"...Let Her Be Veiled."
The Hidden Power of Woman
Why all the fuss about 1 Corinthians 11 and a little piece of cloth on a woman's head? Yes, why? Quite obviously, a sincere attempt to search out the simple teaching in the passage leads one to conclude that it was a practice at Corinth.
Further, in our attempt, by God's grace, to preach the gospel of the kingdom, this issue of the woman's veiling inevitably becomes a focal point of resistance. Why? I believe it is for the reason that in a very tangible way it confronts two of the greatest demonic subversions of the church that this world has ever seen. First, it is an attack on the validity of making a conscientious commitment to a simple obedience of the Scripture as a result of a changed heart and a pure love for Jesus. Secondly, it exposes and expresses a stand against the Jezebel spirit that so pervades the church of today. The refusal to wear the veil among Christian woman today effectively weakens their power in prayer, much to Satan's delight.
A veiled head is a direct blow to Satan on two primary aspects of his fall—pride and rebellion. The veiled head very effectively deals with slavery to hair styles, and may I add, feminine pride. If you don't believe me, wear one or try to promote it in today's Christian circles. Remember that it was simple pride that turned an angel into a devil. Rebellion also is uniquely Satan's territory. He is a legalist and knows his rights. If you dabble in the occult you must reap the results. Similarly, 1 Sam. 15:22-23 states that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. In other words, even as in the occult, rebellion places you in Satan's legal territory. In 1 Cor. 11, a woman with an unveiled head, or a man wearing long hair, are both employing symbols of rebellion.
Are symbols really so important after all? Communion practices are spoken of in 1 Cor. 11 also. Why not substitute for the bread and wine, root beer floats and potato chips? Do the symbols of the bread and wine just have significance for their day?
We can have some idea of how God looks at such things by what He said when Moses "merely" smote the rock the second time instead of speaking to it as he had been commanded. What he did was misrepresent the fact that Jesus was only smitten once to make living water available to us. And what did God say? He said, "You have despised Me!" Moses, by this one act, forfeited the promised land.
Well, that was law and Old Testament. But what about the time Jesus wanted to wash Peter's feet and Peter refused? It was clearly a symbolic washing, because when Peter wanted to be washed all over, Jesus said, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean..." But what did Jesus say when Peter wanted to refuse the feetwashing? "If I wash you not, you have no part with Me."
Am I saying, then, that any woman who refuses to wear a veiling is not a Christian? Not directly. However, I add without apology that no one is a Christian in a true sense of the word who has not sincerely repented of their own thoughts and ways and made Jesus the Lord of their lives. Jesus never saves anyone whom He does not also govern.
Simple obedience to clear scriptural commands flows basically from two fountainheads. First, from a sincere repentance from our rebellion and resistance to God, and second, out of a pure love of Jesus. In Scripture, Jezebel is the woman singled out to represent those who paint their faces and use their natural feminine powers to control men and circumstances. She was the queen of the king of Israel, the king being the one who was to be a type of Christ. She became the symbol in Scripture of the harlot church who claims to be the bride of the King but who walks in the stubbornness and rebellion of her own heart while she pollutes the church with the idols of the world. God's word to anyone in such a situation is, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues." (Rev. 18:4).
On the other hand, 1 Cor. 11 is written for the benefit of any woman who wants to enter into a deeper life with God. It is the woman who wants God's best that will not passively accept her failures, but longs for victory in the areas of her personal life and experience. She wants to enter into the full power that God desires to give her.
The Scriptures give a high place of honor to a faithful, God-fearing woman. Pro. 12:4 says, "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband." The crown is symbolic of the pinnacle of man's earthly aspirations. Pro.31:30 states that, "Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord she shall be praised". And also, "House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord." (Pro. 19:14) These scriptures point out the value God places on faithful women.
Godly women also had an honorable part in the life of Jesus. His friendship with Mary and Martha is an example of this. You too, as a woman, can be a personal friend of Jesus. As you learn to enter into His areas of concern and ministry within your own immediate circle of influence, you will find your relationship with Him becoming richer and more meaningful. Mary and Martha were His friends and they had His interests. Further, they were open-hearted to His teachings. It is worthy of note that it was women who were last at the cross, first at the tomb, and the first to whom Jesus made His resurrection appearance.
The First "Hidden Power"
Considering now the positive ways in which a woman is called to serve, I would like to point out areas both of strength and weakness. The first "hidden power" of a woman is the power of wise counsel. Often the real power behind an office is a hidden counselor. Much of David's success as king was due to the counsel of Ahithophel of whom the Scriptures testify had counsel as the oracles of God.
