"Glory for Men; Glory for Women (Part 2)" (1 Corinthians 11:2–16)
We’re going to be reading from 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. Hear now the word of the Lord.
2 Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5 but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. 6 For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. 7 For 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 was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:2-16, ESV
This is the word of the Lord and it’s given to us in love.
When I was a child, I remember thinking often that I could never understand why any actor or actress on television or in the movies would ever want to play a role other than the role of a hero. We wouldn’t it be insulting to have a supporting actor role. Or what if I were the villain in a play or in a movie or in a television show, wouldn’t that make people personally hate me if they began to hate the villain of the movie?
I remember thinking about that somewhat regularly. I guess at the time I imagined that I would grow up to be a movie star and so maybe I was thinking through which parts I would take and which parts I would decline.
Well by the time I was in high school I had put away those silly childish notions and by that time I was planning for a much more realistic career; I was at the time imagining that I would be the President of the United States. Anyway, that shows that for fun, and not as a part of a career path, I tried out for and was cast in a play in high school. Just one play in high school and this play was a lot of fun to do. It was a thoroughly silly play and I was cast into a supporting role, the role of the village idiot. It a blast and people kept asking me whether I was typecast for the role, but you know I never really got very deeply into the theater world, so I never really understood what that meant, but that’s what people said about it.
In this play I wasn’t the hero, I was a supporting role. I learned from this an answer to a question that I had since childhood; would this be insulting or demeaning? The answer was no. It was so much fun and I worked so hard to be the very best village idiot that I could possibly be. I didn’t want to overshadow the hero and I didn’t want to overshadow the heroine.
I learned that by playing my part well, and if the other supporting actors would also play their part well, and if the hero and heroine did what they were supposed to do then all of us together would shine in this play that we were doing. If I had tried to overshadow the hero in fact, I would have lost the pleasure of the supporting role I was assigned. The supporting role that some even thought I was typecast for.
Well I think this illustration might help to frame what we are talking about when we talk about the roles of men and women in our passage today. All of us, men and women both, are supporting actors and actresses in this great cosmic drama where the spotlight is shining on the hero. There’s one hero of this story; I am not the hero, you are not the hero, there is one hero of this great cosmic drama and it’s the Lord Jesus Christ. God is revealing his glory in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the rest of us all play supporting roles around him.
In this drama men and women have different roles to play, but it’s only when we consider the roles of men and women together that we are able to reflect back, not only to God but to a watching world, the profound mystery of Christ. That’s the word the Bible uses to describe this the mystery of Christ. A mystery is something that is partially revealed, it’s open in one sense but in another sense, it is hidden.
Men and women together reflect both sides of this. So, Christ’s glory is open in one sense, Christ’s glory is public, it’s manifest, it is proclaimed in the world. What Paul is saying here is that it is the particular glory of men to reveal the open reign and rule of the Lord Jesus Christ in the world. On the other hand, as much as Christ’s glory is open, not everyone sees it. So as much as Christ’s glory is open and public and manifests, it’s also concealed and veiled and in hidden in a way. Paul is saying that the role of women is to reflect this aspect of Christ’s glory.
Well what does that mean for the glory of Christ to be both open and yet concealed? Well the main place in the Bible where we see these two ideas coming together, the height of the glory of Jesus Christ where his glory is most perfectly revealed in openness and yet concealed from the world at large is at the cross. The glory of Jesus Christ was to bleed and die publicly, the Bible tells us that is the glory of Jesus Christ. The greatest moment where he’s lifted up to be glorified in the sight of the world, and yet as the world looks upon that they don’t see glory there, they see shame and foolishness and suffering rather than glory.
It takes both sides, men reflecting the openness of Christ’s self-sacrificial love and women reflecting the concealed nature of Christ self-sacrificial love. Both of us together in these complementary supporting roles reveal the fullness of the mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ in the world. What this passage is telling us is that if we all play our parts, then together we will help to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and we will flourish.
Our big idea today is the same one that we considered two weeks ago, it is glory for men to rule and is glory for women to reveal.
So, we’re going to see this in three parts today.
