, far from being the long, white, conical hat that less-than-aspirant students wore in the corner upon making themselves look like, well, dunces, is actually just a British term for a tablet of writing paper.
Thank God that schools don’t punish students in that way anymore. Though many might deserve it, there are better ways of discipline and encouragement. But I’m not here to talk about the plight of the student (though there might be some overlap) I’m here to say a few words on hats. Or more specifically head-coverings.
The eleventh chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians opens with these words (verse 4): Every man praying or prophesying having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.” The next verse reads “But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” Incidentally, that medieval hat worn by women of the court and other royal stations is called a “hennin”. It’s usually got a veil attached and isn’t as tall as the dunce cap.
Paul continues on in the chapter, lining out how the spiritual activities of prayer and prophecy ought to be practiced (at least for the Corinthians) in Christian churches by men and women, husbands and wives alike. At the end of the passage, Paul says that “if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (verse 16) Much has been said between the two statements and it’s easy to misinterpret the text as being demeaning to women. But what Paul said initially should be kept in view at all times. “Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered…” Don’t think that the same thing doesn’t apply to men because even if a woman is unattached to a man, be it a father or a husband, she should she Jesus Himself as the man in her life. I could insert a disclaimer saying how this statement runs counter to much of society and the how the “harsh patriarchal system” of which this would be considered foundational, is detrimental to the progress of a free and enlightened society—but I won’t. I’m talking about the church. All I’m asking is that Christlikeness be practiced and exhibited by both sexes.
And how about this? “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.” Okay. But listen: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” (verses 8-10) If a woman doesn’t understand the power that she possesses by virtue of simply being one of God’s daughters, then I believe she’ll be out of course in the proper execution of “prayer and prophesying”. The angels? The angels understand what it means to have the power and that it’s more than simply a head-trip. It carries with it great responsibility and grave seriousness.
Though the expression “hats off” is used to show deferment and respect, “gloves off” is just the opposite. And Paul says “if any man seem to be contentious”, that this attitude is not welcome in God’s church. “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:40) When the attitude of contention, either a woman seeking to overassert her authority, or a man trying to tear her down for reasons unscriptural, is bared in the atmosphere of church, then this happens: “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (James 3:16)
I think someone needs to go sit in the corner. Here, wear this.