Baptist Women Exalted

Revised & Expanded Edition

 

by Mark W. Fenison

© 1976, 1994

Dedication

To my wonderful wife Kathy, who has been a godly helpmeet and example to me through the years. 

 

Contents

Foreword

Preface

The Nature of This Position

The Fact of this  Position

The Purpose of this Position

Teaching of this Position

The Symbols of this Position

Symbolic Position of Insubordination

Brief Exposition of 1Cor 11:1-16

What Do Other Authorities Say?

Objections Answered Concerning the Veil

Objections to the Position of Women

The Question of Silence?

Modest Apparel

Baptist Women Exalted

 

Foreword

The subject explored in this little book is generally avoided in our day, even in many churches which are otherwise faithful to the teachings of God's Word in what they consider more important matters.  But no part of divinely revealed truth can be safely neglected or treated lightly.  And it seems to me that an honest reader of this book must be impressed with a greater appreciation of the importance of the relative positions of men and women as they are divinely appointed in Christ's churches.

 

Without doubt, this book presents the most thorough and conscientious study of its subject matter that 1 have read in a long time.  It merits the serious consideration of every man and woman who honestly desires to be pleasing to our Lord in all things.  See Matthew 5:19

 

ROSCO BRONG, Dean

Lexington Baptist College, Lexington, KY

 

Preface

This author is indebted primarily to Bro. C.D. Cole and his little booklet entitled, The Divine Order of the Sexes.  This little booklet has been very helpful in the formation of this book.  I think it is only fitting that these words from Bro. Cole introduce this subject.

 

"As the spirit of lawlessness increases, the word 'subjection' becomes more and more despised.  Many associate the word 'subjection' with the thought of degradation.  It is claimed that a woman is degraded by the position given her by Paul.  On this point Atheism makes a bid for woman's patronage by seeking to prejudice her against Christianity.  I now quote from The Bible in the Balance, by Charles Smith, President of the American Association for Advancement of Atheism:

 

'Elizabeth Cady Stantor: / know of no other books that so fully teach the subjection and degradation of women.

 

Helen Gardner: Women are indebted today for their emancipation from a position of hopeless degradation, not to their religion nor Jehovah, but to the justice and honor of the men who have defied His commands.  That she does not crouch today where St. Paul tried to bind her, she owes to the men who are grand and brave enough to ignore St. Paul and rise superior to his God (Men, Women and Gods, p. 30).'

 

What an awful thing it is to become an ally of Atheism! But this is exactly what Baptists are doing in their effort to set aside the plain teachings of Holy Scripture regarding the position of women in our churches and religious assemblies.

 

The woman is given the place of subjection, not for her degradation, but for her honor and protection.  And her safety and happiness lie in her acceptance of that place.  In Romans 13, all Christians are commanded to be in subjection to the civil authorities.  Are they thereby degraded? Who but anarchists will say so? In Eph. 5:24 the church is said to be subject to Christ.  Is the church thereby degraded?  No, a thousand times no!  The relation between husband and wife is illustrated by the relation that exists between Christ and the Church. 

 

"Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:25)  Is a woman degraded by being in subjection to the man who loves her enough to die for her?  And the woman who has promised to obey any other is pitied.  And no woman ought to marry a man whom she cannot promise to obey."

 

With these words from Brother Cole, I will now endeavor to present God's teachings concerning Baptist Women Exalted.

 

Preface to 2nd Edition

It is extremely gratifying to see the Lord use this book among our churches for so many years.  This book has been reprinted at least three different times.  This edition has been thoroughly revised and expanded. It has been retyped and set with larger and more readable print.

 

With time, new arguments have been advanced against the head covering.  These arguments have been included and dealt with.  In particular, the argument that the covering in 1Cor 11:5-10 refers to the hair being stacked upon the head of the woman is extensively dealt with.

 

Another new feature with this edition is the "Key Truth" highlight box at the end of each objection.  These highlighted boxes summarize the main point used to overthrow each argument presented.

 

New sources have been included to support the head covering historically and Biblically.

 

We are thankful that the Lord continues to use this book among His people.

 

Mark W. Fenison, 1994

 

The Nature of This Position

"This subordination does not involve personal character.  It does not imply personal inferiority of the woman to the man.  The writer does not hesitate to say that in many things the woman is superior to the man; in the nobler qualities that go to make up character, in unselfishness, in ministering to the suffering, in love, the woman is superior of the man.

The Woman is personally superior to the man in the nobler qualities that go to make up character.

Nor does this subordination touch the question of salvation.  In respect to salvation, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus' (Gal. 3:28).  To quote this verse in an effort to overthrow the doctrine of woman's subjection to man is to ignore the context and oppose scripture with scripture.  This verse teaches that all are saved alike, namely, by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:26).

 

Neither is it a question of ability.  It is often claimed for some women that they are able speakers.  This is not denied, but ability is not criterion of what is right.  A man may be skillful as a gambler, but this is no reason why he should be licensed to gamble.  The success of women have had in the pulpit has deceived and turned many away from the once delivered Faith.  By such parity of reasoning, it can be proven that Moses did right when he struck the rock (Numbers 20:11).  He was successful in getting water, but he disobeyed God and thereby forfeited the privilege of entering the promised land.  It will be through his marvelous success that the Antichrist will command the worship of men.  Read 2Th 2:1-11 and Rev 13.

 

The subordination of the woman to the man is a matter of position.  It is inferiority of rank than of person."  (Ibid., p. 2).

 

There is no business, organization, or club that can function in an orderly way without established positions of authority.  The home and church are no exceptions to this rule.  The only other option is anarchy.


The Fact of This Position

Scripture clearly states that, "Adam was first formed, then Eve" (1Tim 2:13).  Hence, there is a distinct divine order in the act of creation.  "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (1Cor 11:9).

The Son holds an inferior position to that of the Father, but He is not an inferior person to the Father but is equally God. Likewise, so is the woman to the man.

Concerning God's creative purpose for the man, David says,

"Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of they hands; thou has put all things under his feet." (Psa 8:6)

Only of the man does the Scripture say that he was made in the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.  Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. (1Cor 11:7-9)

The Scriptures are clear that it is the man who holds the POSITION of authority, while the purpose for the creation of the woman is entirely different:

And the Lord God said, it is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him an help meet for him. (Gen 2:1)

God did not give the woman a position over the man nor a position equal to the man.  Her position in God's purpose of creation was an inferior one to that of the man.  Remember, we are speaking of position and not person.

 

This same principle of subordination holds true within the Godhead.  The Father holds a superior position to that of the Son but the Son is not an inferior person.

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1Cor 11:3)

As to His person, the Son is equal in every respect in nature and attributes.  As to His position, it is for the purpose to facilitate better function and order within the Godhead.  God is a God of order (1Cor 14:33, 40).

 

Likewise, as to her person, the woman is equal in many respects and superior in others.  As to her position, it is for the purpose to facilitate better function and harmony within the family and church.

 

No type of organization, job or club can function harmoniously without designated positions of authority.  Where there is no such position of authority there can only be anarchy and confusion.  Likewise, positions of authority are designated by God for the home and in His churches in order that harmony and order can be maintained.

 

Prior to the fall, there was no problem with Eve being in submission to Adam.  Eve possessed a nature that submitted to the will of God without resistance.  She gladly accepted her created purpose and found her fulfillment and joy in serving God in the capacity He designed for her.

 

However, after the fall, she possessed a nature that was at enmity with God and resisted every design God intended for her to fulfill.  She possessed a nature that would not be subject to anyone.

 

The Fall did not change God's intended design for her the least bit.  After the fall, God reaffirmed her position of subjection but now with the complications and results of sin:

Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be unto thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.  (Gen 3:16)

What came natural before the Fall now became cumbersome because of a rebellious nature due to sin.  She now possessed the strong natural "desire" for a man and yet possessed a strong natural resentment and resistance toward his position of authority over her.

 

Grace does not annul God's intended design before the Fall.  Instead, it provides a godly “nature” that complies with the intended design for the woman prior to the Fall (Rom 3:31).  God's grace in salvation from sin provides the inner desire to please God by obeying His revealed will:

If ye love me, keep my commandments  (Jn 14:15)

Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.  (1Tim 2:12)

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.  (1Cor 14:37)

This divine order is clearly a Biblical FACT and the woman in subordination to the man is the teaching of the Scriptures.

 

The Purpose of this Position

We have discussed the FACT of this subordination, now we shall speak concerning God's PURPOSE in this subordination.

God has more in rnind than just a natural purpose when giving the command about marriage in Genesis 2:24! He has a spiritual design in mind as well.

As some have rightly said, "God does all things for His own glory." Certainly God had a purpose in mind when creating the woman in a subjective position and the man in the authoritative position.

 

Let us examine two passages of Scripture that shed much light upon God's purpose. The first passage states a creational fact and a natural purpose; while the second passage gives an additional spiritual fact and a Divine purpose.

