It stands as truth that men and women are different. Different appearance, generally different interests, different strengths, different weaknesses. Different, yet complementary. Different, yet equally loved. So, when we come to passages like this in the Bible where either gender are exhorted and instructed we must not think that this communicates value or worth, simply instructions that are right for the different people.
8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.
Today we see something for both men and women to do in the assembled church (the context of the letter, remember?).
Men are to lead the church in prayer. Men are not the only people in church that should pray, or pray publicly, but the men should lead the church in prayer. The fact that this should be done without quarrelling carries the meaning of praying without doubt, so, the men should steadfastly lead the church in prayer without doubting. Guys, do you do that in your church? Do you lead in prayer? Praying for the church would be a great start.
Ladies, as the men are covering themselves and the church in prayer, you should also pray, for sure. In addition to this covering, Paul writes that ladies should be adorned in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness – with good works. Quite a lot for the ladies there, isn’t there.
Essentially it comes down to this – dress modestly for the location you are in. You wouldn’t go to church in a Muslim majority country wearing your yoga pants and a vest, that would be inappropriate. You wouldn’t wear your most formal of dresses and hats to a church service on the beach. Simply, dress modestly and appropriately for the location you are in.
Men are called here to lead the church in prayer, to cover themselves and the church in prayer.
Ladies here are called to cover themselves appropriately.
Different, but of equal value in the eyes of our Lord.
Above all these things, as an assembled and gathered church we are to put on love (Colossians 3.14), and we are to cover ourselves in Christ (Galatians 3.26-27).
His righteousness covers us, His blood covers us, and His love covers us.