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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Given Her for a Covering by Mike Atnip

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Hey Doug, thanks for the mini exposition. I like the way your mind thinks.

When Paul was giving his speech regarding this unique subject, hair is what he is saying is the covering not a veil.

Let me pull up the verse so we can analyze this more carefully.

1 Corinthians 11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Why are women using a material veil when her hair is given to her for a covering?

For anyone thats interested, this is another thread on the same subject that I am linking here.

 2011/10/28 15:28

 Re: Why was 1st Cirithians written?

In all of this discussion has anyone ever asked the question why was 1st Corithians written. This letter as all of Paul's other letters has a context. Understand the context of the letter you understand the verses in question. Understanding the verses in their context will give clarity in whether these verses are binding today.


 2011/10/28 16:53

Joined: 2011/6/16
Posts: 183


You know that you are free to believe or not believe, accept or not accept, do or not do.

Hello Doug,

This is not what the Holy Spirit tells me. I am NOT free to believe or not. Where did you get that?

But let me ask you and all others who dismiss what the text literally says:

Do you take all texts literally? I don't think that you mean that?

The Bible is a spiritual book and if we miss the spiritual applications to the heart, it matters not how much of it you take literally. And the Bible is also a cultural book. Do we imitate all the middle eastern customs in the Bible?

What is the outward sign that a man is respecting his GOD?

I was not aware there was an outward sign that showed we (women) respected God as God looks on the heart. What is the outward sign for men?

Would you say that Jackie Pullinger does not respect God?

There are many other great women of faith that had the hand of God on their lives who did not obsess about "outward signs". Why would God have His hand upon them in such a powerful way if He thought He was being disrespected by them? What you are saying does not make any sense.

I only seem to dismiss what the text says, because I don't interpret it LITERALLY as you do. I interpret it CULTURALLY as it was meant at that time, so it cannot be said of me that I "dismiss" it. Please continue to read.

The reason that it seems to many of us that you are trying to fit a square block into a round hole is that this was only mentioned in Corinth because of cultural implications regarding the heathen priestesses.

While commentators and very sincere Bible students greatly differ on this question, there is some general agreement on two things. First, if God wants women to wear head coverings today, this is the only action in the New Testament that God does not fully explain. Second, no other book or passage in the New Testament deals with this issue and we have a limited amount of information in this chapter about women wearing a head covering (veil).

Warren Wiersbe (First Corinthians, p. 603) aptly described part of the problem: “Eastern society at that time was very jealous over its women. Except for the temple prostitutes, the women wore long hair and, in public, wore a covering over their heads…For the Christian women in the church
to appear in public without the covering, let alone to pray and share the Word, was both daring and blasphemous.” The Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible (p. 326) offers similar information: “Required head coverings for women are an Eastern custom. A Middle Assyrian law required that all women except prostitutes and slaves be veiled. Jewish
communities of the New Testament period were strict about this. The Mishnah (A.D. 250) held that failure to comply was grounds for divorce(Ketubin 7:6). A moral, unmarried woman even wore a veil in front of her parents. Removal of the veil was a sign of disgrace (3 Macc. 4:6). Philo of
Alexandria indicated that this regularly worn covering was a symbol of modesty (Special Laws 3.56; Josephus Ant. 3.270). Women charged with adultery had this veil removed.”

Even now every culture has specific customs, one of which may involve males removing their hats. In the United States it used to be normal for men to remove their hats when the Pledge of Allegiance was said or the National Anthem was sung. Males have also traditionally removed their hats when attending worship. Men who refused to respect these cultural traditions were seen as disrespectful, just as the Corinthian women would have been regarded if they rejected the veils (verse 5) and men would have been disrespectful if they had worn a covering (verse 4).

Women have also been expected to observe some cultural practices, some of which are found in marriage. In many wedding ceremonies it has been customary for a bride to say she will “obey” her husband and the bride traditionally accepts her husband’s last name to show her recognition
and acceptance of his authority (headship). Paul dramatically emphasized the need to observe customs such as the head coverings at Corinth by appealing to both the Godhead (11:3) and angels (11:10).

Today it is still very important to respect the customs in the culture where we live or work. This means we respect the way people talk, dress,think, etc. It is also necessary to live in such a way where males and females carry out their God given roles (i.e. men behave like men and
women behave like women).