And Adam said, this is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.  (Gen 2:23-24)

There are at least three things that we should take note of from this first passage:

1. Adam was the SOURCE from which God brought Eve into existence.

2. Because of this, the NATURAL PURPOSE of every male and female is to be brought back together in a marriage relationship.

3. The marriage relationship makes the two ONE FLESH once again.

Keeping this first passage in mind, let us now examine the second passage:

For we are members of His body, of His flesh, of His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father, and mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and His church. (Eph 5:30-32)

You have noticed that this second passage is identical to the first with the exception that Christ and His church are the subjects instead of Adam and Eve as in the first passage. As in the first passage, there are three inferences found in this passage:

1. Christ was the SOURCE from which God brought the church into existence (Mt 16:18).

2. Because of this, the SPIRITUAL PURPOSE of the church is to be brought back together into a marriage relationship with Christ one day in the future (Eph 5:27).

3. This marriage relationship will bring the two back into ONE.

You must remember that the Ephesians only had the Old Testament at the time of writing, and this play upon words concerning this OT passage would have been very confusing if Paul had not said, This is a great mystery but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 

In other words, Paul explains that God had a greater purpose in marriage then just the creational fact and natural purpose. A great "mystery" is a previously hidden truth now revealed. The truth now revealed is that marriage was designed to reflect a greater spiritual truth and a divine purpose between Christ and the church. The subjective position of the woman is to reflect the subjection of the church to Christ.

If we read the verses that precede this last passage we will see this is exactly what Paul is saying:

Wives SUBMIT yourselves unto your own husbands, AS UNTO THE LORD, For the husband is the head of the wife, EVEN AS Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore AS the church is SUBJECT to Christ, SO let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives EVEN AS Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. SO ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it and cherisheth it EVEN AS the Lord the church: FOR we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. FOR THIS CAUSE shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. THIS IS A GREAT MYSTERY BUT I SPEAK CONCERNING CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH." (Eph 5:22-32).

Each time a young man and a young girl fall in love and then leave all for each other and join in marriage, we have a picture of Christ leaving His glory to take unto Himself a Bride, His church. 

So you see, that from the beginning, God designed natural marriage to reflect a greater spiritual marriage between Christ and His church. 

The natural position of the woman in subjection to the man is designed to reflect the spiritual position of the church in subjection to Christ.

This great spiritual truth finds its fullest expression not only within the home but especially in the Lord's churches where truth is to be preached, taught and manifested. Christ says that the church is, "The House of God, which is the church of the Living God, THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH." (1Tim 3:15)

We should expect that just as the home is to reflect the natural order and design of marriage, the church should reflect the spiritual design and order of marriage.

Just as in the Old Testament house of God (the temple) God had commanded that certain positions and dress reflect eternal truths, so likewise, in the New Testament House of God (the church) God uses the members of His assemblies to teach eternal truths, not only to the members, but to visitors both earthly and celestial.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by (through) the church the manifold wisdom of God.  (Eph 3:10)

God uses the church to teach the angels in heaven. Peter tells us that the angels do not understand many things and that they are looking into these matters (1Pe 1:12).  The Bible tells us that certain observances in the church are in part designed to instruct the angels (1Co 11:10).  Significantly, insubordination began with the angels with the fall of Satan and one third of the angels in heaven (Rev 12:3-4,9).

God has designed certain commandments to be observed in the church so that this greater spiritual MYSTERY will be manifest both to men and angels.

The Teachings of this Position

We have seen that God designed marriage between one man and one woman to reflect a greater spiritual truth between Christ and His church. It is in the churches that this Divine Purpose is to be made clearly manifested to all. God has ordained that the very functions of men and women in His churches picture this spiritual subordination of the church to Christ.

Men are ordained to hold the offices of leadership in the churches because they symbolize Christ in office as Prophet, Priest and King.

In the churches, men picture Christ in His threefold offices:  Prophet, Priest and King; whereas the woman is to picture the submissive Bride of Christ.

 

For instance, as Prophet, the man is to fill the duties of those who speak forth publicly in the church services (Pastor, Deacon, Teacher, Evangelist, etc.).

 

As Priest, the man is to lead the church in public prayer:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus....I will therefore that MEN (Gr. anar) pray everywhere... (1Ti 2:5,8)

The Greek term translated "men" is the term that means "male" in distinction from women and children.

 

As King, the man is to fill all positions of authority over the church (Pastor, deacon, Song leader, Adult men's teacher or mixed adult teacher, etc.).

 

In other words, those commands of Scripture that demand that males fill the authoritative roles within the church are not based upon culture and custom but upon God's ultimate design from creation (1Ti 2:12-13) that the man picture Christ in authority over the Church.

 

As Christ's representative preaches, teaches or deac's, the woman is to "learn in silence with all subjection" (1Ti 2:11).  Is not this what the church should do when Christ speaks? Therefore, the representative of the church (the woman) is to reflect this truth by her silence and submission when the representative of Christ acts in the behalf of Christ.

 

Every command in the New Testament that denies the woman authority to teach men or hold any office of authority over the church is explicitly said to be based upon the creational order and design of God and not upon custom or prejudice of men (1Ti 2:12-13; 1Cor 11:7-10; 14:34-35).  God has a greater design behind these commands than culture or prejudice.

 

Paul challenges anyone that would dispute his injunctions concerning the woman's position with these words:

If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.  (1Cor 14:37)

Paul was careful to base al! these commandments (silence, head covering, forbidding to teach men, etc.) upon the position and order of the woman in the creation account or "as also saith the Law."  Paul knew very well that the false apostles at Corinth (2Cor 11) would laugh him to scorn if he commanded these things based upon a revelation to him by Christ of a greater mystery behind marriage (Eph 5:22-32).  But what they could not argue with is the fact that these commandments were consistent with the order and design of creation and in harmony with the Old Testament.  Peter gives Sarah as an Old Testament example of such subjection (1Pe 3:1,5-7) in harmony with Genesis 2:20 and 3:16.

 

All of these commandments concerning the woman are based upon the very same foundation - God's purpose in Creation, hence, they must all stand or fall together.  In addition to that, this creational order forms the foundation from which the relationship of the Church to Christ is drawn (Eph 5:22-32).  Denial of the subjective position of the wife to the husband destroys the basis for the church to be in subjection to Christ.

 

Therefore, the inferior position of the woman to the man cannot be successfully denied without also denying that the Church is to be in submission to Christ!  Paul's four-fold cord is not easily broken. (1) He says that these are the commandments of the Lord (1Cor 14:37).  (2) He says they are in keeping with the Law of God (1Cor 14:34; Gen 2:20; 3:15; 1Pe 3:1,5-7).  (3) He says that the Churches submission to Christ is established upon the same respective positions between the man and the woman.  (4) He always refers to the creational design to support these positions (1Cor 11:7-9; 1Ti 2:12-13).

 

The submissive position of the woman to man stands as long as the fact of creation stands, and as long as the church is to be in subjection to Christ stands.

 

The Symbols of This Position

So far in this study, I have clearly shown that there are TWO applications of Genesis  2:14:  (1) Natural subjection according to a natural creation order; (2) Divine subjection according to God's ultimate purpose for marriage. 

Long hair on a woman is her NATURAL symbol of her submission to her husband.  The covering is her DIVINE symbol of her submission to Christ as His Bride.

The natural subjection has to do with the fact of creation.  The woman was created in a subjective position and the man in an authoritative position. 

The Divine subjection has to do with God's purpose to teach the world concerning the relationship between Christ and His church. 

Therefore we see a double picture of subjection.  One that is NATURAL and one that is SUPERNATURAL.  The natural subjection was designed by God to ultimately reflect the supernatural. 

Nature has established natural symbols for both the man and the woman to remind and teach them of their God given positions in the home and in society.

Doth not NATURE itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?  But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given her for a covering.  (1Cor 11:14-15)

Long hair on a woman is her NATURAL symbol of submission, whereas short hair on a man is his natural symbol of authority.  It is significant that in Scripture and secular history that short hair on a woman has been a sign of shame (1Cor 11:6) and rebellion, and that long hair on a man has been a sign of rebellion (e.g. Absolom, Greek philosophers etc.)

The question is often asked "how long is long and how short is short."  This question is quite simple to answer, short enough that it leaves no question that your a man and long enough that it leaves no question that your a woman, anything in between is "confusion" and God is not the author of confusion (1Cor 14:33).

However, God intends that more than this NATURAL order with its NATURAL symbols be displayed in His churches.  In His churches He intends that the SPIRITUAL order be displayed by Divine symbols. 

The man is to remove his hat and remain uncovered while in the place of prayer and prophesying, whereas the woman is to cover her head with a veil or hat (1Cor 11:4-6). 

Therefore we have NATURAL and SUPERNATURAL positions with corresponding symbols to teach both.  The natural symbol was given to the woman to ultimately correspond and point to the divine symbol that would be worn in the place of prayer and prophesying. 

