1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the husband is the head of his wife, and God is the head of Christ. 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. 7 For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and reflection of God; but woman is the reflection of man. 8 Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man. 10 For this reason a woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man or man independent of woman. 12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman; but all things come from God.
When I read passages like this one I realize that Paul is a) addressing a specific issue related to the church in ancient Corinth and b) a man of his time. So I don’t have to go off on Paul and start yelling at the computer screen.
This passage also reminds me of my maternal grandmother who was a fairly devout Catholic and went to mass most days. She ALWAYS wore a cover over her head in church. She simply wouldn’t think of doing otherwise, nor would she allow any of her three daughters to do so. Did she do this for theological reasons? I can’t say for sure since she’s home with the Lord now, but I rather doubt it. This was simply the way females were expected to dress for mass.
My grandmother was a woman of her time.
Even as I think of her now I see her smile and hear her laugh. She lit a candle for me every day after mass. EVERY. DAY. Her faithfulness and example in devotion to God and in prayer encourages me to this day (even if I don’t have a statue of the Virgin Mary in my home, nor a picture of the pope – which she always did).
So while I’m not on board with Paul’s views on gender roles, some fond memories emerge for me as I read the passage. That said, I wonder how I would experience this passage were I female. Quite differently I’d guess. Perhaps some of you women might respond?
Gracious God, this morning I thank you for my grandmother Teresa who was an example to her children and grandchildren of devotion to you.Give me grace that I might be an example to others. Amen.