CoE VIb: We Must Start at the Head and Work Down

Before we talk about pants and what should cover the lower body, we must start at the head. I’ve written several posts on women wearing pants, and how that custom has weakened and blurred the distinctions between men and women in the Western World. I stand by most of what I wrote in those posts, yet we should start at the head–the command of our faith, and source of the same–which is the Word of God taught by the Apostles to us, the Church. We must start at the head, and work down.

If you asked me what needs to be done to begin to reintroduce good order to Western churches, my first change would be for us to be obedient to the Word of God from 1 Corinthians 11 on head coverings; and to require obedience to it upon pain of refusal to worship, or even excommunication. The individual church’s heads must teach head coverings for women but not for men, and the church body must obey. The family head must uphold it, and–supported by the church heads–the family body must be expected to obey. We must start at the head, and work down.

Those who are in submission, which is all of us, must look to our individual heads and see that it is suitably covered or uncovered so that our responsibilities are clear to ourselves and others. We must individually own those responsibilities, and take joy in them. What I mean is: I can’t expect someone to act as my subordinate if they will not accept that truth. If she won’t take the teachings on head coverings, then pants are a moot point because she will not accept the sign, symbol, and practice of submission. We must start at the head and work down.

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COE VI: We Have No Such Custom, on Head Coverings

In March of 2016 I wrote a post about the “Head Coverings” passage from 1 Corinthians 11.

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.

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.

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.

A pretty good discussion followed in the comments. One of the parts which was not good was my reply to GK CHesterton wherein I wrote:

I think a fair reading of Paul’s teaching is that a woman’s long hair is an acceptable covering of itself, but perhaps I am just a big lib. But it must be long, and–as one under authority–the owner of the hair is not the one to decide how long is long enough to be a covering.

It’s one of those times where what I wrote was correct, but yet still not good. A woman’s long hair is an acceptable covering generally, but it is not an acceptable covering for prayer or prophecy, if I accept that 1 Corinthians 11 is truly God’s word. Verse 6 is the lynchpin.

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.

Paul said that a long-haired woman who won’t cover her hair should have her hair cut off. That is a simple statement which makes it clear that obedience on head coverings is not covered (rimshot) by long hair. Paul addressed my mistake directly because it is important that the conspicuous sign of submission by head coverings was not optional.

I had no excuse for my error except that:

  1. I lacked the imagination to think that there was a time when women really were disciplined (discipled) at church.
  2. I feared a battle with my female relations over something that no one else obeyed; which signaled that it was an unimportant custom. Did I really need to start a fight that would end with me being angry at them all, and them at me? I would have been angry if I did not get obedience, and they all would have bound together.

Well, after I wrote that post in March 2016 I was, in my spare time, hassled by 1 Cor. 11:6 until the following fall when I read the passage to my wife and daughters and asked them if they could see any way around it. They did: They said (like I had) that long hair was a covering. I brought it back to verse 6. They were unhappy, but they obeyed God and did not grumble at me too much…though they were sometimes “forgetful” until I was “remindful”.

“But! But! But! Times have changed…” Indeed they have. It is common in Christian circles, when it comes to time pray, for one man to remind another that he still has his hat on. When we do that we harken back to that custom that a man should not pray with his head covered. What time changed was whenever it was that a woman would be reminded to cover hers up.

Paul closes the section on head coverings with:

But if any man seem to be contentious [CC: about the custom of head coverings], we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

Her Submission is Her Glory

In the previous post on wives and women to be in submission I noted that there is much more instruction in the Bible about the order of Christian households than there is about the administration of baptism or the Lord’s Supper. Six passages were listed within the post, but I left out one in particular; a bit of “meat on the bone” that I hoped a commenter might gnaw off.

1 Corinthians 11:2-16 [1]

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven.For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 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. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 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. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.

With this passage St. Paul blows out of the water the nonsense idea of “mutual submission” that so many pretend to glean from Ephesians 5:21.

