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Should women wear a head covering and long dresses?

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January 2nd, 2014 | Filed Under: Author, Mitch Kuhn, Q and A, Women, Women0 Comments | Author:

Hi T___,

This is a very interesting topic because it requires great discernment to rightly divide the Word of truth. We must compare spiritual with spiritual to understand what Paul is talking about. Looking up the Strong’s definitions of words is not sufficient to reveal the truth.

(1Co 2:13 NKJV) These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
(1Co 2:14 NKJV) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

For example if we just go by the physical meaning of words, then we need to be literally washed with water in order to be baptized into Christ.

(Gal 3:27 NKJV) For as many of you as were baptized (G907) into Christ have put on Christ.

(Eph 4:4 NKJV) There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
(Eph 4:5 NKJV) one Lord, one faith, one baptism (G908);

βαπτίζω baptizō bap-tid’-zo

From a derivative of G911; to make whelmed (that is, fully wet); used only (in the New Testament) of ceremonial ablution, especially (technically) of the ordinance of Christian baptism: – baptist, baptize, wash.

However when we compare spiritual with spiritual, we see that physical washing with water is not what Paul was sent to do.

(1Co 1:17 NKJV) For Christ did not send me to baptize (G907), but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Preaching the Gospel is also called “washing of water by the word”, which is the same spiritually speaking. Notice however that the word for “washing” below is a different word than baptize. So does that mean that there are two baptisms??….one of physical water and one of spiritual water of the word?

(Eph 5:26 NKJV) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,

Eph 5:26 ThatG2443 he might sanctifyG37 and cleanseG2511 itG846 with theG3588 washingG3067 of waterG5204 byG1722 the word,G4487

G3067 λουτρόν loutron loo-tron’

From G3068; a bath, that is, (figuratively) baptism: – washing.

No, Paul is not saying that you need to be physically washed with water and spiritually washed with the word. It is quite common in language to use two different words interchangeably as synonyms. Spiritual baptism is said so many different ways, washed, cleansed, sanctified, judged, chastened, etc. Spiritually speaking, there is a baptism of water and one of fire, but both of those have to do with doctrine and not outward physical acts….although the baptism of John often does include physical water baptism according to Babylonian Church tradition.

This is the theme of the milk doctrines, a shift from physical to spiritual. Laying on of hands literally means to physically lay hands. If you want to look at it carnally, resurrection means literally being dead and made alive. This is exactly what the apostles all struggled with….leaving a carnal commandment and coming into a spiritual understanding.

Peter withdrew from the Gentiles and struggled with thinking certain foods were unclean, Paul circumcised Timothy, on and on it goes.
However, I do understand your point about there being some outward physical applications to spiritual obedience. For example, once we learn that adultery is about our unfaithfulness to Christ, we don’t condone physical adultery, or once we realize that there is no male and female in the Spirit, we don’t start allowing women to be in the roles of men in the fellowship.

With all of that being said, let’s examine the scriptures in question regarding a covering and “apparel”.

1 Cor 11:15 is the physical answer to what Paul has been discussing in the previous verses. He does not make any distinction between two different coverings in that chapter. The only way you could arrive at that is the use of a different word for covering as you pointed out.

(1Co 11:15 NKJV) But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.

Paul had a habit of using using two different Greek words to discuss the same subject. Here is an example where he uses “elders” and “bishops” interchangeably.

(Tit 1:5 NKJV) For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders (G4245) in every city as I commanded you—
(Tit 1:6 NKJV) if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.
(Tit 1:7 NKJV) For a bishop (G1985) must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money,

πρεσβύτερος presbuteros pres-boo’-ter-os

Comparative of πρέσβυς presbus (elderly); older; as noun, a senior; specifically an Israelite Sanhedrist (also figuratively, member of the celestial council) or Christian “presbyter”: – elder (-est), old.

ἐπίσκοπος episkopos ep-is’-kop-os

From G1909 and G4649 (in the sense of G1983); a superintendent, that is, Christian officer in general charge of a (or the) church (literally or figuratively): – bishop, overseer.

If we apply the same logic that you are using to interpret 1 Cor 11:15, then we now need to make a distinction between Elders and Bishops as well. We did an extensive study on this subject a while back and clearly demonstrated that they are the same thing in the scriptures.

So if you’re going to say that there are two coverings, you’ll need other scriptures to make that clear.

(2Pe 1:20 CLV) knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture at all is becoming “its own explanation.”

The truth is that a woman’s long hair is merely a shadow of the true covering of Christ as the head of the Church. (Romans 1:20).
Regarding “apparel”, God is no more concerned with a particular type of dress than he is with a particular type of food we eat. The concern is modesty and propriety, which are proper for professing godliness and good works.

(1Ti 2:9 NKJV) in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing,
(1Ti 2:10 NKJV) but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.

A godly woman will dress to honor God and not cause others to stumble.

(Rom 14:13 NKJV) Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
(Rom 14:14 NKJV) I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
(Rom 14:15 NKJV) Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died.
(Rom 14:16 NKJV) Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil;
(Rom 14:17 NKJV) for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

If the inside of the cup is clean, then the outside will be clean as well. That’s why under the new covenant, we don’t have lots of specific outward commands like we do in the Old Covenant.

(Eze 36:27 NKJV) I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.

(Mat 23:26 NKJV) Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

I’ve gone down the road of judging other’s behavior to a degree that was not beneficial. There is certainly a time to give an admonition when another’s behavior is clearly sinful, but our tendency is to be too strict at times and not focus on the condition of the heart enough.

(Ecc 8:9 NKJV) All this I have seen, and applied my heart to every work that is done under the sun: There is a time in which one man rules over another to his own hurt.

I hope that this is helpful to you.

Your Brother in Christ,

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