Therefore Paul asks, Doth not nature itself teach you?  When a woman refuses to wear the Divine symbol in the place of prayer and prophesying she is in rebellion against the very testimony that nature has given her.  Her hair "is given her FOR (Greek Anti, "like" or "corresponding to") a covering" (1Cor 11:15).  Refusal to wear the divine symbol "is all one AS IF she were shorn" (1Cor 11:5) in God's eyes. 

For if the woman be not covered, let her ALSO be shorn; but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn (hair cut short) OR shaven (no hair), LET HER BE COVERED(1Cor 11:6).

Symbolic Position of Insubordination

Godly women who love the Lord Jesus Christ also love His Word. The only way to draw near to the Lord we love is to be obedient to His precious Word.

It should not be too difficult to see that if the covering symbolizes a faithful and submissive wife, then an uncovered woman must symbolize an unfaithful and unsubmissive wife.

            Many times throughout the New Testament, the Lord repeatedly commands wives to be subject to their own husbands.

 

We have discussed thus far the woman's natural and supernatural relationship to their husband. However, there is one more thing we must emphasize, and that is the position of a rebellious woman before God.

 

In Paul's Day, a wife who continued to be disobedient and rebellious toward her husband was taken by her husband and publicly shorn (hair cut short) or shaven (balded). By this shameful act her rebellion was made manifest to all. It put her on the same level as a wife who had been caught in the act of adultery by her husband. She was disgraced and put to shame before her friends and relatives.

 

Paul takes this shameful picture and applies it to those women who refuse to wear a head covering in the assembly. Before God that is all one and the same as if they had already been shorn or shaven:

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: For that is even all one AS IF she were shaven. (1Cor 11:5).

She dishonors the Lord Jesus by symbolically portraying the church in rebellion against Him. The Lord describes unfaithful churches as “the Great Whore” and her “harlots” (Rev 17:5).

 

If the head covering symbolizes submission and faithfulness to Him, then it should be obvious that being uncovered symbolizes the opposite. This is why Paul instructs those women who refuse to put on the headcovering to cut their hair short in addition to being uncovered:

For if the woman BE NOT COVERED, let her ALSO be shorn (hair cut short)...(1Cor 11:5)

However, no respectable Greek or Jewish woman would consider for a moment cutting their hair short as they considered their long hair their glory. Paul knew this very fact and therefore drove the point home by saying:

But if it be a shame for a woman to be shaven (balded) or shorn (short hair), LET HER BE COVERED (1Cor 11:6).

In essence, Paul is saying if a woman refused to wear the divine symbol of submission in the assembly, then she should in addition to that, bear the shame she is symbolizing by cutting her natural covering (her hair) short or off altogether. Notice, that her husband is not directed to cut her hair but that she is. This demonstrates that her rebellion is not against her husband but rather against what he represents – Christ!

 

In God's eyes and in the eyes of the church, that woman is symbolizing rebellion against Christ and His authority. Hence, she is instructed to cut her hair short or off in order to feel the shame she is symbolizing.

The terms “also” and “that is all one and the same as if” demonstrate that her hair has not yet been shorn or shaven at the time of being uncovered. Paul is merely arguing that if she is going to be uncovered, she should also in addition to that be shorn or shaven if she would be consistent with her practice.

 

Brief Exposition of 1 Cor 11:1-16

Introduction:  Verses 1-3 set the stage for the instructions given in verses 4-6. Verses 7-16 are additional arguments for obeying these instructions. The additional arguments for obeying these injunctions are (1) Creational order; (2) Presence of Angels; (3) Common sense in light of the aforesaid facts; (4) Implications of nature; (5) The united practice of all other churches.

Verses 1-2:  Human customs and traditions are not set forth as examples to follow but rather Christ is what is set forth to follow. Paul praises them for those areas where they do follow Christ (unlike in verse 17). After saying these things, Paul is not going to turn around and try to make them conform to traditions of men.

Verse 3:  There is a Divine Order established by God. This order of positions does not degrade anyones person. Even within the Godhead such and order of position exists. Without positions of authority there is confusion and no order and God is a God of order (1 Cor 14:33,40). This verse acts as the foundation to demand a covering on the woman. Since there is a divine order, there are also symbols that manifest this order (vv. 4-6).

 

Verse 4:  These injunctions concerning the man are in direct violation of the common Jewish custom for men to wear a prayer cap. Moreover, the word “uncovered” makes no sense when applied to stacked hair on top of the head. Men never stacked their hair, so why command them not to. The stacked hair theory assumes that Paul is enforcing a non-Greek custom. Neither can “ uncovered” mean “short hair” as “shorn” (short hair) is something considered additional to “uncovered” in verse 6. Men are not to wear a hat in church. It used to be the custom of men in America when they entered any building to take off their hat. This custom originated with these verses.

 

Verses 5-6:  Paul's argument is very clear. For a woman to pray in an “uncovered: state she should “also” cut her hair short in order to be consistent with what she is doing. In God's eyes and in the eyes of those who know what the covering symbolizes, to be uncovered “is all one and the same AS IF” she was shorn already. The language forbids the interpretation that being “uncovered” IS in reality the same as being shaven or shorn. The fact that Paul appeals to the woman to cut her own hair as a result of being uncovered, demonstrates that her rebellion is not against her husband, but against what her husband represents – Christ. The head covering is sign of Christ's “authority” over her as a representative of the church (v. 10).

 

Verses 7-9:  These instructions are based directly upon the positional order ordained by God in creation.

 

Verse 10:  These  instructions  are  based   upon presence of angels in the assemblies (Eph 3:10)

 

Verses 11-12:  These instructions are not based upon personal inferiority of the woman to the man or upon the premise that the woman is of no value. Paul has laid down some strong arguments for the authority of men, he does not want this to be understood that the woman is not important or should be mistreated.

 

Verses 13:  Verse 13 calls them to wisely consider these instructions in light of the aforesaid reasons (vv. 7-10). These things being the case, is it comely for women to publicly partake in prayer without such a covering? The question is rhetoric and expects a "no."


Verses 14-15:  These instructions are reinforced even by nature. The question is "Doth not even nature teach you." Teach what? What Paul has argued in behalf of in verses 4-6. Nature is being called on by Paul as an ADDITIONAL argument in behalf of the "katakaluptai" in verses 4-6. Nature teaches the need of a head covering as it provides a natural covering of long hair for the woman.

 

However, what Paul means to be an additional argument for the head covering in verses 4-6, some have taken as a definition to deny that covering. Significantly, Paul resorts to the use of an entirely different Greek term to identify the hair as a covering. Nature's covering is identified as a "peribolaion" whereas the covering they are being instructed to wear over their hair is called a "katakaluptai." Moreover, the Greek word "anti" is translated "FOR a covering." This word bears the meaning of something that is "LIKE" but not actual. Baptism is said to be a figure that is "LIKE" the ark and water (I Pet. 3:20-21) but it is not the ark and water. Hair is "LIKE" the covering in verses 4-6 but it is not the actual covering commanded in verses 4-6. Hair is Nature's corresponding covering. Greek culture established short hair on men and long hair on women as the norm hundreds of years prior to this letter by Paul. Only philosophers wore long hair and many of them were homosexuals. Archeology demonstrates that the Greek culture preferred short hair on men and long hair on women.

 

Verse 16:  This verse addresses "anyone" that refuses to conform to these apostolic injunctions. Such resistance is without support from other churches as all other churches have no other practice or "custom" than what Paul has commanded in verses 4-6. Verses 7-15 are given as additional arguments to obey verses 4-6. If "anyone" continues to be contentious in light of all this evidence for the head covering, they stand alone.

 

What do Other Authorities Say?

Since we are dealing with symbols and types and since these can be easily twisted to fit what they are not meant for, and since this writer has no intentions to distort truth, note the following comments made by leading authorities in typology:

 

(1) I.M. HALDEMANN, D.D., author of The Tabernacle, Priesthood and Offerings, Page 302

In the New Testament Christian women are commanded when in public assembly to cover their head; they are commanded to do so because while Christ is the head of the man, the man in the public assembly as the representative of Christ in office bearing and teaching is over the woman and considered the woman's obedience to this ordinance of the Lord. The woman is also the symbol of the church as a body and in covering her head she symbolizes the church surrendering to and owning the headship of Christ. It is the symbol of absolute subjection and obedience.

(2) HENRY W. SOLTAU, author of The Tabernacle, the Priesthood and Offerings, page 267

In the New Testament the woman is directed to cover her head, 1Cor xi. 3-10, because 'the head of the woman is the man;' whereas the man is to be uncovered, because he is the image and glory of God. In the assemblies therefore of the people of God, the woman, standing as a representative of the Church in subjection to Christ, covers her head; the man, being a type of Christ Himself as the Head of the Church, uncovers his head.

