Church of God, New World Ministries

Difficult Scriptures

I Corinthians 11:5 - Does this say every Christian woman should wear a veil or hat when she prays?
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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