Why Head Coverings? Reason #1: Creation Order
the thing that is most astonishing here is that he appeals to creation, not to Corinth. If anything transcends local custom it is those things that are rooted and ordered in creation. Thats why Im very frightened to be loose with this passage. R.C. Sproul*
There are four reasons for head coverings that the Apostle Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 11. The very first of these is the foundation; the deeper reality that head coverings point to. When a new believer is baptized theyre symbolizing their death to their old life & new life in Christ (Rom 6:4). When a woman prays with her head covered and a man prays with his head uncovered they too are symbolizing something greater. Lets take a look at this foundation.
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. (1 Cor 11:3 NASB)
God has made men & women equal in value & worth. We both need each other or as the Scriptures say in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. (1 Cor 11:11 NASB)
But just because were equal does not mean that we have the same role, authority or function.* These differences can be seen throughout the creation, in angels & even God Himself. The doctrine of the Trinity is that there is only one God, revealed in three distinct persons: The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. Now these three persons are all fully God and fully equal but they are distinct in function, authority and person. As we have seen in the above verse God is the head of Christ. This submission of Jesus to the Father was not limited to his incarnation as some claim. Rather, in 1 Corinthians 15 when it speaks of after the second coming when the Kingdom is consummated, the Scriptures say:
When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor 15:28 NASB)
Jesus is not less valuable than the Father. The Holy Spirit is not less valuable than Jesus even though His role is to not speak about Himself, but instead to glorify the Son (John 16:13).
Different roles do not have to mean different value or worth. This point cant be stressed highly enough. Does a police officer have an authority over you given by God (Rom 13:1)? Yes! Is that police officer of more value or worth then you as a human? No! Children submit to their parents (Eph 6:1), slaves submit to their masters (Eph 6:5), wives submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22), citizens submit to their government (Rom 13:1), church members submit to their elders (Heb 13:17), Jesus submits to God (1 Cor 11:3). Theres even different ranks in the angels as Michael is called the archangel (Jude 9) meaning chief.*
We need not be afraid of authority. There will be lousy parents, brutal masters, chauvinist husbands, power-trip pastors and ungodly governments until the end. Thats due to sin though, not because authority is bad. Let us look to the Trinity as our model example.
So the very first reason for head coverings is because of the created order. This is the foundation that Paul said I want you to understand (1 Cor 11:3a NASB). This is not a cultural argument, but a transcendent argument as the Fathers headship is eternal and unchanging.
Before we examine the next verse I want to challenge my Complementarian* friends. I know the arguments you use for male eldership & husband headship. I agree with you fully. In 1 Timothy 2 it explains why a woman cannot teach or exercise authority, doesnt it?
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:12-14 NASB)
The reason is based in creation you would say, therefore it isnt cultural. Agreed. But now I want to challenge you to remain consistent as we examine this next verse.
For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the womans sake, but woman for the mans sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head (1 Cor 11:7-10a NASB)
Paul says why women must have a have a symbol of authority on their head; because of the created order.
Where do you find man being directly created in the image of God? Genesis 1.
Where do you find woman being created from man, or being the glory of man? Genesis 2.
Where do you find that the woman was created for man, not the other way around? Genesis 2.
And when do you find sin entering the picture? Not until Genesis 3.
So this foundation is not only based in creation, its based in Gods perfect creation before sin. Headship & authority was Gods original intent. It wasnt a post-fall disaster, but a pre-fall masterpiece.
Here is a summary of why the command looks different for men and women. Why one must wear a covering and the other must not.
God in his infinite wisdom has selected perfect symbols to display this difference in the created order. Our God loves symbols: He gave us the spotless lamb, the unleavened bread, the water in baptism, the bread & wine, the olive tree, marriage, the temple, the feasts and the list could go on and on.
Each symbol was chosen by God for a specific purpose to point to a greater reality. In the book of Hebrews we see this clearly with regards to the tent that Moses was commanded to make.
They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain. (Heb 8:5 ESV)
The author points out that the tent was not a reality in itself, but was a picture of whats in Heaven. Now even though it was a symbol, Moses was still given very specific instructions. The reason being is if you change the symbol, you no longer accurately reflect what God was using it to point to. So it is with head coverings. The man reflects the glory of God & his submission to Christ by praying and prophesying with a bare head. The woman reflects the glory of man and her submission to the proper male authority in her life by praying and prophesying with her head covered. If we change the symbol or abandon it altogether we miss out on displaying to man and angels the wisdom of God in creation. Even worse, we are disobeying the commands of our Lord, which as Paul says brings dishonor and disgrace upon our heads (1 Cor 11:4-6).