On the Covering of the Females in the Church

1 Corinthians 11:5‑6  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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It has struck me that there is large and peculiar meaning in the ordinance touching the covering of the females in the Church. (1 Cor. 11:5,65But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. (1 Corinthians 11:5‑6).) It is clearly (on the first reading) to be regarded as signifying that subjection which the woman owes the man, who is her head, or the subjection which the Church owes the Lord. Power or covering on the head was the sign of that, and therefore it was suitable to the female in the congregation.
Bat there is more than that, for the apostle adds, that "if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn;" and he says, that the being uncovered was even all one as if she were shaven;" and to be either shorn or shaven would have been a shame to her. But what was the shame of which the shorn or shaven head of a woman was the expression? This must be determined, I judge, by a reference to the law, and under that we find two occasions in which the female was shaved or uncovered. First, when she was a suspected wife; (Num. 5:1818And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse: (Numbers 5:18);) secondly, when she had been lately taken captive, and was bewailing her father's house, not yet united to the Jew who had taken her in battle. (Deut. 21:10-1310When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 12Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; 13And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. (Deuteronomy 21:10‑13).)
The shaved state of the woman thus expressed that she was not enjoying either the full confidence or the full joy of a husband. Now the female ought not to appear with such marks upon her. The Church ought not to be seen as though she were suspected by Christ, or still felt herself to be a sorrowing captive; this would be her shame. But the covering on her head shows the Church to be in neither of these conditions; but, on the other hand, happy in the confidence of her Lord; and this is as it should be. Thus the female covered in the assembly shows out the two things touching the Church. First, her subjection to the Lord; secondly, her being under his full protection, trusted in, and comforted by him. As the Church both owns the Lordship but enjoys the cherishing presence of Christ, which puts away the sense of captivity, and the uncovered head would be a denial of both, a dishonor to the man and a shame to the woman, and it would bear a false witness, therefore, to angels, who are learning those deep mysteries of Christ from the Church.