The custom of wearing veils is also related to what Paul said at the end of the previous chapter (in 10:25-26 he spoke of buying food that may have been offered to idols). Paul said Christians could purchase this food if they “asked no questions.” If Christians asked shop owners about the origin of food, they would have been regarded as odd and probably gained a bad reputation among the unsaved—things the Corinthians church did not need. Paul knew Christianity was a new religion and it was important
for saints to leave a good impression with the unsaved (compare Tit. 2:5, “that the word of God be not blasphemed”). This is partly why he spoke of being “all things to all men” in 9:20, 22; 10:33. If the Corinthian women chose to stop wearing veils or opted for short hair (compare verse 15), they would not have been “all things to all people.” They would have violated local customs, offended outsiders, and very possibly offended fellow
Christians (compare 10:29). Refusing to wear head coverings or follow other customs would have been “an occasion of stumbling” to others (10:32) so this chapter tells women to obey this cultural practice.

Some believe all Christian women in first century times were bound to wear a head covering and this obligation is still in force (i.e. today all women must wear a covering in church assembles). Those who take this view often differ on the specifics of what must be done. Some think a
woman’s covering is her natural hair (this is a difficult explanation to defend, especially in view of verse 7. If a woman’s covering is her natural hair, and men are prohibited from wearing a covering—their natural hair—
only bald men can approach God). Others think a literal covering must be worn (i.e. the natural hair is not enough so an additional covering must be added).

Even now this principle is true (people who do not follow the customs of their society are regarded as bizarre and frequently become an object of derision). When cultural customs do not conflict with the Bible, they should be followed.

Also, there are indications in this chapter that Paul was speaking about a cultural belief instead of a divine command. For instance, he spoke of the shame borne by those who are shaven (verse 6). Since there is no Bible passage that forbids the shaving of a woman’s head, what was the basis for this disgrace? If it was not from God, it must have been society (culture).

Furthermore, since Paul joins shame with the word veil (6b), both the disgrace and the veil seem to have been part of the Corinthians’ culture (way of life).

Paul said nature (phusis) offered some instructions about a woman’s covering (verses 14-15). Why appeal to nature if head coverings are a divine command and a perpetual obligation for Christian women?

Appealing to nature is a possible Biblical argument to prove something (compare Jas. 3:11 where James used nature to argue against improper speech), but this does not seem to be Paul’s purpose in 1 Cor. 11 because he said women “ought” to have a head covering (verse 10).

The Greek language has a word for must (dei) and Paul used this term many times in his writings including this letter (11:19; 15:25, 53). When discussing the veil issue, however, inspiration led him to use a less forceful
word meaning “ought.” When combined with the previous information, the bulk of the evidence, in this author’s judgment, favors the explanation that head coverings were part of the Corinthians’ culture.

Finally, Paul speaks of “in the church” several times in this letter, including this chapter (11:18; 12:28; 14:19, 23, 28, 33, 34, 35). With the exception of verse 16, where he said, “we have no such custom,” the word church is never associated with the head covering. Thus, this author understands verse 16 to mean there was no church custom to wear the veil (i.e. head coverings were a part of society instead of a divine command).

Excerpts taken from

In Christ,

 2011/10/28 21:28Profile

Joined: 2011/8/16
Posts: 159


And the Bible is also a cultural book.

Whatever you believe about the covering will be directly influenced by your belief on this topic. The Bible is NOT a cultural book. God's Words transcend ALL cultures. That's not to deny that the Bible relates some things people did that are different from our culture, it's just to say that "No Scripture is of ANY private interpretation."

 2011/10/28 21:36Profile

Joined: 2010/7/31
Posts: 61


Amen Creation!

I've thought about these passages of scripture in light of someday getting married. I believe these passages regarding head coverings to be literal. So if the Lord ever brings a girl into my life and marriage is an option... would she submit to these verses? Considering how the modern church totally blows these verses off, I don't think there is a woman who would accept a literal interpretation.

Then again, maybe I'm a Jeremiah 16...

