The main subject in this portion is what we call “Headship.” In verse 3 we read, “But I would have you to know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” The word “head” refers to “one who has authority over another.” From the very beginning God created an order where one person would be in a position of authority and leadership, and another takes a place of submission under that God-ordained authority. We see in this verse that even Christ, as a Man, took a place of submission to God the Father. This shows us that submission does NOT mean inferiority, for Christ is equal to God the Father personally, for HE is God.

In verse 4 we learn how a man was to acknowledge this headship, “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head” (NKJV). If a man refuses to take his hat off when he prays or prophesies he is dishonoring his head, which is Christ. Verse 5 tells us how the woman was to acknowledge her head, “But every woman who prays or prophesied with her head covered dishonors her head.” If a woman refuses to wear some kind of head covering when she prays or prophesies she is dishonoring her head, which is the man. Later, in verse 15 we see that God has given the woman another covering to illustrate the same truth, “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” God has given the woman a permanent covering of “long hair” to show her submission to the man, and when she puts on a temporary covering when she prays or prophesies she is acknowledging God’s order and that the man is her head.

It seems obvious that when Paul wrote this epistle the women at Corinth were not obeying this simple command of covering their head. In verse 6 Paul writes, “For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head” (NASB). The apostle is basically saying, “The uncovered head of a woman is as shameful as being bald.” So he exhorts her to “cover her head.” It would seem that the women at Corinth were rebelling against God’s order because of a desire to be EQUAL TO THE MAN. We see from this that even back in the first century there was such a thing as “feminism.”

In verses 7-9 Paul establishes the fact that this was God’s order by going back to creation. They read, “For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. For man does not originate from the woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for man’s sake” (NASB). Some have thought that this teaching was only for women in Corinth and doesn’t apply to women today, but this passage clearly teaches that the truth of the headship of man and the submission of the woman has been God’s order from the very beginning.

Paul concludes this subject by teaching that the headship of the man over the woman does NOT mean that man is independent of the woman. We see this truth in verses 11-12, “However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from God” (NASB). Men need women just as much as women need men! And this implies what we said earlier; the man is NOT superior to the woman. The fact is, women may be superior to the man in many ways, but she is still to honor the man by covering her head when she prays or prophesies.  This obedience is insisted on in verse 16, “But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.” Some women at Corinth may rebel against these commands, but his instructions, which reveal God’s order, were being practiced in all the churches of God and they should practice them too.  (193.5)  (DO)