I think this is a good question. It is a question that is rife with disagreement. There are folks who believe it is about authority, hair, veils, and probably other things I do not know about. I have studied this issue for years and read countless articles and books regarding it. There are brothers who I greatly respect who have taken a stand for each of the positions I have mentioned. I am going to share with you my outline on the topic. There will be disagreement with it. I am not going to debate it with anyone. However, I share the information as a possible help in your study. I will also say in answer to your question, I do believe it to be a sin for a woman to have short hair and a man to have long hair - that is my personal conclusion and conviction. I will also tell you that God forgives sins of ignorance and I am not a judge. I myself can only follow what I believe is in scripture as I listen to other folks conclusions and my own and try to match them with what I know of scripture.
Here is my outline (which format will not perfectly paste in, but you will get the idea):
B. The Purpose of Chapter 11 Is:
1. To identify and Correct sin in the Church
C. What sins were being committed?
1. God’s established authority was not being followed
II. Before Chp. 11 – Important Questions Must Be Examined
A. Does the Bible command tradition, culture, or opinion?
1. Premise 1: Bible commands obedience to the Laws of God people are under.
2. Premise 2: Apostles taught timeless principles of the law of Christ, not traditions.
3. Consider Paul:
a. Is there another Gospel? Gal. 1:9-10
b. How many foundations?: I Cor. 3:10-11
c. Did he teach it all? - Acts 20:27
d. Where did he teach all the gospel? - I Cor. 4:17, I Cor. 1:1-2
e. All Scriptures is inspired
• Paul Inspired – Gal. 1:11-12
• I Cor. 7:40
• I Cor. 2:12-13
• John 16:13 – Had all the truth, did not have to guess or give opinion.
4. Paul preached the same gospel as all the other apostles.
a. Eph. 4:5 – “There is one Lord, One Faith, One Baptism”
b. Again, if he had taught opinion, culture, or tradition, he would have been cursed.
B. I Firmly believe, the Bible has never commanded tradition, culture, or opinion.
1. Common Objections: But there are examples of the Bible teaching tradition!
a. Holy Kiss – Paul regulates activity according to God’s Moral Standard.
b. Footwashing – Jesus provides example of Servanthood.
III. I Corinthians Chapter 11:1-16
A. Verses 2-3 – Authority
1. Traditions? Is it ok for us to follow traditions? Yes – God’s traditions.
a. The term traditions here references the teaching regarding the law of Christ.
2. Authority – God – Christ – Man – Woman
a. Is Christ Inferior to God? No. Is Woman inferior to man? No.
3. It is important to recognize that Paul starts this discussion referencing unchanging principles.
a. This is the first of 4 arguments to establish Paul’s concern. (David L. Franklin)
• God’s authorized chain of authority; 11:3.
• The order and purpose of creation; 11:7 – 9.
• The presence of angels; 11:10.
• Natural disposition of “civilized” societies; 11:13 – 15.
B. Verses 4-6 – Identify the problem at Hand
1. Things We Can Examine to Better Understand This Passage.
a. Paul’s use of words
• Paul used only one word in verses 2-16 that is a garment covering – (Peribolaion).
b. Old Testament
• Every time “uncover the head” used in the O.T. it means “removal of the hair”.
• (Eldred Echols)
c. Historical Evidence
• Catacomb drawings of women at worship services do not show veils.
d. Current Culture
• Shaved head was punishment of adultery or mourning.
• Cropped Hair was a common style of the Priestesses of Aphrodite (Prostitutes)
• Men nor Women wore the Asian coverings/veils at that period of time - (Peribolaion vs. 15).
• The wearing of a veil or headcovering, by the woman, in worship, was neither a Grecian nor a Jewish custom at that time. (Coffman)
2. Verse 4 – “Hair Hanging Down”
a. 1 Corinthians 11:4 Every3956 man435 praying4336 or2228 prophesying,4395 having2192 hair hanging down2596, 2776 dishonoreth2617 his848 head.2776
• This is the appropriate translation of this verse.
• The use of the term “covered” is a misleading term based on a middle ages practice of the Catholic Church which employed the use of veils.
b. Why should a man’s hair not hang down from his head? Paul answers this in vs. 7-9 but consider:
• Deuteronomy 22:5 - The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God. – The concept was that of indistinguishable sexes.
c. What is considered hanging down?
