1.1 Background to the Study
Head covering is assumed to be the literal covering of the head with a scarf. This is a practice that is observed in various Christian groups during Christian worship in Nigeria. Whether this is a compulsory practice and traceable to the New Testament is still under contention among some Christians. Some base their arguments for women covering of the head during worship on Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians while others anchor their arguments on the authority of the man over the woman. Some Christian churches hold that the practice of head covering is acceptable but not compulsory for the woman. Some insist that the practice is compulsory for the woman. For example, Pastor Daniel Olukoya of Mountain of Fire Ministries seriously forbids his female members from attending church service with their heads uncovered. According to the report, “Olukoya warned that the church will no longer tolerate any lady that does not cover her hair….”1 There are some Christians, like Goodwin, who insist that head covering should not be part of Christian practice. In his own words, “…I do not agree that the head covering is a rule from God that applies to every generation….”2 Those who oppose the practice of head covering may be doing so either on the grounds of its associated patriarchal subjugation of women or its non-significance to the salvation theology of the Christian church. Whatever be the case, the ball has been rolled. And inasmuch as almost all the writers and debaters base their arguments on 1 Corinthians 11, the passage (1 Corinthians 11:2_16) has been carefully selected as necessary in determining the Pauline position on the Christian concept of head covering.
As a matter of fact, the epistle of first Corinthians “…is one, and that not the first, of a series of letters written by St. Paul to the Corinthian church.”3 The church was located in the city of Corinth. Corinth was in many respects the most important city in Greece under the Roman Empire. Whereas Athens was the educational centre, “…the seat of the greatest university worldwide at that time, and the city to which the memories of Greek freedom and older history most continually clung, Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province…”4 and could be seen as the centre of government and commerce, of real-life and development in the country.