Bible Q & A
Should a woman wear a covering on her head in church?
Some churches require women to wear veils or
hats in church. They claim I
Corinthians 11:1-16 as supposed
scriptural proof. They quote verse 6
specifically: “For if the woman be not
covered, let her also be shorn: but if
it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or
shaven, let her be covered.”
Other churches use this same scripture as
support for their doctrine that women
should never cut their hair.
Modernists contend that whatever Paul
taught the Corinthian Church is not for
us today anyway—and they proceed to do
as they please.
What is the truth?
Some contend Paul required women to wear
veils because it was the custom of the
day for women to wear veils in public
places of worship. This is NOT true!
Let’s get our facts straight.
Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible article “Veil” gives
us the answer. “In ancient times, the
veil was adopted only in exceptional
cases, either as an article of
ornamental dress…or by betrothed maidens
in the presence of their husbands,
especially at the time of the wedding…or
by women of
loose character for
purposes of concealment
(Gen. 38:14). But generally speaking,
women both married and unmarried
appeared in public with their faces
exposed, both among the Jews…and
among the Egyptians and Assyrians, as
proved by the invariable absence of the veil in the sculpture and paintings of these peoples.”
It was not customary for women to wear veils in Paul’s day. It is interesting to note
that the fallen church pictured in Revelation 17, the fountain-head of
harlotry, commands its women to wear coverings over shaven heads in their
What Paul taught is this: as man is the head of woman, it is improper for man to have
a covering in a religious service as a symbol of subjection (I Cor. 11:4). The only exception was long hair in the Nazarite vow, a token of subjection to
God for a special time (Num. 6:5). Men are otherwise commanded: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man
has long hair, it is a shame unto him?” (verse14). Men wearing long hair, a fad with the younger generation, are effeminate and no effeminate man
shall inherit God’s Kingdom! But what about a woman? “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for her HAIR is given her for a covering” (verse 15).
Notice! Paul, under inspiration, speaks
of LONG HAIR as the “covering,” or
veil. The Greek word for “covering” in
verse 15 means “veil”. See the margin
of the King James Version. So the covering is not some hat, or
piece of cloth.
does not say that women must wear something over their hair. Instead, he says: “Doth not even nature itself teach you, that…if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her: for
her hair is given her for a covering.”
“long hair” is mentioned, some are
afraid to cut their hair at all. The
text doesn’t read uncut hair; it reads
only “long hair”. Long hair is an
indication that a woman is willing to be
in subjection to a man, and that she
acknowledges the special need for
protection by angels –beyond the
ordinary protection which angels give to
men (verse 10). Hair cut long enough
to look feminine and honorable is
appropriate. About shoulder length, or
longer, is a satisfactory standard. If
a woman wears her hair so short that it
looks like a man’s, then she ought to be
shorn or shaven – the
symbol of a fallen woman.
To be “shorn” (verse 6) means to be closely clipped. Some small sects contend that
any cutting of hair means to be shorn.This is untrue.
Properly cut long hair is not shorn
hair. There is no Bible command anywhere against cutting hair within the
length which looks feminine and
Many women today are, however, wearing their hair too short. They are not allowing their hair to be “a covering” (verse 15). It is a
woman’s long hair that is her covering – not some piece of cloth
to hide a mannish, modern hair do!