In the first century, some of the ladies decided they wanted to throw their own little revolution, and they demonstrated it by throwing off that culture’s symbol of submission—the marital veil.
In the first century Roman Empire, a woman’s veil covered her head and signified her marital status. In contrast, prostitutes wore their hair loose and some would even shave their heads. Midway through the century, a fashion frenzy hit! It suddenly became fashionable to copy the dress and hairstyles of the prostitutes, and married women began throwing off their head coverings.
“But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved.”
I have friends who view the dress code of 1 Corinthians 11:5 as applicable today, and I respect their commitment to honor what they believe God’s Word requires. But this is one of those verses where it is important to apply the principle no matter how we interpret the literal intent.
Paul was addressing specific behaviors that revealed an ugly heart issue—the rejection of authority. It doesn’t seem he was advocating an absolute law for dress or hairstyle for all time, but was addressing the rejection of culturally recognized symbols that would publicly display a respect for morality and divinely established male and female roles within that culture.
As we’re investigating the topic of modesty this month, it is important to realize that submission to authority plays a huge role in being a truly beautiful, modest woman. Today young women, even little girls, are encouraged to pick up an aggressive, in your face attitude: Flex your muscles and strut your stuff! Don’t let anybody tell you what to do!
The raunch “Girls Gone Wild” culture appeals to the hunger for power within all of us. And the age-old lie “You can be your own god” shouts in our ears as we rip down the authority structures God placed over us.
You may have avoided being sucked in by this wave of rebellion, but a good way to check and see if you’re having trouble with submission to authority is by seeing how you react the next time an authority tells you to do something you don’t want to do.
The speed limit says 55, but you’re late for the movies . . . do you throw off authority?
Your teacher requires you to redo a sloppy paper . . . do you blow it off?
Your mom tells you to be home earlier than your friends have to be home . . . do you come in late anyway?
Your church camp has a dress code that seems too old-fashioned . . . do you sneak in a few “outlawed items”?
Maybe none of these examples fit you, but I hope you’ll analyze your reaction the next time you’re tempted to throw off the authority structure in your own life.