Excerpted with slight editing from an Address by Dr. A.W. Pink,
at the Particular Baptist Church, Belvoir Street, Sydney, on Sabbath Evening, 16 May 1926.

Part 2 of 2

[Ed. note: We read the first part of this controversial sermon last sabbath. As we continue with it, let us remember that while I personally believe Pink is right, yet this is a confessionally disputable matter. That is to say: It is a matter for which we cannot as a church impose, nor is it a matter we should quarrel over. Though each one of us must do according to what we believe the Scripture teaches us to do; yet we must allow for differing opinions. Even officers of the church must be allowed to differ on this matter. —JJ Lim]

Now, I make no apology, my friends, for speaking on this subject tonight. It is a part of the whole counsel of God and, as I have already shown you, this passage begins by saying "I would have you know"; therefore it is not without significance, not without importance, and not without value.

"For if the woman be not covered [If she refuses to wear a head-covering, a hat or a veil]," "let her also be shorn [have her hair cut]" (v. 6). And in view of that fashion which is becoming increasingly popular among women today, that "also" there is most solemn and searching. My friends, I fully believe that the vast majority of Christian women who have had their hair cut have done so in ignorance of the teaching of God’s Word and of the requirements of God. I cannot make myself believe that my sisters in Christ have deliberately defied God: charity requires that I must conclude that they have done it in ignorance of the Scriptures: and it is because of the ignorance that prevails so widely today that I feel it laid upon me to give you what God says on this subject tonight.

Now what is so solemn in that sixth verse is the word "also." I want you to notice that the Holy Spirit has there linked two things together. "If the woman be not covered [have a hat on her head when she enters the church]," "let her also be shorn" (not shaven, but shorn—have her hair cut). The Holy Spirit has joined the two things together and it is not difficult to see why, because the cutting off of the long hair exposes the head: it reveals the size, the shape of it, and the cutting off of the hair places her on the same level before God as those who enter the church without a hat on at all! The two things are inseparably linked together here. "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" [Mt 19:6; Mk 10:9]. God estimates and regards the cutting off of the hair on the same level as entering His house without any hat on! Look on that sixth verse again please:—"If the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn." In other words, God requires a double covering. He has given the woman the long hair to cover her head naturally, so that her head is covered when she is outside the church, to show that she is not her own ruler, her own head, but in subjection to another; but when she enters the house of God, another covering is required, to show that she is also in subjection to her spiritual head—those who have the rule in the house of God.

Now, in that sixth verse, the second half, there is an "if" which may perhaps have puzzled some of you:—"but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn." The word "shame" there means a disgrace. If it be a disgrace for a woman to be shorn or shaven let her be covered. Now the word "if" there does not open the door for debate: the word "if" there is used—as if so frequently is in the New Testament—in the sense of "since" or "because." "If I go [away]… I will come again." Since I go away, because I go away, and prepare a place for you, I will come again (Jn 14:2). "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above" (Col 3:1). Since ye be risen, because ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above. So the "if" in this sixth verse has the same force of "because" or "since." Since it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven. Now brethren and sisters there you have the clearly revealed mind of God. God says it is a "shame," a disgrace for a woman either to have her head shorn or shaven. If in ignorance of God’s mind your head has been shorn, then let it grow again!

In Scripture, the cutting off of the hair symbolises one of two things: it is either a mark of lamentation (see Job 1:20), or a sign of degradation (see Jer 7:29).

Now coming to the seventh verse:—"For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God." The man is "the image and glory of God." That takes us back to the first chapter of Genesis and the 26th verse. You remember we read there that God created man in His own image and likeness. Those two words do not mean the same thing. "Likeness" means a resemblance; "image" means that which represents. The image on our coins is a representation of the King—his majesty, his dominion, his authority. "Man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image"—he represents God on this earth. What did God immediately say to Adam in the first chapter of Genesis and the 26th verse after that it was said, "Let us make man in our image"? He said, "Let them have dominion." That is the thought. Then man is not only the image, but he is the "glory" of God. In what sense is man the glory of God? How does man glorify God? By his submission and by his obedience. The seventh verse concludes by saying:—"but the woman is the glory of the man"—not the "image" of the man. The woman does not represent the man: rule and headship have not been committed to her, but she is the "glory" of the man. In what sense? How? The woman is the glory of the man in the same way as the man is the glory of God, by submission and by obedience to her head.

