For a Glory and a Covering


So here is an interesting thing. A number of weeks ago, during Canon’s Christmas sale, the team pulled a quote from a new book of mine called The Covenant Household, and sent it out into the world of Instagram as a promo for the book.

I am reminded of Oscar Wilde’s observation that a gentleman is someone who never insults someone else accidentally. As you might guess, there are times when I type something up, knowing that it might be a tad spicy, and so I try to budget for all of that in how I phrase things. Well, that didn’t happen this time. By Wilde’s measurement, at least, I failed the test of a gentleman—meaning that the quote started an inadvertent uproar.

There is a sense in which a post like this might continue or perpetuate the controversy. That is certainly possible, and so let’s not rule that out. But what this post is for is to allay any concerns that are allayable, which is a word I don’t use very often (if at all), and to exacerbate those outrages that had no business being outraged. Let me start with the latter, and move on to discuss the glory of a woman’s hair.

Cotton Candy Kudos

One of the very real problems in our era is that modern Christian women have gotten accustomed to non-stop affirmation. It has become non-stop because it is obligatory, and any failure to display such affirmation is taken as an assault on all women everywhere. Identity politics has trained us, whenever a specific critique is made of an individual of a class being currently protected, that critique is pounced upon, rendered general by induction, and applied to each and every member of that class.

So without taking anything away from those women who should be receiving affirmation and support, and while not excusing any of those males whose failures in this department can be pronounced, we really have to learn how to stop affirming the consequent and denying the antecedent. For the former, all dogs have four legs. This creature has four legs. This cat is a dog. There is a breakdown in there somewhere. For the latter, if it is a dog, then it will have four legs. This creature is not a dog. Therefore this creature does not have four legs.

If a man treats a woman right, then it will show in her demeanor, countenance, and appearance . . .

What Was In Fact Said

Here is the original stand alone quote:

“A godly woman will know that her hair is a daily sermon on how her husband is doing. Do people look at you and know that you are cared for and that your husband treats you right? Or do they think you are hurting?”

Me , in that book

That is what caused an online Instaruckus, and so a few weeks ago our valiant team member tried again, this time providing additional context honoring women. Nothing doing. The challenges to a duel at dawn continued to pour in. It is not that there were no defenders who grasped the point, but the majority of the comments were still unhappy with me and my knavish ways.

And the reactions pointed out various aspects of my knavish ways. They would say things like “I have a scalp disease—thanks a lot,” or “My husband abuses me yet I’m still beautiful,” or “I have 7 kids, how dare you attack my messy bun,” or “My husband thinks I’m gorgeous no matter what.”

Now let us be frank. Trying to answer all such reactions point-by-point would be a little bit like chasing a dragonfly with a stick. Instead I think I should step back a few paces, and make the original point again. Then after that, I will do it again, amplifying even more. There is a glorious biblical truth here about the glory of godly womanhood, not to be missed. 

The Point That Was Missed

Here is the build up to what I was arguing.

“The final act of creation is the creation of the woman, and the woman ought to act as though she is that final glory. Because the woman has that high privilege, a godly woman will know that her hair is a daily sermon . . .”

A good friend of mine with the odd name of Ibid

The Scriptures teach that man is the image and glory of God ( 1 Cor. 11:7). The reason a man must be uncovered in worship is that he is the image and glory of God. The reason the woman is to be covered is because she is the glory of man. I take this covering of glory to be the woman’s hair.

“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.”

1 Corinthians 11:15 (KJV)

It is true that Paul does not use the word image when referring to the woman in that passage, but this is not as a slight to women. We already know from Genesis that she, equally with the man, bears the image of God (Gen. 1:27). So this is not Paul turning away from woman with a sneer as though man is the image AND glory of GOD, and woman is just the pitiful little glory of man.

No—he is the glory of God, and she is the glory of that glory. She glorifies the glory. She is called to be a living superlative, like the Holy of Holies. She is the glory of the glory. She is the capstone of the creation week. He is the stately building, and she is the cornice work at the very top. One of her tasks—not the only task, mind you, and remember the logic lesson earlier—one of her tasks is to make her husband look good. If her husband treats her right, she should want to look like her husband treats her right.

That being the case, when someone is making such a point, and Christian women come unstuck over it, they really need to hear the admonition that Job gave to his wife. Stop speaking as the foolish women speak (Job 2:10)

For a Glory and a Covering

Man is the uncovered glory of God. But when Paul says that woman is the covered glory of man, he is not trying to get the light under a bushel. This is not a hidden glory because the covering is itself glorious.

I say this because his language here is redolent of the great image that Isaiah paints of a restored and forgiven Israel (and remember that for Paul, the woman represents the church). He wants the woman covered so she can be for a glory and a covering, showing that the Lord is near. John Newton knew about this:

Round each habitation hov’ring, see the cloud and fire appear
For a glory and a cov’ring, showing that the Lord is near.
Thus deriving from their banner light by night and shade by day,
Safe they feed upon the manna which he gives them on their way.

Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken

Notice where Newton gets this. Notice where Paul, in talking about Christian women, gets his language of glory and covering (1 Cor. 11: 15).

“Then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering.”

Is. 4:5 (NKJV)

This is the Shekinah glory, this is the Shekinah covering, and Christian women are called to model it. And the correct response to this is not to whimper or complain. Neither is it appropriate to attack those who remind them of this terrible capacity that God bestowed on women.

“Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, And terrible as an army with banners?”

Song of Solomon 6:10 (KJV)

Is it a high calling? Of course it is a high calling. But receiving such a high calling should be humbling—it should not make anyone angry. Husbands are called to love their wives the same way that Christ loved the church, giving themselves up in sacrificial living. That also is a high calling, and men should not chafe under it.

The fact that some people think that Paul is in this place being insulting to women—along with the conservative Christians who read and believe him—simply shows that modern unbelief has figured out how to project its own misogyny onto him. If someone says that women who are honored by their husbands (1 Pet. 3:7) should seek to honor him in return through their appearance . . . this is an indignity not to be borne. But if the arbiters of our contemporary mores send Bruno into the shower room with all the girls, this should simply be treated as the price of progress. But wisdom is vindicated by her children (Luke 7:35).

“That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.”

Psalm 144:12 (KJV)

The post For a Glory and a Covering appeared first on Blog & Mablog.






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