The Ward - Schellekens Debate
Mark J. Ward's First Affirmative
"The scriptures teach that women today should
cover their heads when they pray."
Ward's Personal Introduction
To Rudy S., the moderators of this discussion list, and all the readers!
I am happy to be able to study God's Word in this format and look forward to reading/considering/analyzing all of the information provided on this good Bible topic. I will do a short personal intro herein and send my first affirmative, Lord willing, by the end of this week.
I am the son of Richard Kent "Dick" and Mildred Mullins Ward who presently live in Tuscaloosa, AL. Dad has preached all of my life (over 44 years) in churches of Christ, mainly in the southeast. I was blessed to preach full-time for a while and continue to preach/teach as opptys avail themselves. I presently live in Brunswick, GA, which is a wonderful coastal Georgia community (nestled between Jax, FL and Savannah, GA and near St. Simons Island, Sea Island and Jekyll Island, GA).
I do most of the teaching and preaching at the local work where I attend. I also enjoy Bible study with Christians and aliens very much away from the services of the local church. I believe that the discussion/debate format is one of the best ways to study Bible subjects over which there is disagreement, and that it should be done with love, boldness, kindness, clearness, fairness, and open-mindedness to God's truth (in case we might be wrong on a position we hold).
I also enjoy multimedia work and my secular job is a wonderful oppty for me to be involved in the mgmt of printing, CDs, DVDs, library services, computer-based training, graphics, animation, and other media realated products and services. In addition, I use some of those skills to manage a web site called "The Religious Instructor":
May God continue to richly bless us all and may we get the most from all our studies of His Word (on whatever subject we are engaging).
Warmest regards to all!
Mark J. Ward
Ward's First Affirmative
Greetings to Rudy Schellekens, the list moderators of www.religiousdebates.com, and all readers of this discussion (whether at that site or at http://www.religiousinstructor.com). Let me begin by stating that I am very appreciative of this opportunity to engage in a Bible study of this type. I will try to be loving and yet very clear in my teaching. Please do not confuse "conciseness" with a lack of "niceness" in my approach in this study. I believe the Scriptures are the final authority in matters religious and this is a Bible subject that needs studying today.
As I submitted this proposition not knowing "who" would be in the negative, I certainly have no personal axe to grind with Rudy, who will be responding to my affirmative articles. I will press my points and want my opponent to press his. Scriptural argumentation that is sound has no problem with open investigation. Truth has nothing to fear from testing. I look forward to a profitable discussion with Rudy on this subject.
I would kindly ask that all readers, as well as my worthy opponent, please try to keep open minds and open Bibles during this study. I recognize the soberness of teaching only God's revealed truth on any Bible subject. We all will be judged on what we believe, teach and practice. If we learn that our beliefs and practices are not in line with God's Will, let us adjust properly and conform to truth. I ask that we engage in a loving, profitable study of this good Bible subject. Truth is not ambiguous. There is a Bible answer to this question. Studying in this format (debate) is a wonderful approach to trying to reach agreement on issues of belief that divide us. May we grow into the truth of God's Word on every Bible subject!
Let me hasten to define the terms of my proposition. By "The scriptures" I mean the 66 books of the Bible, with specific emphasis on the New Testament, since we today are to live by the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 2:12; Jas 1:25). By "teach" I mean, instruct, impart knowledge. By "that women" I mean the female gender as opposed to male. By "today" I mean now, presently, in this period of time. By "should cover their heads" I mean are to use a means of artificially covering their physical heads like a mantilla, a hat, a scarf, a baseball cap (if at a sporting event, for example), a helmet (if riding on the back of a motorcycle, or on a bicycle, for example). By "when they pray" I mean when they either lead a prayer (of other women, children, or word the prayer themselves when praying alone) or, when they are following along in prayer that is led by another. "Prayer" is mankind's way of communicating with God which can involve thanksgiving, supplications, intercessions and possibly other forms of requests. I hope this will suffice in defining the terms of this proposition. I want to emphasize in this discussion the necessity of women using an artificial covering on their physical head while praying today (whether in or out of church assemblies).
I Corinthians 11:1-16 is the proof text to prove this proposition. My proposition is proven by showing that God's word teaches that women today are to cover their heads whenever they pray. The Bible says,
"5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
"6 For 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
"10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
"13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
"16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."
