“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” (1 Corinthians 11:6).
Anciently women did not go abroad with uncovered heads, therefore, it was regarded as a disgrace to a woman and to her husband if she should appear publicly without a veil, especially in the capacity of a leader of worship.
For a woman at Corinth to take public part in the services of the church with her head uncovered would give the impression that she acted shamelessly and immodestly, without the adorning of shame-facedness and sobriety. “The women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing” (1 Timothy 2:9). The apostle reasoned that by thus discarding the veil, a recognized emblem of her sex and position, she shows a lack of respect for husband, father, the female sex in general, and Christ.
It was also customary for Jewish, Greek, and Roman males to wear short hair at that time. Among the Israelites it was looked upon as disgraceful for a man to have long hair, with the exception of one who had taken a vow as a Nazirite. “All the days of the vow of his separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD, he shall be holy. Then he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow” (Numbers 6:5).
Short hair was sometimes the mark of a woman of poor reputation, thus a Corinthian woman who took a part in the public services of the church with her head uncovered might be regarded as having put herself on the same level as a low, perhaps irrespective, woman.
Paul reasoned, that if a woman wanted to act like a man, she ought, in order to be consistent, to cut her hair after the fashion of men. But such a course would be regarded as disgraceful. Therefore, the apostle said she should be properly veiled.
Today, in worship, the underlying principle for woman and head cover should be “whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This means woman believers ought to act in such a manner as to comply and respect the customs of their societies and culture regarding this issue that the name of God would not be defamed.
In His service,