1. Revealing Christ’s Concealed Glory
2. Relationships Between Men and Women
3. Rules for What is Proper
Revealing Christ’s Concealed Glory
So, let’s start with this first idea, where we’ll spend a little bit longer in our study this morning, revealing Christ’s concealed glory. Paul writes this in verse of seven,
For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.
1 Corinthians 11:7, ESV
Now when Paul says that man is the image of the glory of God in a way that woman is not, woman is different. He’s not saying that in an absolute sense man alone reflected the image of God, we know that’s not true first of all. Paul, later in this passage, is going to remind us that men and women are not independent of one another. Men are not independent of women and women are not independent of men.
Of course, if we know our Bibles, we know this right from the very beginning. At the beginning of creation, we read in Genesis 1:27 the definition of the image of God.
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 , ESV
So, the fullness of the image of God is not reflected just in men. It’s reflected in men and women together. Not in any one man and one woman even in marriage, those are little reflections, but in the fullness of God’s people as they are men and women. Together we reflect the fullness of the glory of God.
So, then what is Paul saying here in verse 7? In what sense is man the image and glory of God? Well here again Paul is talking in this whole passage about the roles of men and women. Earlier, back in 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul wrote that the head of every man is Christ and the head of a wife is her husband. We talked two weeks ago about the fact that headship refers to the exercise of authority thus a husband has, authority in relation to his wife. So it is glory for men to rule in the home and it is glory for men to rule in the church, which in this passage has to do with leading in public worship, about leading in the prayers in public worship, about leading in the prophesy (which is not in new revelations anymore but in reading the revelation, the Word of God, in the scriptures), and about preaching the scriptures.
So, in the home and in public worship its glory for men to rule. Again, we talked about this two weeks ago, but this doesn’t mean that men can do whatever they want. It is glory for them to rule when their rule looks like Christ’s rule; when their ruling is the laying down, self-sacrificially, of their life and their comfort and their privileges and their preferences for the good of other people, just as Christ did.
Now Paul is no longer talking so much about that, he’s kind of developing this idea, but he’s saying something similar. He’s not talking about the ruling itself; he’s talking about the picture that’s being formed of how our various roles reflect back on Jesus Christ in this great cosmic drama. He’s saying that in this drama a man is the image and glory of God to reflect the reign of Christ openly. So, for a man to cover, or literally to conceal or to hide his head, is to shrink back from that role. It’s to dishonor his head, Christ, by poorly reflecting the glory of Christ’s open visible reign in this world.
When talking about covering or concealing a man’s head, Paul is saying, if his appearance is not lined up with the doctrine, then he is effectually doctrinally rejecting the idea of Christ’s reign in this world. Men therefore both in their role and in their appearance ought to reflect the external manifestation of Christ’s glory. They must rule by open visible self-sacrificial love.
A woman, on the other hand, Paul says is the glory of man. Now that’s true that generally women are the glory of men, in a general sense. There’s also a sense that Paul is getting at here about wives in relation to their husbands. A wife is the glory of her husband, and so a wife reveals the glory of Christ not openly, publicly, visibly, but by revealing the glory of her husband who is openly revealing the glory of Christ.
Charles Hodge has a fantastic statement on this in his commentary on this passage, he says, “The woman is the glory of the man. That is, the woman is in this respect subordinate to the man. She is not designed to reflect the glory of God as a ruler. She is the glory of the man. She receives and reveals what there is of majesty in him. She always assumes his station; becomes a queen if he is a king, and manifests to others the wealth and honor which may belong to her husband.”
Proverbs 12:4 says something very similar where we read that an excellent wife is the crown of her husband. What does a crown do well? The crown doesn’t do the open public reigning and ruling, but the crown represents it and reveals the nature of the reigning and ruling of the king who wears that crown. That’s the role of wives, they reveal the ruling that their husbands are doing so that together in this picture we are reflecting both sides of the glory of Christ.
