Headwear - Women’s

Appendix I

(1 Corinthians 11:10)

The verse at the head of this appendix reads as follows: “Therefore ought the woman to have authority on her head, on account of the angels”. The passage is not well understood. Mr. Darby gives a note to ‘authority’ which reads: “i.e. a token of the authority under which she stands”. He also has a note to ‘her’ indicating that it is literally ‘the’.

Some take the view that what a women is to wear is a ‘token’, as a distinct thing from the covering referred to in earlier verses. The token is thought to be some relatively small thing such as a band or a bow which is worn all the time, except perhaps in bed. This has been objected to on the ground that Mr. Darby did not have that meaning in his mind when he added the note. The point has also been made that wearing a special band or bow may become a badge of a sect - the sect with the bows ! It may be noted that there is no other passage of Scripture to back up this interpretation and one does not know of any religion, cult or sect that bases its practice on such an interpretation apart from one branch of the Exclusive Brethren.

The reference to ‘authority’ clearly follows on from the previous verse where it says the “woman (was created) for the sake of the man”. This is in accord with Paul’s statement in verse 3 : “woman’s head [is] the man”. On this basis the “authority’ on the head is a reference to the covering spoken of earlier and is telling us what the covering on the head marks or signifies.

However it would appear that Mr. Darby thought that the token of authority was the long hair that normally a woman had. He says in his Synopsis of the Books of the Bible in Vol. 1 on page 185 with reference to the Nazarite’s long hair: “it was neglecting self in yielding oneself to the will of God, renouncing one’s dignity and rights as a man; for a long head of hair marked, on the one hand, in a man, the neglect of his person; and on the other, subjection - power on the head (1 Corinthians 11:10). It was consecration to God in the giving up of the joy, the dignity, and the natural rights of man (man considered as the centre of the affections proper to him), and that to be wholly God’s.”