In 1 Corinthians 11:3-15, Paul writes about our obligation to who God has established as our “head”. In verse 3, Paul identifies who our head is:
1 Corinthians 11:3 “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.”
To each person God has put someone as their head, or someone who is responsible for leading that person. As we go through these verses, lets keep in mind an important point which is easy to miss. Paul is writing to the Corinthian church regarding some very specific issues, as he did in chapter 10. As we read this epistle today, we look for things which we can apply to our Christian life. That may seem obvious, but it is easy to get drawn into a debate over headwear and the like in the same way it would be to debate over eating meat offered to idols.
Each person has someone who is their “head”. The head of the man is Christ. The head of the woman is the man. The head of Christ is God the Father. Christ has fulfilled His responsibilities, but we have not fulfilled all of ours. Being the head of someone else brings with it a lot of responsibility. God will hold us accountable for how we lead others who we are the head of. Likewise, God will hold us accountable for how we treat those who are the head of us. Paul explains this in verses 4 and 5:
1 Corinthians 11:4,5 “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 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.”
When Paul uses the phrase “dishonoureth his head”, he’s referring not to his physical head, but the head of that person who he pointed out in verse 3. I pointed out earlier how easy it is to focus on the head-covering portion of these verses. I believe we are wrong to do that. What we need to focus on is the personal application to our lives, that being that God expects men to conduct themselves in such a way so as not to bring dishonor or shame on Christ. Likewise, the head covering of the woman was there to present herself as modest. Ladies should not conduct themselves in such a way as to dishonor or shame their husband. The man has the requirement from God to live his life in a way that leads his wife closer to God. The woman is to live her life by her husbands example so long as he fulfills his spiritual obligation by following Christ; and she is not to shame or dishonor him.
In verses 6 through 9, Paul elaborates on the responsibility that we have for those who God has placed as our head.
1 Corinthians 11:6-9 “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. 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. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”
Remember not to get caught up in the head covering aspect of these verses. You can debate all day and not solve the issue. The point Paul is making he makes to the Corinthian church. But being part of the Bible its lesson applies to the whole world. The lesson for us is that women are to dress in a modest way when she prays, and not to bring shame on her husband. Men ought to live their lives to reveal the image and glory of God. Men are to show the glory of God with their lives and not keep it hidden.