So, the women don’t reveal Christ’s glory openly, publicly, visibly. Yet here’s the important thing, and the thing that I want to make sure we get, this does not mean that if they’re not doing this openly that they’re not doing at all. It doesn’t mean that they’re not doing it at all, it doesn’t mean that they’re not doing it directly even. Rather women do reveal Christ’s glory, but they do so in the way that Christ revealed his own glory in a hidden, veiled, and concealed way. Christ’s glory is open in one sense in this world, but it’s not immediately visible to the wide watching world, it’s concealed, it’s veiled, and hidden. People look at us and say why are you worshiping a crucified God? That makes no sense to the world. If Christ’s glory were immediately visible the world would believe upon him, but instead the world sees Christ’s cross, his glory, as shame, as foolishness. The hidden concealed glory of women then reflects the hidden glory of Christ.
Let me show you where the Bible talks about this. On the one hand the Bible tells us that Jesus came to reveal the fullness of the glory of his father. In John 1:14 we read,
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14, ESV
We read in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. We read in Hebrews 1:3 that he is the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of his nature. So, on the one hand Jesus has come to openly reveal the glory of God; but on the other hand, because Jesus, who existed in eternity past in the form of God and was equal with God, took the form of a servant, his glory was veiled.
He didn’t get rid of his glory, it wasn’t that he had no glory, it’s that his glory was veiled and concealed and hidden. So, certainly part of this meant that the world rejected and despised him and hated him and wanted to kill him. But even those who loved him, his disciples, didn’t really understand what they were seeing. When they saw Jesus, one of my favorite scenes from the Gospel of John if not really in the whole Bible, is in John 14:8-9,
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
John 14:8-9, ESV
So again, what the Bible says, the word that the Bible uses to describe this aspect of who Jesus is that the revelation of Jesus is a mystery. Again, this is a biblical word that is something that is partially revealed, it’s open in one sense but yet the glory of it is hidden, it’s hidden in a mystery.
Now earlier in 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul said that Christ and him crucified was a plan that God made in eternity past and he’d hidden that plan in a mystery. Here’s the New American Standard translation of 1 Corinthians 2:7, which is a little bit more literal, Paul writes,
7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1 Corinthians 2:7, NASB
It is a hidden wisdom. God’s wisdom, hidden in a mystery that he concealed from eternity past, was that the person and work of Jesus Christ would come into the world to be crucified in the fullness of time. When Jesus Christ came into the world, he would reveal the fullness of God’s glory in the person and work of the Son, but in the most concealed way possible to the eyes of the world by his self-sacrificial love at the cross.
At the cross God revealed his son’s glory as he also concealed it from those who evaluate the cross according to human wisdom and without the eyes of faith. God’s wisdom, his wisdom hidden in a mystery, is the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s the background, that’s the doctrine that Paul is applying. The hiddenness of Jesus Christ is the doctrine that Paul is applying to the relationship of men and women, especially to the details of what’s happening in public worship in Corinth. A man should not be covered Paul says in verse 7, because he is the one who reveals the openness of Christ’s revealed glory. A woman should be covered because she reveals the concealed nature of Christ’s glory.
Now I hope you are with me so far in all of this, but we have to ask the question, well where are we getting this? Where do we see this doctrine in the Bible in relation to women? Well in the Greek New Testament there are two words for what is concealed and what is hidden that is they’re closely related in meaning. The first word is the word apokryptō and that’s the word that we find in this particular passage. It’s related to the word apocalypse, that’s probably the word that you’re most familiar with, apokryptō and apocalypse. Well here the word is apokryptō, it means concealed in terms of being put under a veil, under a concealment. Apocalypse is the idea of Revelation, to take the cover away, to take the concealment away so that you can see what’s been concealed in there.
Here Paul is saying the woman must be put under a cover the second word is the word apokalyptō. Now you’re probably familiar with the word encrypt, which means to put something into a hidden format, but this is the word that was used earlier in 1st Corinthians 2:7, that Christ’s wisdom in a mystery is the hidden that’s the apokryptō wisdom.
We also see this in relation to women in 1 Peter 3:3-4 Peter writes to women,
3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3-4, ESV
For women to reveal Christ’s glory by concealing is their glory. It’s glory for them, just as it was glory for Jesus. Our Lord Jesus used both of these words and he rejoiced at both of these words in relation to himself in Luke 10:21-22 we read there,
21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
Luke 10:21-22, ESV
In verse 21 when it says, “You have hidden”, that is apokryptō and have revealed is “apokalyptō”.
