Head Coverings and Authority

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At work one day I had an interesting conversation with a “liberated” young lady. She asked me what kind of life and job I wanted for my daughter when she grows up. I choose to answer thoughtfully in an honest way knowing that my world view and hers would likely not align. There are certain things I want for my daughter but in the end she will be her own person. My hope and prayer is that she will listen to the vision and plans that God would have for her. As a father I am an authority in my daughter’s life. While I am responsible for her there are certain things that will not be acceptable for her that I would not think twice about for my son. For example I told this coworker that I would not allow my teenaged daughter to take a part time job as a pizza delivery driver but I would not object to my son if he wanted to take that job same job. Presenting any kind of inequity in jobs or opportunity does not match the world view preached by the world.

My wife and I have talked about how the college expectations work and if we could be on board with sending an 18 year old daughter without escort into a college campus to live. Turning a young lady over to the protection of the campus with other teens from who knows what kind of background is a scary thought. Another coworker, a young woman, loves to be in the mountains and regularly hikes mountain trails alone. When I asked her if that was wise she became frustrated because I clearly was not the first to ask the question. Why should she limit her desires just because there was no man around? I at the very least encouraged her to carry a gun but she declined for political and world view reasons. This kind independence and liberation for women is only even possible in western society due to the stability of the rule of law. That is a testament to just how good our society has life, but we should not be oblivious to the reality that women need to be protected even in such a society where law and order are the norm and abuse is the exception.

14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:14-15 ESV

The Corinthian Church also dealt with this issue of authority and submission in regard to men and women. Paul reminds the church of their own societal customs regarding the head covering. While these rules for head covering do not directly apply to western society the larger spiritual points of authority do apply.

6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:6-7 ESV

Even today some societies require women to be covered in public. This covering is a protection and a separation of the lawless assaults from the outside world. In western society modesty is not a virtue and women are encouraged to show all their splendor and draw attention. This is only possible because of the rule of law and one should always be aware of situations that might leave an opening to a crime of opportunity.

In Corinth however the custom was for women to cover their head in public. This covering was symbolic of the fact that the woman was to be respected because she fell under the authority of a man. Her father, husband, or even some relative. Women moving to a city alone to live as they please was practically impossible. Even today tragedies are told of the young woman who moves to New York alone and is destroyed by the ugly side of the city. Today while such a right exists and is taken by many single women that same woman still falls under the authority and protection of the government at the very least.

When Paul notes the held belief of the Corinthian society that the woman is the glory of man and the man is the image of God he is highlighting an established norm of the day. To western society this norm is less pronounced and less relevant but the point of Paul’s argument is very relevant today.

11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV

All men and women are equal before God. While the woman was made to be a helper for man and therefore woman came from man it is also true that every man came from a woman, his own mother, making him subservient as well. Paul’s conclusion then is that it is not for men to lord over women or control women because they are inferior but that men are to serve and women are to serve because all are from God who is the actual creator and sustainer of life.

The young lady that wanted to know what kind life and job I wanted for my daughter asked a question that is important to the world. My daughter will grow old like myself in just a few short years. This young lady should be asking what kind of future eternal life I want for my daughter. The daughter that God has given to me to raise is a smart and capable person made in the image of God. She can be and do anything God places on her heart. She does not need to cover her head any more than I need to uncover my head before God (He sees the heart). But what I do want for her more than anything is to acknowledge that everything comes from God. He is the Creator and author. What I want for my daughter and son equally is that they would know and be reconciled to perfect authority, the Father, through Christ.

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 ESV

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