WOMEN AND THE ISSUE OF HEAD COVERING IN 1 CORINTHIANS 11:2 – 16: IMPLICATIONS FOR CHURCHES IN AROCHUKWU

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ABSTRACT


The issue of female Christians covering their heads during worship has been a controversial thing. During the time of Paul, the controversy was there, and the Apostle handled it. Thereafter the matter was laid to rest until the middle of twentieth century when women in the West began the move for “women emancipation”. Since then, both Biblical scholars and preachers have been divided on the issue. While some insist on the practice of head covering, others condemn it, insisting that it is either a cultural issue or that the real covering is a woman’s hair. The interest and purpose of this work was to restore order and unity in the Body of Christ by discovering what head covering was all about, and the most appropriate way to apply it in this modern time. The method applied in achieving the purpose of this work was textual criticism in addition to a critical review of related materials in this field of study. Major findings made revealed that the practice of head covering in the Church by women is not cultural, and that a woman’ s hair is not the veil Paul advocates for in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. Instead, Paul is basing his argument on nature and on the universal practice of the Church, making the practice timeless. Findings also unveiled that Paul is not just asking women to cover their heads, but, rather, to take a subordinate position to their male counterparts, symbolized by the use of veil. And in order to achieve Paul’s aim on this issue in Arochukwu, the cultural practices in the land that emphasize the subordinate position of women should be embraced and encouraged.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title page
Abstract
Table of contents

Chapter One: INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background of the study
1.2       Statement of the problem
1.3       Purpose of the study
1.4       Significance of the study
1.5       Scope of the study
1.6       Research methodology
1.7       Definition of terms
            End notes

Chapter Two: LITERATURE REVIEW
            End notes

Chapter Three: EXEGESIS OF I CORINTHIANS 11:2 – 16
End note

Chapter Four: THE SIGNIFICANCE OF HEAD COVERING
4.1   General    Rule of the Church
4.2       Consistent with the Order of Creation
4.3       Authority, Subordination, and Submission
4.4       Because of Angels
            End note

Chapter Five: THE IMPLICATIONS FOR CHURCHES IN AROCHUKWU
5.1       Spiritual Implication
5.2       Social Implication
            Orderliness
            Inter-dependence
            Uniformity in Worship
5.3       Modern Application
            End note

Chapter Six: SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
6.1       Summary
6.2       Limitations of the Study
6.3       Suggestion for Further Study
6.4       Conclusion
            End note
BIBLIOGRAPHY


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1    Background to the Study
Head covering is assumed to be the literal covering of head with a scarf. This is a practice that is observed in various Christian groups during Christian worship in Nigeria. Whether this is a compulsory practice and traceable to the New Testament is still under contention among some Christians. Some base their arguments for women covering of the head during worship on Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians while others anchor their arguments on the authority of the man over the woman. Some Christian churches hold that the practice of head covering is acceptable but not compulsory for the woman. Some insist that the practice is compulsory for the woman. For example, Pastor Daniel Olukoya of Mountain of Fire Ministries seriously forbids his female members from attending church service with their heads uncovered. According to the report, “Olukoya warned that the church will no longer tolerate any lady that does not cover her hair….”1 There are some Christians, like Goodwin, who insist that head covering should not be part of Christian practice. In his own words, “…I do not agree that the head covering is a rule from God that applies to every generation….”2 Those who oppose the practice of head covering may be doing so either on the grounds of its associated patriarchal subjugation of women or its non-significance to the salvation theology of the Christian church. Whatever be the case, the ball has been rolled. And inasmuch as almost all the writers and debaters base their arguments on 1 Corinthians 11, the passage (1 Corinthians 11:2_16) has been carefully selected as necessary in determining the Pauline position on the Christian concept of head covering.

As a matter of fact, the epistle of first Corinthians “…is one, and that not the first, of a series of letters written by St. Paul to the Corinthian church.”3 The church was located in the city of Corinth. Corinth was in many respects the most important city in Greece under the Roman Empire. Whereas Athens was the educational centre, “…the seat of the greatest university worldwide at that time, and the city to which the memories of Greek freedom and older history most continually clung, Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province…”4 and could be seen as the centre of government and commerce, of real life and development in the country.

The city of Corinth was located on the narrow isthmus which connected Macedonia and Achaia. Dummelow said it had “…two great harbours, lechaeum looking towards the Adriatic Sea and Italy, and Cenchreae (Acts 18:18; Rom 16:1) looking towards the Egean and Asia.”5 Even though Corinth lay a little inland, yet it “…was a wealthy seaport city”.6 And Corinth, “…occupying as it did a central position on the lines of communication between Rome and the East, It was a great commercial clearing-house.”7 Consequently, this would make it possible for traders and government officials to constantly come to and go from Corinth. Dummelow wrote that the population of Corinth “…composed of Greeks, Romans, Jews, and Orientals. Merchants and sailors were its most frequent visitors, … bringing to it the civilization and the customs of many lands.”8 “Besides its commercial importance Corinth was renowned as the scene of the great Isthmian games, which every second year attracted a multitude of people to the city,”9 he added. The city was noted as the centre of the “… worship of the goddess Aphrodite, in whose worship virgins sacrificed their chastity”.10 Dummelow observed that “the Corinthians were notorious even in the world of that time for their drunkenness … sensuality… faction and strife, being always anxious to discuss philosophical and moral problems….”11

During his second missionary journey, Apostle Paul planted the church at Corinth after he had left Athens (Acts. 18:1-8) as Dummelow observed that “In Corinth his preaching was very successful.”12 The assembly was made up of Jews and chiefly of Gentiles. Located in the heart......

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