(3) W.E. VINE, author of An Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, pp. 89, 175 (under “authority” and “unveiled” ) Moody Paperback edition, 1985

 

In 1Cor 11:10 (exousia) is used of the veil with which a woman is required to cover herself in an assembly or church, as a sign of the Lord's authority over the church.  Page 89, Vol. 1

Whatever the character of the covering, it is to be on her head as a “sign of authority” (v. 10), R.V., the meaning of which is indicated in verse 3 in the matter of headship, and the reasons for which are given in vv. 7-9 and in the phrase “because of the angels” intimating their witness of, and interest in, that which betokens the headship of Christ. The injunctions were neither Jewish, which required men to be veiled in prayer, nor Greek, by which men and women were alike unveiled. The Apostle's instructions were “the commandments of the Lord” (14:37) and were for all the churches (vv. 33-34) pp. 175-176, Vol. 4

(4) BENJAMIN KEACH, author of Preaching from the Types and Metaphors of the Bible, p. 19

1Cor xi. 10, “A woman ought to have power on her head,” that is, a garment signifying that she is under the power of her husband.

(5) CHARLES C. RYRIE, author of The Role of Women in the Church, p. 74

The Christian doctrine of order in creation involving subordination requires the Christian practice of manifesting that order in public worship by the veiling of woman.

(6) JOHN PIPER and WAYNE GRUDEM, editors of Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, p. 135

Understanding Paul as commanding women to wear a head covering as a sign of submitting to male authority fits best with the preceding verses in the passage. Nothing is clearer in verses 3-9 than that Paul wants the woman to wear a head covering because such adornment appropriately distinguishes women form men. Indeed, the focus on male headship over women in verse 3 shows that Paul wants women to wear a head covering in order to show that they are submissive to male headship.

(7) C.D. COLE, author of The Divine Order of the Sexes, p. 9

The truth of the subordination of the woman to the man has a divinely appointed symbol. This truth is to be symbolized by the woman wearing long hair, and when in church an additional appointed covering. This covering is a sign of headship. Headship means authority. Long hair is the sign by which the wife acknowledges the authority of her husband, who is her natural head; and a hat or veil as an additional covering, when in church, to acknowledge the authority of the man in religious matters.

Halderman, Soltau and Keach have been standard authorities in typology among conservative Christians.  W.E. Vine and his book on NT words has been the standard conservative reference work for years.  Ryrie is a well known and popular conservative scholar.  There is a unity of thought between these recognized authorities concerning the respective positions of the man and woman and the symbols of authority.

 

At least the reader can see that this author has not taken a position that is at odds with those who are recognized authorities in this field of study.

 

Objections Answered Concerning the Veil

Objection # 1:  Is not Paul simply trying to reinforce a local custom since the violation of it would cause unnecessary reproach upon the church in this community?

AnswerThere is no question that the head covering was an important custom in many parts of the Roman world at this time. But in some places it was more important than in other places. Each country had distinct differences in dress. None dressed identically alike. Their coverings varied in size, shape, color and material as well as length.

Paul is writing to Greeks, and gave no instructions on size, color, length or shape. The Greeks as a custom did not require woman to wear head coverings at all.

(1)  The Greeks (both men and women) remained bareheaded in public prayer...  (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the NT, Vol IV, p. 159)

(2)  In the cities Greeks walked mostly bareheaded (The Life of the Greeks and Romans by Guhl & Koner, p. 171)

(3)  In general both sexes went bareheaded, but when Greek men traveled...  (Mode in Hats and Headdress, by Wilcox)

(4)  As a rule the Greeks, men and women went bareheaded (Greece and the Greeks by Walter Miller, p. 126)

(5)  Most people did not wear head coverings for their head (Ancient Greece and the Near East, by Richard Haywood, p. 398)

(6)  The Greeks took great pride in the care of his hair and was unlikely to wear any head covering unless traveling or exposed to the head of the sun (Meet the Ancient Greeks, by Xenophon Leon Messinesi, p. 229)

(7)  The Greeks remained bareheaded during prayer or sacrifice, as indeed they did in their ordinary outdoor life (Word Studies in the New Testament by Vincent, Vol 3, p. 246)

(8)  The injunctions were neither Jewish, which required men to be veiled in prayer, nor Greek, by which men and women were alike unveiled.  The Apostles instructions were the "commandments of the Lord" (14:37) and were for all the churches (vv. 33-34) (An Expository Dictionary of the NT Words, by W.E. Vine, Vol 4, p. 175)

Head coverings were not totally absent from Greek life but they certainly were not a part of their daily or religious life.  Head coverings were about as customary as they are here in the United States.  Certainly no one would call head covering an American custom.  Yet, many women occasionally wear various kinds of hats and scarves at various times of the year here.

Those who argue that Paul is reinforcing either a Jewish or Greek custom have simply not done their homework.

Paul could hardly be restoring peace between two types of culture within the church at Corinth as Paul's injunctions violated the Jewish custom for men and instituted something new for the Greek women.

The injunction of Paul was neither Jewish which required the men to be covered nor Greek which had no such requirement for the women.  The covering is not a GREEK CUSTOM but an ordinance of God observed by all the churches.

 

Objection #2:  Paul is not so much trying to reinforce the custom of wearing a veil but rather is using the veil to reinforce the principle of subjection.

Answer:  First of all, we have established with abundant evidence that such a custom did not prevail among the Greeks and that such instruction clearly violated the Jewish men's custom of wearing a prayer cap.

Second, Paul argues that she needs to wear this symbol of authority on her head because of the creative order and presence of angels (vv. 7-10). These reasons would require the need of the covering as a teaching instrument in addition to a right attitude or principle (Eph 3:10). This means that the covering itself is as necessary to symbolize the right attitude as unleavened bread and wine are necessary to symbolize the attitudes that must be present during the Lord's Supper. Nowhere, in this text does Paul say, I am just trying to establish the “attitude” of subjection instead of the covering.

Third, this argument flies right in the face of popular objection today that “wearing a head covering does not produce the right attitude in the woman wearing it”. This objection makes Paul appear foolish for commanding obedience to something that all acknowledge cannot produce the principle or attitude desired.

If the covering is not necessary but only the principle then why enforce the covering upon this Greek church since they never observed such a custom in the first place?

Finally, this argument fails because the Greeks already knew this principle of submission long before Paul enforced this NEW teaching of the covering:

Happy marriages, of course, were by no means impossible; still as a rule the opinion prevailed of the woman being by nature inferior to the man, and holding a position of a minor with regards to civic rights. This principle has indeed been repeatedly pronounced by ancient philosophers and law givers (The Life of the Greeks and Romans by Guhl & Koner, p, 187)

Her calling henceforth was to be a housewife, to honor and obey her lord, to bear children, to do house work...(Greece and the Greeks, Woman's Responsibilities, by Walter Miller, p. 73 )

If it was only the principle that Paul was really trying to enforce then obviously instituting the covering was foolish as that principle was already well known among the Greeks.

The truth is that the covering was necessary to instruct them in far more than just a principle but was necessary to convey the woman as a TYPE of the church in submission to Christ.

The above objection is not consistent with Greek Culture nor with Scripture. Paul would never enforce an uncommon practice to enforce what was already a common well known principle. It should be evident that more than just the “principle” of submission of women to men is being enforced by the covering.

This argument rest upon the assumption that the covering was a Greek custom and the principle of submission was not. However, the reverse is the truth. Paul would never command an uncommon practice to enforce a commonly known principle.

Objection #3: The covering in this text refers strictly and only to the hair as stated in verses 13-14. Being uncovered means having the hair cut short while covered means having long hair. Or being covered means having the hair bundled upon top of the head while uncovered means letting the hair hang down loose like the harlots.

Answer: These interpretations are completely impossible if the text is to be dealt with honestly.

First, verses 5-6 completely deny that the covering can be long hair. Notice the wording:

But every woman that prayeth or prophesying, having her head UNCOVERED, dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one AS IF she were shaven. 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.

Considering the “long hair” interpretation first, this would mean that Paul is guilty of the nonsense of instructing woman with short hair (no covering) to cut their hair short (shorn) or completely off (shaven). What is the point in “ALSO” cutting her hair short or completely off if her hair is already short (uncovered)? If her hair is already short (uncovered) what sense does it make to say that short hair “ IS EVEN ALL ONE AS IF” she had short hair? There would be no “AS IF” about it. This makes Paul speak foolishly. Moreover, Paul is referring to something that can be put on and taken off at will. You can't take off and put back on your hair at will.

The “stacked hair” interpretation does no better with this language. If to be “covered” means to stack your hair on top of your head, then it makes no sense in warning men not to “cover” their head! Men never stacked their hair upon their head anyway, especially Greeks! Why warn men not to so something they never did anyway! Second, having her hair let down may let her have the appearance of harlots but it certainly is not AS IF she already has short hair or no hair. In fact the reverse is truer; her hair let down demonstrates that she indeed does have long hair and she is not shorn or shaven.

