Were Our Biblical Views Of Women Gradually Eroded?

“The wearing of fabric head coverings in worship was universally the practice of Christian women until the twentieth century. What happened? Did we suddenly find some biblical truth to which the saints for thousands of years were blind? Or were our biblical views of women gradually eroded by the modern feminist movement that has infiltrated the Church…?”

– R.C. Sproul

Source: http://www.headcoveringmovement.com/

The Divinely Prescribed Practice

Malcolm H. Watts on the cultural argument against the headcovering:

This makes nonsense of the so-called ‘cultural argument’, that the teaching of 1 Corinthians merely reflects the cultural custom of Paul’s day and that therefore it is not binding upon us in the twentieth century. The plain fact of the matter is that the apostle is here sanctioning neither Jewish nor Greek usage. He is arguing on peculiarly Christian principles that, in the worship of God, men should appear uncovered and women should appear covered. Whatever may be done in other societies, Paul insists that this is the divinely prescribed practice for Christians and that it should therefore be followed in all Christian churches.

~”Head Covering in the Worship of God,” http://www.salisburyemmanuel.org.uk/Head-covering%20in%20the%20worship%20of%20God.pdf

God’s Glory Alone is to be Seen in the Public Worship Service

Richard Bacon:

“The answer is obviously “covered.” She should be covered. Why ought a man not to have his head covered? What is the reason that Paul gave? Because he is the image and glory of God. God’s glory is to be uncovered in worship. This is so important that the entire passage is going to be brought together at the end on this very basis: God’s glory alone is to be seen in the public worship service. The reason he “ought not to have his head covered” is that he “is the image and glory of God.” It follows that anything that brings glory to anything or anybody other than to God ought to be covered! “But the woman is the glory of man.” Therefore we cover the glory of man. This passage implicitly commands us to cover the glory of man and to uncover the glory of God! Consider the brilliance of this argument! Paul argued in these verses that this involves more than just a relationship of man to woman. It certainly involves that, but the matter also involves the relationship that our worship has toward God. God’s glory is to be uncovered and man’s glory is to be covered in public worship.”

Read more (pdf): http://www.thebluebanner.com/pdf/bluebanner7-5.pdf

Because the Angels are Watching

Christopher Love (1618-1651), A Treatise of the Angels, on a reason for the headcovering:

“Eighth, the angels are present with us, beholding us in our church assemblies when we come to worship before God. When you are in the worship and service of God, the angels are with you, beholding you, though you see them not. This is hinted at in 1 Cor. 11:10 ‘For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head, because of the angels.” Some refer these words to ministers, who are elsewhere called angels, but we may understand it of the angels themselves because they delight in the things of the gospel. Here the apostle speaks of women not coming into church without covering. Why? Because of the angels, not the ministers. It is meant of the angels of heaven, and therein the women are to take heed how they come into the church, because the angels are spectators and behold how you behave yourselves, they being fellow-worshippers of God with you in church assemblies. And this should make you take heed of your carriage; for although they do not know your hearts, yet they behold your carriage as you come into the presence of God.”

Source and more quotes on headcovering: https://annawood.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/quotes-from-the-1600s-on-why-women-should-wear-headcoverings/

Morality Manifested in Nature

Headship and Worship: Notes on 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

Sherman Isbell

Man’s headship

1.  Like the Sabbath day, the authority relationship between man and woman is rooted in creation. This is seen in I Corinthians 11:7-9, and the argument from nature in verses 14 and 15. Verses 7 to 9 are parallel to I Corinthians 14:34, where the reference to the law is to the historical record of the creation, found in Genesis 2. I Timothy 2:11-13 is also parallel. These passages show that the chronological order in which God created each gender reflects the divinely-ordained authority relationship between man and woman.

In the supporting argument at verse 14, Paul does more than appeal to a common sense of decency. Noel Weeks, in his The Sufficiency of Scripture, remarks on Paul’s reference to nature: “In Romans 1:26 he calls homosexuality ‘against nature.’ Here ‘nature’ cannot mean the common sense of decency because the point of the passage is that man’s common sense of ‘decency’ has been so perverted as to approve the practice. In Romans it clearly means the created state of affairs. Certainly this created state of affairs may influence local customs and standards, but the primary and most important factor is creation and not custom. This understanding of ‘nature’ fits the context of I Corinthians 11:14, which is clearly concerned with the created order.” Whereas there may be divergent views about what is natural modesty and natural morality, Scripture contains a reassertion of the morality manifested in nature, and reinforces man’s conscience in these areas.

John Murray, in correspondence, writes: “Since Paul appeals to the order of creation (vs. 3b, vss. 7 ff.), it is totally indefensible to suppose that what is in view and enjoined had only local or temporary relevance. The ordinance of creation is universally and perpetually applicable, as also are the implications for conduct arising therefrom.”

Read more: http://www.westminsterconfession.org/worship/headship-and-worship-notes-on-1-corinthians-112-16.php

The Headcovering as a Universal Practice

“The headcovering requirement is based on the order of creation. It has been argued that this means that the principle of male headship is permanent, but the particular application of it (i.e. headcovering) was cultural. There is no evidence in the passage for this. Indeed, the evidence is in the opposite direction. Why the references to acts of worship? If it were a cultural matter, it would apply to all public appearances of women since the pagans of Corinth would not be concerned specifically about Christian worship practice. Some suggest that some of the women particularly abandoned their headcovering during ecstatic utterance, but this is pure invention as far as the text is concerned. The word rendered ‘ordinance’ (v. 2) is consistently used of that which has apostolic authority (rendered tradition in 2 Thess 2:15 & 3:6). The appeal to universal practice in v.16 should be noted. The idea that we must find ‘culturally relevant’ ways of expressing male headship becomes obviously absurd in a culture like ours where every trace of male leadership is being eradicated.”

