7 “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8For man is not from woman, but woman from man. 9Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.”
Paul is arguing the importance of the roles of men and women in the church. In verses two through six, he argued from a theological perspective. Now he turns to an argument from the order of creation (7-12).
For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God;
It is not right for a man to cover his head in worship because he directly reflects God’s “image and glory” in his role (Ge 1:26-28; 2:26). God commissioned man to be the “head” in role over the woman. This does not diminish the woman’s role any more than Christ being subordinate in role to the Father diminishes His personhood in the Trinity. The Son does nothing of His own initiative but brings glory to the Father (John 5:18-33; 8:38, 49-50; 10:25; 17:1, 24-26). As there is no inequality in the Trinity, there is no inequality between men’s and women’s roles.
“Image” here is a full representation of God. People see God’s likeness in mankind. This dignifies mankind. Women share that image, but God calls upon men to take headship. “Glory” is something openly manifested. Men are to manifest this glory as they minister the Word and worship in their role as head. Since a covering is a sign of subordination, the man is not to cover his head so that he does not veil the glory of proclaiming God in creation. Long hair is effeminate.
but woman is the glory of man.
Note that Paul does not say that the woman is the image of man but that she is the glory of man. A woman, like a man, holds the same image of God. A woman is the glory of man but is not his “image.” The woman shares the image of God as well as the man does, so she is just as close to God as the man. The point is that a subordinate glorifies the one in authority. Man finds delight in the woman. This is a glory of response symbolized by the femininity of her hair (symbolized as well in biblical times by her “veil of longer hair,” which was a cultural mark of response to headship or leadership as the wedding ring today indicates exclusive belonging).
The symbol is not nearly as important as the principle – women should be feminine. God made woman’s femininity to make apparent the masculinity in man; man’s role is to take the initiative. God showed in the male how great a creature He can make from Himself, and in the woman how great a creature He can create from a man (Genesis 2:21-22). A woman today still wears longer hair than a male because she defers to her husband’s leadership.
For man is not from woman, but woman from man.
The woman came from Adam’s body. Adam did not come from Eve’s body. Adam was a direct product of God’s creation. Therefore, Eve glorified Adam in creation. In the first instance, female sex did not make male sex (Genesis 2:18-22). Since Paul argued from Genesis, this cannot be an issue of culture and local custom simply for the first-century Corinthians. God took the woman from man so that she might share completely in his nature. The male is incomplete without the female.
Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.
God created Eve to complete Adam, not the reverse. We should translate the word “for” in “for the woman” as because of the woman. There was incompleteness in Adam, so God created Eve to fill his incompleteness. She was a corresponding dimension he needed. She brings glory to the man by accepting her role within masculinity and femininity. A woman wears longer hair than the man to manifest her femininity and his masculinity.
God has a divinely ordained plan of roles.
God created men and women in His image so that they can reflect the glory of God. God wants people to see His likeness in men and women. The word “glory” means weight or value, so God wants believers to be instruments displaying His character.
Women are never happier than when they reflect the glory of males in their femininity. The woman is the “glory of man,” so she is the highest expression of the male’s worth. Women should, therefore, receive honor, dignity, and worth from men. When men treat women as second-class citizens, they violate the inner beauty of femininity. If men treat women as sexual objects, then women will reflect that view of themselves. Some women live like they think men want them to live. Women who desire to please the Lord will transcend this view of women. Women tend to glorify men.