Hair makes no sense in verses 4-10 as the covering but the hat or veil does. Verses 11-16 are additional arguments to support the veil. One of the several additional arguments for wearing the veil is the natural covering of the hair in verses 13-15.

Another reason that the covering does not refer to the hair in any way, is the testimony of the early churches who lived near the apostolic age:

The testimonies of Tertullian and Chrysostom show that these injunctions of Paul prevailed in the churches (M.R. Vincent, Word Studies in the N.T., Vol. 2, p. 787)

For indeed it is “on account of the angels” that he saith women must be veiled (Tertullian, The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III, p. 688).

In the scriptures of the catacombs the women have a close fitting headdress, while the men have short hair (A.T. Robertson, Word Studies in the N. T. Vol. IV, p. 162)

Does not verse 15 say that hair is given her “for” a covering? A.T. Robertson say of this word “for”:

It is not in the place of a veil, but ANSWERING TO (anti, in the sense of anti in John 1:16) as a permanent endowment (Ibid., Vol. IV, p. 162)

Paul argues that even nature teaches the woman that she is to be covered in the assembly as nature has endowed her with a covering that ANSWERS TO or gives support for such an artificial covering. This Greek word “anti” is used in 1Peter 3:21 which obviously teaches that Baptism is a figure that CORRESPONDS TO the ark being lifted by water in the Old Testament (1 Pet. 3:20). The hair is a CORRESPONDING covering that is given to her by nature.

Finally, the Greek word for “covering: in verse 15 is entirely different than the Greek work for “covering” in verses 4-6. In verse 15 the Greek word peribolaion is used whereas in verses 4-6 the Greek work katakaluptai is used. The Greek term peribolaion is used elsewhere to refer to things that reflect natural coverings created by God (Heb. 1:12) whereas katakaluptai refers to something that you can place down upon the head, such as a hat or veil. Current Greek usage for katakaluptai refers to hats and veils but not the hair. The use of katakaluptai in the Greek Version of the Old Testament is restricted to an artificial or cloth veil and never for the hair (Num 5-18; Gen 38:15; Ex 26:34; 29:22; etc. ).

The “covering” as applied to the man makes no sense if understood as hair stacked upon the head. The words “that is even all one the same AS IF' and “also” defy any application of this covering to the hair. The obvious change of Greek terms when speaking of the hair as a covering demonstrate that the hair is not the same covering under consideration in verses 4-10.

Objection #4: Does not 1 Corinthians 11:16 show that the churches had no other custom but the hair?

Answer: No.  The very opposite is being argued. Paul first tells them that there is a divine order (v. 3) and that in the place of prayer and prophesying this order is manifested in the wearing of the covering by the woman (vv. 4-6). This covering should be worn for several reasons: First because it reflects the creative order (vv. 7-9); Second, because of the presence of the angels (v. 10). Third, because it makes common sense (vv. 11-15) as even Nature supports it by corresponding natural endowments (vv. 13-15). Last, verse 16 addresses "anyone" that refuses to conform to these apostolic injunctions. Such resistance is without support from other churches as all other churches have no other practice or "custom" than what Paul has commanded in verses 3-6.  Verses 7-15 are given as additional arguments to obey verses 3-6.  If "anyone" continues to be contentious in light of all this evidence for the head covering, they stand alone.

Paul is not going to spend 16 verses in a critical letter to this church just to conclude by telling them what He has said doesn't really matter or end by telling them to wear to church what they could not help wearing (hair).

Objection #5:  If women put on a hat, then, they are allowed to pray and prophesy in the church according to these instructions.
 

Answer:  "Praying and prophesying" have reference to the worship service as it consisted of praying and prophesying. All those present participate in these acts under the one who leads them. This does not mean that each individual leads in these things or participates individually but rather as a group they participate under those who publicly take the lead in prayer and prophesying. The function of a leader is to represent the rest in the act. Women who come uncovered are not qualified to lead others or participate under the leadership of men (1Co 14:34-35; 1 Tim. 2:11-13).


Such a conclusion contradicts the plain precepts that are stated later in I Corinthians 14:34-37 and in 1 Timothy 2:11-13). 

"Let the woman learn in silence, but I suffer not a woman to teach nor usurp authority over the man but to be in silence"

Dr. John Gill, a recognized expert in Jewish writings and early customs says of the phrase "praying and prophesying:

Ver. 5 But every woman that prayeth and prophesieth, &xc] Not that a woman was allowed to pray publicly in the congregation, and much less to preach or explain the word, for these things were not permitted them: see 1Co xiv. 34,35, I Tim. ii. 12; but it designs any woman that joins in public worship with the minister in prayer, and attends on the hearing of the word preached, or sings the praises of God with the congregation (John Gill, Gill's Commentary, Vol. VI, Romans to Revelation, p. 222)
 

The objection requires one to accept a contradiction between scriptures (1Co 11:5 with 1Co 14:34-35 and ITi 2:10-11).  Gill's interpretation resolves this contradiction completely.  Covered women are qualified to participate under the male leadership in prayer and prophesying.

 

Objection #6: Paul is not restricting this to the worship services but he is applying this to every day life. The woman should always be covered in public.


Answer:  This objection fails for many reasons. First, it rests upon the assumption that Paul is reinforcing a cultural practice but as proven already the Greeks had no such cultural practice.


Moreover, the immediate context explicitly refers to the place of prayer and prophesy or the public worship service. This is evident because the plural "ordinances" introduces this topic followed by the ordinance of the Lord's Supper and the use of gifts in the assembly. Chapters 11-14 repeatedly qualify the context by the words "when ye come together in one place" (vv. 17, 20, 33, 34).


Moreover, the presence of angels is given as a reason to wear the veil.  Since the guardian angel is always present, such an interpretation would require the veil to be worn 24 hours a day (in bed, in the shower, etc.). However, angels are present at the worship assembly for special instructions (Eph. 3:10).


Finally, where else but the assembly can all the church members be present to "Judge in yourselves" (v. 13) if it is comely for a woman to be pray uncovered. Where else but the assembly could she be viewed praying by all the members?

 

This objection rests solely upon the assumption that the covering was an established CUSTOM among the Greeks.  Greek women did not wear a veil.  This interpretation would require the Christian Greek women to establish it as a Greek custom.  Neither custom nor context supports this theory.  Like the Lord's Supper, this ordinance is a church ordinance and is to be observed only when assembled.

 

Objection #7:  Isnit this a Roman Catholic doctrine that has invaded New Testament Churches?


Answer: We have already shown that Tertullian (who is claimed by Baptists) taught the head covering and he certainly predated the Roman Catholic Church by at least 150 years. Moreover, the persecuted Christians in the catacombs wore this covering and they were certainly not Roman Catholics.


It is strange that those who argue in this fashion practice the Roman Catholic Holidays (Easter, ChristMASS) which are without scriptural command or sanction and yet reject the covering which is clearly taught in the scriptures.  Just because Roman Catholics practice or teach something is no ground for rejecting it (they teach the Trinity, too).

 

This objection rests solely upon the assumption that Roman Catholicism originated it.  This is a falsehood.  Tertullian, a Baptist, taught it 150 years before Catholicism came Into existence.  The saints that were persecuted by Catholics wore it in the catacombs.

 

Objection #8:  If we must obey this command, then ought we not to obey Paul where he says, "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss"?


Answer:  First, we have established that the covering was not the general custom of the Greeks, whereas, this command along with the idea of foot washing are customary.

Between individuals of the same sex, and in a limited degree between those of different sexes, the kiss on the cheek as a mark of respect or the act of salutation has AT ALL TIMES been customary in the East, and can hardly be said to be extinct even in Europe. (Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, by McClintock, Strong, Vol. V-K-MC. p. 112)

We can also distinguish between the head covering and the "holy kiss" and "feet washing" as follows:

(1) The head covering is specifically called an ordinance (1Co 11:2).

Nowhere are the "holy kiss" or "feet washing" called such.

2) Paul supported the wearing of a Covering with Scripture (1Co 11:9-10).

Nowhere are the "holy kiss" and "feet washing" given such support.

(3) Paul gives the presence of Angels and Nature as reasons to obey the head covering injunction (1Co 11:10-13)

Nowhere are the "holy kiss" and "feet washing' provided with such support.


Both the "holy kiss" and "feet washing" were cultural acts of hospitality.  The covering is not an cultural act of hospitality nor a cultural act at all since it violates the Jewish culture for the man and is non-existent in the Greek culture for the woman.

The "holy kiss" and "feet washing" were commands of cultural hospitality vvhereas the covering was not considered as such in Greek culture and these injunctions violated Jewish culture among Jewish men.  The covering falls under the "ordinances" of Christ (v. 2).

Objection #9:  There are only two church ordinances and the head covering is not one of them.