My next post will probably be about my own error in applying 1 Cor. 11:15, but what is important in this post is:

  1. Understand that there is no excuse for the supposed “confusion” about who is supposed to submit to whom, and how.[2]
  2. Understand that a wife’s submission to God through Christ and through her husband (But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”) is supposed to be conspicuous–utterly obvious; not just a so-called “matter of the heart”. The sign and evidence of her submission is her glory! Without it, she has no glory.
  3. If your church teaches Biblical Inerrancy, but it does not teach overt wifely submission and head coverings, why–in light of 1 Cor. 11:16–would you believe it is a church of God?

[1] The ESV translators footnote that the words wife and husband used in the passage could be translated as woman and man, depending on the context, and that that word for angels could be translated as messengers or observers

[2] The linked post of Sheila Gregoire’s blog would be hilarious if she represented only a fringe element of Christian culture. She actually writes of those who quote 1 Peter 3 on the submission of women that they are ignoring the entire rest of the Bible, and that Peter’s instruction that wives act like Sarah is only in reference to Sarah when she followed Abraham out of Ur!

My drive-by commenters believe this verse clearly says that women should always obey their husbands no matter what. However, the readers of Peter’s letter would never have thought that. First, they would have known that Peter didn’t think this; but second, even if Peter had wanted to tell his readers to do so, he would not have used Sarah as the example. Sarah’s life was hardly the picture of a wife obeying her husband in everything!

Instead, when contemporary Jewish readers encountered Peter’s command that women emulate Sarah, who obeyed Abraham “rather than giving way to fear”, that last part would have given them the context of what Peter meant. They would have known that it was not a command to obey in all circumstances. Instead, they would take that bit of the verse–“rather than giving way to fear”–and hearken back to to the time that Sarah DID obey, even when it was scary.

And that was the time that Sarah followed Abraham out of Ur, because God called him. That was a pivotal time in Jewish history (really the beginning of Jewish history). It would make sense that Peter would remind his readers of it. And the message they would take? When God is speaking, you follow by faith. It’s that simple.

They would never think that it meant that women should not confront their husbands’ sin, or that women should forget God’s will and only follow their husband’s will, because that would go against everything they knew of Sarah, and everything they knew of Peter. [Emphasis in original text]

 

Though, the Best Retort is to Live It

Doc H. asks:

“How could I respond to someones claims that the sanctifying work in Eph 5:26-27 is exclusively the work of Christ towards the church AND towards the wife and that the only action of the husband is to love? Wouldn’t the So (“houtos”) in 28 imply that 26-27 show what type of love the husband is supposed to show?”

I’ve never heard this “interpretation” of Ephesians 5:26-27 before, but it does not surprise me that some hold it. People will twist the Scriptures in all sorts of ways to destroy men’s headship when they can, and obfuscate it when they can’t. The good news is we are blessed with all of Scripture.

Colossians 3:18-19

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

1 Peter 3:1-7

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Titus 2:3-5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

1 Timothy 2:8-15

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

There are, in Scripture, few points of so much agreement compared to the order of Christian households. Not to put too fine a point on it, but: There is significantly less instruction on baptism, or administration of the Lord’s Supper, than there is for wives to be in submission to their husbands, and for husbands to love and manage (not quite the same thing as “lead”) their wives.

The last thing I would point out is: So what? So what does that mean to say the husband is called “only to love” while Christ performs the sanctifying work on the husband’s wife? Ephesians 5:22-24 is explicit:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

This goes back to the very post which prompted Doc H.’s question: Husbands are not called to ALWAYS lead, but wives are called to ALWAYS obey. Sometimes the head may give a subordinate the lead because that is the prudent thing to do. He does not give up the rule. He may take back the lead at his pleasure, and the subordinate is only right if she gives it up in submission. A wife is to submit and obey her husband.

CoE V: I Am Not Called to “Lead” in the Bible

Our age’s focus on a husband’s leadership is a clever redirect away from the Biblical command for wives to submit and obey. Every instance of Biblical instruction to husbands and wives say the same thing: Wives submit to and obey your husbands. Husbands love and care for your wives. That’s the instruction in 1 Peter 3, Titus 2, Ephesians 5, and Colossians 3; in every instance where the Christian home life is addressed.

