Every man who prays or prophesies ·with his head covered [or with long hair; L having down the head; C most scholars think the passage concerns head coverings; others long or short hair (see v. 14)] brings shame to his head [C meaning shame to Christ, who is the head of the man; v. 3].
But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every individual man, just as a man is the “head” of the woman and God is the head of Christ. Thus it follows that if a man prays or preaches with his head covered, he is, symbolically, dishonouring him who is his real head. But in the case of a woman, if she prays or preaches with her head uncovered it is just as much a disgrace as if she had it closely shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head she might just as well have her hair cropped. And if to be cropped or closely shaven is a sign of disgrace to women, then that is all the more reason for her to cover the head. A man ought not to cover his head, for he represents the very person and glory of God, while the woman reflects the person and glory of the man. For man does not exist because woman exists, but vice versa. Man was not created originally for the sake of woman, but woman was created for the sake of man. For this reason a woman ought to bear on her head an outward sign of man’s authority for all the angels to see.
In a marriage relationship, there is authority from Christ to husband, and from husband to wife. The authority of Christ is the authority of God. Any man who speaks with God or about God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, dishonors Christ. In the same way, a wife who speaks with God in a way that shows a lack of respect for the authority of her husband, dishonors her husband. Worse, she dishonors herself—an ugly sight, like a woman with her head shaved. This is basically the origin of these customs we have of women wearing head coverings in worship, while men take their hats off. By these symbolic acts, men and women, who far too often butt heads with each other, submit their “heads” to the Head: God.
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