Answer:  There are only two church GOSPEL ordinances but there are many church ordinances.  The term "ordinance" simply means a "command." In the Great Commission the Lord Jesus infers there are many ordinances or commands given to the church to observe (Mt. 28:20).


The fact that Paul introduces the covering as one of the plural "ordinances" he is about to discuss (1Co 11:2) includes it with the Lord's Supper as a church ordinance (1Co 11:17-34).

The church may have only two symbolic Gospel ordinances, but not just two ordinances.  Church discipline, ordination, etc.  The headcovering immediately precedes Paul's introduction of "ordinances" (v. 2).

Objection #10:  A Woman shouldn't wear such a symbol if she is not in submission to her husband at home or to the position of men in the assembly.


Answer:  The objector is correct.  The same can be said of those who are not fit to observe the symbols of the Lord's Supper.  However, in both cases it will be readily manifested that they are not right with God and man.  They should speedily seek to correct the problem and then obediently partake of the symbols as soon as possible.

An obedient spirit is always more precious before God than any outward token of such. However, an obedient spirit will conform outwardly to God's commands or it is not an obedient spirit.

Objection #11:  If we are to wear such a covering today, it must be like the ones that the Corinthians wore, or we are just mocking these instructions.


Answer:  Paul gives absolutely no instructions as to the size, color, length or kind of material used for such a covering.  What would the Greek Christians at Corinth use?  Only secular history affords us any clue to this question.  When Greek women did wear a covering on certain occasions there was no standard size, color or length:

(1) Women covered their heads with a VARIETY of veils made of wool or linen, earlier versions were SMALL, draped over the head simply....(Fashion in History, by Marybelle S. Bigelow, p. 36, "The Greeks."


(2) These LITTLE white veils were small pieces of linen, sheer and transparent, so fine, indeed that they were often likened to SPIDER WEBS...(Ibid.)
 

(3) The headdress of the Greek Women consisted of nets, hair-bags, or kerchiefs, sometimes covering the whole head...(Word Studies in the NT, by Vincent, Vol. 3, p. 246).

The size, material and color of the covering is not specified by Paul, therefore, it shouldn't be made a point of contention by you.  Obviously, someone who merely puts a ribbon in their hair is not interested in displaying something visible enough to be recognized for what it is supposed to teach.  There is room for personal convictions here and liberty for others to follow their own convictions.

Size, color and material are not considered essentials or they would have been stated clearly.

Objection #12: Only married women should wear this symbol as virgins are not married.


Answer:  The text uses the Greek term gune which is inclusive of all of the feminine gender.  Although according to Jewish custom, the betrothal is considered as good as marriage, the wedding between the church and Christ has not yet occurred.


The intent of the instructions in Genesis 2:24 is that God has designed women and men to marry.


Hence, all saved girls and women should be disposed to properly picture the Bride of Christ as a faithful betrothed virgin awaiting for that wedding day. Those married women should especially consider it their joy to be a picture of a submissive wife as instructed in Ephesians 5:22-32.

The ordinance includes the saved which are of the feminine gender.  Lost women do not possess a submissive nature to Christ.

Objections to the Woman's Position

There are arguments advanced by some that are used to counter the Biblical evidence for the respective positions of men and women as presented in this book.


We feel that theses arguments are based upon insufficient data and/or unfair conclusions. Some of these arguments are as follows:


1. Paul was a woman hater:
Some have suggested that Paul had a strong bias against women and these injunctions reflect purely a male bias.


However, this interpretation does not harmonize with the fact that Paul instructed men to love their wives even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it (Eph 5:23-24). Nor does it harmonize with his injunctions to love their wife as their own self.


Peter told men that if they mistreated their wives, God would not answer their prayers (1Pe 3:7).


We feel that this is a forced interpretation and that it has no valid foundations.


2. Paul is voicing his own personal opinions but not God's:
Others have suggested that since some of these passages are found with the personal pronoun "I" that Paul is merely voicing his own personal opinion rather than the Lord's on this subject.


However, this argument fails to consider the fact that whenever Paul offers his own personal opinion instead of the revealed will of God, he always makes it very clear that it is his own personal opinion as in I Corinthians 7:12 (but even here he speaks under inspiration - "I think that I also have the Spirit of God" - v. 40).


Moreover, not only do we find the complete absence of such an admission in the context(s) in question but we find the absolute denial that it is his personal opinion instead of God's revealed will.
 

For instance, I Corinthians 14:34 tells the Churches that this injunction is in harmony with the "law" (Peter gives Old Testament examples of such in I Peter 3:5-6; Gen. 2:20, 3:16) or the Old Testament.

"...they are COMMANDED to be under obedience, as also saith the law..."  1Co 14:34

However, Paul does not leave his command with a mere harmony with the Scriptures but clearly states that what he is commanding is the revealed will of God:

"If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you ARE THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD."  1Co 14:37

We feel that this objection does not deal with the Biblical evidence fairly but is a forced interpretation.
 

3. These commandments reflect only the culture of Paul's day and hence are not for us today:
This is by far the most popular objection to these passages today.


However, such an objection could possibly be used for any command of the Bible that a person did not want to obey since every command was written in a time and culture foreign to our own.
 

Is there any valid evidence why we must interpret these passages according to cultural customs?

 

First, the Biblical context does provide reasons for these injunctions, however, not once do any of the Biblical writers suggest or state that "custom" is a reason for these injunctions.


Second, the reasons that are provided by the Biblical writers completely exclude "culture" or "custom" as possible reasons
 

As we have seen already, Paul makes it clear that these commands are in harmony with the Old Testament Law of God (1Co 14:34) and that these are the commands of the Lord (1Co 14:37) rather than cultural injunctions.
 

In addition to these reasons, the only other reason given by Paul is a PRE-cultural one. Paul states that these commandments are to be obeyed because they reflect God's creative purpose and design for the male and female (1Ti 2:13-14).


Paul's argument is that God has designed men and women, physically, psychologically for certain roles and that violation of these commandments reverses God's creative design for them.
 

To argue that these commands are the results of a culture when other grounds are explicitly stated that clearly exclude "culture" or "customs" is to handle the Word of God deceitfully (2Co 4:2).


We feel that this objection completely ignores and distorts the obvious Biblical evidence to the contrary.
reject the inspiration of the scriptures reject Him (Mt. 5:18; Jn 5:46-47; 10:35).

 

4. The Bible was written by men and is subject to error.
This is a common objection used by those who reject the inspiration of the scriptures.


However, it is only necessary to point out that the one who claims to be our Lord and Savior, believed that "every jot and every tittle" was completely inspired and divinely preserved forever (Mt 5:18) and that those who reject the inspiration of the Scriptures reject Him (Mt 5:18; Jn 5:46-47, 10:35)
 

If only certain parts are inspired while others are not, pray tell who can we trust to tell us which is which?
 

We feel that this objection makes a complete mockery of Christ and the ministry as well as any person who may use this and still claim to be a "Christian."
 

5. Since there are examples found in the Bible of woman in leadership positions, such an interpretation that forbids it must be wrong.
However, in all fairness, it must be admitted that we have multitude of examples in the Bible that contradict a great deal of Biblical precepts.
 

For instance, who would claim that lying is acceptable with God because we find a multitude of examples, where otherwise godly people, tell lies (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rahab, etc.)?
 

Should we automatically conclude that since we can find contradictory examples, that these examples must overrule the precept that forbid it or that these precepts must be wrongly interpreted?
 

What should be our approach to this objection then? I think it is only fair to examine each supposed example and determine from the context whether or not it really conflicts with these precepts or really demonstrates that these precepts are misinterpreted.

a. Deborah
Probably one of the most popular examples used to support women in public offices or in the ministry is Deborah.


However, there are some important contextual details that these interpreters fail to tell you.

 

For instance, they fail to tell you what the state of Israel was when Deborah judged it.  Those days are repeatedly characterized by these words:

"In those days there was no king in Israel, every man did that which was right in his own eyes" - Judges 21:25

The Prophet Isaiah tells us that women in positions of authority over men and over a nation is an indication of such an apostate condition:

"As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them.  O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths." - Isa 3:12

Another significant detail that these interpreters overlook from the Biblical context is that Deborah initially refused to take the lead because she knew it was God's command that a man be responsible for leadership (Judges 4:6) and that if the man did not lead it would be to his "shame" that God would resort to the use of a woman (Judges 4:9). Significantly, in Hebrews 11 it is the coward Barak that received the credit instead of the woman.
 

We feel that these admissions by Deborah and the condition of Israel reinforces these precepts and demonstrates that when a church or a nation places women in authority over men it is visible indication of a rebellious state as characterized in the book of Judges and as clearly stated in Isaiah 3:12:

"As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."

b. Phillip's Daughters
Another example in Scripture used to prove that these precepts must be interpreted wrongly is the case of Philip's four daughters in Acts 21:8-9.
 

However, there is nothing stated in the context to indicate that they violated any of the precepts in question.
 