Will my opponent argue that those to whom Paul wrote were NOT instructed that men were to be uncovered and women were to be covered whenever they prayed? Will my opponent contend that Paul did NOT teach this everywhere in every church (See I Cor. 4:17; I Cor. 11:16)? Will my opponent argue that women do not engage in "praying" today? I submit that the teachings of I Cor. 11:1-16 contain commands to be obeyed throughout the gospel dispensation. Man dishonors his head whenever he prays with a hat on his head, for example (See I Cor. 11:4). The Bible clearly teaches that women dishonor their head when they pray bareheaded (See I Cor. 11:1-16).
There are at least 5 basic positions on this subject held by good brethren. The "figurative" position is one that basically holds that women (in their minds) figuratively cover their head (which is man) when they pray and the men are to (in their minds) figuratively "uncover" their head (which is Christ) in order to pray to the Father. The "spiritual gifts view" is one that usually contends that "praying or prophesying" in this context is limited exclusively to the exercising of spiritual gifts and since such have ceased, this passage does not apply to people living today. The "long hair only" view basically holds that the only "covering" in this entire context is long hair and that when women wear their hair long they obey the requirements of the passage. The "custom" view generally holds that the matter was either a local Corinthian custom and/or a first century custom and unless a similar cultural custom would exist in your locale, such would not be binding today. The view that I hold, is that the passage teaches two coverings: one natural (permanent) and one artificial (temporary, done for an occasion, See vs. 4-16). I believe the scriptures teach that long hair is to be worn by women and that men are to have short hair (I Cor. 11:14-15). Also, I contend that when praying, men are not to have anything (artificial) on their physical heads and women are to cover their physical heads with an outward (artificial) covering (I Cor. 11:1-16). Since God did not specify the size, type of material, color, texture of the headdress to be utilized by women during times of praying or prophesying, women are at liberty to choose such an article that would meet the demands of the requirement to "cover" as outlined in the text of I Corinthians 11. (NOTE: These 5 views are opposed to each other. For example, one would not take the "long hair only" view AND the "figurative" view as they are not in agreement. It will be interesting to see which view my opponent holds. That may not be the view you particularly hold. I would entertain other public, or private study with those who hold any of the views. If your present view is not under consideration in this particular study, please read the entire discussion. I believe you will profit from this study. Thanks.)
Here is the text of I Corinthians 11:1-16 from the KJV:
1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things,
and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ;
and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered,
dishonoureth his head.
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head
uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she
6 For 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.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is
the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head
because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the
woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the
woman; but all things of God.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long
hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is
given her for a covering.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom,
neither the churches of God.
Here are five questions for my opponent:
1. Did Paul teach women to cover their heads when they prayed?
2. Is God still head of Christ, Christ still head of man and man still head of woman today?
3. Do angels exist today?
4. Since Paul taught the same thing everywhere in every church (I Cor. 4:17), did this instruction apply to all women who prayed in the first century? Second century? Third? If not, why not?
5. Is it a shame for men to have long hair today and is it a shame for women to have short hair today? If so, why? If not, why?
I will now set forth some affirmative arguments in this first article:
Paul taught that this instruction concerning the matter of covered and uncovered heads was a ordinance or requirement of God that would be applicable to all saints (I Cor. 11:1-16; I Cor. 4:17).
Paul praised the Corinthian brethren in keeping the ordinances of God (see verse 2). Some folks allege, without proof, that there was a problem with covered and uncovered heads at Corinth. There is no inspired record that indicates that this is the case. In fact, we need to note the "praise" in verse 2 and note the contrast when Paul has to rebuke the Corinthians concerning the abuses of the Lord's Supper in verse 17ff (where he could praise them NOT). Let us not assert things that are without proof in the inspired text of God's Word. Whether or not they were having problems at Corinth, Paul gave God's requirement for women to cover their head when they prayed (vs. 5,6,10,13,16).
I Corinthians 4:17 teaches that Paul taught the same thing in all churches of the saints. Also, a careful study of verse 16 of I Cor. 11 teaches that Paul and others (who were individuals, by the way, making up the "we" in the verse) nor the churches of God (thus, neither individuals nor churches of Christ) would contend for what the contentious man would be advocating (which would be for women to be uncovered and for men to be covered while praying). Paul said that God desired men to be uncovered and for women to be covered at times of praying. A contentious person would teach in direct opposition to God's position as taught by Paul in I Cor. 11:1-16!
Since this teaching is an "ordinance of God" based on God-given reasons that still exist today, it is a command to be obeyed throughout the gospel age (applies now).