It is very easy for one who is not in a position of leadership to come to the leader with forceful counsel. The counselor will not be held responsible for the outcome, even though his counsel may be explicitly followed. Therefore, a wise leader will always maintain the freedom to make the final decision as to the direction he will personally pursue since he is the one who will be held accountable for the decision.
Let's consider a few more biblical examples of counsel. One of the most outstanding examples in the entire Scripture of both good and bad counsel and their results is found in the book of Esther.
Hamaan was a proud man. In Persia, he was second only to the king. When Mordecai refused to bow to him, he controlled himself with difficulty and went home, and called his wife and friends together to brag about his successes and to complain about Mordecai. Who was the first to counsel Hamaan to build a gallows 50 cubits high? It was his wile Zeresh. His friends gave him the same counsel. Esther 5:14 says, "The counsel pleased Hamaan and he had the gallows made."
Esther 2:20 states that Esther had not yet made herself known to her kindred or her people even as Mordecai had commanded her, for Esther did what Mordecai had told her as she had done when under his care. It is very interesting to note that in this time when all the Jews were condemned to death that Mordecai, who was a man, was unable to do anything about it. God was pleased to use a woman to bring about deliverance. But it was a woman who knew the place God had for her.
When Mordecai pled with her to intercede to the king for the Jews, her first counsel was to gather everyone together for prayer and fasting. She realized that it is God who makes the final difference. She was hesitant at first to use her own influence, but then courageously consented with the words, "If I perish, I perish". After fasting and prayer, she did not rush into the king's presence with complaints, criticisms, or condemnation, but simply made herself known and then waited to be asked. When he invited her to come forward, she went up and caressed the top of the scepter with her hand, showing respect for his authority and his right over her. She then tactfully prepared the king for her request with kindness and honor, pleasing him with a delicious banquet. Certainly Esther would have gotten nowhere, and no doubt would have lost her life, if she had used the same tactics that many Christian women use today on their husbands when they want something.
When Esther finally made her request, it was a simple plea for her own life and the lives of her people. There was no hint of blame or accusation against her husband, though there would have been plenty of reason for it.
Of course, God was in all these circumstances, and it was really He who saved the Jews. However, Esther was His instrument in doing so, and because of this, women have some beautiful examples here of God's principles to follow.
Esther was quite a woman. She was keenly aware of the limits of her power and how to best exercise it. In ch. 8:3 she even used a few tears. When Esther was given the king's signet to write whatever she wanted, which was to revoke Hamaan's decree, she once more stepped back and gave the responsibility to Mordecai.
In evaluating a woman's counsel, we must remember that there is a basic difference between men and women and the process each uses to arrive at decisions. There are general areas that each of them consider, but in different order of priority. Men tend to lean most heavily on reason, then on emotion and feeling, and lastly, on intuition. Women tend to lean most heavily on intuition, then emotion or feeling, and lastly on reason. The primary reason for this is that God created woman to be a complement to man, not a competitor. What is more contrary to God's design for the companion suitable for man than a hands-on-hips, calculating, bossy woman? Such a woman stifles a man's role and effectiveness. The Scripture that every God-fearing woman will want to have indelibly imprinted on her heart is 1 Peter 3:1. It is a sermon in four words; "...won without a word".
A woman was not created for argument, criticism, condemnation, harassment, etc. Rather her role next to man is one of caring, feeling, sharing and understanding. Intuition is interesting. It is a function of the human spirit. It seems to be the avenue which the Holy Spirit uses in the gift of prophecy, which actually means to share something that cannot be known by natural wisdom. When a man receives revelation, he is wise to check it out carefully with the Scriptures to satisfy his intellect that it is right. However, if he relies on intellect alone, he is only a natural man trying to understand spiritual things, which the Bible says is impossible.
Since a woman leans more on intuition, spiritual insights often come more clearly or forcefully to her than to her husband. If she is not careful, she will soon take the lead spiritually, and since her intuition is not always correct, this can lead to serious errors. 1 Tim. 2 teaches that the woman was deceived, not the man. This establishes irrevocably that women are to be under man's authority as a means of protection to both. This is not a count against women, because as I said before, the reasoning and decision making process is not their role. A praying, godly woman's insights are very valuable, but they should be shared and then left there. They are not to be pushed through with strong words. If the Lord Is in it, He will see that it is not overlooked or forgotten.
