The Ward - Schellekens Debate

Rudy Schellekens' First Affirmative

"The Scriptures teach that women today
may pray to God bareheaded."

Schellekens' First Affirmative

Introduction: Ladies, Gentlemen…

I want to thank the moderators of this list, and of course, Mark, for their patience with me during this written exchange of thoughts about 1 Corinthians 11 and the implications for today's believers.

Due to some unexpected health problems it has taken me longer than anticipated to respond to Mark's contributions. I thank him for the gentle, yet decisive way in which he has posted. I respect him, and his opinion, and am the richer for having had this opportunity to exchange thoughts with him.

The passage under consideration:
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings,[1] just as I passed them on to you.
3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

As stated before, there is little reason to doubt the identity of the people in question. Paul uses the word ANER fifteen times in this letter, and ALL the previous uses in the letter refer to a husband/wife relationship. Why would this change, suddenly?

Only the husband is the head of his wife, and no generic statement is made in this verse. There is no generic "headship" of all men over all women to be found in this passage, not anywhere else in Scripture!

For a clear example, all one has to do is look at the book of Judges, and see Deborah's life described as one of the judges (leaders) of Israel.

A generic "headship" would nullify the mother/son relationship, as well. Mark, would you honestly believe that your wife, the mother of your children, will be subject to them? If so, I would like to see the biblical example of such!

4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head--it is just as though her head were shaved.

Of course, this is where the issue begins. Is this a statement, binding upon all men at all times? According to Barnes (203), Keener (21), MacKnight (181), Allen (130) and Volger (124), among many others (Like Farrar, Vincent, McGarvey, Alfort, McGuiggan), the issue is cultural.

The men in Judaism prayed with heads covered. The men in Greek and Roman culti prayed with heads uncovered. There is more than sufficient evidence in a large number of sources, in a number of different languages available to support this position.

And, where the men prayed with their heads covered, the cultic priestesses in the Greek and Roman temples did the same with the head uncovered. Not only was the reminder of idolatry present by that act, but the idea of WIVES walking around in public uncovered   (Barnes, MacKnight, Volger) was unheard of – and scandalous.

6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

Now, Mark, is it a disgrace in today's society for a woman to have short hair, or even her head shaved? Granted, Demi Moore looks a lot nicer with her hair long as compared to when she played the role of G. I. Jane. But the question is NOT one of looks, but of propriety. If, in Paul's Corinth, having an uncovered or a shaven head, is indeed a symbol of indecency, she very well should be covered with a veil! And if the fact that women had their heads uncovered indeed does bring back images of idolatry, she would do well, again, to have her head covered.

7 A man ought not to cover his head,[2] since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head.

And here we are again, at the "sign of authority". Let's tie this in with the following statement, "For long hair is given to her as a covering". So, when a woman has long hair, she IS covered, according to Paul. That means there would be no need for an artificial covering – as far as God is concerned. Does that set the woman free to break the cultural pattern? Paul would exclaim, NO!

11 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice--nor do the churches of God.

Mark, as far as the "nature" (PHUSIN) is concerned in this passage. Tell you what: Do not get a haircut for the next six months, and measure how much your hair has grown. Now, ask your wife to do the same, and see how much her hair has grown. I have a strong feeling that (unless you are hair challenged), there will not be much difference between the hair increases! So, nature cannot possibly be Biological, but has to be "custom" or "habit". Other examples of where it cannot be biological (in Paul's writings) would be Romans 2:14 (The Gentiles doing what is right by "nature"), Ephesians 2:3 (And were by nature children of wrath).

-- Rudy Schellekens

[-end of first affirmative by Schellekens]



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