4 “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. 5But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.”
Having established the principle of role in relationships and organizations, Paul now turns to the subject of the role of women in public worship.
Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head.
The second use of the word “head” in this sentence may mean dishonoring the leadership or headship of Jesus Christ (previous verse). The ultimate authority is in Christ. Verses four through six are an extension of verses two and three. The phrase “praying or prophesying” conveys public worship. Prayer is presenting issues to God in public worship. Prophesying in 1 Corinthians carries the idea of proclaiming God’s extant Word, not foretelling. If a man does not pray and expound God’s Word as a male, he dishonors his head. If a man does this with long hair like a woman, he dishonors his leadership masculinity and his Leader-Lord. He acts like a woman; he is prissy and feminine. Masculinity in the Bible correlates with leadership. A man with long hair is a disgrace to masculinity.
But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head,
The issue in this verse is the conduct of women in public worship. The woman who prays or prophesies with her head “uncovered” dishonors her “head,” that is, her husband, who has responsibility for order in the family. The covering to which Paul refers here is her longer hair (11:14-15). This covering is a symbol of acceptance of the principle of headship/leadership. Note that women here are both praying and prophesying, so they have the freedom to minister publicly. Prophesying, in this context, means expounding God’s Word. A woman needs to expound God’s Word as a woman and a man to expound God’s Word as a man.
1 Corinthians 11:14-15, 14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? 15But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.
for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved.
Hair is one indication of a woman’s femininity. Women who shaved their heads in Roman culture wanted to appear as men. This distorted the distinction between masculinity and femininity. Men typically wore their hair short in that culture. A bald woman distorts her femininity and responsiveness to masculinity.
A woman who repudiated her femininity rejected her creation by God as a woman. It was a rebellion against what God made her.
For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn.
If a woman does not have longer hair than men, then she might as well go all the way and shave her head bald! The word “shorn” refers to shearing sheep with a razor. It is a shame if a woman’s physical appearance is like a man’s. A woman’s beauty is in her longer hair because it is an indication of her femininity. This is not to say that God forbids a woman from getting her hair cut; rather, the principle concerns her hair length relative to men’s.
But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.
A bald woman is an unbecoming thing! It is a shame. This is an argument of reduction ad absurdum, that is, an argument from the absurd. This is pure sarcasm.
A woman’s longer hair is an indication of beautiful femininity.
The issue is not so much whether women wear hats in church but whether they wear the pants at home! When a woman usurps leadership in church or home, she loses her femininity. This is not a pretty picture. A feminine woman is a beauty.