The Second "Hidden Power"
The second "hidden power" of a woman is the power of future generations. Let's look at some N.T. scriptures on this subject. 1 Tim.5:9-10,14 says, "Let a widow be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children. Therefore I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach, for some have already turned aside to follow Satan."
God established this principle of the power of future generations in the very first chapter of the Bible. Gen. 1:28 says, "And God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it...." This same blessing and command was given again to Noah after the flood.
It is evident that the secular humanist's campaign to reduce family size has influenced the minds of Christian parents. Consider a few historical facts concerning the value of large families. Jacob had a large family. His last son was Benjamin, who was the ancestor of the apostle Paul. If Jesse would have had one less son, there would have been no David. In the famous Wesley family, Suzanna, the mother, was herself the twenty-second child! Her son John was her fifteenth and Charles her eighteenth child!
Aside from all this, the power of future generations is a woman's privilege and responsibility. If it is rightly understood, it can become one of her greatest sources of happiness and fulfillment.
Titus 2:4 states; "That they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored."
1 Tim. 2:15 says; "But women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint."
What is needed is the faith to see the almost unlimited potential of future generations. Those little ones in the cradle or clinging to the skirts are never-dying souls. Their lives will go on long after you are gone, if the Lord tarries. Their influence, either for good or bad, is incalculable. As mothers, women will no doubt mold them more than anyone in those tender, formative years. What a challenge to be the kind of mother who inspires faith, courage, diligence, and love in their little hearts! God longs for and needs the dedication and cooperation of godly women to raise up the foundations of many generations. This world is sadly in need of faithful mothers who sense the great honor of this task. Truly "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world".
The Third "Hidden Power"
The third "hidden power" of a woman is that of prayer. This is the biblical example used in 1 Cor. 11 as a time when the veiled head for women is especially in focus. A woman comes to God in prayer from the natural vantage point of weakness and need. "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is kingdom of heaven". (Mat. 5:3). Many times in Scripture, God pledges His protection and provision to three classes of people; orphans, widows, and strangers. God Himself is the avenger of anyone who would lower himself to exploit them because of the natural weakness of their position. Our great need and faith in God's abundant provision is the heart and soul of intercession.
Scripture calls a woman the weaker vessel in 1 Peter 3:7. In today's Jezebel rebellion, many women are out to prove that this simply is not so. A woman can do anything a man can do! The crafty enemy lures them on with thoughts of equality and greatness while he blinds their minds to the fact that they are being drawn away from the heart of an all-powerful, all-wise God to be cast back upon their own meager resources.
The church is symbolized in the N.T. by two figures—the bride of Christ, and the body of Christ. A woman finds her fulfillment primarily in the bridal role of the church. A man's calling is more directly related to the mature man Christ Jesus (Eph.4: 11-16). There is, however, an inter-association. Anyone who desires to come to Christ without the simple, trusting faith of a child can never enter into the kingdom. Where there is no maturing in faith through an ever deeper understanding in the true knowledge of Jesus, there can never be a powerful manifestation of God's kingdom. But we never "graduate" from the simple, trusting faith. It always remains as the fundamental principle upon which we rest as our foot reaches out for its next step in God. Paul, even though an aged warrior, could say he had not yet attained; he had not outgrown his need. The more mature our faith, the larger the vista of territory which is ours to possess, the greater the battle the Lord commissions us to enter, the deeper and more real our personal weakness and need becomes.
A lack of power in prayer is a sure sign of self-sufficiency. Hand in hand with self-sufficiency walks frustrated desire, lust, covetousness, fighting and war. A woman's veiled head says; I am content to live with need, that I might experience Christ's sufficiency. Even as Ruth asked Boaz to spread his covering over her, so all mankind may come to our near kinsman, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is a mighty Man of wealth and power who is well able to include us in His household. He has redeemed us back to our original inheritance and beyond. We, with Ruth, need to surrender our independence, renounce our gods, and seek Him with our whole heart. We must humble ourselves and ask.
The high place of prayer is undisputed. In the tabernacle, it was the altar placed in front of the ark and the mercy seat. Now the veil of the temple is gone and we have direct access to the Father through Jesus. Jesus Himself now occupies the high position of intercessor at the right hand of God. This is the place where spiritual battle will be won at last. Put very simply, I believe that one God-fearing woman who cultivates the inner beauty of a Christlike spirit and perseveres in prayer will exert more influence and power for good than all man's legislative power combined.
The Fourth Hidden Power
The fourth "hidden power" is that of prophecy. This simply signifies the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God.
