1 Corinthians 11:10


‘’…for this cause the woman has to have authority on her head because of the angels…’’

what does this passage mean? The whole chapter actually?
That a woman MUST be married to be complete?
And the Angels clause,what is its significance?


Hi Eva,
Chapter 11:1-16 deals with decorum in public worship especially for women. Obviously, Paul is speaking of the customs of the time. He says that it is right for a woman to wear a veil at church. We do not have that custom in the U.S., however, you will find that some women will wear a veil at Mass.
A woman does not have to be married to be complete. Many women have chosen celibacy over marriage for the sake of the Kingdom as both Jesus and Paul counsel.
In the New Jerusalem Bible, a footnote on the angels clause says" The guardians of order and decorum in public worship, according to a Jewish interpretation of the end of Dueteronomy 23:15".


If that’s the case, then there are a whole lot of female saints who are/were incomplete! As the poster above said, some of the views about women in the bible were customs of the time, but not necessarily something that God was/is too concerned about I think. There are also those passages which say that a woman should not speak in religious gatherings and instead discuss her questions with her father or husband at home, and then accept whatever he told her and not to dare form her own opinions about anything. Also, that a woman should be completely subservient to her husband, which I understand comes from Gods own mouth in Gen. But that same verse says the husband must love his wife, which to me means that he must not make her do anything she really does not want to do and to respect her wishes in certain things.

All of these things caused me a LOT of strife with God a few years ago, me and Him had to have a good long conversation about it all before I could wrap my mind around it and even begin to accept what the Bible says about women. Much of it can be explained as being part of “Eve’s Curse” the bit of punishment which trickles down from her to all of woman kind because of her great sin, and some of it was cultural for the time an is no longer relevant or important in the Church.
The things which helped me over my anger/resentment toward God in regards to women were Mary and other female saints which proved to me that God does hold women in high regard and does care about their thoughts, opinions, feelings. And the bit that I already said about the requirement for Husbands to LOVE their wives, to me, if you love your wife, you don’t treat her like dirt or a slave, you treat her as something precious and deserving of love and consideration.

Sorry, I know I got a bit carried away there. As for being married to be complete, I think there are passages which talk about a life as a single being an option as well, where if a woman does not marry she should cling to the Lord instead. Married people have a vocation where much of their life is spent loving and serving their spouse and children in as a way to, and in addition to, serving God. Single people are asked to live a different vocation where they are able to focus more of their attention on God alone since they do not have a spouse and children to take up some of that attention. Married people serve God by having children and raising them to love God, and by loving their spouse as God does, but they have the disadvantage of needing to pay more attention to worldly things and are more tied down with their families. Single people are more free to serve God in other ways, more readily able to travel for instance if needed for missionary work, or they are able to join religious life. Their sole concern in life, if they can manage it, can be just God and his will, and less about worldly things.

(boy was that long winded…sorry about that! lol)


I think the two sacraments of holy orders and matrimony are the two vocational choices that complete a person, because they are confirmations of duty. If a person chooses neither, then that person is simply choosing not to commit. Regardless which path a person takes, that person makes vows to God on what he or she is affirming to do in His name. If a person is not married, nor seeks marriage, then that person has already chosen a celibate life. And if he or she is already living to serve God, then why not recieve the sacrament of holy orders? Surely a single, celibate individual can do more good as part of a team than he or she could do going it alone.

Now let me caveat my statements by saying I don’t really know what I’m talking about, lol. I just read that section of your post and felt compelled to post the first thoughts that came to mind, so take them for what their worth (which probably isn’t much, haha!).

  1. Catholic theology has never opined that a woman has to have a man to complete her. It does say that the human species is comprised of both men and women, and that neither sex is defective in any way.

That said, it’s true that a married person is part of a greater entity that is both male and female, because a married couple is one in a mysterious way as well as in a fleshly way. But marriage ends with death, and in heaven there will be no marrying or being married. Married couples continue as individual humans; married couples as such don’t. It will be part of their eternal glory to have experienced marriage, and they will always love each other; but marriage itself is not forever.

We will all be married to Christ as part of His Church, and we will all be part of Christ’s Body as members of His Body. We will have glorified versions of our own bodies that will be what God always meant us to be. That is what will complete us as adopted children of God.

  1. Wearing something on your head as simultaneously a sign of dignity and formality as well as a sign of humility is pretty standard stuff. Men not wearing anything on their head at church, when they always had to wear a hat in Jewish days and especially in the Temple or a synagogue? That was the radical bit.

  2. Being told not to talk or sermonize at church, or to ask questions during Mass, or go off into prophetic fits during Mass, is a totally different thing than being told not to talk or question or teach at all. Paul totally approved of St. Timothy having learned the faith from his mother and grandmother. Paul is not trying to crush women. Paul was a friend of women, and women saved his butt all the time.

The secret is to read more Paul if you want to understand him; don’t just read tiny passages here and there. Heck, even St. Peter said that Paul could say things in a confusing way!


Actually there is a third option, secular institutes. Members live in the world as nurses, office managers, janitors or whatever. They have made a vow of chastity, poverty and obedience to the church. They did not want to marry or be a priest or religious but live their vocation as single.


D-R Bible, Haydock Commentary:

Ver. 10. A power: That is, a veil or covering, as a sign that she is under the power of her husband: and this, the apostle adds, because of the angels, who are present in the assemblies of the faithful. (Challoner)


It was long winded but i understand, at least you live in a society that recognizes women. In mine,it takes a whole lot to be recognized as a woman, and if you aren’t married there’s a certain stigma attached to you. Once you are a woman of 30 everybody looks at you funny even fellow ladies. Its very frustrating,it doesn’t matter how much you have achieved in life,if you ain’t married you are nothing. Some ladies get married and suffer abusive marriages,just to bear a ‘mrs’. Its appaling really!! And some back it with scriptures,(hope am not being heretical,but i’ve always veiwed St Paul as a little fanatical), from Paul, ‘‘Christ head of man,man head of woman…’’ so a woman without a head is…well am sure you get what they say.

Back to the ‘Angels’ clause, so we wear a head covering because there are angels in our midst or what? Still not clear about that part.


In Greek times it was common for a woman to braid her hair and tie it up around her head in a style like a wreath which is a sign of regal glory. I think that this is what Paul was writing about.


I found this article helpful in trying to put a perspective on Paul’s writing about women in the church.



on this page biblestudytools.com/1-corinthians/11-10-compare.html
I found this explanation

because of the angels–who are present at our Christian assemblies (compare Psalms 138:1 , “gods,” that is, angels), and delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God’s worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most pleasing to their common Lord ( 1 Corinthians 4:9 , Ephesians 3:10 , Ecclesiastes 5:6 ). HAMMOND quotes CHRYSOSTOM, “Thou standest with angels; thou singest with them; thou hymnest with them; and yet dost thou stand laughing?” BENGEL explains, “As the angels are in relation to God, so the woman is in relation to man. God’s face is uncovered; angels in His presence are veiled ( Isaiah 6:2 ). Man’s face is uncovered; woman in His presence is to be veiled. For her not to be so, would, by its indecorousness, offend the angels ( Matthew 18:10 Matthew 18:31 ). She, by her weakness, especially needs their ministry; she ought, therefore, to be the more careful not to offend them.”


Whatever it says, how can it be applied to our daily lives?

closed #13

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