Must women always cover their hair when they pray or prophesy in church?

Read 1 Corinthians 11:2-8 

[] A woman’s long hair is her covering. Even those who believe that what hangs down a man’s head in verse 4 is a textile veil would agree with me that it is synonymous with the veil in verses 1 Corinthians 11:5, 6, 6, 7, and 13.  Where we would disagree is only on the nature of the material of the veil hanging down. And we would agree that the veil is also the authority on the woman’s head in verse 1 Corinthians 11:1 Corinthians 11:10. So far, we have concurred on seven of the phrases. Where we differ is only concerning the final three. Since wearing one’s hair long is a ‘shame’ for a man and a ‘glory’ for a woman in verses 1 Corinthians 11:14-15, it parallels the veiling and unveiling that are also a ‘shame’ or ‘glory’ in verses 1 Corinthians 11:4-7. Paul’s punch line comes in verse 1 Corinthians 11:15 the woman’s long hair is not only her ‘natural’ beauty but is also a gift from God  with the specific purpose of replacing any textile veils – ‘instead of (any) mantle!’ It appears that her ‘authority’ and her ‘glory’ are in fact identical.

[] Paul in a later letter tells the same church that God’s new covenant people do not need to veil their faces when communicating God’s prophetic word to his people as Moses used to (2 Corinthians 3:13,18).

[] The reference to the angels in verse 1 Corinthians 11:10 reinforces this view for me – a sheer puzzle to most exegetes.  Peter tells us that angels desire to look into the salvation purposes of God (1 Peter 1:10-12). In Romans 1:18-27 the expression ‘contrary to nature’ is used about homosexual practices – a subject in which angels are definitely interested according to Genesis 6:1-8, referred to in 2 Peter 2:4-10 and Jude 3-16.  Also, here is a simple observation not to be dismissed with a shrug: the angels in Isaiah 6:1-13 do not use any external dress to cover their faces and feet when worshipping God [as they seem to do every time they appear to humans on earth], but instead employ parts of their God-given natural anatomy – their wings! Paul deliberately leaves everything vague until the end and then makes it crystal clear to all readers of all times! Textile veils are never legislated elsewhere in Scripture!

[] Paul uses the language of ‘putting on’ and ‘putting off’ freely in other places in his inspired letters (eg Ephesians 4:22, 24, 25, 31; 6:11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17; Colossians 3:8, 10, 12, 14; 1 Thessalonians 5:8 etc).  Why did he fail to use such familiar language if that is what he definitely meant here?  Instead, he tells us that the woman has already been endowed with the precious natural gift of long hair as a glorious, significant veil.

[] Incidentally, kata with the accusative case in verse 1 Corinthians 11:4 is also used in Matthew 8:32 for the herd of demonised pigs cascading down the cliff side into the sea.  The lover in Solomon’s Song uses a similar scenario in admiring his beloved’s loose black locks, resembling a flock of shaggy goats with flowing, silky fleeces descending the hillside at a more sedate pace (Song of Solomon 4:2; 6:5).  That is why I ask very seriously of those who insist on external ‘covering’: What has any of this vocabulary got to do with baseball caps, berets, Alice bands, fascinators or bonnets – not one of which is truly a ‘veil’ that ‘hangs down’?  And I must add another sober question: Does anybody really believe that the angels are impressed with this assortment of headgear?

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