So, it’s glory for women to reveal, but its glory for women to reveal in a very specific way. Its glory for women to reveal Christ’s concealed glory. Just as Christ was publicly manifested and yet concealed his glory from the wise and understanding of this world to reveal it to those who come to him as little children by faith, so also men are playing this role of openness while women are playing this role of being concealed. In so doing to men and women play these supporting roles that reflect the glory of Jesus.
Now we’ll talk about the practical implications of this a little bit later during our applications, but for now the main point I want to show is that women do have a true glory. A glory that is glorious because it reflects Christ’s true hidden veiled, concealed, and covered glory. The reason that our culture finds these ideas in 1st Corinthians 11 and finds the idea of male headship and of women have been concealed in this way so offensive is the same reason that our culture finds Christ’s glory so offensive.
The world is greedily lusting after visible glory; what they can see, what’s out there, what’s right there in front of their eyes, that they understand according to their fallen, sinful, human, wisdom. While Christ’s glory is only given to us by revelation, when the covering is removed, and we can see it only by the grace of God. Christ’s glory is therefore hidden, veiled, concealed.
We see an illustration of this an explanation of this perhaps right in the middle of the Gospel of John. Right in the middle of this gospel, John stops to ask the question if Jesus has performed all of these signs, including what had just happened in the raising of Lazarus from the dead, why do people still not believe in him? The answer is because they loved human, worldly, visible glory, the glory that comes from man, and they were blind, deaf, and hard hearted toward Christ’s glory.
I want to read you this passage just to see how this is working in Christ’s life John 12:37-43,
37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us,
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their heart,
lest they see with their eyes,
and understand with their heart, and turn,
and I would heal them.”
41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.
John 12:37-43, ESV
What this passage is telling us is that the glory of Christ is something that can only be seen by faith, with the eyes of faith by the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit. Unbelief cannot see it, cannot understand it.
Relationships Between Men and Women
Where Paul goes on from here, you know our first point was revealing Christ’s conceal glory, we see that from the Bible and how that’s affecting what Paul says in verse 7. Now in the second part of this passage in, relationships between men and women, Paul goes on to defend this doctrine. He’s saying here is why we are talking about why men must be uncovered and why women must be hidden and veiled and concealed.
So, in verse 8 Paul writes, “for man was not made from woman but woman from man.”
8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
1 Corinthians 11:8, ESV
Remember in the original creation story in Genesis 2:7 God created man from the dust and created woman from a rib taken from the man’s side. So, in terms of origin, man came first. But then Paul continues, it wasn’t just origin it was also purpose. In verse 9 he says,
9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
1 Corinthians 11:9-10, ESV
In terms of purpose, man was not made for a woman, but woman was made as a fitting helper for man. When Adam was naming the animals, he couldn’t find anyone like him and it was not good for the man to be alone, he needed a fitting helper. So, God created the woman out of a rib from Adam’s side. The woman was made to correspond to the man and when Adam saw her in his innocence, he was in awe of her. He said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2:23, ESV
What Adam was saying there is the woman is the glory of man. Then Paul goes on and says
11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12, ESV
So, in other words even though we have these distinct roles of men revealing the openness of Christ’s glory, while women revealing the hidden, veiled, concealed, nature of Christ’s glory. Even though of distinct roles nevertheless we are not independent, these two sides of Christ’s glory must be seen together. Our roles are distinct and complementary, but they are mutually dependent. We are both playing supporting roles so that together we may reflect the open, yet hidden, glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rules for What is Proper
So that’s the second point, what do these relationships look like? Paul gave some instructions there and now turns to this third point we have to ask how should these doctrines affect our lives, our marriages, our worship? Paul spells out the primary principle in verse 13 and following that should shape our own applications. The critical question that Paul raises in verse 13 is this, what is proper? So, we’ve seen revealing Christ’s concealed glory, second, we’ve seen relationships between men and women, and now we come to rules for what is proper.