All that is said is that they prophesied. It does not say when or where they did their prophesying. It does not say they prophesied in a church. Everything is built upon "silence" and "assumption".
 

If we are going to make assumptions from silence, it is easy to assume that their prophesying was done in a manner consistent with these precepts rather than in opposition to them.
 

For instance, if we are going to assume they prophesied in the church, we can assume they prophesied among the women as did Miriam in Exodus 15:20 and as instructed in Titus 2:3-5 and then that prophecy was related to the church as was Miriam's.
 

At the very least, this example is based more on silence than on specifics. Since it is possible to interpret this example in harmony with the precepts in question, it cannot be used to dogmatically disprove them.
 

c. Phoebe the "servant"
Another example used to support the position of women in leadership roles in the church is Phoebe in Romans 16:2.
 

It is argued that since the Greek term translated "servant" is used in its masculine form for the office of deacon, that its femine form when used of Phoebe must be a "deaconess."
 

However, these interpreters fail to tell you that this Greek term is primarily used in the New Testament in the sense of a "servant" or one without any authority (e.g. Jn 2:5).

Moreover, the context does not demand that she holds the church office of "deaconess."

For instance, she is able to travel and this indicates that she does not have a family to care for and therefore is most likely one of those "widows" described in I Timothy 5:9-13 that was qualified for church support.

Second, Paul's description of her as one who has been the "succourer of many" perfectly fits the qualifications set forth in I Timothy 5:10.

Third, she may well have come to the church at Rome to minister to that church as described and directed in Titus 2:3-5.

Finally, it took a man in the office of authority to command the church at Rome to help her fulfill her service, which at least implies she held no office of authority so that she could command their obedience.

Again, this example more naturally harmonizes with the precepts in question.  As for the other interpretation, it must overcome the masculine qualifications for the office of Deacon as set forth in I Timothy as well as all the precepts that forbid women (at least in Paul's day) to teach or usurp authority over men!

Therefore this objection must be dismissed as a forced and unnatural argument.

d. Priscilla

One final example used to overthrow these explicit and clear precepts is the case of Priscilla in Acts 18:26.

Again, however, there is nothing stated in the context that must be interpreted to be. in conflict with these precepts.

For instance, this text does not state that this teaching was done in church.

The fact that Aquila's name is mentioned first, indicates that Aquila led in this discussion.  Moreover, there is nothing to suggest that Priscilla usurped authority over Apollos but merely attended this discussion with her husband.  It is certain that Priscilla was not involved apart from the authority and supervision of her own husband in this matter.

However, grant that she did usurp authority over a man here and still you only have an example of a violation of the precepts in mention.

This case cannot be used as a "proof' that these precepts are invalid or that they are wrongly interpreted.

What do they Mean?

The meaning of these precepts is not hidden or unclear but is spelled out by the Biblical writers in no uncertain terms.

There are three basic Divine intentions behind these precepts: (1) They express the Positional order God intended from Creation. (2) They express the Protection that God designed from creation. (3) They express the Pictorial teaching that God designed from Creation.

All these precepts are based upon God's design for the roles of men and women from creation.

"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone: I will make him a help meet for him."  ­ Gen 1:18

"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man."  - 1Co 11:8-9

"For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman was in the transgression."  - 1Ti 2:13-14

"For the husband is the head of the wife, EVEN AS Christ is the head of the church .... For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I SPEAK OF CHRIST AND THE CHURCH."  - Eph 5:23,31-32

1. The Creative Positions

There is no institution or fraternity upon the face of the earth that would even think of abolishing positions of authority as only chaos and anarchy would be the result.

However, this is exactly what some Christians want in the home. They want equality in position.

Don't confuse "position" with "person." The bible teaches more than equality of "persons" as it teaches us to treat others better than ourselves. However, the Bible does not teach equality of Positions or authority in the home or church.

God knew that the home needed structure so that confusion and rebellion against God would be kept in check.

This positional authority is no more degrading to the woman as it is for the man or Christ when the Apostle says:

"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. " - 1Co 11:3

Don't confuse 'position' with 'person'.  The Bible teaches more than equality of 'persons' as it teaches us to treat others better than ourselves.  However, the Bible does not teach equality of positions or authority in the home.

Mothers teach their children to respect and obey them because that is right and it is God's revealed will as the Parent holds the position of authority over the children.

However, the very same Biblical context that places the parents over the children places the husband over the wife.

The woman cannot demand of the children what she refuses to obey herself.

It is clear that the headship of the man in the home is directly based upon and related to the headship of Christ over the church (Eph 5:22-24).  The "headship" of the man can no more change than the "headship" of Christ over the Church.

If a woman concedes that it is God's will that her husband is to be the head of the house by divine appointment, then it is unreasonable and irrational to suggest that as soon as the family departs the home and enters the church that God approves of an order in the church that reverses the roles ordained in the home.  That makes God the author of confusion.  It is more natural to believe that these precepts in question are in perfect harmony with God's order in creation and in the home as well as in the church.

If God has appointed the headship of the man in the home, God cannot but be the author of confusion if He reverses that order in the church.

Hence, these precepts are in perfect harmony with God's revealed will for the home and are very logical and necessary for the order and spiritual growth of the family.

2. The Creator's Protection

God created the man physically superior to the woman for the purpose that the man would protect her and the children from harm.

God created the man with a more predominate "rationale" drive to protect the woman from deception (1Ti 2:14).

God created the woman with a more predominate "emotional" drive to protect and nurture her children.

I Corinthians 14:34 is where it commands the wife to ask her husband at home if she is to be taught rather in the church.  Why?  First because God holds the man responsible for the spiritual growth of his family.  Second, no other man should be allowed to take his place simply because the woman will "bond" with the one who provides her spiritual needs on a continuing basis.

How many times have we read of Pastors and counselors falling into sexual sins with their female members and clients?  Why?  Simply because the Pastor or counselor replaced the husband as the spiritual leader and teacher of the woman in question.

God commands the woman to look to her husband as her teacher in order to protect her from "bonding" with another man.

The man is held responsible by God to teach his children and wife (Gen 18:19; Eph 6:4).

3. The Creative Picture

The Bible teaches us that there will be no marriage in heaven but that we will be as the angels.

God has a greater design in marriage other than reproduction.  Ephesians 5:23-32 tells us that God's design behind marriage was to picture the relationship between Christ and His church. The man is to represent Christ in His threefold office as Prophet, Priest and King while the woman is to represent the Bride of Christ under the submissive instruction and leadership of the man.

Hence, the headship of the husband and the subjection of the wife is meant to be a visible picture of the headship of Christ over the church.

To reject or reverse this creative picture is to violate the intended picture God has designed.

Therefore, you cannot assert POSITIONAL equality of the woman with the man without asserting the equality of the church POSITIONALLY with Christ.

Ephesians 5 may teach mutual "submission" to one another but it does not teach mutual "positions" to one another. If Christ is the "head" of the church, then God intends that the husband be the "head" of the wife.

It is highly inconsistent with common sense and with the Bible to teach the headship of the man at home but teach the opposite in the church.

Churches that teach the headship of the man at home but allow women to take leadership positions over men in the church violate the Bible and common sense.

If a woman concedes that it is God's will that her husband is to be the head of the house by divine appointment, then it is unreasonable and irrational to suggest that as soon as the family departs the home and enters the church that God approves of an order in the church that reverses the roles ordained in the home.  That makes God the author of confusion.

The Question of Silence?

Let your women keep silence in the churches:  for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the Law." - 1Co 14:34

To what extent are we to understand this command to be silent in the churches?

 

First, the apostle makes it clear that this command is not limited just to the church at Corinth as he explicitly says "in the churches."  Second, in I Timothy 2:11-13 Paul makes it clear that it is based upon the creative order and nature of men and women.

 

In I Corinthians 14 the subject is speaking publicly in the assembly (tongues and prophecy). It is in this context of PUBLIC SPEAKING before the assembly that this command is given.

 

In I Timothy 2:11 it is qualified to mean that no form of public speaking that would appear to exercise spiritual authority over men is to be allowed. Hence, this command restricts women from taking any kind of vocal or positional leadership role before the assembly. This would include asking questions (1Co 14:35) as questions can be so worded to instruct and rebuke.

 

However, it does not appear that answering a question when asked would be inappropriate, such as, their salvation experience before the assembly, votes to baptize them, or choice of a hymn selection.  Neither would it appear that singing a solo would violate these injunctions.  To demand that she cannot sing unless accompanied by her husband would limit singing to only married women whose husbands could sing.  Some man (song leader) can give the introduction if one is needed before the assembly, but she is sufficiently confined within the guidelines of the music so that no authority is usurped. 

 

What about women who have no husband?  Obviously they cannot ask their husbands at home?  Older women are to be the teachers of younger women (Tit. 2:3-5).  The Pastor accompanied with his wife can also answer questions after the services.

