Paul addresses several customs and procedures for the church in this passage. Just as meat offered unto idols is an uncommon issue for us today, veils on ladies is not as prevalent today, because our culture and manner of dress is much different. The veil covering a woman’s head was a symbol of her submission to her God given authority. If she was a married woman then this was referencing her proper relationship to her husband, and if she was unmarried this was a reference to her submission to her father. We are speaking of a time when women were not allowed to own property, vote, or hold public office. They were required to be under the authority and protection of a man. We must also realize that is was the custom of pagan priestesses in that region to wear their hair unveiled during prayer to their false god and to dance and fling their hair around in worship to false gods. It was also common for them to shave their heads and sacrifice the hair to their god, often using it to decorate idols and symbols of the false religion. Most Jewish women customarily remained covered in the market and in the church. They really were not permitted to leave their homes without a covering on their head.
The underlying issue that I believe is being exposed here is they had a desire to be perceived as more spiritual by following and strictly keeping and enforcing certain rules. Our relationship with God is not kept or improved by completing a list of obligations on a repeated basis, but rather by coming to know Him in an intimate manner. Yes, there are some definite expectations placed on believers, but it is not the keeping of those rules that makes a person a good Christian, it is a surrendered heart and a Christ-like spirit. Our concern should always be, “How well do I resemble Christ?” We are not called to be like other believers; we are commanded to be like Christ. Believer, avoid the desire and the atmosphere of comparison. Honor God, and He will take care of the rest.
I Corinthians 11:2-16:
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 God.
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 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.
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 the man.
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 uncovered?
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.