7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
If the reasoning behind men uncovering their heads and women covering their heads is found in part in the Creation story, head covering was not required in the Old Testament.
It’s a great question, but before entering that discussion, people need to know what this part of the passage actually says. That’s what this post is about, even though I’m sure most members of this forum are already very familiar with the teaching.
MAN, THE IMAGE AND GLORY OF GOD.
Paul states in verse 7 that a man should be uncovered because he is the image and glory of God. This is too much like Genesis 1:26-27 to be ignored.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
There is the difference of “image” in Genesis and “glory” in 1 Corinthians, but the basic framework is the same. Man was created as the image of God, i.e. the representative of God to the world (primarily in a ruling capacity – Gen 1:26), and in his likeness. This second word can mean a number of things, but I understand it to move beyond mere representation as you would see in a statue, to a living representation in character and action.
Of course, this image and likeness was corrupted through the Fall, and man was then required to wear a covering (among other things) when ministering before God. But since Christ has redeemed man, man is required to be uncovered to display not only the image of God restored in Christ, but the glory of God, a heightened description of “likeness”, the goal man was always meant to achieve. (Romans 3:23 is an interesting verse to consider in light of this).
It’s important to realise that the reason a man is to be uncovered because of his head is because of his likeness to his head, Christ. The reason a woman is to be covered because of her head is because of her complementary difference to her head. (And maybe that is the much more mundane reason Paul uses “glory” instead of “likeness” in order to provide continuity from man to woman in verse 7).
WOMAN, THE GLORY OF MAN.
Everything in the account of the creation of man and woman points to man being the glory of God and woman being the glory of man. The word “for” at the beginning of v8 puts that beyond doubt.
As v8 says, man did not come from woman (so stop arguing against this, you Corinthians!), but woman from man. Man was first, woman second, and still one. Both man and woman are Man.
And v9 continues, man was not made for woman (so stop arguing against this, you Corinthians!), but woman for man. Man was instructed without the woman (Gen 2:15-17) and woman was literally created to help man (Gen 2:18).
All this is fine, until people remember the word “image”. Why is woman not said to be the image of God?
First, because Paul is referring to woman’s relationship to man, not God.
Second, because woman is the image of God in a different sense to man, i.e. she is the image of God as part of the family of man (in Gen 1:27 she is said to be the image of God in conjunction with man – and in Christ, the Man).
Third, because in a discussion of the sexes, man is in the place of the Son, the image of God, and woman is in the place of the Spirit, who is never called the image of God, but helps/glorifies the Son (see John 16:13-15).
That is not to say that woman does not reflect the Son:
She is the glory of man; Jesus is the glory of God (Hebrews 1:3, 2 Corinthians 4:6).
She is from man; Jesus is from God (John 1:14, 7:29, 8:42, 16:28).
She was made for man; Jesus came for God (John 5:36, 10:24-29, 17:4).
But even with that, Paul is saying here that there is an important sense that woman is not the image of God in the same way man is. She does not represent God to the world; she builds the family of Man to represent God to the world.
And now that in Christ she has (and all Christians have) been brought into the holy of holies, she should show that by covering her head (v10).