KJV-Onlyist Steve Anderson uploaded a sermon a while back against hair coverings, arguing that long hair is the hair covering. Now, some of you might be wondering why I would bother responding to him because he is not “legit.” For one, he has a sizable following and second, he is a cerebral thinker. The man knows his Bible, can speak in several languages including Greek, and has a good command of logic. So, when he argues that head coverings are simply long hair, it is good to take him seriously.
His argument is as follows:
This is where they get this doctrine from and this is why its false. Let’s go to verse five. ‘But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head–‘Watch this, ‘for that is even all one as if she were shaven.’ Now what does it mean to be shaven?…Just completely bald. What he is saying is wouldn’t it be shameful, completely bazaar, if a woman shaved her head completely bald…’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.’…This is the correct interpretation if we think the covering is long hair, it is as if saying, ‘Ladies, if you are going to have short hair, you might as well shave it all off.’
Simply put, his argument is that because verse 15 says that long hair has been given to her as a covering in KJV English, then verses five and six must by necessity be referring to a woman who is “uncovered” in the sense that verse 15 would supposedly dictate. So, if a woman has long hair as her covering, then having short hair means she is logically uncovered.
Anderson warns, “Whenever someone cannot prove something from an English Bible, then it is wrong.” So, I will disprove Anderson without digging into the languages.
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head…
First, we can see that Paul is speaking of the head being uncovered during prayer and prophesy. There is nothing in the verse that speaks of Paul issuing a commandment that is binding upon Christian women under every circumstance. Hence, Anderson’s position requires presupposing that what Paul wants women to do during prayer just so happens to apply to the rest of their lives. Yet, this presupposition is not in the English (nor the original languages). Quite frankly, this is a crucial weakpoint in his exegesis. Why would Paul give a directive about the length of hair during only specific actions, when following such a directive would be a permanent change of hair-length which would be present in ALL the activities a woman participates in?
for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
Our second point is more complicated, so please take care when following along. It seems that keeping a head uncovered is the same as having all of one’s hair cut off. Now, Anderson and those in his camp may say, “See, so baldness is equivalent to being uncovered.” However, this does not make sense in light of what we just covered. Paul is speaking of covering during prayer and prophesy in a church setting, just as everything else in the next three chapters of the Bible refers to a church setting. Someone cannot have long hair for a few hours during the service, and then magically the rest of the week live and work bald. This is impossible and the only way to explain it away is to adopt Anderson’s presupposition.
Does Paul hold to this presupposition? Why does Paul say that having one’s head uncovered is the same as being bald? Let’s give Paul an opportunity to explain:
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.
Clearly, Paul is not giving us an option between covering heads with long hair or a covering, and being bald–even though literally that is what Paul is saying. I suppose if this were Anderson’s position, it would be hard to argue against it without invoking tradition. However, no one takes this position, so we must interpret Paul differently.
What Paul is really saying in verse six is that if a woman is uncovered, that is just as shameful as being bald. Because you know it is shameful to be bald, she ought to cover.
Take note, that being shorn and not being covered in the plain English are presented as two, mutually exclusive things. “For if the woman is uncovered, let her ALSO be shorn.” Why? An uncovered woman, could theoretically abide by Paul’s commandment by having her hair shorn if it were not shameful. But if being shorn is a type of “uncovering,” how is this logically possible? It isn’t. By just looking at the KJV as Anderson likes, the uncovering and lack of hair are not one of the same. Therefore, a long hairstyle and a covering cannot be one of the same either.
Granted, Anderson would say we can’t take Paul literally because he is speaking rhetorically. I agree. We already said that no one thinks Paul really means that women can choose baldness if they prefer not to cover. When a boss says, “If you take tomorrow off, you don’t have to bother going in next week either,” we know his point without having to explicitly state that what the boss is saying is you will be fired. In the same way, no one seriously thinks Paul is saying anything more than being uncovered is equivalently shameful to baldness.
Nonetheless, the rhetoric Paul uses reveals his logic: one can both have her head uncovered AND be bald, or she can have her head uncovered AND not be bald. This means, baldness and lack of covering CANNOT be the same thing.
It is ironic when he says that, “This is the logic of people that don’t understand the language.” However, the people who DID understand the language all adopted the traditional view of head coverings, including the ancient Corinthian Church that received the letter and the men who actually translated the King James. That says a lot right there!
Later, Anderson goes to the Old Testament to try to show that coverings on men’s heads is okay, thereby disproving the traditional view of head coverings:
Why is he [Aaron] praying and prophesying with his head covered…Why is God commanding the priest to put on a bonnet before he prophesies and prays?..They are wearing the bonnet as they minister.
This is not a serious point. Divorce is allowed in the OT, not in the NT. Sacrifices are made in the OT, not in the NT. I do not even need to go into the languages or manuscripts to show that his logic (“that if it applies then, then it applies now!”) does not hold up. Ironically, he gave himself seven points for this in his sermon, he found it so convincing. Ultimately, however, it is irrelevant.
Just for fun, those who read Ex 28:40 in the KJV and many other Bibles will see that God commands Aaron to wear a head covering. However, this is based off of the Masoretic manuscript. The Septuagint speaks of cinctures, which are not a head covering of any sort. So, now this becomes an argument over manuscripts, and being that several Masoretic renderings do not match the renderings in the NT itself, we can see that the issue is more complicated than simply reading just a KJV Bible. However, even with just this, as we have shown, it is logically impossible for hair to be the covering that Paul speaks of.