Paul, by inspiration of God, based one of the reasons women are to be covered while praying or prophesying on HEADSHIP (I Cor. 11:3-6). Man is still the head of woman today. Christ is still the head of man today. God is still the head of Christ today. Therefore, women are to obey the passage today.
In verse 3 God gives the order of headship: God, Christ, man, woman. I believe this includes mankind being the head of womankind in a general sense, not being limited to husbands being the head of wives, which is also true (See Eph. 5:22-25). God didn't have to give His reasons for men being uncovered and women being covered during prayer. But He did. Headship was one of these reasons. What man was to do, woman was not to do (i.e. man was to pray without something on his head; woman was to pray with her head covered). Due to the fact that man is still the head of woman today, headship is an inspired reason women today should be covered at times of praying. Though God doesn't have to give us the reasons, He chose to. Please read on to see that concerning the matter of covered and uncovered heads there are numerous reasons given in this text as to why women are to be covered at times of praying. But, the reason of "headship" alone, would be enough to sustain the proposition as proven.
Please notice that Paul was NOT addressing how women were to appear at times OTHER THAN praying or prophesying. Paul, by inspiration, sets forth God's New Testament instruction regarding men and women covering their heads at times of praying or prophesying. Men are not to be covered and women are to be covered while praying, according to the teaching of these verses.
God teaches us, through Paul's instruction, that a woman DISHONORS her head if uncovered at times of praying or prophesying (verses 5,6). He goes on to state that such is "as if" she were shorn or shaven (as far as shame and dishonor go). Since Paul taught that it is a SHAME for a woman to be shorn or shaven, the woman is to be covered when praying.
The reason we can know that it is a "dishonor and shame" for women to pray in this dispensation uncovered, is because it is a matter of revelation from God. Paul did not teach that it was a shame for reasons of "custom", as some men assert today without proof. The inspired word of God teaches that it is a dishonor for women to pray bareheaded in verse 5, "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For 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." This reason alone would be enough to prove the proposition that women today are to be covered when they pray. Why does my opponent believe that it is scriptural for women to pray bareheaded in light of this God-given reason? Is it NOT a dishonor for women to pray uncovered? God's Word teaches us that since it is a shame for women to be shorn or shaven, let her pray with her head covered.
Paul, speaking as God's messenger, used even another reason for women to be covered while praying or prophesying in verses 7-9. Woman is mentioned as being the "glory of man" in verse 7 and in verse 9 God's Word teaches us that the woman was "created for the man". These are inspired, God-given reasons for women to pray with their heads covered. These truths are applicable today. Therefore, women are to cover their heads while praying today because woman is still the glory of man and because the fact is still true that woman was created for the man.
Man, however is taught to be uncovered at times of praying, in verse 7, as he is made "in the image and glory of God". Note again that God gives instruction for BOTH the man and the woman. The woman IS to be covered at times of prayer (for God's stated reasons) and the man is to be uncovered while praying. I am not sure if men realize that it is just as wrong for them to pray with something on their heads today, as it is for women to pray without their heads being covered today. Verses 7-9 are just as true today for man and woman as they were in the first century. The inspired ordinance of the man being uncovered and the woman being covered at times of prayer is God-given and applies today.
Another inspired reason Paul gave in I Corinthians 11 for women to be covered while praying was "because of the angels" (See verse 10). Angels still exist today. Therefore, women are to cover their heads while praying today.
Whatever is meant by the phrase "because of the angels" this is still just as applicable for those of us living today as it was when Paul penned the I Corinthian letter. This is yet another God-given reason for the ordinance/requirement that men be uncovered while praying and women be covered. We don't have to even understand all that is involved in the phrase "because of the angels" in order to know that this is a God-given reason that has sufficient merit to warrant obedience to the instruction of the text!
Another reason God gave in I Corinthians 11 for women to cover their heads while praying is that it is not "comely" for women to pray to God uncovered (See vs. 13). This same reason is applicable today. Women should be covered and men should be uncovered while praying.
Will my opponent contend that the answer to the question given by Paul in verse 13 is "yes"? I hope not. Certainly the careful Bible student will understand that the "judge in yourselves" was not a matter Paul was leaving up to them to decide and that ~either way they decided~ would be alright before God! Paul was appealing to them about it not being "comely" for women to pray to God uncovered by asking the question the way he did. This still applies today and we should answer the question the same way today as Paul intended it would be properly answered when he wrote it.