The wisdom here is simple, but deep and powerful. If she follows then she is able to fulfill her God-given design. Through Christ she is empowered to be godly even if her husband is a fool; even if he tries to lose her. Likewise, a husband cannot be thwarted from loving his wife. Even if she does not obey him that is no bar to his God-given ability to love and care her despite her wickedness. If he loves and cares for her, and she refuses to obey he is clean. He did not fail to lead.

I’ve written many posts and comments about a husband leading his wife, and I was fundamentally wrong. Over the years it has come to be that the liberal progressives proclaim the right thing for the wrong reasons and the traditionalists fight back with nonsense, and I fell into it also. Christian Feminists (both overt and those undeclared and unwitting) are quick to point out that it is a wife’s duty to obey and not a husbands right to force her to submit. Traditionalists have tried to fight this by demanding husbands lead better, and by stealing the glory of obedient women for themselves; such as when a man says his wife follows him because of his good leadership.

And all of it–the progressive tactics and the traditionalist response–is meant to tangle us up so that a wife’s temptation to rebel and abandon is never the topic of discussion; so that no one says, “Wives, obey your husbands.”


Of course there are times where a spouse’s behavior is so wicked and odious that individuals should take prudential action under the guidance of secular and religious authorities. That’s not the topic today.

They Know How to Follow

In a comment on Dalrock’s post “Feminine Wiles” I wrote:

A woman who is strongly attracted to a man will look for ways to please him; without any prompting on his part, and no matter what the consequences.

What I should have wrote was: A woman who has set her mind on a man will look for ways to please him; without any prompting on his part, and no matter what the consequences.

It is often the case that a woman chooses a man to whom she is not “strongly” attracted, but for unattractive reasons: wealth, security, etc.; in other words for the Beta Bucks. Either way to get what she wants she will follow him around…often literally.

This is what a man wants from a wife. It is what a wife is. That is why a woman is tempted to stop following and rebel after she marries.

The Cuckoo’s Egg of Courtly Love

In English, the only word for “marriage sorting and arranging ritual” we have is courtship; even though the act is as old as people. That’s because the cuckoo’s egg of Courtly Love has hatched, and the nest of Christianity is overtaken with its progeny; the assumption of women’s moral superiority, Feminism, egalitarianism, and complementarianism.

You Can Drive When I’m Dead

Driving Miss Crazy demonstrates (I hope) the unfairness of our situation. A woman does sometimes try to grab the wheel of the car we’re to drive; yet it is his car, and he is in the driver’s seat. When that happens, the only wise thing to do is stop the car, right then, and tell her that his car goes where he wants and it is literally in his hands. She is welcome to come along. She is encouraged to come along. But she should never try to steer the car.

Sometimes he might ask her to hold the wheel on course for moment while he digs something out of his pocket, but that it will never happen while he needs to make a change in direction.

A wise man won’t give up the wheel too often because his wife will being to wonder who is driving this thing? And if she can do it well this far, maybe better progress will be made. Why, if she’s competent to steer with one hand for a moment, how much better could the trip go if she used both as much as she wanted?

If that happens: Stop the car. Don’t wrestle over control. Don’t try to fight her. Don’t wait until the car crashes to prove you were right. Stop the damn car. You go no further until she agrees to keep her hands off the wheel.

What do I mean by “stop the car”? It means nothing else gets done before the steering conflict is resolved. It means don’t talk about anything else until the conflict is resolved: No bills, no budget, no extra-curricular activities, no lawn, no trash, no in-laws, no Daddy Time with the kids. All those things are “driving the car” of a father’s life, and none of them are safe while the wrong person thinks she’s driving the car.

She may get out. Tell her she should get back in. Do not start driving until she agrees to keep her hands off the wheel.

She may not get back in. Roll on, slowly at first, but after a time she either will or won’t and you have to keep moving.

If she grabs the wheel again, stop the damn car again. Never allow the car to go while she fights for control of the car. After you die, then she can drive.

A Primer of Practical Application

Regular posts will resume shortly. In the meantime, I wanted to recommend this essay by James Kalb at SydneyTrads, “Dissolving the Black Hole of Modernity“. It’s good.

I’m not sure of the author’s mind on this point, but I notice that the implicit audience for the essay is men, and not people. Something to ponder.