Monday, March 28, 2011

The Hair is not "the" covering

You probably know that I've answered this before but only just today the issue of "hair" as covering has come up once again. This time with the twist found in the word "instead" found in v 15 -- the entire teaching is I Corinthians 11:1-16.

Many smart women read the I Cor 11 passage and are led astray by commentaries and the confusion of the translation using the word "covering" for both the covering and for the hair. Really smart women check it out in Greek and some of those stumble over the word "instead" thinking they have Found something that lesser Christians have missed. They read the passage in a transliteration and think that their hair is their covering. Let me explain why it is not.

There are many issues hidden by the translation from Greek into English. The biggest one is that from v 5 through v 13 the Greek is using the word Katakalupto and akatakalupto. The "a" in front of the word means "not" the same as when "a" is put in front of the word moral.

Then, at the very end of the teaching a whole different word is used and that is about the hair. That word is peribolaion which is only used one other time in the Bible. The BEST translation of peribolaion is Vest or mantle.

Long hair is like a vest or mantle. Peribolaion also means something you can throw around oneself like a shawl.

At the close of the passage the teaching is totally different than putting a covering, a katakalupto, on your head. The passage in Greek teaches women to do that and in addition it teaches that your long hair is like a vest. When the passage says, "instead" the hair is given instead of a covering the Greek is saying that the hair is given instead of a vest, not instead of the head covering katakalupto.

I know it's difficult. I know it would have "popped" out so much more clearly if the translators had simply translated the close of the passage the way the Greek does ...

"A woman/wife is have long hair, glory to her it is; for the long hair instead of a vest is given to her."

That is the exact teaching in Greek.

There is no way the Bible is saying wear your hair instead of your vest. It's saying that your long hair could be vest-like, mantle-like it covers that well. But the passage does not say that your hair/vest is THE covering, the katakalupto, so painstakingly taught above.

If the hair is THE covering then men need to take their hair off to pray or prophesy and it makes the passage silly because people don't put on hair and take off hair. The verb tense is in the "putting" on. An action; that's the tense when teaching the katakalupto covering.

I too looked for any way to get out of covering. Any way to get out of it would have worked for me. I too noticed that with 3 strong reasons given in the passage to cover I could not find an excuse.

The headship order = God, Jesus, Man, Woman
The order of creation = man, then woman
The Angels = which have been around a long time

No cultural reason is given, only "long-term" reasons are given.

This is why Christians obeyed I Cor 11 for 2000 years and only stopped around 40 or 50 years ago. Coverers are outnumbered now, but that was not the case for 2000 years. This "not" covering situation is new in church history.


Jules said...

This makes alot of sense. THank you for this post! blessings, Julia

Anonymous said...

This does not make common sense. If God means that men must take off every cloth on their heads, then men could not pray with wraps on in subzero temps!
Paul appeals to Creation as a basis. If it is a creation principle, then we would not see God commanding the OT priests to wear bonnets to minister in the Temple. And He would not have told Ezekiel to prophesy with his head covered.

This has to mean the long, feminine hair is the covering. A man's hairstyle in the NT was not considered "shorn". Paul twice took a vow in the temple, once in Acts 18 and once in Acts 21. In Acts 21, it says he shaved his head for the vow. In Acts 18, it says he had his head "shorn" for the vow. Same thing. Removing ALL of the hair.

Thus, the Word is saying, if she refuses to wear her hair like a woman, and instead cuts it in a man's style, then let her go ahead and remove ALL of it, whether by scissors or by razor. Because she is rejecting her God-given feminine glory by choosing a man's short hair, then let her also embrace male baldness.

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a man pray to God (His Creator) looking like a woman? No. Because long, ornamental hair is a head covering. It is a shame for a man to thus cover his head.
Judge in yourselves: is it not comely that a woman pray to God with long feminine hair? Of course! Because her hair is given to her for a head covering! This honors her Maker.

To cover the glory He gave her, is not to honor her Maker. It is to deny her Maker the glory He deserves. Check it out. Never in the Word are we instructed to cover our God-given glory.

Jeff Creighton said...

Yes there has been much confusion about this chapter, because I have trouble believing that the covering is of cloth, and I have trouble believing that the covering is of hair. I have trouble believing that the headships stated in 1 cor 11:3 is about authority.

Notice how authority is to be taken away. 1 Corinthians 15:24, Ephesians 1:21, Ephesians 6:12, Matthew 23:11.

