The apostle Paul teaches the Corinthian church about covering the head (or wearing a hat) saying, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God” (1 Corinthians 11:7). If man covered his head, that would be an inappropriate act. A man should be so dressed as not to hide the great fact that he was the appointed representative of God on earth. This is because man was created in God’s image and should live in harmony with His divine principles.
Here, we have a hint of the high responsibility to which God has called man. God placed man at the head of the newly created earth, and gave him “dominion, … over all the earth” (Gen. 1:26). Thus, God intended, through man, to reveal His wise and kind parental care, His protection provision, and guidance, before the universe.
Even after man’s fall and the loss of dominion resulting from it, God planned that man should have the responsibility of leadership in the affairs of the home (Gen. 3:16). There is no indication in the Bible that this order of things has ever been changed since that time, but it appears that some women in the church at Corinth tried to change it.
Paul continues saying, “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him?” (1 Corinthians 11:14). In verse 14, Paul is speaking specifically of “long hair,” rather than hats, but both are considered a “covering” for the head. In the Corinthian society, for men to wear any kind of head covering in church was for them to take on the role of the women, which is not the order that God planned for spiritual headship (1 Corinthians 11:3).
And in following that Biblical instruction, we find that in the western culture, it has always been considered disrespectful for a man to wear a hat inside a church building or indoors. In contrast, women’s hats are considered appropriate inside a church.
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In His service,
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