1Co 11:13-16 “Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”
Paul has thoroughly laid out his argument for men having their heads uncovered when they pray. He has just as thoroughly laid out his argument that women should have their heads covered when they pray. Historically, this was the custom among the Jews and Greeks of Paul’s day. In light of other issues in Corinth, it is likely that Paul was counseling the brethren there to not flaunt their independent thinking in this and other issues that he addressed for them.
As we read through these passages, it is good to remember Paul’s observation that while all things might be lawful, all things are not expedient. Perhaps in the matter of praying with heads covered or uncovered, their lack of following custom was causing some who were weaker in the faith to stumble. This alone should be reason enough for us to take head to ourselves in those things that we allow in our lives. We should never be so determined to do a thing just because we can that we hurt another brother or sister in Christ.
Paul obviously felt that he had made his case plain enough that the Corinthians should be able to come to a reasonable conclusion. He called on them to decide for themselves whether or not it was appropriate for a woman to pray to God without a covering. The implication is clear that they should also consider whether it was appropriate for a man to pray with his head covered. Again, we must remember that Paul began this segment of his letter by instructing the brethren to follow him as he followed Christ: Paul is pointing us to being followers of Jesus.
Even though many of the artistic portrayals of Jesus show Him with long hair, this is highly unlikely. There is a great deal of historical evidence to indicate that men wore their hair short in Jesus’ day. The scripture indicates that there was nothing unusual in His physical appearance (Isa 53:2) that would draw men’s attention to Him. Long hair would certainly have been an attention-getter in Jesus’ day.
Some have suggested that Jesus had taken a Nazarite vow and thus would have had long hair. However, there is nothing in the scripture to support that He had taken such a vow: the scripture says He was a Nazarene, not a Nazarite. A Nazarite vow also required that the person under such a vow would never touch an alcoholic beverage (i.e. wine), and that a Nazarite would never touch a dead body. The scripture indicates that Jesus did both occasionally (i.e. keeping the Passover feast – Luk 2:41, 22:15 and raising the ruler’s daughter – Mat 9:18-26).
The debate over the issue of how long is “long” has been going on for years. What is not open for debate is our attitude of worship toward Jesus Christ. As He is the head of the man, He is never to be covered when we pray. As the man is the head of the woman, the man is never to be uncovered when a sister is communing with her Lord in prayer. Regardless of social custom on the length of a person’s hair, there is no custom in any church of the true and living God that allows for attention to be placed anywhere except on Jesus Christ and God the Father, who is the head of Jesus.
May we never be seen to worship according to the dictates of men, but always have our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ!