R.C. Sproul | – Do Paul’s instructions about head coverings apply today, since he appeals to creation, not culture?

We cannot assume a New Testament command applied only to the first-century church if the command is rooted in the order of creation itself. From one of our live events, R.C. Sproul considers the controversial subject of head coverings in corporate worship.

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Do Paul’s instructions about head coverings apply today, since he appeals to creation, not culture?


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Ligonier Ministries Ligonier Ministries is an international Christian discipleship organization founded by theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul in 1971 to equip Christians to articulate what they believe, why they believe it, how to live it, and how to share it. Proclaiming God’s holiness is central to Ligonier’s purpose. Ligonier produces Renewing Your Mind radio broadcasts, the Reformation Study Bible, Tabletalk magazine, books through the Reformation Trust Publishing division, and various teaching series. It also offers academic degrees through Reformation Bible College. In addition, Ligonier hosts national and regional conferences, offers an online learning community through Ligonier Connect, streams twenty-four-hour Christian internet radio through RefNet, and makes available thousands of unique discipleship resources online at Ligonier.org. Ligonier Ministries

Comment (30)

  1. We were created naked, there was no head covering of cloth, yet head covering in the bible is about respecting your elders and the head of the family starting with God.
    Women who had there hair shaved were scorned, they would also grow their nails as that also looked vile when dirty. No man would look at them in that state. Hair was a sign of beauty and should be shown off…. just as we were created.

  2. I totally agree with Mr. Sproul on this. Another interesting point in that passage of scripture is that not only were women instructed to cover their heads while praying or prophesying or they dishonor their head, which is their husband, but a man was told that if he covered his head while praying or prophesying, he dishonors his head, which is Christ

  3. R.C. Sproul is correct on this matter; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 in context speaks about a woman covering their head based on the spiritual foundation of verse 3. The Apostle Paul builds from that foundation all the way to the end of the chapter. If Paul wanted to explain or even allude to the culture of the time being the context, verse 3 wouldn't be there and Paul would've been clear about it.

    In addition, the culture over spiritual foundation context argument commonly used in these verses about head covering would not hold water if it were something else. By this argumentation, you could negate the Romans 1:26-27 warning about homosexuality and say it was cultural. You could negate women submitting to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22-24 and say it is cultural. You could do it with literally any verse if you don't like what the verses are saying. While culture certainly plays a part of some scripture, culture never overrides the scriptures, which are God-breathed and sufficient for all believers (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    Sometimes the bottom line is that many women don't want to wear a covering because they don't like it, they will be embarrassed (perhaps not wanting to think there's a suppressive element to it like they think Muslims or Amish have), or they have a problem with submission. I am not trying to paint all people that object to this with a broad brush, but think about this; we have a problem with a woman wearing a head covering but have no problem with women wearing sensual or revealing clothes in the "name" of grace as if grace gives leeway to questionable actions and not freedom to follow the Lord's commands.

  4. Making Christianity more complicated than it should be . Accept Christ , stop sinning , give the church 10 percent , figure out of the sabbath if Saturday or Sunday and then keep it , don’t eat pork and if you’re a woman cover your head . Just tie a lodestone round my neck right now . Are we living by external qualifications or are we being led by the Holy Spirt ?

  5. 1 Corinthians 11:7-10 ESV
    [7] For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. [8] For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. [9] Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. [10] That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
    Isaiah 4:1 KJVS
    [1] And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.

  6. Shalom. Isn't Paul explaining that Going to church is to spend time with God and with one another, to sing psalms and praises to hear from the Lord find out His will and to tend to the needs of others.

    If We are so easily distracted as humans and we live in dangerous times where we are called to avoid sin. To avoid stimulating temptations that might distract the gathering. Out of respect that God made woman to be mans helper. However in Genesis says she will want to control him.

    Perhaps then Skirts, tight fitting tops, scented flavours and flouting of flowing her given to her beauty was to be saved and shared with her partner or when at home or out and about, but not at church, to walk humbly before God yet come boldly with confidence in His loving kindness.

    1 Corinthians 11:15
    And isn’t long hair a woman’s pride and joy? For it has been given to her as a covering.

  7. I'm glad to see this short clip of RC Sproul reiterating this teaching. I've been meeting so many beautiful godly women who have been blessed to have been led by the Holy Spirit to head cover at church. NT Wright actually mentions that this head covering was a beautiful privilege that reminded men that women now had the right to pray and prophesy corporately. Something that had been previously denied to women. Unfortunately, NT Wright appears to veers away from all logic when he says that we don't need head covering to be reminded of that any more. That is like saying we don't need the bread and the wine for the tradition of the Lord's Supper. We have the knowledge of its spiritual meaning so we don't need the physical elements. Well, no one would agree to that and I do wonder to NT Wright's response, but at least NT Wright was intellectually honest to recognize that head covering wasn't a cultural based decision but one based on creation, order and the privileges of men and women of God in the body of Christ. And women must recognize their weakness that though they have the joyful privilege of praying and prophesying, they must subject their prayers and prophesy to male authority.

  8. Female is made in the image of God as much as male according to Genesis 1:26-27, which is what the AMPC says Paul was referring to. I will accept the word of God over Paul, much as I respect him. I can imagine as something of a diplomat, and not being Jesus, Paul could be mistaken to some degree.

  9. I'd love to know where people get the idea that prostitutes in Corinth went round with their heads uncovered. It simply has no basis in historical fact! It's pure conjecture. It's just been repeated and repeated until everyone accepts it as true. There are no scholarly sources for this whatsoever.

  10. A brief look at the history of the church up to the 1950s in the West sees women covering. And still most in the East still cover. It's pretty straight forward. But thanks to 2nd wave feminists we have Christians falling all over themselves to fall in line. Of course we're so far away from that now that it's not an "issue" and no one really thinks much about it anymore. Sad. But very true

  11. The issue at Corinth was not whether long or short hair was an acceptable
    covering, but whether or not the head was covered or veiled. This
    is proven by the following:
    —-"Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth
    his head" (v. 4). The distinction here is obviously not between short and
    long-haired brethren, but rather between men with covered and uncovered

    Contentious sisters were provided with an alter­ native: either cover the
    head or be shorn or shaven ( v. 6). But if long hair were the intended
    covering, then the Apostle's alternative is meaningless.
    "Cover" ( -ed, -ing) in the A.V. disguises the fact that different words for
    "to cover" are used in the Greek text.

    The distinction between two of these, "katakalupto" and "peribolaion" proves
    that a veil or head covering, and not long hair is intended. These words are
    as follows:

    "Katakalupto" ( 'kata' = 'fully'; 'kalupto' = 'to cover up'), "to cover
    fully" ( Yg). This word occurs through­ out verses 5- 13 and is translated
    "veil" in the R.S.V.; Nestle and Marshall's "Interlinear Greek-English New
    Testament'' and many other versions.
    These translations make it plain that the issue relates to a head covering,
    not the growth of hair, long or short.

    "Peribolaion" ('peri' = 'around'; 'ballo' = 'to throw, cast'), "something
    cast around" ( Y g). The long hair of a woman is her glory – like a mantle
    cast around ( v. 15) .(8) But this is not to be displayed in the assembly of
    believers before the presence of God. The intended covering in the ecclesial
    meeting is the "katakalupto" —- the head covering or veil.

  12. Head covering its not a culture its God's command. Job 32:6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.5 6 7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom. 8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding. 9 Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. 10 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.You got to repent