 

Although women cannot teach or usurp authority over men, they can teach and instruct other women and children in the Sunday School (Tit. 2:3-5).  They can also be used by the Lord in the area of hospitality (1Ti 5:10).

 

The only passage of Scripture that has been interpreted to contradict these clear injunctions against women speaking publicly before the assembly is I Corinthians 11:5.  Here Paul prohibits women to pray or prophesy without being veiled.  The assumption of many is that if they are veiled then they can pray and prophesy in the assembly.

 

However, this "assumption" would pit one scripture against two clear scriptures to the contrary.

 

I Corinthians 11:5 does not have to be interpreted this way. There are at least two other possible interpretations that do no violence to the context and yet harmonize with the other clear injunctions.

 

Charles Ryrie suggests that I Corinthians 11 and 14 should be interpreted according to the primary subject matter of each context. He suggests that I Corinthians 11 is dealing with the subordinate position of women whereas I Corinthians 14 is dealing with the activity of women in the public assembly:

Paul was not dealing there with the question of women's praying and prophesying.  The question which evoked the answer recorded in Chapter 14 was the question of the proper use of spiritual gifts.  At this point in the epistle he was dealing with the question of public ministry of women.  In other words, Chapter 11 concerns women's position and Chapter 14 their activity in the public assembly (Charles Ryrie, The Role of Women in the Church. Moody Press, pp. 76-77)

There is absolutely no question that Ryrie's conclusion is correct from a contextual point of view. But why mention the words "pray and prophesy" at all in conjunction with women? This interpretation is certainly better than pitting scripture against scripture but still it leaves a question.

 

However, an even more satisfying interpretation of I Corinthians 11:5 is that Paul is referring to their PARTICIPATION in prayer and prophesying through the leadership of a man in the church. That is, they cannot participate in the worship service unveiled. Whenever a man leads the church in prayer or prophesying, the rest of the church participate by representation not by individual expression.

 

John Gill points out that the terms "pray and prophesy" were used to express such group participation under an individual in the church service rather than individual expression (Gill's Commentaries, Vol. VI. 1Co 11:5).

 

 

Modest Apparel

In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works - 1Ti 2:9-10.

Have you ever noticed that the Bible has much to say about the apparel of women but next to nothing to say about the apparel of men?  Why is this?  The answer is very simple.  The sexual drive of the man is highly aroused by the revealed form of the woman more so than the woman is toward the form of a man.

Simply stated, the Bible speaks of the "attire of an harlot" as clothes or the lack thereof that entices men to commit adultery or fornication first in their mind and then in actuality.

Presumably, a godly woman would not desire to dress in such a way to cause men to sin.  The Bible provides two basic principles for dress and style so that godly woman can avoid being such a stumbling block to men.

The principle provided in the above text is modesty.  This term is a translation of the Greek word "kosmos" where we get our English term "cosmetics."  It means an "orderly arrangement."  The contextual definition of this "orderly arrangement" includes clothing and arrangement of hair and face in such a way that it "professeth godliness."

What do the words "professeth godliness" mean?  Perhaps the best way to understand those term is to look at the opposite.  The ungodly woman arranges herself in such a way to entice and seduce men.  She dresses to reveal her form and figure.

Clothing that "professeth godliness" is arranged in such a way to hide, conceal and avoid any kind of "come on" to the opposite sex.  Godly apparel is not form fitting and scanty but loose fitting and fully covering those sexual areas that men's eye are looking for.

Paul is not forbidding the moderate use of make-up or jewelry or pretty hair styles.  He is not forbidding women to be attractive.  What he is forbidding is the emphasis of sexual attractiveness and undue attention being drawn to self rather than to the Lord.

Your clothing communicate your personality or inner self.  This is why Peter tells women to adorn themselves after the inward man or a meek and quiet spirit.  Your clothes should not emphasize your sexuality but your spirituality.

The second principle the Bible provides for appropriate dress for women deals with the proper style of clothing.  Deuteronomy 22:5 demands a clear and distinct separation between male and female clothing styles.  God made them male and female and expects them to appear that way both in clothing and hair styles (1Co 11:14-15).

One lady writer well states concerning this verse "the emptiness of a statement as 'my pants are feminine' is shown by one clear example:  what if a man would say 'my skirt is masculine'?!. ... How would you react dear lady, if your hairy-chested and hairy-legged husband attempted to justify his wearing a skirt by pronouncing it masculine?" (Patti Williams, Schizophrenic Women, Hephzibah House, Winoa Lake, IN). 

Prior to the unisex movement in America (1960's) the distinctive male attire was pants and the distinctive female attire was a dress.  This fact is demonstrated by the symbols on bathroom doors and the phrase "the man wears the pants in the family" both of which clearly identify pants as masculine attire. 

It is interesting that since the unisex movement has adopted pants as its unisex symbol of clothing, there has been a greater percentage of divorce, affairs and increase of homosexuality.

It is vitally important for boys to identify with males and for girls to identify with females.  Without such identification, children may later suffer sexual maladjustment's in marriage or be inclined toward homosexuality. (Paul D. Meirer, Frank B. Minirth, Frank Wichern, Introduction to Psychology & Counseling, p. 110).

Certainly the style of clothing is not the only factor but it is a significant factor.  Children between the ages of 6-8 identify with their role model visually.  Since the sexual revolution of the 60's each new generation has been more sexually and homosexually permissive. 

The kind of clothes you wear will affect your personality.  One lady writer tried a little experiment.  One day she wore her old mini skirt and black boots, the next day she wore a pair of pants and the last day she wore a modest dress while taking note of her attitude and actions each day.  The result was that she definitely noted a change of personality and actions each day toward men.  She acted more submissive and feminine in the dress.  Certainly a modest dress does not correct personality faults but it does tend to influence a woman to be more feminine.

Mrs. Williams began her tract on this subject with these provocative words "A woman who is causing problems in the body of Christ is either not dressed properly or not under submission to her husband" (Ibid.).

God is not the author of confusion.  Why stay in a gray area when you can wear a style that even bathroom doors define as definitely feminine?  Why adopt a questionable style when you don't have to?  Why?  Unless it is to revolt against principles that are unquestionably godly (Rom 8:7)?

Baptist Women Exalted

God has ordained that the woman be a symbol of what Christ loved and gave His own life for and some day will come and take to be with Him forever.

 

What an honor and privilege it is for our Baptist women to teach the angels of heaven and the world who enters our doors, the true nature and character of the Bride of Christ.

 

By her modest dress and covered head she teaches the beauty of submission. By her silence and submission to men in leadership positions, she teaches the Brides submission to the ministry of Christ.

 

If our Baptist men would take their God given responsibilities in the home and in the church and portray the love for their wives "as Christ loved the church" (Eph 5:21-33) there would be much more harmony in the home and in the church.  What a witness that would be.

 

To be in the place and position that God has designed for you is to be EXALTED to the highest position before God that you can attain in this life.  To rebel and reject your God given position in life is to degrade yourself to the lowest level before God.  Such is the comparison between being covered and uncovered in I Corinthians 11:5-6.  Wearing the covering SYMBOLICALLY lifts the woman up before men, angels and heaven to the position of a real lady, the Bride of Christ.  Refusing to wear the covering SYMBOLICALLY lowers the woman to the status of a harlot before men, angels and God.

 

It is important that you understand that this last statement refers only to the SYMBOLIC inference and not to any literal inference.

 

A symbol never makes a person holy or their attitude right; a symbol only portrays an intended truth that God has designed to be shown by the symbol.

 

Ladies, make it your aim to put on the fruits of the Spirit before putting on the symbol of those fruits. In doing so you adorn that symbol with an attitude that pleases God whereas without that attitude you scorn the symbol you wear.

 

Charles Ryrie sums up the woman's position as taught in the Bible with these words:

The Christian doctrine of order in creation involving subordination requires the Christian practice of manifesting that order in public worship by the veiling of women ..... The fact that Adam was first formed means that he had first an independent existence and could in no way be subordinate to Eve.  He further adds the idea that ''the woman's yielding to the wiles of the serpent shows her to be an unsafe guide."  Subordination, dependence, and difference of nature are the three reasons the early church assigned for the non­participation of women in public vocal ministry, and this regulation of silence was not grounded in special and temporary conditions in the church but was related to a far more basic and fundamental reason, that is, the difference in position and nature of male and female.  These are the facts whether we like them or not, and this appears to be the only solution which makes all the texts consistent with one another.  Whether this agrees with present day practice is beside the point.  Every serious student of the Word of God first seeks to discover its meaning and standards and then, and only then, to bring practice into conformity with it.  (Charles Ryrie, The Role of Women in the Church, Moody Press, pp. 74, 79)

There are great women of God who are submissive to their husbands and who are ladies in the highest sense but who have never been taught this truth or who honestly disagree with the position of this book.  It is not the intention of this author to insult or unnecessarily offend those who may disagree with the position of this writer.

 

Let charity abound and every man and woman be persuaded in their own mind.