The only relevant passage is 1 Cor 11:4-7 containing some comments from Paul:

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.

This is a rather famous and contentious passage with many different conflicting interpretations. Does Paul mean “wear a hat” by “cover”? His language is hardly unambiguous — for instance, he says “A woman’s hair is given to her for a covering.” (1 Cor 11:9). And Paul is somewhat unclear about what praying or prophesying is — is it listening/sharing, or leading? And it’s not exactly clear quite what the scope of Paul’s instruction here is — is it a one off resolution of a local cultural issue, or a general rule for all churches?

Jewish custom is to cover the head at all times, but it appears that firm Talmudic rulings on this are fairly recent (at least post-middle-age persecution), aimed at differentiating the Jews from the Christians, so it seems that this is no useful source of guidance on the cultural background to Paul’s words.

My own interpretation is that while Paul’s words are ambiguous, there is no harm in a man consistently having his head uncovered (no hat, no long hair) in a worship service where prayer will occur. Even when it’s a little cold.

See also Should women still wear head coverings?

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16 Responses to Should a man wear a hat during worship service, prayer, or in the Sanctuary?

  1. Judy says:

    I agree this passage is about something covering the head (or not covering, in the man’s case), but there were no hats when it was written so how can it be about hats?

    • Rob J Hyndman says:

      Head coverings in Corinth were in the form of a shawl drawn up over the head.

    • Since Christ did not specify the type of covering and we cannot bind what God has not bound (clothe only but not hat); then whatever covers “the woman’s head” qualifies as obedience to the command “let her be covered.” Remember also, that what Paul as an Apostle wrote here is the commandment of the Lord Jesus (See 1st Corinthians 14:37). And everyone should be aware that what was wrote to the Corinthians were principles that apply to “all the churches” (1st Cor. 1:1,2; 4;17; 11:16; 16:1). So much for the idea people have about “written ONLY to the Corinthians” or it was just a “cultural thing.” These are actually very dangerous principles of intrepretation if applied across the board for if one doesn’t like a particular teaching they can veto it (at least in their own mind) as a culural thing. This opens the flood gate to throw out the entire New Testament. Jesus expected us to build our house (spiritual house” upon the rock of Him and His Word (Matt. 7:21ff). Jesus says this is the standard by which we will be judged. We have the test material in our hands (John 12:48). Let us all be very careful in how we handle the Word of God. If we just don’t know, just say so; maybe some one can help as Phillip the Evangelist helped the Eunuch in Acts 8. But becare who you ask.

  2. Robin says:

    Her Hair is a covering of glory hence why it is covered or shorn off. It represents the glory of mankind and its thinking. On the other hand a Mans hair was usually grown as part of the Nazaritish vow so as to bring glory to God. The heads are also representative the head of the man is Christ, the head of the man is the woman. Both the thinking and glory of the man is covered. Neither the thinking nor the glory of Christ is covered. So it is wrong for a man to cover his head with anything other then his hair. His hair may be shorn off as part of a Nazaritish vow and offered to God.
    Nature clearly shows that it is natural for a man to have long hair. It was only with the Romans that short hair became fashionable for men. The Greeks and early Romans had long hair. In fact the verse quoted as proof for it being natural for men to have short hair could have been translated two ways. The translators made a blunder as a result of the culture of the day and obviously didn’t think it through properly.
    The attitude associated with short or shorn hair is that of discipline, the un-neccessary glory is eliminated. Men were born to be functional not decoratory was the thought.
    The culture of short verses long hair has swung backwards and forwards since Roman days. Long hair and short hair both have been seen as signs of Masculinity.
    Its the image of the functional, disciplined, logical, unemotional man versus the image of the spiritual, passionate, balanced man.
    Why would a man remove his hair when it represents the glory of Christ? unless to dedicate it to God?
    I think I have gone further then answering the hat issue but also covered the hair as a covering

  3. Robin says:

    What is your proof regarding homosexuality?? Why would it represent homosexuality in Corinth when in the majority of history and culture long hair for men has represented masculinity. Mens hair is different from Womens particularly made distinctive by the facial hair.
    It seems to me that people assume the homosexual thing as an explanation of why Paul said what he did when it doesn’t really make sense regarding both nature and most cultures.
    Many people talk about male prostitution or homosexuality when looking at this passage. But is there any real evidence to back this up or is it just hear say? A covenient assumption made by many to back up their pre-concieved ideas and the status quo.
    I think the Nazarite law is a perfect background to look at the biblical attitude to long hair. As for Nature that is self evident that if you let hair grow it becomes long. As for culture, look at history culture is clear on the matter, at most times and in most places long hair has been for men considered masculine.

