1 Corinthians 11:4 Any man who prays or prophesies with something on his head disgraces his head, 5 but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled disgraces her head—it is one and the same thing as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil.
Paul’s letters found in the New Testament are often more practical than theological. This passage from his first letter to the church in Corinth is a good example. We can assume that if Paul is addressing the issue of women wearing head coverings, it’s because there has been some disagreement on this matter in the church. The people have asked for a ruling, so Paul offers one.
It’s hard to know if or how we should apply such a passage because it speaks so closely of a cultural convention (women wearing head coverings) that does not exist today. That said, until fairful recently, many women DID wear head coverings in church.
My family has a Roman Catholic background, as is true of many Hispanic families. My maternal grandmother wore a veil on her head EVERY TIME she went to mass. Period. Looking at photos of my mother and her sisters from the 1950s and 1960s, it’s clear my grandmother taught them to do the same. Females were expected to wear head coverings and they did. This began to change in the late 1960s and 1970s with the emergence of the feminist movement.
If we are to take scripture seriously, should we conform to this old cultural norm or not? Perhaps some of you female readers will chime in on the topic by commenting on this blog post. I’m interested to read what you have to say.
Lord Jesus, give us grace and wisdom to honor your word – whatever that looks like. Amen.