Look at verse 13 Paul says,
13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16 If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 11:13-16, ESV
Paul is here giving us details that reflect these doctrines for that culture. So, in these details he’s speaking about some kind of head covering, but again the details are obscure. I said two weeks ago and want to remind us that the details of this passage are obscure, even as the doctrine is very clear. We’re not sure if this head covering refers to some kind of a veil or whether at first to the length of the woman’s hair or both. It is difficult to understand exactly what Paul is commanding.
Notice though that Paul is appealing to their own cultural instincts, he says judge for yourselves. He’s not saying they can judge the doctrine for themselves, he’s saying this is the doctrine that we have to conform ourselves in all of our unique cultures in the details of those culture to reflect that doctrine. So, in that culture, it’s not proper for a wife to pray publicly, that would be to take the role of a man. in that culture it’s not proper for her to pray with a head uncovered, that would be to take the appearance of a man. In that culture it’s not proper for a woman to have a short hair, again that would be to take the appearance of a man.
The doctrine is true, but these same truths might not be revealed in the same way in every culture. Again, just a couple of weeks ago I was in Kenya and Rwanda and many women in those countries had short, even shaved heads. Because short hair meant something very different there in those cultures than it does here in our culture. Both of those meanings are different from the meaning that’s given here in first-century Corinth.
We can’t dismiss the doctrine. The doctrine is timeless, it remains. But the details of how to reflect that doctrine might change. Again, I will not tell you what to wear or how to style your hair. This text is forcing us to ask why we adopt the appearance that we do rather than telling us exactly what appearance to maintain.
So then how do we apply? This this is a rangy sermon because there’s a lot going on here and its controversial. I wanted to unpack the fuller biblical vision for this. Now let’s make this practical with three application points.
1. Behold the revealed, but concealed glory of Christ. This passage reminds us of the beauty of the glory of Christ. Namely this passage points us to what the Scriptures declared everywhere, that Christ’s glory is openly proclaimed and yet it is hidden, veiled, and concealed. In eternity past God predestined that the Father would send the Son into the world so the Son would take upon himself a human nature, to live a life of humble, submissive, obedience even to the point of dying on the cross for our sins.
Now when Jesus Christ arrived and the world looked upon him, they despised him, they rejected him, they didn’t see his glory, they mocked him, especially at the cross taunting him to save himself, because their eyes were blind, their ears were deaf, and their hearts were hardened by unbelief. Somehow however in the midst of the horror and the gore and the shame of the cross, some, and this is remarkable, looked upon Christ crucified and believed.
We read that while one of the thieves on the cross crucified on one side of Jesus continued to mock Jesus, the other thief rebuked the first and pleaded for Jesus to remember him when he entered into his kingdom in Luke 23:42. Now how is that possible how could a thief dying on the cross possibly look over at another fellow criminal dying in the same way that he was, and believe that this was a king who was about to enter into his kingdom? How does that make sense according to human wisdom?
What’s even perhaps more extraordinary is that when Jesus died, a Roman centurion looked upon the corpse of Jesus, no chance he’d make a comeback now because he was already dead. Yet he looked at the corpse of Jesus and declared in Mark 15:39, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” How could a privileged, pagan, Gentile possibly have come to believe that this dead, despised Jewish crucifixion victim was the Son of God?
Even today how do people come to believe in Jesus Christ? As we read in Galatians 3:1, Christ is publicly portrayed as crucified. Christ wasn’t crucified in Galatia, but Paul is talking about the preaching of Christ crucified. Christ is publicly portrayed now, in preaching, as crucified, but how do any come to believe? Why would anyone look at the cross and say that’s joy, that’s glory, I want that?
Well the only way that happens, the only way what is hidden and veiled and concealed comes to be open and unveiled is by faith. It’s by the power of the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, to open our ears, to soften our hearts, so that we believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ as we behold him by faith. Every one of us must see the glory of Jesus. It’s hidden, it’s veiled, it’s concealed, but the point is that this passage is pointing beyond the roles that men and women in general are supposed to reflect. It teaches us that we must not look upon the bleeding, dying, cursed man suffering under the wrath of God on the cross and dismiss him or despise him.