We have a number of examples of this in the New Testament. When Mary came to visit, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She then spoke forth a prophecy concerning Jesus (Luke 1:41-45). Immediately following, we have the song of Mary (verses 46-55). In Luke 2:38, the prophetess Anna confirmed the purposes of God concerning Jesus. In the book of Acts, we also have the example of Philip's daughters (Acts 21:9).
The gift of prophecy for the sisters is clearly a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-29. "And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also on My menservants and maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
In the other callings of a Godly woman, we have noticed that each had a hidden or behind-the-scene aspect. So what is hidden about speaking forth the mind and counsel of God? Further, why is this another occasion in the sister's ministry when the veiled head is especially in focus (1 Cor. 11:5)? Elizabeth prophesied at home, possibly only with Mary present. Anna prophesied in the temple, apparently to anyone who would listen. So, is the reference in 1 Cor. 11 to prophesying speaking of a public worship service?
The answer to this question is found very specifically in 1 Cor. 14. Here the subject concerns speaking forth both by tongues and by prophecy. This passage clearly deals with a public worship service. Notice verse 19, "in the church", verse 26, "when you come together", and verse 23, "the whole church comes together in one place". Then verses 34-35 say; "Let your women keep silent in the churches (assemblies), for they are not permitted to speak: but they are to be submissive as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church (the assembly)."
1 Timothy 2:14 teaches the same thing. "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence." These scriptures certainly are in harmony with the prescribed roles of men and women in the Word. A woman's background, supportive role clearly is the revealed will of God throughout the Scripture and church history.
There are many, many opportunities for women to exercise the gift of prophecy outside of the assembled gathering of the church. There are homes to be visited, sick to be cared for and encouraged, poor to be ministered to, hospitality to be exercised, and much more. Wherever there are people, whether many or few, there are personal words of education, encouragement and comfort that sisters are in a unique position to give. No doubt there are multitudes of individuals to whom God would like to speak directly from His heart if He had a pure, willing sister that could be His chosen vessel for that moment.
If you have a problem with this teaching, I would caution you to further consider the words of Jesus to the church of Thyatira in Rev. 2 :18-29. "... I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and beguile My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols ...." I recommend that you read the entire passage.
I believe that the veiled head symbolizes a willingness to forego the role of public leadership to better fulfill the call God has for the sisters. There is certainly no lack of territory to claim by faith and to enter into by faith. Why chafe at doors that God has closed to you for your own protection when there are more open doors to you than you can possibly ever enter if you only had eyes to see and a willing heart to obey? I personally have been greatly blessed and encouraged many times by the inspirational sharing of sisters at appropriate times.
Further, the fact that the Scripture so clearly teaches against the sister's prophesying in the public assembly very specifically emphasizes that the teaching on headship and the veiling is not just for the public worship service as some erroneously believe. God's call upon men and women is always to be in focus. The testimony to God's order of authority is always appropriate. Certainly the angels, verse 10, are not just present during worship!
The veiled head is God's chosen symbol to remind all of His children of some very fundamental truths which He has ordained for our personal happiness and success as well as His glory. To wear the symbol and not live the principles is to give a mixed testimony and to destroy its meaning and effectiveness. The answer would not be to remove the veil, but rather to commit oneself to live up to the life it symbolizes. Two wrongs never make one right. If you feel unworthy to wear the veiling because of deep needs in your life in this area, I would encourage you to put it on in obedience to the Lord's clear command as a testimony to what you know God wants and then strive by His grace to walk in its message!
Much more could be said concerning the opportunities of a woman to serve in the church effectively in harmony with the principles of 1 Corinthians 11. I am excited for any church where Godly men and women are enthusiastically and conscientiously fulfilling their God-given roles; it cannot help but be a powerful, effective church.
So why all the fuss about 1 Corinthians 11 and a little piece of cloth? Simply because 1 Corinthians 11 with its teachings on headship, order, authority, submission, and holy communion is a foundation for 1 Corinthians 12. There never will be an effective body as long as these foundational principles are ignored or neglected. If we want the church to be powerful, it will be God's way, or not at all.
Many churches today are like the shallow soil in the parable of the sower. They have no roots in themselves! There are few deep commitments, very little emphasis on personal responsibility, and the way of the cross they have not known. Therefore, when the hot wind blows, they wither and die.
But God be praised, there is a way. It is the way that few walk in because it is a hidden way—hidden from the wise and prudent, but revealed to babes: those who are single-hearted enough to receive and believe the clear Scripture and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.