 2011/10/28 22:04Profile

Joined: 2011/6/16
Posts: 183


The Bible is not of any private interpretation and that is why there are Believers throughout the world that believe this was only in Corinth. The fact that there are Believers that do wear the head covering does not mean that those who believe it is cultural only, are having their own private interpretation.

There are far two many Christians across denominational, non-denominational and house church lines that interpret it as a cultural admonition to prove that it is not being interpreted "privately". Many also wear it because they DO interpret it culturally and in their country it would be strange for a woman not to wear one. If you were saved in a country with a head-covering, keep wearing it. If you were saved in a country that does not wear head coverings, it is your choice what you want to do. God cares not what is on your head, but rather what is in your heart. Because what is in your heart will be displayed outwardly in your walk before your husband and all men.

At the council of Jerusalem where many Apostles had assembled, what was the final outcome? Remember, that Paul, who had talked about head coverings was also at that council. Here is the outcome.

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. Acts 15:28-29

No greater burden than THESE NECESSARY THINGS.

In other words, HEAD COVERINGS are not necessary.

If you believe in a head covering for your wife to be, you will no doubt have no problem finding a wife and then a fellowship that carries on that tradition. There are many that do. You should then be happy with your wife and your congregation and praise the Lord and also do not disfellowship other Believers. The Lord will not be pleased if you wear a head covering but shun those who don't. And vice-versa. I do not shun those who wear head coverings. That is not walking in love.

Much grace and peace to all,

 2011/10/28 22:56Profile


I find this veil thing insulting and highly offensive to the gospel of Christ.

Why would Paul come along AFTER Jesus had put away external workings and put this troublesome burden on the people of God.

I grew up in a Church that had women where a covering of some sort and truly, they were not examples of godly women. Those that did not have some scarf or hat seemed to have a radiance about them that I wanted to cling to. I am not saying that women who do wear a veil are not godly, it's just my observation over the years of being in this denomination that I rarely seen it.

There was always this air or arrogance of "look at me I am holy" and it was sickening to watch.

Paul has to be talking about something else and it must be spiritual.

 2011/10/28 23:58

Joined: 2007/6/29
Posts: 342

 Re: sarahsdream

Dear Sister,

Thank you for taking the time to write. You make a few specific points and ask a few specific questions, so I should answer them.

You ask:
"This is not what the Holy Spirit tells me. I am NOT free to believe or not. Where did you get that?"

I simply meant you have your free-will. You may believe the information presented in favor of following this practice, or not. You may accept the answers given to all of the arguments that have been pressed against it, or not. Finally, you may do this practice, or you may not. At some point, you make a decision based upon the light you have.

You ask:
"Do you take all texts literally? I don't think that you mean that?"

Yes, dear Sister, many of us believe we should obey the apostles' actual commandments. Their authority was given to them by Jesus Christ Himself, and is binding upon the Church until the end of the world.

You write:
"The Bible is a spiritual book and if we miss the spiritual applications to the heart, it matters not how much of it you take literally."

Just because someone mentions obeying something on the outside, this does not make him a "pharisee" who ignores the heart of the matter on the inside. Our modern western Church is drenched in this almost knee-jerk, "reactionary" mentality that implies someone is a "pharisee", who after he has made the "inside" clean through the power of God, also seeks through that same power, to make the "outside" clean as well.

You ask:
"And the Bible is also a cultural book. Do we imitate all the middle eastern customs in the Bible?"

The Bible was written over thousands of years and in many different cultures. The consistent theme you will find throughout, is God's call to His people to go against the prevailing culture, if need be, to "obey" His voice ONLY.

We do not imitate incidental customs mentioned in the Bible. We do seek to obey the instructions given directly to the Church by Jesus and His apostles. Wherever the culture contradicts these Scriptures, we should choose to follow the Scriptures.

You ask:
"I was not aware there was an outward sign that showed we (women) respected God as God looks on the heart. What is the outward sign for men?"

One sign would be: an uncovered head, during prayer and prophesy.

"God looks at the heart", yes, but does not He who made the eye, not also SEE what we DO outwardly? Does not He who made the ear, not also HEAR what we SAY outwardly?

You ask:
"Would you say that Jackie Pullinger does not respect God?"