Know that he died there for you in your place for your sins. See there the righteousness of God displayed in justice. See there the love of God displayed for you as Jesus Christ poured out his life on the cross. The gospel calls you to turn from your sin and believe in Christ, trusting him for salvation. Will you believe in Christ? Do you see him there? The first application point is that behold the behold the revealed and concealed glory of Christ.
2. The second application is for women. We looked at men more last time, but women embrace your glory in Christ. Women you have a glory that is like Christ’s glory; glory in the hidden person of your heart as Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:4. This is why the world doesn’t understand your true glory, because the world can’t see or understand Christ’s hidden, veiled, concealed glory either.
While the world may not understand it, those who love Christ’s glory do see it, they do understand it. Just as Adam saw his glory reflected in this woman who was bone in his bones and flesh of his flesh, so those of us who love Christ glory are in awe of women who reflect the hidden, veiled, concealed glory of Christ with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit. It’s for the same reasons we are in awe of Christ’s glory. Now this is true for women in general, but wives especially, you are our glory and our crown. We cherish you; we see your beauty for what it is, we rejoice in it.
Now practically women this means that you ought to dress the part, just as men must dress the part to not shrink back from the role of ruling that God has given. So, women ought to dress the part and the general idea that probably best captures what Paul is talking about here is the idea of modesty. Modesty in spirit, in attitude, and in heart, as well as modesty that’s reflected in appearance. This idea of modesty is probably the best way to reflect this idea of coming under a covering.
Now the world would teach you something very different. The world teaches women to seek glory openly especially by revealing their own external glory. It is sadly very true that women can seize the world’s attention, the world’s affection, and influence in this world by appearing immodestly in this world. Instead it is glory for women to reveal the concealed glory of Christ, to reveal glory in the way that Christ concealed glory. The adorning that matters is not external, the adorning that matters is the hidden person of your heart. So, by modesty you play your supporting role to reflect the hidden, veiled, concealed glory of Christ. Judge for yourselves, is it proper for a woman to dressed immodestly according to the fashions of this world?
Now I’m not going to give you a dress code, I’m not going to give you measurements of articles of clothing, and how long they should be and all of that. I’m not going to send out a list of approved hairstyles. To boil this great doctrine, the doctrine of the great mystery of Christ, down to a simple list of do’s and don’ts commits the fundamental mistake of legalism. It replaces the hard heart work of evaluating our souls in relation to what the Scriptures teach us and replaces that with just a list of external regulations that we can bring ourselves into compliance with.
The question this forces us to ask is not what are we wearing, but why are we wearing what we are wearing? How is your heart? Do you rejoice like Jesus did and the hidden, veiled, concealed glory of your of the hidden treasure of your person or do you treasure like the world does what you can gain by immodesty? The question comes down to this; do you love the glory that comes from God or do you love the glory that comes from man?
3. Our third and final application is this, men and women we must live together as joint heirs of Christ’s glory. Brothers and sisters, none of us are independent from the other. Men need women and women need men. This is a great mystery in that it reflects the fullness of Christ’s own glory. Thus every marriage is a miniature reflection of this, every church with men and women is a greater reflection of this, but all of this is pointing toward the great mystery where Christ is bringing all of his church together in these supporting roles to reflect glory on the one who is the hero of this story, the Lord Jesus Christ.
So, in this as we are fellow supporting cast members, let’s pray for one another. Let’s be supportive of the burdens that one other bears. Let’s be understanding of the weaknesses of one another, we both have weaknesses. Not to exploit the weaknesses of the other, but to encourage one another in good deeds that glorify our Savior. Let us together reflect the glory of Christ to a watching world so that many might come to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation. There’s one hero of this story let’s all play our supporting roles to let his glory throughout the world.
Heavenly Father this is a difficult text to preach, a difficult text to study, and a difficult text to apply in our lives. I pray though that as we study this text – first and foremost you would give us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to understand the true glory of Jesus Christ. Also, that you would enable and empower all of us, men and women together, to reflect the mystery of Jesus Christ to the wider watching world. It’s in Christ’s name we pray. Amen.