To amplify that, turn with me now to Ephesians 5:22. Remember, dear friends, that I am reading now from the Word of God: may it come home in power. Ephesians 5:22-23:—"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife." Now turn over to Titus 2, verses 3 to 5. I will give you the first verse for a certain reason. Titus 2, beginning at verse 1:—"But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine." These were the words of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul to the young pastor Titus, and here is what the aged Apostle says to him. These were words of counsel to this young man. "Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine." Now notice what he was to speak and what were the things that became "sound doctrine":—"That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands." I am not reading now from a Church of England prayer-book. There has been a hard fight for years to expunge that word from the marriage-ceremony there, but if they expunge it from the marriage-ceremony of the Episcopal Church they will never expunge it from God’s Word. This is God’s Word—"obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed"—as it is blasphemed on many sides today through the wives’ disobedience. Now one other passage in 1 Peter 3, verses 3 to 6:—"Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair" (which by the way presupposes long hair because you cannot "plait" short hair!), "let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel: But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." It may be of great ridicule in the world: it may be scoffed at by your sisters: it may be taken advantage of by an ungodly husband: but it is of "great price" in the sight of God, and He says so. "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well."

Now come back to 1 Corinthians 11, verses 8 and 9:—"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." There the Apostle appeals to two facts in connection with man’s history which bring out the subordination of the woman to the man. First he tells us that the woman was formed out of the man and derived her origin from his. Listen! The man and the woman were not created together; they were not created simultaneously (at the same time); the man and not the woman was created first, and the Holy Spirit here appeals to that fact in connection with their history to support what He is here dealing with—the subordination of the woman to the man. Second, it says in verse 9, that the woman was created on man’s account and not man on her account. "Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." And, my friends, that is not negated by what you have in the Epistle to the Galatians where we are told that in Christ there is neither male nor female but we are all one in Him. That verse has to do with our standing before God and not with our walk here in this world: just as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." That has to do with our standing before God; it has no reference to our actual experience and state, as the words "in Christ" plainly show.

Then in the 10th verse the Apostle gives us a further reason why decorum should be observed in the assembly or church:—"For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head [or, as the margin says, ‘a covering, in sign that she is under the authority of her husband’]." "For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels." That introduces a phase of the subject that is most interesting and that is little understood, but which I am compelled to pass over entirely through lack of time; but it means this, that the sisters in Christ are commanded by God to observe the laws of propriety in His house not only for their own sakes, not only out of respect for their brethren in Christ, but also because the angels are present. The angels are present in this room right now. At every service, unseen by the outward eye, observing our deportment, noting our order, taking knowledge of our reverence or irreverence, the angels are present. The Holy Spirit here indicates that, and it is because of their presence He stresses the importance, the need, an additional reason, why the sisters should observe the place God has given them, and why they should wear the symbol of that place. Just because God has placed woman in the position of subordination her head must be covered.

Now coming to verses 11 and 12:—"Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord." That is to say they are each mutually dependent upon the other. "For, as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman." That is brought in to humble the man. That is brought in to prevent the man from getting a swelled head. That is brought in to show the mutual dependence of the man upon the woman. "For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God" which is brought in at this point to show that the Holy Spirit is not here discussing the superiority or the inferiority of either the man or the woman, considered in themselves, but what He is dealing with is the position that the Creator of all has assigned unto each. "All things [are] of God." It is God who has given the man the position of rule: it is God who has delegated authority and dominion to him—not because of any superiority he may or may not possess of himself. As I said a few minutes ago in another connection tonight, the old saying is that comparisons are odious. It is a most invidious distinction to try and draw comparisons between a man and a woman as to which is inferior and which superior. As far as my personal opinion is concerned, I have no hesitation in saying that in many things the woman is the superior of the man: in the finer sensibilities, in the nobler qualities that go to make up character, in patience and powers of endurance, in gentleness, in tenderness, in unselfishness, in ministering to the suffering, in love, the woman is the superior to man. But that is not what is under discussion here. What is under discussion here is the position that God has given unto each and how that position must be owned and acknowledged by the symbol that God has appointed. Because the woman has not been given rule and headship her head must be covered, and covered with a double covering: first, the long hair that God has given her by nature, so that even when she is outside the church that covering shall indicate that she is not her own head, but that she is under the dominion of the head of her household: secondly, that when she comes into the house of God there must be the additional cover of the hat because she is also in subjection to her spiritual brethren to whom God has appointed rule.

