Being a complementarian woman in an egalitarian world is wildly unpopular; it can also be perceived as decidedly ignorant. Some readers may sympathize with my hope for reprieve. And while the word has fallen out of favor with some, I know no other way to decide the contentions of my own heart than biblically. That verse continues to hold me in its grasp.
Recently, I returned to a commentary by New Testament scholar Richard B. Hays. I found hermeneutical candor from the strong egalitarian. Hays affirms that Paul is preaching male authority in this passage:
“Any honest appraisal of 1 Corinthians 11:2–16 will require both teacher and students to confront the patriarchal implications of verses 3 and 7–9. Such implications cannot be explained away by some technical move, such as translating kephalē as “source,” rather than “head,” because the patriarchal assumptions are imbedded in the structure of Paul’s argument.”
Hays posits this reading as a “problem” and suggests that we “consider other readings that might stand alongside Paul’s and provide a challenge to it.” But if disagreeing with Paul is the leap I must make to egalitarian theology, I remain reluctantly caught, even in this day and age.