and elsewhere, but upper-class women eager to show off their fashionable hairstyles did not practise it. Therefore Paul had to address a clash in the Church between upper-class fashion and lower-class concern" (The IVP Bible Background Commentary).

It is beyond doubt that the apostle took a positive stand in favour of headcovering. He gave atleast four reasons for his conclusion. First, the headship of God, of Christ and of man (1 Cor 11:3-8). Secondly, he presents God's purpose of creation of man and woman (v 9). Thirdly, he speaks of the angels who observe our worship and are concerned about God's order of administration in the Church (v 10). Remember, the archangel who rebelled against God's headship became Satan? Lastly, Paul reminds us of "nature" (v15). This verse implies that for a woman to have a headcovering in addition to her long hair is to say amen to the divine ordination.

It is unwise to totally set aside the matter of headcovering as merely cultural. Such an approach will ultimately discard so many precious New Testament passages as irrelevant. For example, the Lord's Supper, which is discussed in the second half of the same chapter, is essentially symbolic and it was also instituted in the Jewish cultural context! We must guard ourselves against losing the power of symbolism in Christian life.

Modern hairstyles and dress fashions are erasing the sex distinctions. Keeping the apostolic "traditions" will save us from a cataclysmic collapse (v 2). Anyone who understands the trend of the age with the mind of the Lord will only urge for a conservative conduct in the House of God where men and women gather for worship (Jer 6:16; 1 Tim 3:14,15).

Moreover, covering of head by women in the Church generally offends no one whereas if they don't cover, it does offend atleast some. What do we lose by embracing an ancient symbolic custom upheld by the apostles? Eighty percent of Indian population is rural and this is the most unevangelised sector. Headcovering by women in villages as a mark of respect and reverence is deep-rooted in culture. Let's preserve it while planting Churches here.

There are many sincere believers who hold an exactly opposite view in this matter of headcovering. The conclusion of Paul to his argument will help us maintain a spiritual unity in spite of such differences: "If anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the Churches of God" (v16).

July 09 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20180421 22482 3qp2i1 Lawrie Yinka
Women don't cover their head with a hat or a piece of clothing these days because they believe in the understanding of the later part of 1 Corinthians 11:15 which tells us that "the woman's long hair is given to her for a covering" if a woman has long hair, it is her glory. However it is a dishonour for a man to have long hair.

November 16 2013 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Dave Young
it means what it says. Paul is referencing the fact that we must all recognize "headship" and for the woman this requires, according to scripture, that her head be covered when praying or prophesying.

November 15 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image Bryan Naidoo founder and senior pastor of The Upper-Room Church
This is a very good question.....what did Paul mean....the scripture is very plain and simple to understand.....historically the women in the church all along had their heads covered in western countries with hats in others probably with head scarfs. It was taught and preached from the podium the importance of this command...there's is a reason why God has recorded this for us....he us a God of a order...who loves order...this was done to establish an order.

November 16 2013 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Image Bryan Naidoo founder and senior pastor of The Upper-Room Church
It is just a pity that this subject has now become a major problem in the church of Jesus Christ. I say now because it was never a problem before. No theologian, scholar or layman ever asked to look at the latter part of the scripture on this subject, nor was there any debate regarding the covering of the hair.

This was not only practiced, but a command that the church adhered too. The question of woman having long hair has to do with the Glory of God, it does not evade the principle and order set in this chapter.

For if a woman will not wear [a head] covering, then she should cut off her hair too; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her head shorn or shaven, let her cover [her head]. For a man ought not to wear anything on his head [in church], for he is the image and [reflected] glory of God [his function of government reflects the majesty of the divine Rule]; but woman is [the expression of] man's glory (majesty, preeminence). [Gen. 1:26.] (1 Corinthians 11:6-7 AMP)

The amplified version speaks of wearing or putting something on top of the hair. If the hair is the covering why instruct a coveting. He also says a man ought not to cover his head. This means he must not place anything on top of his hair which is on his head.

If this subject is examined carefully, a good scholar will find that this started to become a problem in the west where the fashion world was slowly creeping into the church.

It is my belief that good men of God could not exercise godly principles laid down on the basis of fear. Congregants were looking for places where they will be comfortable, unfortunately the church had to bend or twist the word of God to to make its congregants comfortable.

July 10 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Add your Answer

All answers are REVIEWED and MODERATED.
Please ensure your answer MEETS all our guidelines.

What makes a good answer? ▼

A good answer provides new insight and perspective. Here are guidelines to help facilitate a meaningful learning experience for everyone.

  1. Adhere to the eBible Statement of Faith.
  2. Your answer should be complete and stand-alone.
  3. Include supporting arguments, and scripture references if possible. Seek to answer the "why".
  4. Adhere to a proper tone and spirit of love and understanding.
  5. For more info see The Complete Guide to eBible
  1. 4000 characters remaining