1 Corinthians 11 (NIV)
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
1 Corinthians 14 (NIV)
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the lawsays. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[g]
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.
39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
The bible is very unkind to women and has greatly contributed to gender discrimination. Yes, their are exceptions like Deborah in the Old Testament, who was a judge prior to the reign of kings in Israel. But most verses on women from Genesis to Revelation view them as inferior servants for men.
1 Cor 11 says that IF a women prays or prophecies, then she should cover her head.
1 Cor 14 says that “women should remain silent in the church…it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.
How can a woman pray or prophecy if she is not permitted to speak? Apologists spin all over the place on this contradiction, but some biblical scholars have another explanation: 1 Cor 14:34-35 were inserted into the manuscripts by later scribes and were not a part of the original. There evidence is shown by footnote g above from biblegateway.com (and also in hard copies of the NIV). These verses appear in different locations in different ancient manuscripts. Also, the two verses on women in the middle of 1 Cor 14 have little to do with the rest of 1 Cor 14:26-40, which is about prophecy in the church. There is more continuity if the verses on women are removed.
It is a fact that New Testament texts were altered by scribes, often for doctrinal reasons. This is covered in “Misquoting Jesus” and “Jesus Interrupted” by bible scholar Bart Ehrman. There are over 200,000 variations of the New Testament in ancient manuscripts, which means there are more variations among manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.
My first wedding featured Southern Baptists, Holiness Pentecostals, and Mennonites. The Mennonites were very strict about women not speaking in church, keeping their heads covered, women never cutting their hair, and women not having authority over men. The Holiness Pentecostal women also did not cut their hair or have authority over men, but they could speak in church and they did not keep their heads covered. The Baptists pretty much ignored these verses, except they never let women be pastors in the churches. Baptists would say the verses do not say “women can’t get hair cuts at all”, but the Pentecostals would say otherwise, noting that Paul (the assumed author) adds “we have no other practice – nor do the Churches of God.” That is a pretty strong statement! Yet most Christian sects permit short-haired women today. They simply ignore this verse.
What is worse is that these Christians make a huge deal out of the length of women’s hair. The Holiness Pentecostals sneer with derision at Pentecostals and other “so-called Christians” who let women cut their hair. Then they make excuses for letting women speak in church and not requiring women to cover their heads. Christians should either follow the entire bible or they should openly admit that they are doing whatever they want and then justifying the bible to fit their personal choices.
Then there is the matter of women’s relationship with men. This is a much more serious problem than the length of hair and wearing head covers. It is not be accident that the atheist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the agnostic Susan B. Anthony were the pioneers of women’s voting rights. Anthony said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” Stanton said, “The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.” I can not say it any better.