"Judge in yourselves." The Apostle now appeals to their sense of propriety: "Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered" with nothing on her head (v. 13). Do not even natural proprieties and instincts prompt—"Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering" (vv. 14–15). That is the opposite of what you have in verse 6. The short hair is a "shame"; the long hair is a "glory" to the woman. Now what does that mean? Her "glory" is not to be limited to her physical attractions, but refers to the loveliness of submission, and the beauty of obedience.

I want you to turn now to John 12, verse 3:—"Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair." Now link that up with the verse we have just had in 1 Corinthians 11: her hair is her glory. Mary placed her "glory" at the feet of Christ! Have you? I mean you brothers as well as sisters. Have I? She wiped His feet with the hair of her head. She placed her "glory" at the feet of Christ. Oh may God give grace unto His daughters here tonight to be lowly and in subjection to Him.

Do you know, my sisters in Christ, that God has given to you a means and a way of imitating and following Christ which is denied to us brethren? He has.… He "made himself of no reputation" [Phil 2:7] … Oh the marvel of it that the Lord of glory, the Son of God, should so make Himself of no reputation that He voluntarily entered the place of shame as the symbol of His submission and subjection unto God. And I say, sisters in Christ, there is granted unto you a way and a method of imitating and following Him that is denied even to the brethren. It may cause the world to sneer. It may bring down upon you the taunt of "old-fashioned" and so forth, but what matters that, if it brings upon you the approval of God and brings you into the place of following and imitating Christ in a way that even the brethren cannot!

Now coming back for a final word to 1 Corinthians 11. The closing verse 16:—"But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God." And there the Apostle closes his discussion of this section. Having presented the various arguments why God requires the woman to be in the place of subjection, "if any seem to be contentious"—if you want to argue about this and debate the matter—"we have no such custom," we (the Apostles) nor the churches of God. In other words, if the sisters will not listen to what God says, then it is a waste of time for His servants to argue about it. When God’s will is clearly revealed, debate is set at an end for the real Christian. It is either obey or disobey! Submit or defy! If the woman will not bow to God’s precepts, they will not heed our reasonings. In such case, we can only leave them with God to suffer either His chastisements or judgments. This chapter says it is a shame for a woman to have her hair short. It also says the long hair is her glory.

Now just one other word on verse 3. I would not be fair if it were to be left out. Verse 3 says, "the head of every man is Christ." The woman is not her own head for God has placed her under the dominion of man, but the man is not his own head or his own lord. He also is under dominion to another and that word applies to believing brethren, just as much as it does to believing sisters. Though the Creator has placed rule and dominion in the hands of the man, the man is not to misuse his authority by being a tyrant. He, too, is in subjection to another. "One is [our] master, even Christ" [Mt 23:8]. O brethren in Christ, rule your homes over which God has placed you as the "head"—rule your homes in a way that is pleasing to Him and in the spirit which will glorify Him. Christ said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Then see to it that the yoke and the burden you place on your wife is equally light and is equally easy. O brethren and sisters, the Christian home ought to be a veritable Bethel upon earth—the woman (the wife) in meek, God-fearing subjection to her husband; the husband ruling in the fear of God reflecting the glory of his Head. W

"Ordinarily, it was most strictly enjoined upon women to have their head and hair carefully covered. This may throw some light upon the difficult passage, 1 Corinthians 11:1–10. We must bear in mind that the apostle there argues with Jews, and that on their own ground, convincing them by a reference to their own views, customs, and legends of the propriety of the practice which he enjoins. From that point of view the propriety of a woman having her head "covered" could not be called in question. The opposite would, to a Jew, have indicated immodesty. Indeed, it was the custom in the case of a woman accused of adultery to have her hair "shorn or shaven," at the same time using this formula: "Because thou hast departed from the manner of the daughters of Israel, who go with their head covered;...therefore that has befallen thee which thou hast chosen." (Alfred Edersheim, in Sketches of Jewish Social Life, chap 9)