If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice–nor do the churches of God. (1 Corinthians 11:16)
After giving in-depth reasons for the tradition of covering and uncovering from verse 1 to verse 15, Paul ends with this sentence.
There are two things to note.
1. The word “other”.
The word “other” in the NIV, NLT, NASB, CSB, NET and many other translations is actually incorrect. The ESV, KJV, and NKJV translate the Greek word τοιαύτην correctly as “such”.
That creates an apparent problem. When Paul says, “we have no such practice”, it appears that Paul is reneging on his 15-verse exposition of the head covering tradition.
But, of course, he is not.
The NIV etc. would have no need to change “such” to “other” if they just looked at the question in v13.
Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
That is the question Paul answers from verse 14 through to 16.
14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
In other words, is it proper for a woman to pray to God uncovered? Paul’s people and the churches of God have no such practice.
2. The Churches of God.
Paul’s appeal to the churches of God seems anachronistic. Most churches we know of today do have such a practice – they do permit (and encourage) women to pray to God uncovered.
Yet this verse still applies to us, because “the churches of God” does not mean merely modern day, Western churches. It includes the churches of God from the time of Christ up to today, and it includes the churches of God worldwide, not just Protestant churches who have rejected the practice. With that in mind, the testimony of the churches of God is against us if we persist in allowing women to pray to God uncovered.
Quite simply, we are disobedient.
This is the last verse of my run (walk…crawl?) through 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.
Next week I will, as God allows, look a little closer at the connection between verses 5-6 and 14-15.