I believe that the covering of hair, is a "covering of glory" and is nothing to do with whether one is revealed or hidden.

I feel that the text is describing that a "covering of glory is given to the man during prayers and prophecy." and that if a woman decides to "steal that glory" by praying or prophesying being revealed with her man, then she has metaphorically "shaved his head" A poor use of a metaphor for a man because, because a man shaving his head is of no dishonor. So I feel that the metaphor was given pointed to the shaving of a woman to show how much dishonor is being created.

For if a woman was to have her head shaven there would be serious consequences. Because this is a visual metaphor that we can see. So also "a serious issue" occurs when a woman does this.

Since I feel that this issue is soooo misunderstood, I do not believe at all that a woman should actually have her hair shaved off if this where to happen. Also how this event actually occurs is still blurry to me, so how would it be right to penalize a woman for a thing that few if any are actually doing.

So here is my understanding so far, and it could be incorrect.

The Greek word for "having" in 1 Cor 11:4 has been my focal point. Here is an example. If a man offers flowers to a woman this "laying down of life/sacrifice" is acceptable because of the thoughtfulness behind such an act. It is an object to be having. A woman getting flowers for herself gives no glory to the man. The expression is rendered "bald man and undesirable(although not literally bald)"

The word "image" in 1 Cor 11:7 helps us also understand the headship. As I walk down the street wanting to keep a good eye for my Jesus I sometimes run into a couple walking down the road. Now if I look at the woman, the Spirit of the Love may become Jealous. I have found it safe however if I look at the "head" of the man. One thing about Greek is that it is very specific, and the word head is a literal head. The two become one flesh and so I look at the head. The Body of Christ also becomes a bride for Jesus. So when The Father looks to creation, he no longer looks at the "bad wife" instead he looks at the "head" and sees Jesus. Also I find this beautiful, the Father and the Son are one as well, So when one looks to Jesus they see the Father!

Now if my wife prays to the assembly like this "I want flowers." The Holy Spirit of Love may choose a man to grab flowers and bring to her. My Jealousy is created, I have been stripped of my glory, for the other man "is the supplier of affection" and this is kara(down/against the head) as described in 1 Cor 11:4.

This also completes very nicely with the expected silence of the woman of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 again pointing out the "Disgrace" the same disgrace of 1 Cor 11:5. The draws me to conclude that the covering IS the "Mouth of the Man" for that is what gives "Glory to God"(1 Cor 11:7) and should have her hair shaved off her head if she speaks, for she "Steals from God" and the balance is this "If you steal Glory from God, then the Glory of your Hair should be stolen from you." Yet his mercy is amazing, look at all the women who still have their hair. Or is this more disobedience of man?

For more discussion please email me at

Jeff Creighton said...

In response to "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a man pray to God (His Creator) looking like a woman? No. Because long, ornamental hair is a head covering. It is a shame for a man to thus cover his head."

In the old testament there was a man named Samson who had long hair and he was one of God's chosen Judges.

Dedicated to God from the womb -Judges 13:5c
Whose head is never to be touched by a razor -Judges 13:5b

God still showed him favor when his hair was both long and ornamental.

So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric. -Judges 16:13b

And when he prayed to God he got answers. His shame was in his disobediance, not with his hair (from my understanding). The point made to the Corinthians in their culture.

Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him,
-1 Corinthians 11:14

Would have made sense to them, because in their culture this was most likely the true point of view. For I find it odd that if long hair indeed was disgraceful in the eyes of the Lord, that he would design his servant to be a disgrace considering that a number of times the Spirit of the Lord took over that body. Although Jesus came in this form:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
-Isaiah 53:2

I want to show that the vanities of appearance differ from the glory of the spirit. I still feel that in grace the Lord holds to esteem overmuch than that of personal appearance. So if personal appearance equaled in value to grace, and the Lord himself took the form of an undesirable man, that would could conjecture that Jesus had no grace. Yet he is described as the Lord of Glory showing a complete opposition between the vanities of this fleshly age and the Glory of the Spirit. With hair being of vanities, and God choosing both the Strongest of the bodies of men to reside within to the appearance of unglorified flesh. Showing that both great and small, poor and rich, healed and broken, the Lord could be will all. So by this, long hair, being a disgrace to the vanities of a man, logically is not a repellant to the Spirit. The Spirit of grace can rest on any he chooses. =)