• Clement of Alexandria – 150 to 215 AD – wrote about the length they understood Paul to mean: “The hair of the head may not grow so long as to come down and interfere with the eyes ... cropping is to be adopted ... let not twisted locks hang far down from the head, gliding into womanish ringlets”
d. Praying and Prophesying is something man did both in private and public, worship and not.
• Prophesying often is not the miraculous we think of but often simply teaching.
• The point being: Man should never come before God with hair hanging down.
• It would be a rejection of God’s commands and authority.
This would violate the first principle from which Paul was arguing.
3. Verses 5
a. Remember in the Old Testament an uncovering of the head meant removal of the hair.
• Here a woman is told if her hair is the opposite of hanging down then she might as well have shaved her head (adultress) because she disgraces her head (husband).
This harkens right back to the first principle Paul is arguing from.
• The concept of praying and prophesying is the same as a man’s, but consistent with the Bible never in a worship setting with Christian men.
4. Verse 6
a. A repeat of verse 5 stating that hair not hanging down (shorn or cropped) is the same as a shaved head in God’s Eyes.
• It signifies a rejection of authority.
b. It is important to note that in using the term “cover” that Greek word is generic and does not refer to clothing such as a veil.
c. This verse may be simpler to understand if “and forasmuch as” is utilized instead of “but if”
C. Verse 7-9 – Principle #2 – The Order and Purpose of Creation
1. Stated very simply:
a. Man came first and woman is his glory.
• Because Man is the glory of God, he is to be as God. How?
He is recognized as a head.
• The woman coming from man honors her husband’s headship by hair hanging down.
2. This concept, like the first, refers to an unchanging principle.
D. Verse 10 – “Because of the Angels” – Principle #3
1. No “a sign of” – this is a translators input. The point is her hair is a reminder. Of what? Subordination. Why the mentions of angels? (subjection) Consider:
a. Jud 1:3-6 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
b. Can a woman be the glory of the man when she is shaming him? No
E. Verse 11–12 – Clarity is given regarding the Authority Given to Man
1. Woman is not of lower worth than man.
a. God and Jesus
b. Jesus reigns with the church
c. Groom and Bride - Eph. 5:21-33
F. Verses 13 – Can Willing Sin and Prayer Go Together? – Recall Chapter 10
1. Is it acceptable to willingly sin and call upon God? Thus, Paul is pointing out this concern.
G. Verse 14-15 – Principle #4 – The Natural Disposition of Civilized Societies
1. This does not speak of nature as in birds, rocks, trees.
a. Rather this is referring to the nations of men.
2. Throughout the ages to today, most men have short hair and women longer hair.
a. The most frequent rejection of this pattern has been by those who are rebellious.
b. This attribute seems to be rather innate over all mankind.
c. Even in our genetics, men often go bald, yet typically to their death women have heads of hair.
3. Paul Tackled The Issue of rejecting authority by using constant principles.
a. He never referenced culture.
b. He clearly demonstrates in these verses that hair, not a physical covering is the topic.
c. The only term in the text meaning physical covering is in verse 15.
• Here Paul says God has given hair instead of a veil.
4. Of interest is the term “Long” in reference to women’s hair.
a. It means tresses or braids.
b. If it couldn’t be braided it was too short.
H. Verse 16 – We have no practice…
1. The frequent interpretation of this verse by those who view this verse as cultural is as follows:
a. Paul is saying ignore everything he said because Christian Women Don’t Wear Veils.
• First, as seen the text wasn’t about veils.
• Second, the text was build on permanent principles.
• Finally, the practice the Churches of God do not have is that which was the topic:
The sinfulness of rejecting God’s Authority by:
. Men having long hair
. Women having short hair.
This is what the Churches did not do.
2. Paul does not spend all the time decrying a sin just to say, “Nevermind, I didn’t mean it”.
IV. Closing Point:
A. Was the issue hair?
1. No, it was willful sin and the rejection of God’s Authority.
a. The Hair issue was just a symptom of their bigger problem.
b. This brought shame upon their “head”.
God Bless and happy studying,