November 25 Daily Devotional

Hair Styles

Charles and Norma Ellis

Bible Reading:

1 Corinthians 11:1-16

1Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3But 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 God.
4Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
6For 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.
7For 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.
8For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man.
9Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
16But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.


In this Greek 1st century culture men did not cover their heads. Here, as generally throughout the world, their hair was shorter than was the hair of women. Women, on the other hand, not only wore their hair longer but either covered it with a veil or caught it neatly with a cord or net in a veil-like style. These were the customs that prevailed in the Corinth to which Paul wrote.

However, at gatherings for prayer or 'prophesying' (according to the gifts given to the church before the New Testament writings were available) there had gown up an abuse. It appears that the women, delighting in a liberation from the Greek social structure in which they had been subjugated, wished to express an equality with men. So when they participated during such gatherings they cast off their veils or veil-like hairdos. They had been restored by Christianity to a position of honor. Now they were abusing it and trying to be like men!

Paul is saying here that man, created with dominion over the creature and headship over his wife, is the crown of creation and should not have his head covered. Christ is the head of the man. For a man to have his head covered would be to act like a woman.

On the other hand, it is appropriate that woman, who was designed to be man's helper, made after the likeness of man and for the glory of man, should have her head covered, either with a veil or long hair gathered up in a neat coiffure. For her to do otherwise would be offensive in a culture so oriented. To have her head uncovered would be to act like a man. It would be degrading to a woman. Probably prostitutes had their hair cropped and to have short hair would appear to place a woman among them.

Does this word of Paul have any bearing on our contemporary culture? This section is not detailed enough for us to understand all of the implications and it would be difficult to draw from it specific hard and fast rules for Christian men or women today. It seems to say to us, however, that God is pleased to have us accord with the customs appropriate for our sex within our own framework. To run counter to the established culture is to jeopardize our Christian testimony. This is not to say that we should blindly follow customs rooted in paganism. But our liberty should not cause us—as it caused the Corinthian women— defiantly or proudly to assert ourselves in ways that would harm our testimony for the One who has set us free!

We are happy to have obtained permission to post as our current daily devotional Heirs Together of Life: Daily Bible Reading for Husbands and Wives, published by The Banner of Truth Trust. Don't be misled by the subtitle. As the book's "Preface" indicates (see below), although Heirs Together of Life is "especially prepared for couples,"the authors declare, "Since the basis for this guide is God's Word, we believe it would have value for any reader."

Charles and Norma Ellis are husband and wife and the authors not only of Heirs Together of Life (which was first published in 1980 and continues in print today), but also of Wells of Salvation (first published in 1985, and likewise still in print today). The latter contains a series of short studies covering the entire book of Isaiah, while the former contains a series of almost 200 short studies covering the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Both books by the Ellises can be ordered from the publisher, The Banner of Truth Trust. We trust that these daily Bible readings, posted daily on our site, will be helpful to you in your Christian walk before God. Whether married or not, all of us are members of families and members of the family of God.

Charles Ellis was educated at Wheaton College and Westminster Theological Seminary. Upon graduation from Westminster (where he earned not only a Th.B. but also a Th.M.), he was ordained to the ministry in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and pastored a number of OPC churches, including Immanuel OPC in West Collingswood, New Jersey; First OPC in Cincinnati, Ohio; Covenant OPC in East Orange, New Jersey; Knox OPC in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Lakeview OPC in Rockport, Maine. Less biographical information is available about his wife, but it is known that they served as parents of seven children. After retiring from the ministry, Charles Ellis went to be with the Lord in 2003, but he and his wife left us with a beautiful legacy in the two books they have given to the world, and we are proud to share the daily Bible readings from Heirs Together of Life here with you.



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