I don't know her, but judging of what I have heard of her, I am sure I would learn a lot from her faith and her experiences. That being said, if she doesn't follow this practice, that's between her, her Lord, and her local Church. I might assume she only knows what has been commonly taught in the Churches of the West "against" this practice for most of the 20th century, very similar to the commentary you pasted below your post.

As for other women being used of God who didn't do this or that practice: Well!... dear Sister!, that is "the rule", not "the exception" :O) What I mean is this:

God ALWAYS uses imperfect people. No one has ALL the light on the Scriptures. In fact, some of the Scriptures are actively taught AGAINST, especially in the modern Western Church, even well-meaningly. There is so much of the Scripture that are made obscure in the minds of the people by well-intentioned teachers...

God know all of this of course. As you say, "He looks at the heart." Rejoice Sister! And thank God with me at least for that! He doesn't throw us way because we are imperfect or our understanding is imperfect... Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace!

That being said, we must never look to other fallen, imperfect people and judge ourselves by them. This method doesn't work now, and it won't work on Judgement Day. God has given us freedom and an "open" Bible. Let us follow, not other men or women, but it.

Regarding your comments and the pasted commentary on I Corinthians 11:

"heathen priestesses" "only mentioned once" "not fully explained..." The modern commentator says it was only cultural... Men removing their hats today is only a cultural custom... We must not be seen as "bizarre" by the prevailing culture... Arguing from "nature" and from "Divine Command" are mutually exclusive... The word "ought" vs. "must"..., etc...

Dear Sister:

Though there are strong, logical, and Biblical answers to all of these modern assertions, I am not certain you want to know what they are. I think if you have carefully read all of my posts in this Thread, you will see that enough has been said already. You are going to have to convince me that you truly want to know more before I say anything else to you about this.

In the meantime,

Be well Sister.

 2011/10/29 0:03Profile

Joined: 2011/6/16
Posts: 183


Very true, Approved. Outward dogmas are very insulting to the cross and blood of Christ.

Again, this burden was not put on the Gentiles by Paul at the Jerusalem council, which proves that Paul was talking to the Corintian church about their culture in the light of heathen priestesses prophesying. If Paul meant this for all Gentile Christians, he would have mentioned it several times in his letters and definitely at the Jerusalem Council.

There can be no other explanation why Paul failed to mention this "very important doctrine" at the Jerusalem council. He did not mention it, because it it seemed GOOD TO THE HOLY GHOST not to mention it.

Act 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;

We need no other proof but the Word of God and the voice of the Holy Ghost.

Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

I am rethinking this and I believe I have been too "nice" and we must stand strong against this because it is really false teaching couched in smooth words. It is absolutely not the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Paul would have withstood this fiercely just as he did not see fit along with the Holy Ghost to mention it at the Jerusalem Council.

The scriptures cannot be clearer. I will not fall into this deception of smooth words and man's wisdom. This teaching only appears one time in one chapter in one book to one church and when you take the NT as a whole and understand the Gospel, the liberty of Christ and what is proof to Him of our submission to Him and one another, you realize this is a slick lie from the pit.

I'm sorry, but really not. Christians should not put up with something like this. It only opens the door to more abuse of the scriptures and the true leading of the Holy Ghost and the Word of God.

And I pray that more men of God would not be timid and stand up for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

 2011/10/29 1:07Profile

 Re: Sarah

Sister when this issue first appeared in the forum there were men, including myself, who argued quite forcibly for the freedom of the gospel. We consistantly posted that obedience to Christ is a heart issue and not a matter of externaks.

As we continued to post two things became apparent. The first thing was we were going against SI leadership. Greg posted articles about the head covering issue. Prior to my time on SI, and it has been short ,the covering was not an issue. But his listing those articles and opening up the threads made into this mountain we now have. The issue cane from top down. Those of us who spoke out were made out to be divisive and rebellious. We a were speaking out against leadership.

The other thing is there comes a point when you say all you can say and people don't want to listen. There are some, perhaps many, who value their religion and legalism more than their freedom in Christ. Even Jesus stopped arguing with the Pharissees as he had a mission to do. And sister that is it. We have a mission called the great commission to be about.

By the way agree with your post. They are well reasoned and researched. More so than mine were.

His blessings to you my sister.


 2011/10/29 1:45

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