The New Testament has several verses that address the topic of the veiling of women. The most relevant material on women’s veiling in Christianity can be found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. All quotations are from the King James Bible.
1 Corinthians 11, verses 2-16:
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.
5 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.
6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.
11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.
Woman’s hair and covering in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians
It is important to consider what Paul says here about woman’s hair and how he distinguishes carefully the status of women’s hair from men’s.
- Paul emphasizes the fact that women need to cover their hair when praying or teaching: “every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head” (1 Corin. 11:5)
- Paul also points out that if the woman does not cover her hair, she should shave it. However, since it is shameful to have it shaved here, it is better to cover it: “if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered” (1 Corin. 11:6)
- In addition, Paul recommends that women keep their hair long because long hair serves as a type of covering: “But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.” (1 Corin. 11:15)