~ David Silversides

Read more:  http://www.the-highway.com/headcovering_Silversides.html

The Headcovering as a Customable Practice

“Divine Apostolical Institutions, (that we may draw to our purpose) were again of two sorts: First, variable, or temporary, which were such injunctions as were prescribed, either for some special ends, as that law for abstaining from blood, and things strangled, Acts 15.1 for avoiding offence to the Jews, or to some special nations, or persons, as agreeable to the customs of those places and times, as that of women being vailed in the Congregations, and some other the like.  Secondly, invariable and perpetual: such as concerned the whole Church: This distinction we received from that learned and Professor; His instances of the later part of it, are Imposition of hands, in the election of Ministers, and the distinction of Deacons from the Pastors; we would say, Presbyters.”

~Daniel Cawdrey and Herbert Palmer, Sabbatum Redivivum: or, The Christian Sabbath vindicated (London, 1652), second part, p. 463.

Source: http://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/daniel-cawdrey-and-herbert-palmer-on-head-covering-as-cultural/

“According to Durham, this was not a universal principle of regulated worship, but a custom-able sign:

ASSERTION ONE.  For no offense whatsoever should men forbear a necessary duty, or commit anything which is materially sinful.  Christ would needs go up to Jerusalem, although his disciples were displeased, and would continue in preaching the gospel, and in doing what was entrusted to him, although the Pharisees were offended (Matt. 15).  This is clear, for no evil should be done that good may come of it (Rom. 3).

ASSERTION TWO.  Yet in other things there ought to be great respect had to offense, and men ought to be swayed accordingly in their practice, as the former reasons clear.  As (1.), if the matter is of light concernment in itself, as how men’s gestures are in their walking (suppose in walking softly, or quickly, with cloak or without) men ought to do, or abstain, as may prevent the construction of pride, lightness, etc., or give occasion to others in any of these.  Of such sort was womens’ praying with their heads uncovered amongst the Corinthians, it being then taken for an evil sign.  Yet if it is necessary, there is nothing little, as Moses will not leave a hoof (Exod. 10), or Mordecai bow his knee to Haman, because it looked like fawning on an accursed enemy.  Of this sort also are offenses in the fashions of clothes, as some men’s wearing of ribbons, and such like, which being of small concernment, ought certainly to be regulated be offense.”

~James Durham, The dying man’s testament of the Church of Scotland or, A treatise concerning scandal, ed. Christopher Coldwell (1680; Dallas, 1990), pp 20-1.

Source:  http://reformedcovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/08/11/james-durham-on-female-head-covering-as-a-customary-practice/

Brian Schwertley on the Head Covering

Here is Brian Schwertley talking about headcoverings and doctrinal compromise:

One could walk into any first century Christian church, whether in Asia Minor, Palestine, Greece, or Rome, and observe a lesson in covenant headship and the Christian family. Sadly, the opposite is true today. Modern declension can be observed in most churches every Sabbath because the apostolic injunction is rarely observed. Feminism and sloppy man-pleasing exegesis have contributed to the widespread disobedience to apostolic authority today. The only remedy for such rebellion against this biblical imperative (see 1 Cor. 11:6b) is repentance.

Note also that unlike modern Reformed churches, which teach and practice diversity on this issue, Paul demands uniformity of doctrine and practice. The apostle says that if anyone seems to be contentious (i.e. disposed to quarrels or dissentious argumentation) about this matter they must stop and submit themselves to apostolic authority and universal church practice. Paul understands that there are people in the church who disagree with his teaching on headcoverings. He recognizes that some people may even be angered by his doctrine. This recognition, however, does not cause Paul to act like a spineless modern church bureaucrat who attempts to ride the fence on controversial issues. Rather, Paul stands on the inspired truth of his argumentation and demands uniformity of doctrine and practice on this matter. Biblical unity is established on the teaching of Scripture. Real lasting unity can only be achieved when believers submit themselves to the authority of Scripture.

The modern idea that unity is accomplished through compromise, through allowing mutually contradictory practices and doctrines in the church, is rejected by Paul. The inspired apostle knows that his arguments for head coverings in worship are not based on contemporary usages, but on biblical truth and creational realities that will last as long as the present earthly economy. The covenant headship of the husband over his wife and the purpose of the wife is the same today as it was when Paul wrote this chapter (1 Cor. 11:7, 8, 9).  A woman’s beautiful hair is still given to her as a natural veil, as her glory, as it was in times past (1 Cor. 11:14-15). The divine order of authority from the Father to Christ and from the man to the woman obviously has never been abrogated (1 Cor. 11:3). The angels of God still observe the public worship of God as they did in the first century (1 Cor. 11:10).  When we consider the apostle’s careful argumentation, brilliant reasoning, sublime analogies and authority as an inspired teacher, we can understand his dogmatism and unwillingness to compromise on this issue.  For Paul to allow diversity of teachings or practice on this issue would be to admit that he was totally wrong in his reasoning. For modern churchmen to allow diversity of practice on this issue is to implicitly deny the perspicuity of Scripture and apostolic authority. Modern believers who profess that they believe in the inspiration and authority of Scripture, yet who want to argue with the apostle Paul about his teaching on head coverings must repent and submit to the inspired command of Christ’s chief apostle: “Let her be covered” (1 Cor. 11:6).

Read More: The Head Covering in Public Worship by Brian Schwertley (pdf)