This scripture is not talking about hats or veils. The
subject in question is hair. “But if a woman have long hair,
it is a glory to her: for her HAIR is given for a covering”
(verse 15). Notice: Paul, under inspiration, speaks of
LONG HAIR as the “covering,” or veil – not some hat or piece of cloth.
In verse 6, Paul discusses various lengths of hair. Four
lengths are mentioned: (1) not covered, (2) shorn, (3) shaven
and (4) covered. Shaven designates a totally bald head.
Shorn hair is very short – cropped hair as when a sheep is
shorn. Hair that is not a “covering” is short hair. Hair
that is a covering is long hair – long enough to cover the head
and back of the neck down to the shoulders. This of course
refers to the length, not the style, so that long hair can be
worn up on top of the head or in a French roll or bun even though
it might appear shorter.
In the setting of verse 5 by itself, a veil just doesn’t fit.
What does a veil have to do with being shaven? Rather, Paul
is saying that if a woman is going to have short-cropped hair
she might as well go all the way and shave herself bald.
To further show that this chapter is dealing with hair
lengths, not veils, consider verse 4 and 14. Verse 4 says
that if a man has his head covered when he prays, he is
dishonoring his head who is Jesus Christ. Verse 14 shows
that it is a shame for a man to have long hair.
Verse 10 shows the purpose of long hair on a woman. This
verse should be rendered as it is in the margin, “For this
cause ought the woman to have a covering in sign that she is
under the power of her husband.” Long hair is a sign
that a woman is willing to be in subjection to a man, and that
she acknowledges the need for protection by angels.
Since God has placed man as the head of the
woman (verse 3), the woman should have a sign of her submission to his
authority. This sign is the woman’s long hair – not a veil or hat.