  4. Robin says:

    Your answer on Long hair means little as I explained.

    In answer to your articles this is what the first one says.
    ‘vases depicting bearded men in feminine attire’
    That just goes to prove my case not yours. The hair was masculine not feminine it was the clothes that were feminine. That is all I could see of any relevence in that article other then the usual biased assessment.
    The second article is talking from the second century AD. This is latter and we already know the culture changed. Even in the article it compares the removal of body hair with the homosexual and that body hair is an indicator of the male gender. This book is trying to make sense of the verse by finding proof that the Romans and Corinthians had such views and customs that is that long hair is feminine. The writer admits at the start that they are biased. They say the Stoics and others tell us… on the other hand the article admits that Greek Male deities were depicted with long hair. We do know that the latter greeks saw men with long hair as weak. This was a change of culture. The distinguishing feature of the statue is the clothing not the hair. The article is somewhat misleading as the roman Emperors who saw long hair as weak were the later ones. Dio Chrysostom speaks of what we all agree was the custom of the greeks and romans after the culture change. In fact Dio Chrysostom was a Stoic that is he despised emotion and weakness. We don’t have the context of some of what is said for example that young men shaved off their locks at puberty. We don’t know who the young men it was referring to ar. Was it all the young men or just a select group such as the military were the fashion no doubt started. Somehow it changed from shorn hair being a shame reserved for slaves until the stoics changed it to being honorable to be enslaved to country.
    Going on to the third book. Juvenile first condemns the Corinthians as being weak as a result of using perfumes and of removing hair from their legs.
    Again they mention the statues of Barbarians wearing long hair. But the mention of weakness into it is a biased comment. The statues can’t speak for themselves. The statues don’t depict feminine weak men but rather warriors.
    Again the writer is trying to use Juveniles comments to support their understanding of 1 Corinthians.

    • Rob J Hyndman says:

      So if you don’t like the evidence, you either claim that the culture must have changed or that the writer is biased?

  5. Bud Sturguess says:

    I’m curious as to why the author left out this seemingly important verses from later in the same chapter in Corinthians: “Judge among yourselves” (verse 13) and verse 16: “But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God.”

    • Judge among yourselves according to the facts presented; it’s a rhetorical question. Also, verse 16 teaches “We” The Apostles and the churches both in Judea and among the Gentles have no “other practice (than a man to pray with head uncovered and woman with head covered). This is the force of the prior text. Paul certainly wouldn’t give all the theological reasons why a man’s head should be uncoverd in worship and a woman’s head covered in worship only to end up saying, well, if you are contentious we don’t practice it anyway. Would that make sense? Read the American Standard Version or Revised Standard version, it might be more clear.

  6. Petros says:

    Paul himself only had short hair each time he began a new Nazarite Vow. In between making Vows, his hair grew the whole time. He only renewed a Vow while passing through Jerusalem, to hav Apostles administer it to him where they were based.

    The Apostle John was described by every Tradition as long haired. What the Churches of GOD had for a Rule came reom the HOLY SPIRIT through the original Twelve Apostolic Shepherds. They were administering Nazarite Vows.

    Paul had to tell people he was a Roman citizen, because he was visibly a Jew. His hair didn’t indicate Roman citizenship.

    It is always assumed that when Paul writes that it is not good for a man to touch a woman, that he is quoting something asserted by an earlier Corinthian letter to him, in the understanding they had as Greeks from their culture’s philosophers. Is not the thing matter of thinking that nature teaches that it is a shame for a man to have long hair an issue addressed out of the same stream of cultural presumptions addressed to him for comment?

    In the beginning, GOD warned of eating from a tree, not of leeting Adam’s hair be long.

  7. I think I lost my original post. Oh well, here we go again though hard to duplicate the moment. People make this passage harder than it is because it suggest thoughts modern society doesn’t like. Up until about 50 years ago, all churches very much practiced women wearing some type of covering. Her covering is hiding her glory–which is her hair; her cover is hiding her hair which is also, well she is, the glory of man. Man is God’s glory as the original creation of humans. Woman was made for man. Paul explains in the text this doesn’t make women inferior, but God must be glorified by man’s uncovered head and woman’s covered head in worship (prayer). If people would not get bogged down on the meaning of verses and see the pattern established starting at verse 3 and follow the world glory and use a little common sense, this makes better sense than you might want to admit. Just because it conflicts with modern thought doesn’t make it to not apply today. God thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55: 8,9).

  8. But cut to the chase since the question is about men covering their heads during prayer or worship, no, he should not cover his head period since the man is the glory of God as first in the creation of human beings (1st Corinthians 11:4,7). Read it for yourself; it’s very clear.

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