Further, Paul appeals to what is right and wrong about a natural covering (the hair is given her for a covering, peribolaion Gk.) concerning women having long hair for it is her glory and it being a shame for man to have long hair. Similarly, it would be proper for women to be artificially covered and men uncovered while praying or prophesying. Long hair is still a woman's glory today. It is still a shame for man to have long hair today. Since these reasons are still valid today, women today are to cover their heads when they pray.
Paul did NOT teach that the hair was given INSTEAD OF an artificial covering. Rather that long hair was given women as a covering (not "the" covering, by the way). A different basic Greek word is used for "covering" in verse 14 than in some of the previous verses when Paul was talking about what women were to do while praying or prophesying. STRONG's numbering system differentiates them as forms of #2619 and #4018, for example. Since God wants men and women to be different concerning the natural covering, the hair, Paul makes the point that there is to be an outward distinction noticed between the sexes at times of praying or prophesying. This would instruct the ladies to cover their heads and men to make sure they didn't have something on their heads while praying.
Paul goes on to state in verse 16 that he had "no such custom" as what the contentious man would advocate. Neither did the churches of God. This should teach us that Paul, by divine inspiration was teaching against women being bareheaded, or uncovered, while praying. My opponent believes the opposite of what Paul & God taught in this passage for women today in denying the proposition.
Paul and God said "let her be covered" at times of praying. My opponent contends for the opposite position that suggests "she can NOT be covered" and be right. I am confident the readers are aware of other instances in the Bible where the insertion of "NOT" by someone put them in direct opposition to truth. Please give this considerable thought and study. It is a shame and a dishonor for women to pray to God uncovered. That's what the Bible clearly teaches.
Let us hasten to point out that God gave several reasons for women to be covered at times of prayer. All of these reasons are still applicable today (headship, the order of creation, woman created for the man, woman being the glory of the man, because of the angels, it is not comely for women to pray uncovered, the natural covering suggests a difference in man and woman and this relates to women wearing an artificial covering at times of praying for the women to be different from the men, Paul and the churches of Christ had "no such custom" as that advocated by the contentious person). Therefore, women are to be covered and men uncovered when praying today.
But what if one of the reasons was no longer valid today? Would that be enough to negate Paul's teaching as being applicable today? Certainly not. Consider. What if I gave you 5 reasons you should buy a Ford over a Chevy today? What if the 5 reasons were: quality, warranty, safety, comfort and price difference. Now what if you were slow to make up your mind and the "price difference" reason "went away". Would that take away, necessarily, the other 4 reasons? Would the fact that the price went to "even", let's say for the sake of example, have anything to do whatsoever with negating the reasons of quality, warranty, safety and comfort? Certainly not! Let us carefully consider what Rudy says in response to our affirmative. Let us get our Bibles and be workmen that aren't needing to be ashamed. Let us be fair with my writing and the writing of my opponent in this discussion. Pray that good will come from this open dialogue and study in the Scriptures.
Some incorrectly argue that Paul called the wearing of a covering by a woman a "custom" in verse 16. He did not! He taught that neither we, nor the churches of God had any such "custom" as the contentious man would advocate. There is quite a difference. Paul's instruction was a requirement, an ordinance of God to be followed (i.e. women cover your heads when praying); whereas the contentious man would be contending for a custom, a usage or practice that was uninspired (i.e. women can pray to God bareheaded). My position and proposition in this discussion is in harmony with Paul's divine teaching. My opponent contends for what the contentious man would, the opposite of Paul's instruction...that women may pray bareheaded. I am NOT charging my opponent with being contentious...just that his position is the opposite of Paul's in this matter that we are studying. Do not be deceived by the writing of some that say "Paul" called the wearing of a covering by women during prayer a "custom"...for he did not.
In this article, I have defined the terms of the proposition. I have given Scriptural proof that women today are to be covered whenever they pray. God's reasons for this are found in I Corinthians 11:1-16 and include:
- HEADSHIP (vs 3)
- SHAME FOR WOMAN TO PRAY UNCOVERED (vs 5,6)
- WOMEN IS THE GLORY OF THE MAN (vs 7)
- WOMAN IS OF THE MAN (vs 8)
- WOMAN WAS CREATED FOR MAN (vs 8, 12)
- BECAUSE OF THE ANGELS (vs 10)
- PROPER JUDGMENT (vs 13)
- LESSON FROM NATURE (vs 14, 15)
- NO SUCH CUSTOM AS CONTRARY VIEW (vs 16)
Thanks for reading. Please give prayerful consideration to what has been
written above and also to the reply from Rudy. May God richly bless us
in this study.
[-end of first affirmative by Ward]
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